The Best Boat Anchors to Fit All Types of Vessels

We researched the best boat anchors and like the Bruce Stainless Steel Claw best

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TRIPSAVVY-best-boat-anchors

TripSavvy / Chloe Jeong

To the uninitiated boater, the wide world of anchor options can be daunting. Navy, fluke, plow, mushroom, grappling—it’s a market that feels like it’s speaking in secret code. But once you understand the value of an anchor’s setting ability, holding power, and efficacy in windy conditions, strong currents, and different bottom types, things start to crystallize. From anchors tailored for small boats or pontoons to monster anchors that hold fast in the most demanding conditions, these are the best boat anchors of 2022.

Best Overall: Bruce Stainless Steel Claw Anchor

Bruce Stainless Steel Claw Anchor

Amazon

What We Like
  • Reliable set and retrieval

What to Consider
  • A bit pricey

The Bruce Stainless Steel Claw Anchor has won accolades for more than 40 years. Considering how well it sets quickly in practically any sea bottom, that's no wonder. It holds confidently in sand, mud, rock, and coral, with a short scope and a small trip line point at the back, which gives you the option of attaching a secondary line to release the anchor in case of snagging. The 316 stainless steel looks great, shining in the sun more brightly than galvanized steel, and is more resistant to corrosion. And a lifetime warranty assures that it'll perform for decades. The weight ranges from 6 pounds to a whopping 176 pounds.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: WindRider Boat Anchor Kit

WindRider Boat Anchor Kit

Amazon

What We Like
  • One-purchase simplicity

  • Comes with instructions on how to attach the shackle to the retrieval hole via zip ties

What to Consider
  • Only available in 13.8 - and 13-pound versions

If you’re looking to outfit your watercraft with everything you need to successfully anchor, go with the Boat Anchor Kit from WindRiver. You get a stainless steel fluke anchor that holds reliably in sand and mud, a 100-foot anchor rope with an eye splice, two galvanized blow shackles, and an 8-foot galvanized chain–everything you need in one convenient package. Minnesota-based WindRiver also pre-drilled a recovery hole, so you can easily extract it if it gets stuck without worrying about cutting your anchor line.

Best Budget: Roloff Manufacturing Aluminum-Finish Marine Anchor

Roloff Manufacturing Aluminum-Finish Marine Anchor

Bass Pro

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Not suitable for oceans

The Navy-style Aluminum-Finish Marine Anchor from Roloff Manufacturing provides solid digging action to set in a variety of sea bottoms standard in most rivers and lakes and boasts reliable holding powder in gravel and shale or stone. The semi-steel anchor has been dipped in aluminum paint to provide a fine finish and a bit of durable protection from the elements and also cleans easily. Weight options range from five to 28 pounds.

 

Best Splurge: Lewmar Delta Stainless Steel Anchor

Lewmar Delta Stainless Steel Anchor

West Marine

What We Like
  • Instant setting, self-righting geometry

What We Don't Like
  • Costly

If your bank account has recovered from buying your boat and you really want the best, consider the pricey Delta Stainless Steel Anchor from Lewmar. Used as the primary anchor for numerous lifeboat organizations, the plow-style anchor comes with a shank profile and a ballasted tip that makes it self-launching and thoroughly reliable. Thanks to a low center of gravity and self-righting design, it sets immediately, boasting a high holding power in even the most demanding conditions. High-grade manganese steel assures decades of reliable use, and its sleek profile will complement the streamlined aesthetic of any water vessel. Available in 14, 22, and 35-pound models.

Best for Lakes: Fortress FX-37 Boat Anchor

Fortress FX 37 Boat Anchor
Fortress FX 37 Boat Anchor.
What We Like
  • Can also be used as a backup/storm anchor

What We Don't Like
  • A bit pricey

The Fortress FX-7 Boat Anchor allows you to adjust the fluke angle—32 degrees for standard bottoms and 45 degrees for soft mud—making it ideal for lake beds. Made of hardened, high-tech aluminum-magnesium alloy, it’s considerably lighter than steel anchors. Still, it provides reliable holding strength, able to withstand pull loads that averaged over 200 times the anchor’s weight. An anodized finish will stand up to years of earnest abuse, and it has been designed to disassemble for compact storage quickly.

Best for Rivers: Seachoice 41500 River Anchor

Seachoice 41500 River Anchor

Amazon

What We Like
  • Quick bottom contact

What We Don't Like
  • Only weighs 12 pounds, which should be sufficient for most small- to medium-sized river boats.

Blending the benefits of both a grapple and a mushroom anchor, the Seachoice River Anchor will dive to the bottom surface, cutting through mud and debris typical to most river floors. The all-iron anchor has been coated with vinyl for added durability, and a wide rope eye makes securing a line easy via the galvanized anchor shackle.

Best for Windy Conditions: Lewmar Epsilon Anchor

Lewmar Epsilon Anchor

West Marine

What We Like
  • Serious holding power

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Sailers know both the benefits and the drawbacks of strong winds, especially when trying to anchor in such demanding conditions. And the Lewmar Epsilon anchor provides a significant advantage. Thanks to a concave fluke and a ballast keel, it provides rapid setting and market-leading holding power. Available in galvanized manganese and 316 stainless steel, the tip has been ballasted for a quick set, and an anti-snagging design makes it easy to retrieve. Available in weights that range from 14 to 140 pounds.

