When you decide to buy a jet ski, picking out the craft itself is the fun part.
Unfortunately, it is not the only purchasing decision you’ll have to make.
A personal watercraft (PWC) requires several accessories just for everyday upkeep.
First things first, you’re going to need someplace to put it.
How to Store a Jet Ski
A jet ski should ideally be stored inside, like in a garage or shed, where it gets some protection from the elements.
Though, outside storage is possible if you have nowhere else to put your PWC and take a few extra steps to keep it warm and dry during the winter months.
Inside or outside, a jet ski shouldn’t be stored directly on the floor or the ground.
Storing a PWC on the ground will have it resting on one side of the hull, causing excessive wear, and isn’t good for the craft.
A jet ski stand is the ideal solution for getting a PWC up off the ground.
Good jet ski stands support the craft’s weight in a way that centers the jet ski and protects the hull, and are built with wheels, providing an easy portability solution as well.
Jet Ski Weight vs Stand Weight Limit
Jet skis come in a wide range of weights.
The smallest PWC on the market, the Sea-Doo Spark, weighs under 500 pounds with all required fluids for operation.
The Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra 310LX weighs almost 1,100 pounds. That is quite the difference.
The good news is, many jet ski stands are designed with weight limits exceeding even the heaviest PWC.
AquaCarts basic stand, the AQ-11, for instance, has a weight limit of 1,800 pounds, which will support any current PWC on the market.
But not all of them are so capable.
When shopping for a jet ski stand, the first, most important thing to know is the weight of your PWC.
This includes not only the craft with all of its fluids, but any equipment, such as coolers or safety equipment, you intend to leave attached or onboard while the jet ski is being stored.
Jet Ski Width vs Stand Design
Along with different weight limits, jet ski stands have different widths, or, more specifically, different widths between bunk boards.
The bunk boards are the parts of the stand that actually touch the bottom of the hull and support the PWC.
Bunk boards are carpeted to prevent damage to the hull, and should be sized to fit your specific watercraft.
Most stands come in multiple bunk widths.
The AquaCart AQ-11, for instance, comes in three bunk widths: 20 inches, which fits most sit-down models of PWC, 14 inches, which fits “V”-hulled models of PWC, including most performance models, as well as stand-up models, and 12 inches, which fits most stand-up models.
Don’t worry too much if you’re not sure which bunk board design is the right one for your PWC.
You can typically shop for stands by brand and model, and, if there is still confusion, sellers will make sure you get the right stand for your specific craft.
Jet Ski Stand Height for Easy Transport
Unless you’re right on the water, and plan to huff your PWC to the shoreline by stand or dolly, you’re going to need to get it onto a trailer at some point.
Most small jet ski trailers are around 20 inches in height, but larger trailers can go up to over 30 inches in height.
When choosing a jet ski stand for your PWC, keep your trailer in mind and make sure the two are compatible.
A 19- or 20-inch stand is ideal for a 20-inch trailer. A 30-inch stand is ideal for a 30-inch trailer.
The closer your stand and trailer are in height, the easier it will be to move your PWC from one to the other.
Jet Ski Stand Utility
For the most part, jet ski stands are designed to simply store your jet ski, with casters to help you move it to and from a trailer for transport.
But some jet ski stands serve other purposes as well.
Jet Ski Beach Carts
Beach carts are exactly what they sound like.
They are carts designed to transport a PWC over the sand and into the water.
Unlike beach dollies, which have only two wheels and must be elevated by hand or another vehicle, beach carts have four wheels just like a jet ski stand and the same bunk board designs.
This means a beach cart can be used as a stand for your jet ski even when the jet ski is not being transported, saving you both space and money.
But there is one small caveat to that.
The bunk boards on beach carts are not typically carpeted.
This keeps sand from getting stuck in the fabric and scratching the PWC’s hull.
If you want to make your beach cart a stand, you should cover the bunk boards with soft fabric and take extra care to keep sand off the boards.
If that seems too risky, you may prefer to keep your stand and transport separate.
But beach carts have other purposes and advantages as well.
The main one is that they have considerably bigger wheels than an average cart.
If you store your PWC outdoors and have to move it over uneven terrain, a beach cart can make hauling it around your property considerably easier.
Jet Ski Stand for Maintenance and Cleaning
While you don’t have to know how to fix everything on your jet ski yourself, knowing how to do a few basic maintenance tune-ups will prevent major issues and wear and tear to your machine.
