Best spacing for canoe storage supports?

I am building a rack to store two canoes in my garage, resting on the gunwales. I don’t have the headroom to hoist them to the ceiling, so they will be stacked next to a wall. What the best spacing of the supports? Is there a rule of thumb or a ratio to hull length?

I am planning on building it on casters so it can be moved around, and have shelving on the bottom to store all of my gear.

Any pics of your storage racks that you would like to forward or ideas to pass on would be great.


It’s probably more important that they
be precisely parallel to each other on the horizontal axis and somewhat level than the actual distance apart. The ones inside my garage are eight feet and the ones outside, I think, are the same. I anchored them to studs so distance was dictated by their spacing.

6 feet
Mine are 6 feet apart - works fine. A bit more would be just as good. I’d say 6 to 8 feet and you can’t go wrong.

I think half boat length is sufficient

Build Top Down
Measure your garage door open height, and deduct say 4" from that. That would be the max height for the bottom of your canoe on the highest cross bars. Allow for the extra height of the wheels you will put on. “Length” isn’t too important, and depends on what lumber you will use. I have a rack I built similar to what you are talking about. Its about 7 1/2 feet between the crosspieces, mainly because cheap lumebr is easiest to find in 8’ lengths (I used 2x4 for the ends/crosspieces, and 1x3 for bracing across the sides. I used crosspieces on the bottom rack about 5’ long, and just a bit smaller on top - the “ends” of the rack are sorta an A with two crossbars and the top cut off. The A shape makes it more stable than an H would be.

I’m not sure what you mean for “castors”, but don’t go too small, or plastic. Plastic will scuff up on the concrete, and too small a diameter won’t roll very well. I put 8" pneumatic tires, about 4" wide, on one end, and two smaller, steerable wheels on the front - this makes it easy to roll outside to load and unload the canoes. I bought my wheels from Harbor Frieght.

Spacing between the canoes can be important - I originally set up my rack with about 4 or 4 1/2 feet of space between the two boats. That allowed me to roll the bottom boat over while on the rack, which makes it easier to load and unload it. I would load it upright, sliding one end from the side onto one cross piece, move it all the way back so I could swing the other end “inside”, and then slide it into position, more or less centered. Then I could roll the bottom boat over so it was gunnel down. Top boat is always easy, it just goes up and over. Then I modified my two boat rack to fit a third boat on it- moved the cross bars up and down a bit and added a third set in the center. Now its a lot trickier to load the bottom two boats. IF you can figure out a design that has one completely open “side”, then you could slide the canoes onto the crosspieces straight in from the sides, and the spacing can be tighter. If you really are thinking of putting a shelf in on the bottom tier, this might be a better way to design the rack. I kind of wished I’d done that, have one side “open” and the crosspieces only connected on one side - it would make it a whole lot easier to load my boats on now that I changed it to a 3 boat rack. It was fine for two boats, but that third one made a big difference. It takes a better design, and a sturdy bottom section to leave one side open - I’m thinking wiht a sturdy shelf, you’d be able to do that.

Thanks for the tips/ideas!
I now have a plan, time to get to it!

I have to have the assembly on casters so it can move out of the way of a large sliding access door for a piece of machinery, otherwise I would just build it onto the wall. Rolling it in/out of the garage for loading is something I didn’t think of…sounds like a great idea.

For the lower of the two boats, I was thinking of using some heavy duty drawer slides that I have to make the supports slide out for easy placing of the boat, then slide them back into place. Concept might be better than reality on this on though…we’ll see what I come up with.

Thanks again!