Best for Pontoon Boats: Fortress FX-37 Boat Anchor

Fortress FX 37 Boat Anchor
Fortress FX 37 Boat Anchor.
What We Like
  • Adjustable fluke angles

  • Easy to disassemble

What To Consider
  • Expensive

Most owners of pontoon boats have to contend with soft-to-medium bottoms typical to lakes, rivers, and canals, and the FX-37 Marine Anchor from Fortress makes quick work of cutting through the mud and debris to find purchase on the waterway’s bottom. Made of hardened, high-tech aluminum-magnesium alloy, the fluke-style anchor can be adjusted to handle standard bottoms (32 degrees) or soft mud (45 degrees), adding ample versatility. And the anchor is far lighter than all-steel models, which makes it easy to handle (and transport once disassembled), but it still outperforms the holding power of heavier steel options.

Best for Small Boats: Best Marine Kayak Anchor

Best Marine Kayak Anchor

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Compact

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Consider
  • Some may want more holding power depending on water and wind conditions.

Suitable for canoes and other small boats and the vessel in its namesake, the Kayak Anchor from Best Marine provides an easy-to-stash, quick-to-deploy complete anchoring solution in one package. The 3.5-pound anchor comes with a collapsible grappling anchor made of rust-resistant galvanized iron, 40 feet of marine rope, a buoy ball, a stainless steel carabiner, and a nylon storage bag. Whether you’re on a canoe, stand-up paddleboard, or a jet ski, it’ll find quick purchase on most bottoms and provide solid hold as you rest on the water.

Final Verdict

Quick to set in all environments, easy to retrieve, and great to look at, the Bruce Stainless Steel Claw Anchor has been a winner for more than 40 years. The 316 stainless steel construction proves durable and resistant to corrosion, and a lifetime warranty bolsters confidence. But if you want to get everything you need to set up an anchor, go with the WindRiver Boat Anchor Kit, which comes with a steel fluke anchor, 100 feet of anchor rope, two galvanized blow shackles, and an 8-foot galvanized chain. It also comes with a pre-drilled recovery hole.

What to Look for in a Boat Anchor

Size

Storage size is a modest consideration in selecting an anchor. Still, the primary purpose of the anchor is to hold the boat in place (even accounting for wind or heavy currents). So the size of the anchor will be dictated by the holding power the anchor provides, which directly corresponds to the weight of your boat and typical conditions like average wind speeds. For smaller boats, this means you can have a smaller anchor—and if you’re on a kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard, or a jet ski, you can even pocket your anchor when you don’t need it.

Type(s)

Those uninitiated to the world of modern anchors are in for a surprise—there’s a lot of variety. Navy-style anchors most closely match the image of an anchor you have in your head, a T- or U-shaped construction with two pointed arms branching out from the center post. These are great for heavy grass, weeds, and rocky bottoms. Fluke anchors, meanwhile, work best for boats shorter than 30 feet. They also fold flat (making it easier to store) and work best in hard sand and mud but gain less purchase in slick, grassy conditions and loose mud or clay. The smaller grappling-style anchors are suitable for smaller boats–think canoes or kayaks–and are typically easy to store. Plow anchors come with a low center of gravity that helps them set up quickly, and the prow-like shape lets the anchor reset in windy conditions. They’re great for most aquatic surfaces except for soft bottoms. Consider a claw anchor for larger boats in really windy conditions, which has tremendous holding power for their size. And finally, small mushroom anchors work well for small boats and short anchoring–but should not be used as the primary anchor.

Weight

When in doubt, go heavier—lighter anchors might be easier to transport and use, but they might not hold up to strong winds or currents if they're underweighted. Heavier anchors typically boast more holding power—the amount of force that the anchor can handle so the boat doesn't drift. Also, consider bottom conditions; holding on to a sandy bottom requires less weight than in muddy and grassy conditions because the anchor must be heavy enough to drop through those upper layers before getting to solid earth.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What are the key considerations in selecting an anchor?

    The most significant consideration is what size boat you own and what kind of holding power an anchor has—whether the anchor will provide the required pull force to keep your boat in place. But you should take other factors into account, including typical weather and current conditions where you boat, where the anchor will be used in terms of overall depth, and typical bottom conditions to assure that the anchor will reach the water’s floor and anchor to it regardless of the features and conditions lying under the waves.

  • What is the best way to anchor your boat?

    Unless you’re dropping a “lunch hook” (setting an anchor quickly to lock it in place for a few hours to swim or eat a meal), you need to be deliberate when anchoring your boat. First, determine the bottom depth, and assure that you have the proper “anchor scope”—the ratio of the length of your rope to the water depth as it measures to the point where your anchor is fastened to the boat, typically 7 to 1.

    Then drop your speed to a near-crawl, point the boat into the wind or current, drop anchor, and then use the engine to pull back to help set the anchor. Then make a note of any landmarks—or use your GPS’s alarm system—to validate that you’re not drifting. When retrieving the anchor, don’t rely on muscle. Use the engine to slowly motor the boat toward the anchor as you pull.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Borchelt has been rating, testing, reviewing, and writing about outdoor and travel gear for decades, and has spent a fair time plying the waters of the world on kayak, canoe, pontoon boat, and stand-up paddle, in addition to several excursions in larger boats on the Chesapeake Bay. Each anchor was judged based on its size, ease of use, holding power, durability, and specific applications like certain bottom types and variable current and wind conditions.

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