Thankfully, most of the working parts of a jet ski are accessible from the top, but they can still be a pain on the wrong-sized stand.
If you like to tinker with your jet ski, you may prefer a stand that leaves the top easily accessible.
Jet ski stands top out pretty low, at around 30 inches, but don’t forget to factor in the height of the jet ski itself.
Personal watercraft average around 3 to 4 feet high.
While placing the craft on a stand will shave off some of that height (part of the hull will sit even with or slightly below the stand itself), it won’t shave off much.
Add a 30-inch stand to a 4-foot PWC and suddenly the top of the craft is sitting at over six feet!
A low-profile PWC stand comes in at 12 inches or less, with average stands in the 15 to 20 inch range.
These lower stands can be ideal for maintenance work and tinkering on an engine.
When buying a lower-profile stand, just keep in mind the weight limit and make sure the stand is designed for your make and model of PWC, or the hull of your craft could end up on the floor.
Our Favorite Jet Ski Stand for Sit-Down PWC
The majority of jet ski stands on the market will work as intended.
They will support the weight they say they will and will keep your PWC up off the floor.
Some companies you can feel assured in buying from include AquaCarts, C.E. Smith, and SBT.
Our personal top pick for PWC stand is the AquaCarts AQ-20.
AquaCarts’ AQ-19 is the the company’s most popular model of PWC stand. For good reason. It’s nearly the perfect height for loading a PWC onto a trailer, and it has adjustable bunks, allowing it to securely fit many PWC on the market.
So, why is the AquaCarts AQ-20 our preferred stand from the brand?
We simply have more faith in its design.
While many components of the AQ-19 and AQ-20 are the same (same heavy-duty steel frame, same pressure-treated wood bunks), the design is not.
To make the AQ-19 adjustable, the removable bunks sit atop the frame and are bolted in, while the bunks on the AQ-20 sit inside molded uprights.
If the bolts on the AQ-19 come loose or rust, it is possible for the bunk to come free of the frame and chuck your PWC onto the floor.
The design of the AQ-20 makes it impossible for this to happen. Even if a bolt comes loose or rusts, the molded uprights will hold the bunks in place.
This is not to say it’s likely something will happen to the bolts on an AQ-19 and send your PWC careening onto the floor.
It’s very unlikely. The AQ-19 is a high quality stand.
But we prefer the peace of mind of a molded upright.
Almost all sit-down PWCs will use the 20-inch bunk width on an AQ-19 anyway, with the 22-inch width on the AQ-20 even better for many, making the adjustability of the AQ-19 a moot point.
And the AQ-20 comes standard with heavier-duty casters, giving it a higher weight limit out of the box – 1,800 pounds to the AQ-19’s 1,300 pounds.
Our Favorite Stand-Up Jet Ski Stand
Stand up jet skis, like the Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R and the Yamaha SuperJet, are narrower in width than their sit-down counterparts.
The Jet Ski SX-R is 30 inches in width, while the Kawasaki sit-down models run between 46.5 and 47 inches in width.
The SuperJet is also 30 inches in width, while Yamaha sit-down models start at 44.5 inches wide.
As such, stands with narrower bunks fit stand-up models of PWC better than wider bunks.
Our pick for best stand-up jet ski stand is the SBT 14″ Bunk Shop Cart.
Like the AQ-20, the SBT 14″ Bunk Shop Cart has design features that ensure durability, namely the molded uprights, which will hold bunks in place even if the bolts fail.
And, at 1,200 pounds, the weight limit of the SBT shop cart is way beyond the top weight of any stand-up model of PWC.
The biggest downside to the SBT Shop Cart is that it sits low, just 11″ off the ground.
This can add some difficulty when it comes to transferring your PWC from stand to trailer or trailer to stand.
But stand-ups are also lighter than sit-down models, so moving them back and forth isn’t as difficult to begin with.
Still, if easy transfer between trailer and stand is your main concern, you’ll want a taller PWC stand.
Here is where the adjustable AquaCarts AQ-19 can be a good option.
It’s roughly the same height as most trailers, and, when adjusted to its 14-inch width, works great with a smaller hulled PWC, like a stand-up.
Best Jet Ski Stand Conclusion
Whether you’re storing your PWC between trips to the beach or storing it for winter, you need a durable, high-quality jet ski stand.
A stand will keep your craft up off the ground, protecting its hull, and, at under $500 for even the highest quality stands, is a meager investment for protecting your far pricier personal watercraft.