top rated steering wheels

5 Best Boat Steering Wheels [Updated]

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Unless you have an outboard steering arm, a boat steering wheel is required to direct your boat in the correct direction. They come in a range of shapes, sizes and materials for large or small boats.

The best boat steering wheel is the Stainless Steel Pactrade Marine Wheel with its high-quality look and feels that includes a turning knob for ease of steering.

A steering wheel system uses a helm, bezel, steering cable and of course the wheel in order to steer the boat. However, if you are simply switch the boat steering wheel over, it is a fairly simple upgrade without the need of touching the original system.

Table of Contents

Best Steering Wheel For Boats

Boat Steering Wheel Preview Our Rating
Pactrade Marine 4.9
Amarine Made 4.8
Attwood Marine 8315-4 4.7
Yaegarden 5 Spokes 4.7
SeaLux 4.8

The styling of the boat steering wheel that you choose is completely up to you with wooden and stainless steel being highly desirable. They do however come with a larger price tag and if you are looking for a cheap steering wheel, the rubber or plastic alternatives are highly durable.

The size of the steering wheel for your boat often runs in parallel with your boat’s size. For example, smaller boats opt for a smaller steering wheel and vise versa.

Some boat owners like to keep spares when their boat is not in use but many simply just want to upgrade. Below is a list of the best boat steering wheels that include a range of materials and features to choose from.

Pactrade Marine Boat Stainless Steel Steering Wheel

the best boat steering wheel.

The Pactrade is a stainless steel boat steering wheel that includes a turning knob to help steer your boat in the right direction. It is 15 1/2 inch diameter, 7/8 inch tube diameter with 5 spokes, which looks very classy.

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Being stainless steel, it is highly durable and resistant to rust from the harsh marine environment.

One of the best things about this steering wheel is that you would think it’s expensive but its actually very reasonably priced, unlike many other competitors.

Overall, the Pactrade Marine Boat Stainless Steel Wheel is the best boat steering wheel you can buy, which will improve the looks and feel of any boat.

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Amarine Destroyer Steering Wheel

the best boat steering wheel for small boats.

The Amarine Made steel wheel is a mix of stainless steel and foam grip that also includes a turning knob.

The main advantage of having both stainless steel and foam is that during the hot weather, you will not burn your hand on the steering wheel.

It is a small boat steering wheel with a diameter of 13-1/2 Inch and is more suited to the smaller boat. It is rated slightly lower than the Pactrade Marine purely because overtime the black PU foam grip may wear but this isn’t really something to worry about for the average boat owner.

For the money, it is the best boat steering wheel for small boats but could also be used for bigger boats if you prefer this size. The mixed stainless steel and PU foam are the best in its class and you will not be disappointed.

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Attwood Marine 8315-4 Soft Grip

the best cheap boat steering wheel.

The Attwood Marine 8315-4 is a soft grip small boat steering wheel made from PVC, which is weatherproof and highly durable. It has a diameter of 13 inches and will fit standard 3/4 inch shafts.

It is by far the best cheap boat steering wheel and is very easy to replace for a quick improvement. There are 4 spokes that are easy to hold and maintain the construction of the wheel itself fairly easily.

If you want a cheap steering wheel for your boat, the Attwood Marine 8315-4 is the best option and will offer you many years of steering.

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SeaLux Stainless Steel Boat Steering Wheel

a simplistic yet high quality boat steering wheel.

The SeaLux is a 3 spoke polished stainless steel boat steering wheel that will fit all standard 3/4 inch shafts. It has a diameter of 13 1/2 inch with a 3 1/2 inch height.

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Like many of the alternatives, it includes the all-important turning knob and is highly rated in terms of quality and styling.

If you are looking for a simplistic yet high-quality boat steering wheel, the SeaLux is exactly this and will add value to your boat as well as being long-lasting.

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Yaegarden 5 Spokes Boat Steering Wheel

The Yaegarden 5 spoke boat steering wheel is made of marine grade stainless steel. The rim of the wheel is covered with a permanent black foam sleeve that not only looks good, but gives you a sturdy grip on the wheel. 

The foam on the 5 spoke wheel keeps it from getting hot from the sun, as can happen with other wheels. The durable stainless steel is resistant to the harsh marine environments and is corrosion resistant. 

Many users have found that the built in spinner knob is a valuable feature that makes docking easy. 

At fifteen inches in diameter, the Yaegarden will be a universal fit for most boats. 

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Boat Steering Wheel Buying Guide

What to Look For in a Boat Steering Wheel Guide?

When you are out to sea in your boat, you will spend the majority of your time steering the boat. Therefore you want the best steering wheel for your boat that will look and feel great.

There are many similarities between a boat and car steering wheel but the main difference is that the boat wheel will need to be much more durable and survive damp environments.

steering wheels for boats

What Are Boat Steering Wheels Made of?

The majority of automotive steering wheels are made from leather but this would not work in a boating environment.

They could probably last a few months but the condition will deteriorate fairly quickly unless it keeps inside a cabin and maintained.

The majority of boat steering wheels are made from stainless steel, PVC/Plastic, wood, and hard rubber. These are all water-resistant materials that are very durable.

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How to Fit a Steering Wheel to a Boat?

A boat steering system uses a wheel, helm, bezel and a steering cable where the majority are the same from boat to boat.

There are many highly recommended steering wheel kits for setting up the steering system from scratch.

To fit a new steering wheel to your boat, follow the steps below:

  • Uncover the center to show the nut on the steering shaft
  • Undo the nut and watch out for wheel spinning too
  • Grease the shaft before putting your new wheel in place
  • Thread the locking nut on the steering shaft
  • Ensure its tightened to correct torque
  • Place the center cover back over the nut

In terms of replacing the steering wheel of your boat, it is fairly simple but may need a bit of brute force.

If you are yet to install a system, you will need to find the best boat steering system for your requirements, which be a hydraulic, rotary, or rack type of system.

Hydraulic is mostly used for high-performance boats whereas the others are mechanical and much cheaper.

boat steering wheel

Turning Knob

You will notice that a lot of the above-recommended boat steering wheels have to turn knobs. This makes it easier to turn the wheel using one hand so that you can concentrate on where you are going.

However, some boat owners feel that it spoils the look of the steering wheel and can get in the way. For example, if you are a speed boat owner you probably won’t need this as at full speed, the majority of the time you will have both hands on the wheel.

Steering Wheel Size

The argument for having a larger steering wheel is for ease of steering. You are able to get more precision with a larger diameter over a smaller steering wheel.

However, you still want your latest purchase to look great, and putting a large steering wheel on your small boat can look silly.

The boat steering wheels mentioned above are all average-sized but there are models that are over 20 inches in diameter than would only be suited for large boats.

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