Canoe Trailer Options

Having difficulty determining what way to transport canoe.

Sold my Thule XSporter when I got rid of my yaks. Now I have a car (Acura) where I cannot use roof bars, and a pick-up with no rack.

Seriously considering some sort of trailer.

Would appreciate any info you all can provide.

I do not want to spend thousand$$. I am concerned about the canoe protruding beyond the rear of the trailer (or should I not be?).

Any ideas or things others have done to convert, buy, etc.

If your canoe is shorter than
about 15 feet you can go cheap with a Harbor Freight 4x8 utility trailer in the $250 range. Add a couple of two-bys and some padding and you’re good to go. Up to about 3 feet hanging off is okay with a red flag, if your boat is longer, you might want to extend the tongue or pick a longer trailer.

I have hauled a 16 foot kayak on my HF, but that’s not something I’d do for a long trip or out on the interstate.


I built my own
I got all my supplies off of Craigsist and built a trailer that can hall 6 canoes for under 500$

jimyaker, You had
a link to a picture in your post, but I am forbidden to open it (?)

Could you email it to me please?



I’ve loaded

– Last Updated: Aug-13-09 7:36 PM EST –

my canoe on a truck w/no rack by using toe eye holes/tie down loops that should be in the truck's bed and aligning with the thwarts and then running a cord to the front bumper tow hook. Just use those car top kits to get the foam pads to protect the roof of the truck and leave the tailgate up or down (your preference) and use pads there. They cost like 40$ or so. Or, for cheap pads, just slice up some pool noodles. Don't cut all the way through, cut one side to the hole running through the middle using a razor knife. You might even find ones to match your truck/canoe. As far as protecting the finish on the truck's roof use a good coat of turtle wax. Not many people are tall enough to see that anyway, but still, you will know the scuffs are there. You could use these same methods for the acura, but scuffs in the wax might be easier to see. In that case, be prepared to wash off the roof and wax it and maintain it. That's the cheapest method I can think of. By the way, cut noodles lengthwise and wrap around gunwales.

Some Photos
of my kayak trailers, but they would adapt to canoes fairly easily.

Nice work!
Damn you’ve done that a few times huh? I have been going over things in my head but not much comes out!

Most of my stuff is made out of 2x4’s, which are fairly cheap. I figure that, if I make a mistake, it’s not a huge monetary loss. And I made a few! So, my suggestion to you is to get some ideas, see if something seems to fit what you want to do, and build it! Every design of mine taught me something new. It’s a process but you can get a leg up by learning from other’s victories and mistakes.

Try this

how many canoes?
A friend and I just finished my 6 place trailer. I used a pop up camper frame/axle ($200). Extended both ends 2 ft or so, rack is totally removeable for other uses and I can haul bikes on the end of the cross bars.

Versatility was my main goal and I am pleased. If I was hauling just 1 or 2 canoes/yaks I would look for a 16ft boat trailer. Alot of them are out there in the $100 to 300 range.


Know any welders?
If you know a welder, or have a welding shop around town, you can start with cheap Harbor Freight trailer and build a nice canoe/kayak trailer.

If you start from scratch, like in the posted link, it would run you around $300 if you know a welder, or have something you could barter for welding services.

Trailex SUT-200
I really like my Trailex SUT-200. I pull it with my small sedan. It easily hauls one boat to 200 lbs. I have it rigged so i can haul one or two kayaks.

They have a minimal suspension that isn’t as good as some, (Sports Rig), but better than a utility trailer out of the box.

I bought mine used for less than the cost of a roof rack.

Tecpartner – I was looking at that…
just yesterday, from pnet ad, and Trailex page. Maybe you could answer some questions, as I’m wondering if I could do a practical conversion to tow with big motorcycle (yes, hitch is available). And, I doubt that Trailex would want to help me abuse their product.

From what I can tell, that entire main frame is T-slotted; it looks like a clever person (I do weld steel, but not aluminum) could make adapters, towers, etc, and get 2 kayaks on there easily, since max boat weight is 200 lbs.

Could you describe the crude suspension; I couldn’t tell much from the specs.

Does it look easy or difficult to, say, move the axle forward a foot or so? Unit supposedly weights 130 pounds, but, I would not want much tongue weight on the bike.

Does it look like the hitch/ball adaptor can be removed fairly easily from the main frame tube? I might have to put on a smaller ball adapter, and/or possibly a rotating sleeve joint to allow for maximum lean of the bike.

