15.5ft kayak with a 6ft pickup bed. Eeek

Looking at hitch extenders…4ft seems too short. If I go verticle with it I’m unable to put it on the cab as the %$#& sat antenna is dead center. '16 Canyon.
If I go 6ft that’ll leave about 3.5 ft past.any support. Options?

Crossbar rack on the cab roof, tall T-rack vertical on the hitch. That’s is what we did on my ex boyfriend’s pickup to haul kayaks or the canoe. Or full frame ladder rack, which is what I used to use when I had a company pickup truck.

NEVER safe to have a boat (or anything) hanging past the tailgate at bed or even tail-light level. Tailgaters rarely see the back of pickup trucks – they are focused on the back window of the cab (if there is no bed cap) and have zero depth perception for anything below that. I learned that over a 35 year career of driving company pickups as a construction site manager. Had people behind me hit the back of my trucks numerous times and one of the reasons I eventually insisted on either a full frame ladder rack or full cap on the ones I was given.

In my humble opinion, an open bed pickup truck is about the most useless and unsafe vehicle one can own unless you are a landscaper or are driving stuff and critters around a farm. And the dreadful loading habits of too many owners of the things are a persistent road hazard. Not to mention that pickup truck drivers are 2.5 times more likely to die in crashes with them than people in sedans and loads dislodging from them cause over 50,000 accidents and an average of 10 deaths per week every year nationwide.

When I spot a truck with a canoe or kayak hanging out of the bed or over the tailgate, I give it wide berth. The only safe way to carry a boat is on a well secured rack that centers the boat between the front and rear bumpers and that includes bow and stern lines to the bumpers and/or hitch.

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Illegal if you care. You need to go up and over the cab.

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I suppose it may vary by state but USDOT standard is 4’ overhang and states may not restrict it to less than that. If it extends more than 1’ it needs a flag.

I had pickups for 20 plus years and found them quite useful but also a compromise at times. I had a rack on the cab with the Y bar on the hitch that I did not care for. Later I got a Thule Xsporter that I really liked.

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Overhang is also based on wheelbase a formula

I haven’t found anywhere in USDOT that applies a wheelbase formula to passenger vehicles and light trucks but, states can and do have less restrictive standards.

Post it here a few times. They don’t want short wheelbase with something long on top it whips around to fast.

I made my own. I have one for each of my pick-ups. One for a 1980 Toyota 2WD pickup with only a 5 foot bed and one for my big Chevy 4WD with an 8 foot bed. They are made as upside-down U shaped racks. Think of a roll bar shaped rack but made from 2X4s. One fits behind the cab and is about 4" taller then the top of the cab and the other is like it, but about 10" shorter that fits in the bed or in the stake sockets of the bed sides. I brace them together with 1X6 boards set on bolts and attached with thumb screws so the whole thing can be put into a truck in about 3 minutes and the kayaks load and unload extremely easily. I screwed on pieces of wood to form cradles that fit the contour of my kayak hulls exactly, so when I slide them on from the rear they self-center and are solid with no side to side movement a tall. I tie the bow to the front tow point on the Toyota and to the brush rack on the big Chevy. The rear tension is done with a line that goes from the rack around the front of the cockpit combings and is pulled back to give strong tension against the bow lines. The girth ling holds the hulls down against the racks itself.
So I see no point in using a hitch extension on a truck unless you had a high camper in the bed. I carry a Chatham 17 and a Perception Seal lion shadow on my little Toyota with no problems at all.
The Chatham is 17 feet 3 inches and the Sea Lion is 16 feet 6 inches. The bows are over the hood and the sterns stick out the back only about 4 feet from the small truck. One the Chevy both boats are even or inside the length of the truck. So no considerations need to be made in turns and in maneuvers of the truck at all, unlike having an extension or a trailer.
Made the way I describe such kayak carriers are very solid and quite inexpensive. Typically the total is under $100 for all materials screws glue and rope. The labor for me (because I have now made 2 for me and 7 others for friends) is about 1 hour or a bit less.
To remove them I pull out cotter pins from holes I drill in the bolts (to keep the wing nuts from loosening in tensest) and unscrew 4 wing nuts. Take off the 1X6 side braces. Lift out the rear rank and then lift out the front rack. That’s it! To replace them do the the same, but in reverse order.

To load a kayak I place the bow on the rear cross member in the cradle I made to fit it’s hull. Walk to the stern and lift only about waist high. Now…walk forward. The kayak slides up the “ramp” you made with extreme ease. My friends 12 year old daughter loads my 63 pound Chatham by herself and it’s not even a grunt for her. Tie off the way I described above and your on the way to the water. To unload, untie all ropes and pull on the stern. When it comes to center point (balanced) gently lower it to the ground and then ease it off only ever having to hold 1/2 it’s weight. So a big sea kayak is loaded lifting no more then 35 pound at any time, and never lifting past the middle of your chest. Never do you need to lift any weight overhead with this system.
I have made this kind of carrier for several pick-ups for friends and for passenger cars I make a ladder-like rack that conforms to the shape of their hull. The rack is placed on the top of a car (Subarus and Toyots ) So the “ladder” holds the kayak and it’s simply ties down to a roof rack or a set of roof rails. Tie off the kayak as you would on the rack in the trucks, but tie or untie the "ladder’ to your car as and when you need it. Takes about 90 seconds to 2 minutes to install or remove.


