How long can a kayak hang out?

-- Last Updated: Nov-23-07 10:17 PM EST --

Anyone know, legally speaking, how long/how far an item such as a kayak can hang out beyond the bed/body of a pickup truck, with a red flag attached? I am getting a bed extender off the hitch rack, but wondering the exact legal limits of overhang.


Sates may vary,…
But in Wisconsin if it overhangs more than 4’ it needs a red or orange flag.

I used to put my 19.5’ kayak on my 84’ Honda Civic all the time with a flag.

Only know Georgia law
Here it Georgia there is no limit with a flag. I’ve hauled a 22’ ladder in a short bed F150 which is 16’ beyond the bumper with a flag.

Be careful with the winter short days. At dusk the flag must be replaced with a tail light/brake light.

Whew. I was worried…

…about what you wanted to find out.

Down here in the south
if your front wheels are off the ground you might possibly get questioned!



Old Indian trick
I’d like to share an old indian trick that may help.

Twice this summer people have had the tailights fail on their trailers. Both time there were two LED headlamps available that had the red night vision option. These were looped and duct taped in a convenient location. I don’t know if they meet the legal requirements as far as light output but they show your trying and are actually very visible.

You could do the same at night on your rudder or rear toggle to illuminate an over length load.



Get a set of boat trailer tail lights
and attach them to the bed extender. Or, if the boat still extends out too far, get the temporary lights the use for towing vehicles and put them on the boat.

In Texas, if the load extends more than 4 ft beyond the bumper, you must have lights at night. That’s the bumper, not the tailgate when down. Even better, forget the bed extender, there’s been a rash of mushed kayaks around here because of people getting too close to the yaks and rear ending them on sudden stops. Makes an interesting hole in the windshields of some cars.

It’s Mommy calls it in.

With flag vs without
In Colorado, if it hangs more than 4’ beyond the end of the vehicle you must display a red flag. There is no verbiage for limits WITH the flag displayed, which some might interpret to mean no limit exists. I’ve seen more than a few construction items hanging way off the back of a truck, with flag…but the combination sometimes looks like a disaster waiting to happen.

So even if there is no legal limit, there IS a practical limit. Turning, parking, traffic congestion, etc. should be factored in.

mine got a loitering citation once…
…but seriously folks, I’ve hauled 30’ walkboards & 40’ sections of gutter & never got hassled. OverWEIGHT they will nail you for; overHANG almost never around my neck of the woods.

There is, however, a maximum overall vehicle length that varies from state to state; some of the RV websites have this info.

Just use a flag
anyway. Safer the better right? Practice a knot while your at it.

4’ and every 4’
Again a Wisconsin law but I believe that it is fairly universal that your red flag or light at night must be at the end of your overhanging load if it is 4’ behind your bumper, but there must also be one every four feet. So at 4’ over, you need just one flag, but at 6’ over you need two. One at 4’ and one at 6’, or maybe one at the end and one splitting the difference. At 10 feet over that would be 3 flags.

Moby here needs a few more flags.

…it’s considered loitering.

I have a hitch extender and like it but I have to be careful about entering and exiting roads because of elevation differences. Some angles will cause the hitch and kayak to drag on the pavement. I usually like to quarter the differences to prevent drag. I also use a flag on the end of my 16’ kayak.

according to Illinois,
PROJECTING LOADS: Loads extending 4 feet or more to the rear of a vehicle

must be marked with a red flag during the day. At night or when visibility is

poor, the vehicle must have a red light visible for 500 feet.

I got this from page 92 of the drivers manual from the Ill. webssite

Other states may vary, but i suspect you will be OK with the flag and operating tail lights.

In Canada
4 feet, Likely changed to one Meter now.

That is with a flag and no mention of a light.