I could probably build a light steel trailer that would be better for my purpose, and lower to the ground, with a nice set of motorcycle wheels, but that thing is pretty close, and I understand one must begin with a licensed/license-able axle, anyway… any other trailer makers want to chime in on this whole crazy idea?

…this page, for a place that sells these trailers, might interest you. Picture of a motorcyle hauling a yak on the trailer. Claims “All the bunks, rollers and even the axle location can be completely adjusted for a perfect fit.”

Chesapeake Light Craft sells a kit to make that particular trailer a two boat unit for a couple hundred bucks. Looks completely bolt together so welding aluminum wouldn’t be necessary. I would imagine fabricating your own design would not be to difficult if it’s a budget buster.

The coupler looks like a typical bolt on coupler you find on most small trailers these days.

Some info there I had not seen. Shows actual trailer weight as 95 pounds (light!), as opposed to the 125 lb. I had seen, which is actually shipping weight.

Odd that mfg. doesn’t mention adjustability to include axles. I have to wonder if that’s a boilerplate clause borrowed from another Trailex unit, as I had seen adjustability listed for the ones that use conventional leaf springs.

I was looking at these before I found an old sunfish sailboat trailer for free to modify. During my previous research on these trailers I came across a forum which showed the trailer as it was delivered to someone who had purchased it for a wooden canoe. It comes completely disassembled so, it looks like you can truly put the axle unit anywhere you please. I found the link this evening to that information. Looks like a channel for the axle bolts to slide the entire length of the trailer tongue.

Hope all this helps.

I think you’re right.
One of the pics in that thread was a nice closeup. Those axle tracking bars are almost comical in their light weight.

Everything bolts onto that main “T-slotted” pillar. You can adjust the position of the axle, and the position of the bunks. In fact you can tune the shock absorption (crudely) by moving the position of the axle in relation to the center point. The actual shock absorber is a piece of rubber, the trailer doesn’t have springs. I keep the 8” tires at low pressure, (about 12 psi), which helps absorb some of the shock as well. As I drive, the central pillar flexes and absorbs some shock, and the rubber gaskets on the axle absorb some, and the tires absorb some.

I converted mine to haul first one surfski and then two surfskis. I haul one by strapping a padded cross beam to the two bunks, (one front and one back) and then strapping mini-cell foam blocks to the single cross piece. I use the mini-cell blocks from a set designed as part of a roof rack. The blocks cradle the hull. I strap the ski down to the center pint of the bunks.

I modified it to haul two surf skis by strapping a 4’ cross member to the bunks, and use both sets of pads on the front, cradling the hull about a third of the way from the bow, and just strap the the ski to the rear bunk. My 20’ surf skis, hang 6’ off the babk of the 14’ trailer. I have a red reflective sticer on the back of the one ski, and I put a red flag on the back of the other.

My two surfskis way about 32 lbs each, so I’m only putting about70 lbs on the trailer. The trailer bounces around a bit, but the skis don’t get damaged. I haven’t hauled my boats further than a couple of hundred miles, although I would. If I was taking an trip of more than 4 or 5 hundred miles I’d change the tires to 12”.

When I haul a normal kayak that has a sturdier hull and doesn’t overhang so far I just use the pivoting bunks as they come with the trailer, with the addition of 1” neoprene as padding, and covered by carpet.

Further on SUT-200
I believe you could haul the SUT-200 on a motor cycle with a hitch. The tongue weight, with two skis, and the axle 3/5ths of the length from the front, is about 30 lbs.

Tilting boat trailer
I doubt I am serious enough about this to do anything about it, but I am jealous of the powerboaters when it comes to launching off a trailer.

Breaks in modes of transportation have, historically, always been labor intensive. Not so true with today’s technology, but that’s why ports and rail terminals used to be employment centers. On paddling/camping trips, I am always impressed by how much time goes into cross loading from vehicle to paddle craft. So my dream gadget is akin to a powerboat trailer for paddle craft, such that you load the boat at home, drive it fully loaded to the put in, back up to the water, roll fully loaded boats off, hop in and start your trip.

I’m sure a boat trailer could be modified to make it work, but I also suspect, if I add up all the hours it would take me to make such a trailer, the sum is going to be more than all the hours I’ll ever spend loading and unloading canoes and kayaks. And there are other practical problems, such as storing the trailer and finding put-ins where there is a boat ramp.

Because loaded boats are heavier, the trailer needs to be a bit beefier, and I’d like it to hold two loaded boats, side by side. For open boats, I’d need to find a way to cover the boats in transit, too, to keep stuff in and rain out.

Just thought I’d throw this out there. As long as you are building trailers, you might want to consider “seamless” load and launch.