Building an outdoor boat rack

I am expanding my fleet of boats and have run out of room inside my storage barn.

I need your help in figuring out a way to store my boats outside on a wooden rack that I hope to build once the ground thaws this Spring. FWIW, I am NOT very handy when it comes to building things. It will need to store at least 3 and maybe 4 boats of various lengths and dimensions. Anything from a 14.5 plastic kayak, to a 16 or 17 foot Royalex canoe to a sleek 21 foot surf ski.

I was thinking that I could dig some holes using a fence-post digger to put some 4x4’s vertically into the ground and then cement them into the ground and use this as my main support and build the rest of the framework from there. Any suggestions on type of wood to use, dimensions, actual drawings of what you have had success with building? I have no idea how to properly brace it so that it will be strong enough to withstand the weight of several boats and putting the boats in and out of the storage rack.

Lastly, I am concerned about protecting the boats from the elements. Tarps? Simple slanted roof?

Thanks for your help!


Here is what I came up with

Being free standing, I could put wheels on it and move it around if necessary. It holds six boats if you have two very low, but still off the ground. I cover them all with a twenty foot long tarp and bungie cords.

Looks very nice!
I never thought of a design like that. Thanks, for the idea.

Anyone else have any suggestions?

I screwed some shelf brackets into two large trees by the side of my driveway, then put some pool noodle material on the brackets. Easy and reversible!

Built me rack fro’ 4X4’S fer de uprights
an’ doubled up 2x4’s as crossbars wit sectioned PVC pipe fer better slidin’ an’ gunnel prootection. Lucky ah’ kin stick de whole shabang under de deck.


No need to set the 4x4s. They stand
pretty well as long as they are level and the COG isn’t too high.

A very simple, A-frame rack
Check it out my Kayak Storage Rack album on Webshots:

Is wind loading or security a big issue?
Digging holes and pouring concrete strikes me as over the top (and unnecessarily hard work) for a sheltered and secure site.

I’ve seen one good system with posts to the outside. Crude mortice and tenon joints (which don’t have to be cabinetmaker-standard to be effective) should hold everything square - just schoolboy carpentry really :slight_smile:

Here’s mine

car top foam blocks on the 2x4 racks
are a nice way to distribute the weight evenly over a wider surface and eliminate any scratching.

Friends, Family and Nieghbors Laughing
I started a rack in fall and left it unfinished all winter, and everyone is laughing at the eyesore.

Its 8 4X4 in the ground. I used4 10’ on the middle with 8 footers on the ends.

Its going to make a shed 8’X24’ which is kind of large, but I have a 6,000 SqFt back yard

Brian’s rack
A local kayaker did a nice interpretation of Brian’s rack. He used metal conduit for crossbars threaded through some PVC pipe for rollers. Easier to slide the kayaks on and off the crossbars solo. (I think I’m explaining correctly what he did.) Anyway, it’s elegant and I want to make one just like it.

G in NC

Kayak Condo
Could you mount one of these to the outside of the barn?


Simple Rack
Here’s what I came up with:

Not a great pic but it gives you an idea. Very simple and cheap to make. I used rough cut 2 x 4’s with some left over bolts and nuts to put it together. The stands are screwed on to some leftover pressure treated planks. I drilled holes in those and pounded 2’ rebar through the holes to keep it in place. Works great and has held canoes as well as, gasp!, a kayak for 4 years now.

If I need to move it I just take out the rebar and jockey it to a new place.

Good luck.


mine are set on outlook carrier arms …

– Last Updated: Feb-01-10 9:56 PM EST –

...... made out of 1 x 4 on edge capped with another 1 x 4 flat wise (looks like a T), attached right onto the barracade fence post (which are 4 x 4 already at 8' spread).

The outlooks have a triangle inside corner brace between post and outlook carriers (under carriers). Having the fence (or maybe your barn) on one side is good start to a better enclosure if you want more protection .

Thanks, Brian
I looked at your pictures and appreciated your comments underneath each of the photos explaining the various aspects of building it.

Extremely simple rack . . .
I got four steel heavy farm/garden fence posts - sold at Lowes - and some light chain and pipe insulation.

Drove the four posts into the ground in a rectangle pattern to fit the kayak. Hooked chain in the tabs, between the metal posts, front and back, at the same height above the ground. Bent the tabs over the chain to hold it in place and left enough chain to wrap around each end of the boat, front and back. Covered the 2 chains, front and back with pipe insulation to rest the kayak on them, on its side.

Covered the posts with larger diameter pipe insulation. Wrapped remaining chain around each boat end and secured with padlock. Covered kayak with tarp. A second kayak rests underneath, on the ground, covered by the tarp.

It’s quick and easy. You can built more of them for other boats. Low profile; less stress lifting and less worry about winds. Critter risks are somewhat higher than way off the ground.

Btw, if you’re using regular 2x4’s for cross braces the foam roof top supports for kayaks will fit nicely onto the 2x4’s and support the boats better than sitting directly on a piece of wood.

I’d also look at some sort of roof to minimize the UV damage to the boats.

We built several racks at the local park for boat storage, regular treated lumber holds up much better outside than untreated.

Bill H.

I second Brian’s Design
I used it; works great! We’re storing an 18 ft. Cetus, 16 ft. Nova Craft, and 15 ft. Wenonah.

You got it.
I think I used 1.5" PVC over 1.25" conduit and it works like a charm for two boats. It might be a little trickier to adapt the rack for more boats using this setup, but I think it could be done.

Thanks to Brian for posting the photos.