First haul using new kayak trailer

Also the first Colorado paddle of 2011 (WINDY!)

I sold our 10-yr-old modified snowmobile trailer because both my husband and I got tired of hand-pulling its weight up the path to the shed. It was like doing a one-rep max, with high risk of injuring something.

The new trailer, which I assembled from a kit, is a Trailex SUT-350-M2. It uses two 6’ crossbars and two risers to haul kayaks in a choice of positions. I padded parts of the crossbars and risers to carry mine on its side, as close to the risers as possible. (Pipe foam insulation wrapped with Scotch “Tough” No-Residue duct tape.)

Have only driven the trailer twice, and only once with one sea kayak on it. There was some highway mileage as well as twisty 2-lane roads and my “home” stretch of dirt road.

The kayak stayed put very well, and of course the light trailer was a cinch to tow AND to hand-pull on the uphill path to the shed. It’s almost 250 lbs lighter than the snowmobile trailer was, yet due to longer length gives more jackknifing clearance without much rear overhang from long kayaks. I absolutely LOVE the ease of hand-pulling it.

I ran the 12’ straps around the main (low, central) tube, not just the crossbars or risers. I would recommend that anybody using this trailer do the same. The trailer is essentially one long tongue (spliced from two sections), attached to a frame attached to the springs and axle. I’ve never used painter lines with a trailer, but this trailer makes it easy to use them in a \ / configuration.

If I push sideways on the suspension, the trailer wiggles–something my old snowmobile trailer did not do. I assume this means a softer ride for the kayaks. It does not wiggle when driving, but I have to admit that the lateral softness gives me the heebie-jeebies. Probably because a motor vehicle with that kind of give would be a safety hazard to drive. However, the trailer tracked behind my truck perfectly well even on the very twisty road, and the wide axle keeps it stable despite the light weight.

I’ll post a formal review after I’ve used the trailer a lot more, especially on long, open highway runs. The trailer is rated to a 350-lb payload max, and has room to carry 4 kayaks on their sides. I myself would not want to put the weight of 2 more kayaks at the ends of those crossbars, though. The wiring instructions leave much to be desired, and I made extensive edits on my printout for future reference. Bolting the mechanicals together was easy.


And for locals: Registering a trailer in Colorado is now officially a nightmare of a process–anybody buying a trailer here should read up on the recently-passed new laws. It’s even worse for a “homemade” trailer, which is what the state has deemed a bolt-together kit trailer. It took me two trips to the county DMV plus an appointment with the state patrol for an ownership verification plus safety inspection (the county issues a 72-hr temporary plate so you MUST get the appointment first and then make sure to complete it within 72 hrs, or else you have to start the whole process over). Cost of titling and registration has gone way up, and now there’s the additional fee for the mandatory state inspection. The state has also deemed the manufacturer’s VIN to be invalid and you must go through the above hoops to obtain a “certified CO VIN” ID tag, in addition to the usual license plate and registration. ALL trailers have to have this CO VIN, not just kit trailers. If you bought the trailer from another state, you will also get slapped with CO sales tax.

Must’ve had a lot of uninsured, unregistered, probably stolen trailers going through CO to deserve this kind of bureaucratic mess. The sad part is that it won’t do a darned thing to promote safer trailering. People who aren’t highly motivated to follow the law will continue running illegal trailers, just like they always did.

I though we had it bad in NJ
But to register a trailer if you don’t have proof of ownership, you register it as homemade. All you have to do is draw a picture of it on the back of the form, pay the fee(of course), and Happy Trailering!

I don’t draw well, so it looked like a 2nd grader did it.

Any way, good luck with the new trailer. I’m using a regular boat trailer, with two of the three spring leaves removed, it is still heavy to move around the yard.

State bureaucracy multiplies in recessio
This is ridiculous. I had the manufacturer’s statement of origin, bill of sale, and every other piece of ownership proof you can get, but it wasn’t enough for the county DMV to inspect those papers. Oh, no, they had to look at them first AND THEN the state trooper/inspector had to examine them yet again, before he’d approve the trailer to be registered back at the county DMV. (The county hates the new laws, too.)

Another stupid new law: I asked if the trailer would be titled to both my husband and me, since our old one was, and it is after all joint property. The county DMV clerk told me that we would have to fill out ANOTHER form (besides the other three state forms already submitted) if we wanted that. I said, “Forget it!”

