Ready to make your next boat ride SO much better? All you need is a little shade and you’ll enjoy the day more. But don’t settle for a bimini. A T-Top is the way to go, giving you proper protection from the sun, without robbing you of space on the deck.
Wondering if this is what you need? Let’s help you decide in our marine t-tops reviews.
Adding a T-Top to Your Center Console
Before you purchase your T-Top, make sure it suits your center console, since each model is designed with a certain console size in mind. Make sure the structure will be wide enough to fit over yours.
You’ll see there are T-Tops you can fix to your boat’s floor and others are connected to the console itself. The first is easy to install, but you may prefer not making holes in the deck itself.
For both methods you’ll do the following:
- Assemble the structure
- Hold it in place to discern where to drill holes; mark these spots
- Drill holes big enough for the hardware to fit through; these components are often provided but purchase durable ones from the hardware store if necessary
- Add backing plates to improve stability of the installation
- Screw all hardware in place
Most brands will provide an installation guide to help you.
The Benefits of a Marine T-Top
Adding a T-Top to your boat has various benefits to make your trips more enjoyable, but it’s also a long-term investment:
- Enjoy protection from sun and rain. Most canopies are designed to withstand UV rays, so they’ll last long even if frequently exposed to the elements.
- Some T-Tops provide crossbars that make for easy storage of fishing rods and other items: simply strap them on.
- A T-Top is guaranteed to improve your boat’s resale value, as long as you install it neatly.
- It provides ample protection without the poles being in the way, as is often the case with bimini tops.
How to Pick the Best Marine T-Top
You can easily vet the different models by reading our reviews below or comparing the following details.
You need both aspects—structure, and canopy—of your T-Top to be long-lasting, or you’ll soon have to replace one of them.
Look for metal structures that can withstand being exposed to moisture and heat. Anodized metal is a wise option because it won’t easily rust.
Your canopy must be able to withstand UV rays, or it will quickly fade and rip.
How Does it Fold?
You want a user-friendly model that will easily fold away when you’re not using it. Does it take two people to manage or will you be able to do it by yourself?
As mentioned, crossbars serve you well if you want to secure other items to your boat. But you can add many accessories to the structure—even the uprights—depending on your needs:
- Rod or cup holders
- Mounts for accessories such as your GPS
- Lights designed to fit on T-Top tubing
You can also add side panels to your canopy and create a protective weather enclosure.
Now, which one will work for you?
Best Marine T-Top Reviews
1. Oceansouth Boat T Top
We start with a simple, effective design that’s sturdy enough to give you something to hold on when on rough waters. It suits boats with consoles up to 33” and will give you cover at 2.05m.
You’ll appreciate a few user-friendly features, such as that the Oceansouth model can easily be stored away when you don’t need it. Or put it away at the end of the day so the elements don’t damage it while you’re not using the boat. The better you look after it the longer it will last.
Here you have 316-grade fasteners made of stainless steel and many components are formed using marine grade substances. You’re protected by the Heavy Duty Dope dyed polyester material. It’s also a practical design, thanks to the crossbars that provide space to mount other components you take on the water.
You will need some skills to put this one up because its installation’s difficulty rating is ‘medium’. Ask a professional to ensure a neat installation, if you feel unsure. If you do know what you’re doing, it won’t take long though. The provided stainless steel screws are of standard quality but may break. You can opt for a stronger, plain steel alternative if you want.
2. Oceansouth Heavy Duty Boat T Top
Here is a model from Oceansouth, where the minimalistic design will fit many boats’ layouts. With Anodized Aluminum tubing, 316-grade fasteners of stainless steel and nylon blend fabric, you’re assured of a quality unit.
You can use it for consoles up to 39.5” wide and you’ll see Oceansouth put effort into designing the frame. It’s clear from the positioning of the crossbars: they’re high so they don’t obstruct your view or movement lower down.
The brand provides a manual for installation, so no guesswork required. But it would have been even better if the brand marked the parts according to the letters used in the manual. You can improve the design by using zip ties that are UV rated, because the provided rope may show wear and tear in due time. At most, the installation will take you a day.
3. Oceansouth Heavy Duty Boat T Top
If you don’t want to sacrifice any floor space, try this one from Oceansouth that simply clamps onto your console. You once again benefit from quality materials such as Dipped Anodized Aluminum and Nylon blend fabric. This one gives you cover at 80” high.
Here is another design that has crossbars high up in the design to minimize obstructions in your work area around the console. What’s unique compared to the other Oceansouth models we’ve reviewed is that your structure’s four legs will clamp onto your console, instead of being fastened to the boat floor. You’ll appreciate the large radius of the product and this design also allows for more stability & strength.
Installing one of these requires accurate measuring and of course drilling into your console. Not to worry—Oceansouth provides detailed instruction manuals with their products, and you can also view them online.
4. Dolphin Pro E Economic T-Top
If you have a smaller type boat—between 16ft and 19ft—this T-Top from Dolphin Pro may be for you. But it caters to larger consoles, even up to 43” wide. The brand used Brushed anodized 6063 tubing to offer you a quality product and this one is 79” high.
What makes this a practical investment is that you can easily put this in storage to prevent the canvas from getting too much sun while the boat isn’t in use.
It’s easy to fold down and dismantle since parts are held together with bolts you can easily remove. Note that it’s easy, but it does take some time, so you may not always be in the mood for the task after a long day out on the water.
The instructions are easy to find online, but it would have been better if the brand included it with each purchase.
5. Dolphin SS Pro T TOP
This is another one from respected brand Dolphin T Tops, and this one can be used for even bigger consoles than the one reviewed above. It will work for consoles up to 45” and you’ll appreciate the Marine grade VIII, UV resistant Acrylic.
