For those with pickup trucks

I am buying a F150 super crew and can’t decide what to use to carry my kayaks. What do you use.



F 150
I posted a similar thread last week and didn’t get much response. I think I’m going to go with the Thule XSporter 500 Pro. I need it for the height adjustability. If I was only hauling longer boats I would probably go with the Yakima Outdoorsman 300. I still have qualms with putting a 14 ft boat just on bed mounted racks. I’m a huge proponent of bow and stern lines for travel. Running a line from the bow down to tow hooks up front may tend to “bend” the boat down toward the hood. I wonder if I should buy a single load bar that would go toward the front of the cab roof. Past posters worried about the potential twist with the boat being supported from the cab and bed separately. I’m not convinced it’s enough to worry about. I’m loving the F 150 Supercrew vs my old trusty Chevrolet Colorado though.

Have 2010 F150
We also have a cap over the bed and pull a pop up RV. The cap comes with rails and attachment hardware for cross bars. We added an attachment bar from Thule for over the cab. So we have two sea kayaks (18’ and 17’) that sit over the truck forward of the trailer. This arrangement works very well for us. I have also used just the truck for WW trips. I sleep in the cap and put the boats on top of the cab/cap.

these are pretty popular down here
In texas truck land

Topper or open bed?
If I kept mine with an open bed, I’d put on a sturdy contractor rack with round bars and kayak saddles or good minicell blocks on those. No issues from sliding a kayak on from the rear with no roof in the way. I would love to be able to stand in the bed to strap the boat in, which this arrangement allows.

But since I can’t do without a topper, I got mine with tracks that accommodate Yakima Landing Pads and Towers. The tracks allow adjustment of the crossbar spread, if desired. The Landing Pad and Tower system’s advantage lies in the fact that you only need set the cradle or saddle tilt one time. After that, the click-in feature retains whatever angle you set. Bars and towers are very easy to remove and install, and if you leave them on you can lock the system with the optional cylinder lock.

I only rarely rooftop because I prefer trailering. But having a rooftop rack does come in handy sometimes.

I have a fiberglass cap on mine.
And use Yakama Landing pads bolted right through the top. I also put them on the front roof of the cab, which give me the option to load from the very back or the front and give me three sets of bars.

I pull a travel trailer and can’t let the back of the yaks or canoes hang over the rear of the truck, so this allows me to load from the back, and then slide the boats onto the front two racks

Jack L

trac rac
Or whatever Lowe’s is calling them these days. It’s a ladder rack, its strong and adaptable. Plus about half as much as a Thule or Yakima option.

Ryan L.

Ladder rack
Wit a cantilevel so as not ta hit de cab wit me long an’ coyvee canoos, but ah’ gots a cap.


I have a Ranger. This is what I’ve done and would do the same with a 150 (and carry a small ladder in the back, I suppose.)

I use an Aluminum cap with side lift windows. Lakeland is the brand. (Found my current one at a boneyard for $80)

For another $80 I got the standard aluminum wrap over the top rack that Lakeland uses. I split the top center support into three equal parts so it doesn’t interfere so much with straps, and I slid a piece of 1/8" angle aluminum inside to beef the whole deal up. The angle is held in place with the same self-tapping ss screws that secure the supports to the rack. Instead of mounting the rack to the cap frame with self-tapping screws I through-bolted it with ss screws and nuts.

The rig as is isn’t wide enough to carry two full-sized tandem canoes side by side, so I use two 2X4s cut to the combined width of my two widest canoes plus about 3" extra. They really shouldn’t be wider than you side mirrors, but other than that there’s no reason to cut it too close. I went over the edges of the 2X4s with a larger radius round-over bit and cut 45s on the ends and also rounded those over so if (when) I walk into them I take a glancing blow rather than getting a full-on edge to the forehead from the board.

I routed a groove* to allow the 2X4s to slip over the aluminum rack, cut a couple holes to allow the upright legs of the factory rack poke through the 2X4s, though I was tempted to just cut the legs off. Either way would work. Next I drilled the 2X4s for carriage bolts that hold the 2X4 to the factory rack by steel straps under the factory rack. I epoxied the carriage bolts in this time just for fun.

Then paint the wood to match the truck, or a canoe, or, what the heck, anything that’s a nice color, glue some exterior carpet over the top of the boards to protect wood canoe gunwales, bolt it on, throw a couple attachment loops under the hood, and go canoeing. Its about time.

I’ve done variations on this for my last three pick-ups and think it still can’t be beat for the price. I think the attachment system is more secure than Yakima, Thule, Saris, or any of the other currently popular rack systems, and the whole rig stronger assuming the 2X4s aren’t full of knot holes, rotting, or anything dumb like that. You can pack camping stuff for the summer in the bed and have it dry and readily accessible in a flash if you want. The rack carries ladders, sheet rock, or furniture as easily as canoes.

Hope this helps.

  • I just recalled - when routing out these grooves, its wise to check and make sure your canoe clears the cab roof. You can control the roof clearance by routing deeper on the front or rear as needed. Each canoe is a little different and some with greatly upturned bowlines can be a problem, especially (I would think) on crew cabs.

Saw these at Harbor Freight

I use a trailer with a rack that my son made for me.