The safety inspection didn’t even happen, other than the trooper watching me as I pulled into the lot. It’s pretty obvious the whole affair is focused on proof of ownership and obtaining more revenue from easy targets (i.e., law-abiding residents).

As the actual user of the trailer, I naturally inspected it for all the required elements anyway.

When we bought our trailer, registering it was easy, something that rarely happens when dealing with the RMV here in Massachusetts.

It was dealing with our then insurance company that was a nightmare.

Hope all is well now.

Trailex STU 250 trailer on road

– Last Updated: Mar-24-11 9:39 AM EST –

My Trailex STU 250 does show slight flexing in the rear view mirror when driving with two kayak or canoes on it. A bit disconcerting at the start of a long road trip but becomes normal after 6-10 hours of driving. This flexing is due to the nature of the trailer's construction, not any problem. The flexing doesn't cause any handling problems and I think it gives a gentler (less stressful) ride to the kayaks or canoes being transported.

It sure is easy to move by hand! I even lift the back end sometimes to adjust its position slightly.

I just pulled it up from the back yard where it was buried under a snow drift for weeks. Wanted to repack the wheel bearings before a 6 hr trip to my son's house to retrieve and store 4 solo canoes I made for his family as they are selling their house and moving. There was some dampness inside the hub, so this was a wise precaution.

The hoops you were made to jump through are, in my opinion, a combination of employees increasing their authority (justifying their job) and looking for increased money through fees. Ct doesn't make the process so complicated but they do collect their fees; I just paid $18 to reregister. The used Trailex was registered by showing title document, filling out an application and paying the fee. A 20 yr. old trailer that I registered had to be brought in for inspection-not inappropriate for such an old trailer.


you’ve gotta love it

– Last Updated: Mar-24-11 9:59 AM EST –

Thanks for the review. There is a trailer of some sort in my future this summer.

As long as the side-to-side flex isn't coming from the wheels/bearings you should be ok. I imagine it disappears at highway speeds.

I bet you'll never go back to cartopping!

Two yrs ago we paid $18 to register
…our old trailer for the year. Last year it increased to $40, along with all registrations, period. BTW, I consider that increase reasonable given how much work the roads need.

The jump to $150 includes titling, sales tax, and inspection fees besides the usual ones. Excluding the one-time fees, registration cost has still shot way up even from last year’s increase. I am not looking forward to seeing what my truck registration renewal will cost.

Do you have the Bearing Buddy grease injection system? I opted for that; it only cost $15 for a hitch shop to remove the OEM dustcaps and install the Bearing Buddy caps. We had grease injection ports on our snowmobile trailer and they were definitely a good thing to have. You still need to get the hubs repacked and checked now and then, though.

How long have you owned your trailer and have you done long road trips with it?

Bearings are good
I checked the hubs for play or binding when I got the parts, and it felt just like a new, well-greased hub should feel.

The flex may be coming from the springs, which are supposed to have some give.

It just makes me a little nervous because the old trailer was very stiff (the tongue piece was something like 4" on each side; the new one is 4" tall x 2.75" wide, and a LOT longer). I remember seeing a Rack-n-Roll trailer next to the snowmobile trailer and wondering if their tongue was up to the task.

every time i read about canadian canoe restrictions, car inspects, trailor liscensing or the such, I am so glad i live in Tennessee. My county tried to pass a 10 dollar wheel tax to car registration and you would have thought they asked for every ones first born. $36 a year for car registration, no trailer registration, and no nonmotorized boat registration. Oh yeah still no state income tax. If your state is constitutional instructed not to run a defeict and completely against raising taxes then your government will fight for jobs in order to raise the tax base, not just invent new taxes.

Those fees in your state are taxes and they are insulting to the way you deserve to be governed.

Sorry for the rant. I suprise myself sometimes how conservative Im getting.

Ryan L.

ownership duration
Hi Pikabike,

I bought the trailer used, but only a year or two old and in “like new” condition about 5 years ago. I have trailered a circuit from Ct to Lewes DE to Western PA (Raystown Lake) back to CT four times in the last five years. Other trips have been to Finger-lakes area of NY, Southern NH and Northern ME. Each trip (except to Southern NH) has been 6-10 hours duration.

While bearing buddies are intriguing, I never submerge the wheels, so the need for repacking is less than on trailers carrying a heavy load or going underwater to unload/load a powerboat. This repacking was forced by being buried under snow for for so long.

Enjoy using your trailer,


TN has it right
Ryan you do a fine job describing the great state of Tennessee. I did my best to get a job there but it wasn’t good enough. We in Missouri do share many of the same attitudes, but in my figuring we would have saved over $6000 a year in income taxes if we lived in TN instead, despite the higher sales taxes there.