You can enjoy this model as you see fit because the T-Top can be angled. Then you’ll have an even higher clearance than the advertised 77”. For example, simply mount it higher at the back end and you’ll have additional headspace—ideal for taller boaters.
This is another one that saves you some floor space because it attaches to the console itself instead of the floor surface. You also save some moving space thanks to the curved poles. It doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture: you can easily fold it down or remove the top if you want to protect it from the sun or strong wind. Taking it down takes less than 10 minutes.
This is more ‘boat-friendly’ installation for people who don’t want to drill holes in the deck. Just make sure there’s nothing on the inside of the console that will get damaged. Since you decide how high up on your console you install it, it’s an excellent way to customize your boat, which you can’t always do for units you need to fit to the floor. Add some plywood as backing to ensure sturdiness.
6. Dolphin Pro Folding T-Top
The Dolphin brand caters to all types of preferences and this is another useful option for small to medium boats with consoles up to 45” wide. Once again you get a quality structure and canopy thanks to an Anodized 6063 alloy and UV resistant cover.
You can easily fold this down and even if you’re alone you’ll find it easy to handle. With the crossbars, you also have ample space to use for hanging fishing rods or other items, which you don’t get with the SS Pro reviewed above.
Set aside a maximum of three hours for both assembling all the parts and then installing it. You can get directions online or ask the brand to send it to you. Luckily, this one is easy to figure out as long as you have some experience with DIY jobs.
7. Dolphin Pro2 Collapsible T-TOP
If you need a bigger unit for larger boats, this Dolphin model could be your winner. It’s designed with boats of 18ft to 25ft in mind and caters for consoles as wide as 47”. You’ll be protected at 82” high by a structure supported by a heavy-duty black coated 6063 alloy frame.
You get better coverage thanks to a large canopy and you’ll appreciate how easy it is to take this off: the brand uses simple Velcro and zipper features. Note that some users prefer Velcro and snaps to the zippers, but that’s a matter of personal preference.
There’s plenty of space to hold onto if you’re on rough waters, thanks to the multiple crossbars—also handy for strapping rods to the boat—and handles incorporated into the design.
The brand provides you with backing plates, so you have everything you need for a secure installation. Once again, go online to get your instructions, because they’re usually not included in the packaging. Even though this is a large unit, you should be able to install it on your own if you have some DIY know-how.
8. FISHMASTER MARINE TOWERS AND ACCESSORIES Center Console TTOP
A versatile T-Top that can work for almost any size boat. You can customize it for consoles ranging from 24” to 50” wide. The marine-grade 6063 T6 anodized aluminum and UV Resistant Sunbrella fabric will serve you a long time. That’s why the brand offers a 5-year warranty.
What you’ll love about this design is that you can get it in multiple colors, so customize your boat! The unit can fold twice, which makes for easy storage. Even if you’re traveling through low clearance areas on the river, it’s quick to lower your canopy to prevent damage.
This brand also includes accessories, such as storage pockets, that easily attach to the structure.
Fishmaster created instruction videos which you can view online. The installation will take half a day at most and the brand includes all you need in your kit.
9. FISHMASTER MARINE TOWERS AND ACCESSORIES Pro Series Boat T-TOP
Here’s another design you can get in one of nine colors! Use it for consoles up to 50” wide and enjoy the 84” high canopy.
The canopy is known to serve you well, even when traveling at over 60mph: it won’t come loose. The nylon threaded cord keeps it in place.
The brand’s pride and joy is the quick release knobs that empower you to fold down the canopy for storage or going through low clearance areas.
You can watch videos or use the provided written instructions for installation. It’s easy enough for most DIYers to get right in five steps:
- Assembly of uprights
- Attaching upright poles to the boat deck
- Then assemble the top part
- Drill your standoffs
- Thread the nylon cord through canopy holes
10. Eevelle Summerset T-Top
Last on our list, but still worth your consideration, you can consider the Eevelle unit that’s suited for consoles up to 44” wide. The brand used Aluminum tubing and Stainless-steel hardware matched with UV Rated Marine Canvas. This one is slightly lower than some others at 79”.
With this design, you’re ensured of stability thanks to the brand adding lock screws to all the joints. Another one of the draws here is that it’s more affordable than some others, but you’re still buying quality parts.
Even if you’re new to these tasks, this one will take you +/-2 hours to install, so it’s fairly quick and easy.
More Information and FAQs
Boat T-Top Manufacturers
We showcased some of the best brands for T-Tops on our list:
- Dolphin: They’ve only been around for 15 years, but already have a firm following. T-Tops are their focus.
- Fishmaster: T-Tops are this brand’s focus, although they manufacture other boat accessories too.
- Eevelle: You’ll find many different outdoor sports items on this brand’s product list. But you can trust their T-Tops to be of good quality. Their products have won various awards.
- Oceansouth: A trusted company that has been around for over three decades, focusing on boating gear.
Is it Easy to Install a T-Top?
All brands usually provide detailed instructions with their products, so you should have a clear idea of how to go about installing a T-Top. But it does require power tools such as a drill, so make sure you have the necessary items on hand before you start.
Can T-Tops Be Removed for Storage?
Most T-Tops are designed for easy removal so you can put them away during times you’re not using the boat, or if you’re transporting the boat on the road. You don’t need that wind resistance when you drive, so make sure your model allows for easy removal, even if you’re alone and have to do it by yourself.
Imagine your next outing on the water with greater comfort thanks to proper covering while you’re at the helm. All you need is a marine T-Top. Use the information above to pick the best investment for your boat.
Remember, this can improve your boat’s resale value immensely, so pick wisely and ensure a neat installation. If you have more questions to get this right, leave a comment below.