I just went from a ranger to a 2012 F-150 extended cab. Huge difference in loading and hauling kayaks and not in a good way. I have a bed high tonneau cover so that limits some options. For short trips I use a truck bed extender and just put the kayaks in the bed and go. Quick and simple but does up the probability of getting rear ended. The big problem is the height of the rig with a rack. Mine is around 76 inchs (18 inch tires, not reccomended) so loading/unloading with a short wife is a process. I have a a cab high rack with saddles currently and am going to try out a hullivator today. Hopefully that will lessen the issues of getting a long kayak on top of a rack with saddles.

I have tried several options and there are few simple options with a rig that is that high.

I bought an older model TracRac Pro on Craigslist. It clamps to the rails. My father-in-law bought a single crossbar for his cab and uses one of those “goalposts” that plugs into his hitch to carry his canoe. That’s because he wanted to keep his fiberglass tonneau. I like my arrangement, though, other than my concerns about bow/stern lines when carrying the boat toward the back of the vehicle.

Thule/Yakima on F150 quad
Had a quad cab F150 for a while, with a topper. I bolted Yakima tracks to the topper for use with some Thule Trakker towers I already owned. That worked fine for shorter kayaks, but longer, rockered WW canoes would hit the cab roof. So I bought a half set of Thule towers for non-raingutter cars and mounted a third bar on the cab when carrying canoes. I liked that vehicle a lot for gear-intensive family trips, but I hated the 11 mpg, the need for 3 point turns when angle parking, the loudly ticking lifters, and the likelihood of the sparkplugs seizing in the heads when it came time to replace them, so I finally sold it.

truck racks
I have a pickup with an open bed. I bought a Thule T-bar that extends off a hitch from the back.

Over the cab I use a Saris saddle rack. I slide the T-bar to its lowest setting so that the kayak as it sits on the rack is slightly higher over the cab. This makes it easier to load as the lift to the rear T-bar is easier.

I have a Ford Ranger and have used a Yakima Outdoorsman to carry my kayaks for the past 5 years. It has worked great. It is easy to mount kayaks with the right fittings (mine has Hully Rollers on back, Mako Sharks in the front). It also leaves your bed open for carrying other gear. My only complaint is that it does limit the utility of your truck bed for some uses, such as picking up loads of mulch.

Unfortunately, I am selling my truck and will need to buy another rack to fit my VW Golf and/or my wife’s Honda CRV. I am hoping that the Yakima Outdoorsman will be easy to sell because it is useful for other purposes in addition to carrying kayaks and canoes.

Trac Rack and folding tonneau
I need an open bed for carrying bulk stuff sometimes, but I like keeping out snow and rain most of the time, so I’ve got a Peragon sliding cover for the bed. Pair that with a TracRac (bought used). I have one set of j-bars, and 4’ wide foam pads next to that. Compared to the Outdoorsman, and some other options, I prefer the trac rac because I often carry 3 or 4 boats, and they’re totally secure on the 1000# capacity trac rac. I’m not sure I’d be as happy with all that weight and force on a lighter rack.

I recently moved this rack from my 2006 Tundra to my current 2013 Tundra, and I agree with some other posters that the growing height of trucks is a pain for loading boats. I’ve changed from loading my boat onto the J-rack from the driver’s side, to loading my boat from the bed. I turned the J-rack to face inward, and I slide the boat up on the padded bars, and then climb in the bed to strap it into the J-rack.

I wish someone made a vehicle that can tow a few tons, but didn’t require a step stool for someone 6’ tall to climb in the cab.

Tires are an issue? I doubt it.

– Last Updated: Apr-23-13 6:01 PM EST –

I think you mean 18-inch wheels, not tires. On stock vehicles, large-diameter wheels like that have virtually the same overall tire diameter as you get with (what used to be) standard wheels. There's this silly trend nowadays to put very low-profile tires on pickups (it's silly because they are useless off-pavement), but that's the reason for using such big wheels. It's to make up the loss in sidewall height of that style of tire. So, unless you've modified your truck yourself (or unless the previous owner did), it won't be any higher off the ground with 18-inch rims than it would be with 15-inch rims, or certainly no more than it would be with 16-inchers.

Post your actual tire size and I can tell you exactly how the diameter compares to the old standard for half-ton trucks, 235/75-15, or to some of the other more-recent, taller options that were common before the low-profile performance street tires "took over" the market.

I Have F-150 Extended Cab
I used a Yakima Outdoorsman. Have it on my second truck now, plus I used to use it on a trailer. Another friend on this board also has this rack. Works well for us. Mines a few years old, Rob’s over 5 years at least.

Trac rac

– Last Updated: Apr-24-13 2:39 PM EST –

Was on my 93 T-100 now it's on my 06 Tundra and it will move to my next truck too.
Solid and I can move it forward to put large items in the bed.
I also have the bed cross bars so I can mount a car top carrier at the top of the bed and still throw some stuff underneath it.
I've had 4 kayaks on it and I wasn't worried about them.
As far as trucks getting too high you can always put the kayak across the bed then step into the bed and lift it onto the racks. This only works with one kayak though :-)

F 250 4x4
Very high lift, in other words. I started with a Dewalt rack (same as a Thule but without the sports oriented price gouge). I added Malone J cradles on the ends and use their Telos loading system to easily get the boats up and down. I added Thule cradles in the center for a third boat.