Colorado is just California lite. Those bureaucratic mazes are just ridiculous!

flex of trailer

The flex in your trailer is from the aluminum tongue and the aluminum cross arms, Push down on it while it’s still and you will see flex in the frame and none in the springs. Functionally, the frame is the shock absorber not the leaf springs. I would not worry about it until you have driven many, many thousands of miles. I did know of one rack and roll aluminum tongue failing after many being towed thousands of miles, usually with an excessive load (4-5 kayaks). The owners had to have a sleeve welded to repair it. I don’t worry about mine with two kayak or two canoes on it.

Trailers made for heavy boats can be converted to light duty use by taking out some of the leaf sections in the springs or better yet substituting motorcycle springs with shock absorbers for the too stiff leaf springs. None of these solutions are needed or appropriate for your trailer. Just get used to seeing slight sway sometimes. Try to balance the load on each side and then learn to trust the trailer.


Rocks thrown up onto kayak
I am concerned about rocks thrown up into the boats’ hulls when travelling on dirt roads. Any comments on that issue?

stones thrown up onto hull
The Trailex has fenders. Stones thrown by rear wheel of tow vehicle could be more of an issue-mud flaps?


Colorado is just California lite
That sounds like something I’d expect a missourian to say.

It is from the box/frame
I thought aluminum flexing was a bad thing. Anyway, I paddled again today, and the trailer did the job without a hitch (PUN!), just like the first time.

When hubby feels like paddling, we’ll see what it’s like with two sea kayaks. I’m guessing I won’t notice much difference, as they will sit right next to the risers, not at the crossbar ends.

I don’t mind that there ARE fees & taxes
We have a nice library system and open space parks at the county level, among other amenities.

What I don’t like is the state’s increasing reliance on going after the easy targets instead of getting revenue from real problems, such as uninsured drivers. They create the absurd maze of forms and regulations to register a trailer, require proof of insurance, and allow only a 72-hr temporary plate to get it inspected at the state level. Meanwhile, automobiles get 90-DAY temporary plates and only need the owner’s honor-statement saying “I will insure this car.” There are a LOT of uninsured drivers running around, and last year the state finally got stricter about late-registering owners. We automatically get a free 30-day grace period on registration deadlines, and until last year people who registered late or not at all (no matter how long) paid only a $10 fine. Last year the late fee went up to $25/month, but maxes out at $100. And you should’ve heard the whining.

The treatment of trailer vs. automobile registration is out of proportion to what is actually at risk by comparison.

Too early to tell
Trailer has fenders, truck has flaps but they’re the modern short kind, not the greatest at preventing rocks from being kicked back.

The good thing is that the crossbar height is fairly high so the kayak does not ride close to the ground.

The dirt road I live on is a low-speed one, which reduces the chance of rock damage. More likely to cause damage would be long stretches of BLM or FS dirt roads that are not 4WD routes–people drive much faster on “just dirt roads” than on rutted, rugged paths.

I, however, plan to avoid both of the above as much as possible when trailering.

Removed the duct tape from the crossbars

– Last Updated: Mar-27-11 7:43 PM EST –

It left a lot of dark marks from the bottom, even though this particular duct tape is very low-residue. When I removed it, I noticed that the two layers of pipe foam were compressed a fair bit already. I removed them, also.

Citrus cleaner and water plus elbow grease removed the dark marks.

I'll be using bare minicell blocks instead, on the crossbars. The duct-tape-and-pipe-foam risers were OK; I just ran an additional piece of duct tape straight down the sides where the boats would make contact. That avoids the boat touching the numerous wrap-around edges that hold the foams in place.

Still tweaking stuff on the trailer.

Tape residue
I’ve had bad experiences with duct tape also. I’ve found sticky discolored residue on kayaks being carried and even some gum coming off and dripping on my car on very hot days. The best tape I’ve found so far for using around boats is the clear packing tape with the fiber bands in it. For temporary use it seemed to work but deteriorated with prolonged sun exposure. Now I just try to go “tapeless”. On long trips I sometimes pad the bars with cloth, held on with elastic cords.

For ten years I carried canoes on a pickup truck cap, with 1x3 hardwood crossbars, covered with carpet that was tacked on the underside of the crossbars. Only maintenance needed in ten years was to replace the carpet once. How complicated have we made our lives from the simplicity of those days?