Building a Kayak Trailer

I just bought 2 used Perception Prism kayaks. My wife is not a fan of putting them on top of her new SUV. She wants to know if I can make a trailer for the kayaks. I was looking at starting with the folding trailer from Northern Tool and building a wood frame on it for the kayaks and random camping equipment as well. Is this reasonable or should I tell my wife that the roof rack is a better option?

That looks like a direct descendant of the one I got from Northern Hydraulics, as they used to be known, in 1988 and got 25 years’ good use from (not carrying kayaks). I notice that some other trailers only have a single bar for the tongue, this one like mine has three. Go for it but it has been mentioned here at that utility trailers have stiff springs and with only two kayaks on board, you might get a bouncy ride. I just got my Malone kayak trailer and need to assemble it.

Harbor Freight
Check out the Harbor Freight trailers which are inexpensive and then google about modifying them to carry kayaks. There are more than a few sites with how to instructions and photos.

Also look into used old jet ski trailers. I got one for $100 on craigslist. It did not have a title but you can register it in Maine for 5 years over the internet and the cost is very reasonable. Now you will start noticing just how many big tractor trailers have Maine registration, there is a reason. When you register just list it as a home built trailer. Which is the truth after the modifications.

The pictures look like my HF trailer
It is a stiff ride with, even with 6 kayaks, a 1/2" plywood deck and a rack made from 10 2x4.

They aren’t rated for interstate speed. Not an issue for me but could be a deal breaker for some.

Converted boat trailer
I built mine out of a boat trailer and the rack out of threaded pipe from Home Depot. Send me an e-mail and I will send you pictures.


license registration insurance

– Last Updated: May-23-16 6:06 PM EST –

there's pop up sub heading

registration insurance....out west we sea fairly large skiffs atop pickups...there's a rig stands skiff on transom tilts it over onto the camper roof.

also an off pavement rig ...

Regarding Speed Ratings and Springs

– Last Updated: May-23-16 8:04 PM EST –

I recently read online somewhere that the tires for standard 8-inch wheels are rated for 62 mph. That probably means they are good for somewhat faster speeds since ratings are always highly conservative. On the other hand, some here say that the bearings on Harbor Freight trailers aren't good for high speed. I wouldn't know, but I do know that 8-inch wheels were the standard for light motorboats when I was a kid, and bearing failures were nearly unheard of, and never happened at all if the grease was kept clean (that's mostly a problem on motorboat trailers because of the hubs being frequently submerged in water).

Still, this might be of interest. I just converted my own little motorboat trailer from 8-inch wheels to 12-inch wheels. The tire profile is the same as before. Based on the measured tire diameters, I calculate that going 65 mph with the new wheels will spin the bearings at the same rate as when going 52 mph with the old wheels. That's a substantial improvement if you are concerned about bearing reliability, and the tires on the larger wheels have a higher speed rating and a smoother ride as well. Some here might find this an attractive modification to make on any cheap trailer. This is a bolt-on modification. The only thing you might need to change is the position of the fenders (I had to build new fender mounts when I made this change).

Oh, and regarding those overly stiff springs, it's been said before, but removing one leaf does wonders, and I think for carrying something as light as kayaks there'd be nothing wrong with removing two (most of these trailers have three leafs, so you'd be left with nothing but the main leaf of the original springs).

people travel down the road

– Last Updated: May-23-16 9:15 PM EST –

in all forms of junk,

some live some die some kill a lawyers children.

most have no sense cannot drive and look for bargains in boat trailers.

what specs do we have here ?

there's one for $400 and one for $1000

what's the difference ?

axle bearings hubs steel quality aluminum or unpainted sure to rust out steel pot metal...?

HF is use and discard.

We read this one last year. HF, cheap stuff is actually quality stuff... this from folk claiming ownership of multi buck kayaks

doahn go near inexpensive rectangular steel tubing. The interior weld surfaces are not prepped for paint.

With that tubing, a careful thinner washout , coating with thinned linseed on a hot day or hot air blown thru then painted with a primer topcoat anti rust system.

If it helps to reassure your wife
Tell her that, properly set up, two kayaks on the roof are no threat whatsoever to her shiny new SUV. You can go cheap with foam pads, or spend more for crossbars and a mounting system (recommended if you’re going to be hauling them more than a couple of times, or for extended highway travel). Trailers sound like a great idea until you realize that you often have to maneuver and park in tight spaces near the put-ins. And then you need a place to store the trailer.

Trailer is also nice since you’re loading and unloading at waist height not over you head.

Biggest issue with most utility trailers other than what’s mentioned is the tongue is often way too short for any boat much longer than 10’.

If it’s a single tube tongue and is bolted in place it’s not all that difficult nor expensive to replace it if you’ve got average homeowner tools.

Bill H.

Carry on
I have a carry on utility trailer with 4.8x12 tires I purchased at tractor supply in 2002. I’ve put over 20,000 miles, many highway, without any issues. I replaced a tire and the bearings once or twice.

I haul my four boats and camp gear with it as well as mulch, top soil, and everything in between. It was well worth the $400 or so I paid and still going strong.

Utility trailers
I’ve always hauled my kayaks on a flatbead utility trailer with removable bunks installed in the stake slots. The trailer is very well built and can handle loads over 3000 lbs. The wheels are 15 inch, so there are no worries about tires and bearings.

Yes the heavy springs can cause a jolty ride, but my bunks are very heavily padded. I use the trailer for hauling firewood and all sorts of other cargoes, so it is a multi-purpose rig with assorted removable side boards, etc.

The trailer has never been a hassle at launch sites and in worst case scenarios, the trailer can be detached and maneuvered by hand. Sometimes I will detach the trailer and park alongside my pickup because of parking restrictions. In those cases, I chain and lock the wheels to discourage thieves.

My advice is if you can see the need for a multi-use trailer, get the best one you can find (flatbead) and outfit it accordingly. I paid right at $1000 for mine and it has paid its way many times over.