How To Transport A Kayak In A Truck


How To Transport A Kayak In A Truck

Having a pickup truck is one of the most useful things I own. Anyone who owns one feels this way too. One of my favorite things to haul is my kayak.

There are several ways you can transport a kayak in a truck.

  • Smaller kayaks can fit in the bed with the tailgate up.
  • Medium kayaks can be strapped in with the tailgate down.
  • Larger kayaks can be hauled using a bed load extender.
  • You can carry multiple kayaks using truck bed racks
  • Lastly, you can transport multiple kayaks in a truck bed rack

Average Truck Bed Lengths

There are three standard bed lengths. They differ by a few inches depending on the manufacturer.

  • Long Bed – 8 feet long (96″)
  • Standard Bed – 6 feet 5 inches long (77″)
  • Short Bed – 5 feet 7 inches long (67″)
  • Add 25″ to the bed length with the tailgate down

How Long A Kayak Can A Truck Bed Carry?

You can load a kayak onto a truck bed either straight out or diagonally. You can carry slightly longer kayaks if you load it diagonally.

Diagonally Loaded

Here are the max kayak lengths you can load diagonally in the truck bed. For each truck bed type you see the longest kayak that can fit inside the bed.

Max Kayak Length Diagonal Loaded

The easiest way you can load diagonally into the truck bed is snug and secure:

  • Diagonally loaded and tailgate up
  • Diagonally loaded and tailgate down using a tailgate extender

Straight Loaded

You can have some overhang length when you load the kayak with the tailgate down. Make sure most of the kayak weight is on the bed floor and not the tailgate.

Here are the max kayak lengths you can load straight in the truck bed with the tailgate down. You will also want to load your kayak straight in when using a bed load extender, also known as a hitch extender.

Max Kayak Length Straight Loaded

Truck Bed Anchor Points

The easiest way to secure your kayak in your truck cargo bed is to anchor it to the side walls. There are alternative methods like bull ring or D-ring anchors usually tied on top of each side wall.

  • Cargo Bed Boxlink Plates. These are easy to add to the side walls of your truck bed. You will need 4 to properly lash down your kayak properly.
Cargo Bed Boxlink Plate

Tie Down Anchors. These are terrific anchor points to strap your kayak within the truck bed. Make sure to get one that fits with the boxlink plates you have in the truck bed. They are removeable and come with a key lock for easy securing and removal.

The Supplies You Will Need

  • Rubber mat. A heavy duty bed mat will that is tough to protect both your truck and kayak from dings and scrapes. Prevents your kayak from shifting while transporting.
  • Tow Line. Useful for tying your the bow to the front of the cargo bed to eliminating the kayak from sliding out of the truck bed.
  • Cargo Straps. I use 1′ x 15′ NRS-1 cam straps and ratchet straps to tie down kayak to tie down anchors. NRS-1 straps are rated at 1,500 pounds which is sufficient for any size kayak.
  • Red Flag. All states require a red flag to hang off the end of any oversized cargo, including kayaks and canoes, that extend 4 feet or more beyond the vehicle.

… any cargo that extends back past the bumper 4 feet or more requires a red flag at the rearmost point during daylight hours.

Transporting Your Kayak – Florida Sportsman
Learn how to determine how long a kayak your car can carry.

How To Transport A Kayak In A Truck Bed

Prepare The Truck Bed

  • Lay rubber bed mat in in truck bed
  • Insert tie anchors into boxlink plates on bed side walls
  • Locate cargo straps, tow line and red flag
  • Measure the size of the kayak
  • Decide if the kayak will fit in the bed straight in or diagonally with tailgate up

Load And Tie Down Kayak In Truck Bed

  • Load kayak into truck cargo bed and position into a secure position (straight in or diagonally)
  • Attach the tow line to the bow and secure to the truck bed near the cab. This will prevent the kayak from sliding out of the cargo area
  • Secure the kayak with two ratchet or cam straps using the installed bed anchor points
  • Run one end of a strap through a anchor point loop
  • Guide the strap through a kayak handle or decking cords across the kayak
  • Run the other end of a strap through an adjacent anchor point on the other side of the truck bed
  • Buckle or synch the strap ends using the ratchet or cam connector
  • Repeat for the 2nd set of anchor points and tighten and secure the kayak

Using A Bed Extender

Truck Bed Extender
Truck Bed Extender
  • Follow the assembly and mounting instructions for the truck bed extender
  • Install mount bracket set each end of the tailgate D-pillar
  • Mount bed extender to the brackets and use provided straps to attached to tailgate
  • Load kayak into truck cargo bed and position into a secure position (straight in or diagonally)
  • Engage bed extender over tailgate
  • Secure the kayak with two ratchet or cam straps using the installed bed anchor points described in the section above

Using A Bed Load Extender

Kayak On A Bed Load Extender
14 Foot Kayak On A Bed Load Extender – Short Bed Truck

My short bed truck with a bed load extender installed, can safely and securely handle the length and the weight of the 125 pound Hobie Pro Angler 14.

  • Follow the assembly and mounting instructions for the truck bed load extender
  • Assemble the bed load extender and attach to a 2″ hitch receiver
  • Load kayak into truck cargo bed straight in
  • Adjust the crossbar height. The height is correct when the kayak weight is resting on the truck bed and the extender crossbar and not the tailgate.
  • Secure the kayak with two ratchet or cam straps using the installed bed anchor points described in the section above
  • Attach a red flag to the end of the kayak

Using A Truck Bed Rack System

There are many rack systems for a truck that could be used for hauling kayaks. Most are wide enough to handle two kayaks side-by-side. They can also handle up to 800 lbs.

  • Follow the assembly instructions for the truck bed rack system
  • Lift and load kayak into truck rack system straight in
  • Secure the kayak with two ratchet or cam tie down straps using the rope hooks located on the side of all four uprights
  • Attach a red flag to the end of the kayak

Roof Racks For Trucks

For pickup trucks, roof rack vendors require a 24″ span between racks, so only consider four-door cabs for adding a kayak roof rack.

Nearly all truck cabs a naked roof. Therefore, without side rails or crossbars, you will use one of the naked roof options for your truck roof rack.

As with kayak mounts for cars, you are somewhat limited in the kayak carrier options that will mount to your roof rack.

The J-cradle rack and the saddle kayak rack are sensible choices. The stacker is not a good option here.

Read about additional roof rack options in the Ultimate Guide to Transporting Your Kayak.

How To Haul Two Kayaks In A Truck?

How do we transport two kayaks in a truck bed?

For hauling in the truck bed, you can stack two kayaks by doing the following:

  • Load the first kayak on the bed straight in
  • Strap the first kayak to the truck
  • Place a rubber mat over the bottom kayak
  • Load a second kayak on the first kayak
  • Strap and secure the second kayak using the same anchor points as the first

You can also use roof racks with J-cradles or truck bed rack system when carrying two kayaks.

Tracy Villarreal

I'm the owner of Active At The Beach. I grew up in a beach town in which I was fortunate enough to spend tons of time around the sea and the beach.

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