Best Kayak Rack for Full Size Truck???

I am moving from a S-10 to a Tundra and have to make some kayak rack decisions.

I have a Yakima rack on a camper shell with my S-10. Works great for this truck. Although I am short, I can still lift my glass boats and load from the side onto J cradles, my preferred way to carry (not a fan of Mako saddles, etc, although I have some as well).

At 5’8 I don’t think I will be able to lift the boat high enough to do this with a Tundra so the J cradles are probably out.

Also will not have a camper so my options seem to be a Yakima rack on the cab (4 door cab) or one of those bed type racks.

I am not a big fan of Yakima racks on the cab as they tend to screw up your weather stripping, cause it to leak / make wind noise but will put up with it if necessary.

How are those bed racks? Seems it would be tough to get a boat up there given the angle to push up from rear.

What do you use / recommend? Do those Hulley Rollers help? I have used them in the past and personally found the mako saddles better for pushing a boat on, but at an extreme angle it might be different.

I have two boats: 18 foot and 16 foot glass. Both 55 pound Brit boats.



How I Do It
With a 17 foot kayak, you can place tip on ground, then push up. Some initial cost, but worthwhile in the long run. See my reply in the thread below, with linlks. Good luck, bowler1.

Get a lumber rack
They work great and plenty of support for your boats.

I have a Tundra
and have used both Yakima and Thule racks on the roof, alone. I’m using Thule right now.

Never had an issue with leakage or damage to the roof. But there IS noise when I open the sunroof, even with the fairing in place. This annoys me enough that I’m moving to a rack for the bed.

Now, in the past, I’ve also used the bed rack configuration (I am a man of many racks :))). Specifically, I had the Thule XSporter rack, which can be raised and lowered. I liked the rack well enough, but the way the Tundra’s bed is configured, you can’t move the rack bars all the way forward or all the way back (there’s not enough rail “underside” at either end for the clamp to grasp - if you go out and look at your truck, you’ll see what I’m talking about).

This means that you have to mount the rack slightly more towards the center of each rail, which moves the bars closer together and, in my opinion, defeats the purpose of having the bed rack, anwyay: you’re robbed of “bar spread” and a little bit more stability. I didn’t have a problem toting two boats this way, but still didn’t like it. It also looked kind of odd to me. Not a big deal, I know, but still…

So now I’m going to a TracRac, which is essentially two bars that slide on tracks that are mounted to the truck’s bed rails via the stake hole pockets (no drilling). This means they can go all the way to either end. And because it doesn’t clamp on the inside of the bed rails, you have a few options for retractable tonneau covers, one of which I eventually plan to buy. This is also a tough rack and from everything I’ve heard, I’ll never need another.

The downside is that at $750.00, it’s pretty pricey, but there are ways to find “deals.” Since the rack and rails can be sold separately, I bought some new, in-the-box base rails on E-bay for $0.99 (probably because no one knew what they were). I’m getting the rest on Amazon for $375.00 and will mount everything myself.

I’ve seen (but not used) the hitch-mounted rear racks that are used in conjunction with a single bar on the roof of the cab, but that seems like TOO MUCH bar spread, to me. PLus I want to get the stuff off my roof, anyway.

I had a cap once, but I have the sliding rear window on my Tubdra - a great feature that I love and which would be wasted if I put a cap over it.

truck rack
I have a Nissan Frontier with a saris roof rack with saddles and a Thule goal post that slides into 2in. hitch. I have the “goal post” slid down to its lowest setting and have no trouble laying the stern of the kayak on the much lower goal post and than lifting the rest of the kayak onto the roof rack. Hope this helps.

Agree with lumber rack concept
I’ve said this several times here and will again. Design your dream rack and take the drawings to an aluminum fabricator. You’ll get a world class, last forever rack for not much more than a store bought rack. Mine was $400 13 years ago. No rust, no maintenance. Awesome.

buy a ladder
I have had a Tundra since 2000 with a cap.

A ladder helps. My husband 6’2" can load it from the side.

I cant 5’4". What I can do is get one end over the bar and use the ladder to hoist and push the stern from the back of the truck.

I use a Yakima rack system with carpet rollers.

The nice thing about a rack whatever system you use is that after the first shock its all about parts and relatively inexpensive. I needed 78" bars for my Yakima system and only had to pay $42.

No wind noise. My system tends to stay on the truck till the snow flies. That means that I have been toting the rack for about 95,000 miles. My Tundra has 187,000 miles. The end caps on the Yakimas will prevent the tubes from being a flute. I like the round bars as you can roll over them. But I wish for a pair of Thule bars so I can make a campfire grate out of them as other trippers have done.

Trac Rack
Not sure of the spelling.

I would go with the lumber rack idea myself, but Kathy would not consider it for her Silverado, so she bought the Trac Rack system for about $850.

I estimate the racks are about 6’6" high from level ground and it makes racking much more difficult. Even if your boats were very light, it still takes two because its hard to balance boats over your head.

It worked fairly well except that she like to switch the rack out for a tonneu cover in winter, and it was not meant to be constantly replaced like that. I use a new set of rubber grommets every time I change.

I also own a Tundra
03 Stepside Tundra… I use two Yakima racks on the top with one set of J’s and a set of Makos. I usually travel about 50 miles to nearest H20 and carry both kayaks (12’) very easily. I do take the recommended advice from fellow PNet’ers and always use a bow/stern tie.

For my canoe, I built a simple 2 X 4 rack that fits in the back by the tailgate to account for the extra length and lash it down.

Have fun!


Trac Rack
A nice thing about the Trac Rack or the cheaper non sliding version called the T-Rac is the T slot on top that lets you slide a T bolt (can get from the company) to bolt down your hully rollers etc. The rollers by the way work well to load from the rear on a pickup.

I just purchased …
Spring Creek Outfitters “one tuff truck rack”. You are able to raise and lower it and you have bars to slide out on the side to help with loading or if you have multiple canoes/kayaks to put on. Really like it. No drilling. Clamps on. Like the Track Rack, it’s pricey…

I got one in a junkyard
for about $70.