All it takes is getting creative.


Nice little truck shack. :+1:t3:

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Thanks to all the replies! Going up and over!

@wawaski I had a similar dilemma. I had a S10 and now a Colorado, both with 72 (+) beds. With the gate down, it would support a 14’ 6" long boat without rudder. The rudder complicated tie down options. I posted these pictures previously, but they show the precarious perch. It was solid with the back tied. Although it didn’t shift, it would bounce on bumps. I was never stopped (even with police following and passing), but it didnt qualify for the 4 ft rule, even if measured from the tip of the lowered tailgate (not where the legal measurement starts. I considered the extenders, which improve the support significantly, but doesn’t change legal standards. Besides, I also feared the reality that the following drive would view the tail lights as the stopping point, even with flags, signs or flashing lights.

With the S10, the solution for my 17 ft boat was a side mounted T-Ladder Rack which I really liked, because they didnt obstruct the bed, could be removed by simply lifting supports out of the side brackets, nothing to duck under when tying down the boat, drawback was one boat.

Last year I found a great aluminum rack at Harbor Frieght for $225 that fits the Colorado. It was about 4 inches higher than I wanted it, so I cut the supports down by four inches on a milling machine, then redrilled and retap the holes as necessary. I like that it has adjustable brackets that I mounted in the center to prevent the kayaks from hitting the roof antenna. I carry the kayak on my shoulder and rest the nose on the rack and rest the stern on the ground (the angle makes rudder boats a pain to deal with, which is why I hate rudders more than cold, boiled mutton). Then slide the boat up and flip. Sand on the bottom of the boat tends to scratch up the aluminum, but that’s consistent with me not having many nice things.

There are other options like the center T-bracket, but then you need a roof mounted rack. Then there are steel versions that are cheaper.

Make sure you measure supports so the boats don’t hit the roof, and make sure the brackets have clearance to clamp to the side rails of the bed.


Custom ladder rack that is also used to transport a kayak. Returning from circumnavigating the Tilghman peninsula at St. Michaels. 32.7 Statute miles.

Yakima Mako saddles mounted on the crossbars with 1¼ stainless U-bolts


How about this 34’ voyageur canoe we raced 1000 miles on the Yukon river, transported to the Yukon and Back from NY State, properly flagged, no issues at the border or any place else.

Another year, another race, another Yukon voyageur canoe:

This one races and stays in NY State:


Yknpdlr: Short piece in this week’s “The New Yorker” magazine about the crew of 5 (4 members of Haudenosaunee Confederact tribes and a self-described “white guy”) who are in the midst of taking a 31’ canoe on a 1500 mile looping circumnavigation of the US Northeast from the Penobscot River from Old Town, Maine, via the Hudson, Mohawk, Oswego, Lake Ontario, Ste. Lawrence, Chaudiere and back to the Penobscot (there are a few portages). They’ve named their craft “Chi Jeckin Agwiden”, Penobscot for “Big Ass Canoe.”

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I tried, and used, different methods ( bed extender, a couple of different overhead racks) and finally broke down and bought a kayak trailer.
I really should have done it sooner. Easy on, easy off.
I don’t miss the hassle of lifting the boat that high


I am not a fan of the hitch extender tied in with a rack on the cab of a pickup.

The cabs of pickups are cushioned with bushings, the bed is not. That can cause some torsional problems that stress the hull too much.

I like the Thule truck bed racks. I have a Nissan Frontier with a six foot bed and I routinely carry around 19-21 foot long boats, not big deal.


Honestly, most hitch extenders are pretty loose. Even most hitches are pretty loose unless they have some weight on them. Unless they are doing some serious offroading with the kayak on top, I don’t think it would hurt anything.

To go back to the OP. Just because you have the sat antenna dead centre does not mean you cannot put a kayak over the roof, it does not need to be in the centre of the truck. I often transport my 17 foot wood kayak over the passengerside side of my Landy. Does not hurt anything but aesthetics to have it asymmetric.


So what’s the problem??? I have 2015 Tacoma w/6’ bed. 4’ bed extender from HF.
I haul 14’ & 17 ’ kayaks all the time.I also haul 17’ & 18’ some times. Absolutely not a problem. I just brought a 17’ yak thru 6 states,past several State patrols & sheriff officers.
Not a problem.
If you strap it down properly,dont drive like your azz is on fire they will be fine.


Illegal where?? See my post.