canoe damage from trailering?

I’ve just rigged up a utility trailer to carry two stacked canoes. The first jaunt will be from Minneapolis (going down to pick them up next week) back home to Manitoba. I extended the trailer tongue by 3 extra feet so that the canoes would not overhang too far behind the trailer. Now I am somewhat concerned about whether I could have problems with stones and such being thrown from my truck tires. I already am stacking them so that they sit nicely in the center instead of side by side and ending up directly in line with the truck tires. I don’t use mudflaps, and would prefer not too. Does anyone have any experience with this being an issue? Don’t want to get home with two new Bells already damaged.

wouldn’t worry
Any rocks thrown up by the truck or car will probably hit directly behind the offending tires. I wouldn’t worry about it too much unless you intend to drive on gravel roads a lot. Maybe you could get the canoes shrink wrapped at the factory for the way home?

We have never had a problem
with rocks or stones. We have pulled our trailer with Bell canoes from south Alabama to Iowa and many other places.

You what?
You haul the blue Wildfire I “loaned” to you on a trailer!

I told you to keep my boat off those trailers!

What are you thinking?

Bring it back to me!


Oh, No…
You wasn’t supposed to see this post, Bob. I’ll bring it back to you at the Spring Rendezvous on the same trailer.

Hauling Canoes on Trailer
I’ve pulled my kevlar and royalex canoes for thousands of miles on my 4 place trailer on asphalt, and for hundreds of miles on gravel without problems. Canoe are side by side filling the bottom tier first, so they would be in line with projectiles off the vehicle tires. However I have rear mudflaps on my vehicle that should deflect the higher trajectory projectiles. The outside and inside of the canoes can get full of road grim if you travel in slop. Last fall on Utah’s back roads, I had to use a putty knife to get the clay and dirt mix off my kevlar canoe when I got home from the Green River.

Many states will pull you over

– Last Updated: Jan-11-10 12:41 AM EST –

No mud flaps is a big no-no in many states cops will pull you over. It is a state requirement that mud flaps need to cover over half the tire width. [oops, I meant height, not width (edit)]

Since you want to protect your boats, why not make your vehicle road legal and be done with it?

Get the mud flaps
They won’t hurt, and they might prevent rock damage.

I’ve never had rocks fly up from the rear tires and hit any of our kayaks, whether it’s one carried in the middle of the trailer or two next to each other.

But both our tow vehicles have mud flaps all around.

What I DO get is pitting from rocks thrown by the front tires to the rear panel area just in front of the rear wheels (the panels bulge slightly outward). They don’t make it to the kayaks. But the front mud flaps do not stop all rocks from being thrown backward far enough to hit the panels. With the kinds of roads we have and the kinds of tires necessary for good traction on steep unpaved surfaces, a lot of rocks get flung back.

If you are about to buy new tires, you might want to keep the latter in mind.

Mud flap decision

– Last Updated: Jan-11-10 12:41 AM EST –

A quick Google search turned up a bunch of articles that say mud flaps must be installed on vehicles that have been altered from stock condition in some states. It is the law in some states for trucks which have been "lifted" (increased suspension height or body raised higher off the frame), but I found no reference to such a law for vehicles that are in original factory condition. That doesn't mean it can't apply to all vehicles in one or more states, but such a law didn't pop out clearly in my search.

If it were me, I'd decide whether or not to put mud flaps on the tow vehicle based on the vehicle's rear overhang and fender overlap. Some vehicles really can't throw rocks up high such a short distance behind them because the clearance around and behind the tires just won't allow it. I see no reason for an all-or-nothing decision about mud flaps without first knowing what the tow vehicle looks like. Remember that mud flaps are a real detriment during sloppy winter-driving conditions (when they collect big gobs of ice), backing up in deep snow often tears them right off the fender, and the holes for the mounting screws are a very common starting point for rust. Just some stuff to consider.

Not to mention the fact that you won’t get a ticket for this if you’ve got out of state plates.


– Last Updated: Jan-11-10 11:02 AM EST –

Have them on my truck and have not had any issues with rocks being thrown and hitting the trailer box and ricocheting somewhere unwanted.

However once we rented an unmudflapped van with six canoes on the trailer. A stone got thrown by a wheel, hit the trailer box and somehow managed to miss the canoes and land squarely on the rear window shattering it.

If that is a risk you find acceptable , dont use mud flaps.

I would hope you wrap the boats in some sort of protective sheeting..mud and road grime can get into the darnedest places and its not that much fun getting it out with a q tip.

Probably a bigger danger is oncoming traffic throwing stuff at you like stones and slush. We lost a windshield and hood last year due to gunk a plow threw 20 feet. The windshield was shattered. Its a matter of course to pick up a stone and a crack during a normal winter from oncoming traffic.

I am also wondering how that longer tongued trailer is going to it one of those sway prone ones?

Gravel transport
My buddy Wickerbutt had his canoe ride out of the Maine woods upside down on a trailer…his boat was pretty low on the trailer (maybe 2 feet above the ground). The vehicle was an SUV without any mudflaps. We traveled over maybe 40 miles of logging road. When he got the boat home, he found all sorts of sand, gravel and dust up in the decks and along the gunnels.


I built a custom trailer
and put plywood down between the wheels and the boats. If nothing else, it keeps a lot of crud off the boats in wet weather and muddy areas.


thats normal up heah
The back gate of my pickup with cap came open once and everything in the back looked like an archaeological artifact.

Normally its just covered with a little film so that nothing looks new.

thanks for all the help
I’ve been reading all the suggestions for the last number of days, and appreciate the help. I guess the bottom line for me is that while my truck has big mud terrain tires, I can’t deal with the appearance of mudflaps. Took them off of the truck the day I bought it; never looked back. But now to protect the canoes, with the help all of you have been, I am making custom fitting ‘socks’ for the canoes that will protect them regardless of what I meet on the road - stones, crud, snow, dust, whatever. I think then I get the best of everything, and even end up with clean canoes. Thanks again everyone. Can’t wait for spring.

But while you are on the road
you can’t see the mudflaps.

I am just wondering about the appearance thing.

For a background my husband drive a mud colored Subaru. I hate it,because I cannot tell when its dirty or clean and more than one coat has the telltale smudge.

OTOH who are we trying to impress? I bet 99 percent of the people on the road who are noticing your mudflaps are strangers.

Trailering on a utility trailer
I built a kayak trailer from an old trailer built for a 14’ aluminum boat. I’m trailering skin on frame kayaks that only weigh about 40 lbs.

When on the road, I noticed that the trailer was bouncing off the road when hitting cracks in the pavement. A trailer place told me that I haad the lightest springs possible on the trailer.

The solution was to add a couple of 5’ tubes of 4"PVC pipe, filled with sand.

The increased load smoothed everything out and the kayaks are happy now.

missing the point?
I don’t care what others think of my truck, that’s not my style. I think I said that it was I that didn’t like the flaps.

Anyway, moving on, I’m in minneapolis right now (picking up the canoes on Saturday) and I’m seeing an awful lot of trucks with no flaps. I’m not alone here.

And as far as protecting the canoes are concerned, the store (Midwest Mountaineering) informed me that they can wrap them in felt and plastic, and I already came with plastic and bubble wrap just in case. So the help on this thread has been great, and it looks like we are set.

Also, someone was questioning the long tongue on the trailer, (had it lengthened to 6’) and it has trailered awesome so far. What I did was to add a 50 lb. concrete pad (solidly secured to the bed) at the front end of the trailer to get some decent weight to the front (recommended by the trailer dealer) and I had to be careful not to forget that it was actually behind the truck. So, so far so good; hoping for an uneventful trip back.