kayak rack in truck bed

I am going to have a kayak rack built into my old pick up truck bed, with a storage rack in the middle. First time for this for me, and I have no guidance. Any suggestions? All ideas appreciated. The truck is an 1984 s10 long bed pick up. It would be for 4 kayaks and I would like it to be able to carry 2-3 bikes. not neccasarily at the same time. Help a girl out here.

How long are the kayaks?

Do you want to carry them within the bed, with the extra length out of the back, or do you want the rack to go above the roof line?

PVC…check this example…

– Last Updated: Apr-06-10 3:46 PM EST –


then do a google image search for:

"PVC Kayak rack"

lots of ideas in a picture....

I am looking to build a rack that the kayaks extend over the cab, that will free up space underneath for gear. What do you suggest it be made of.

Used Shell
You should be able to pick up a used camper shell for your truck for very cheap. Then add Yakima or Thule bars to the top of it. This gives you a large platform for your boats, and weather proof, lockable storage for you gear and bikes. This is the set-up I currently use on my Dodge and love it! Yes, it can be a little tough to load them up that high, but I carry a step ladder in the back to make it easier. Now that I’ve had a shell I’ll never go back.

truck rack
Thule makes a kind of T post like addition that hooks into a 1.25" trailer hitch. You can lower this T-bar pretty low to make the loading easier.

Over my cab I have a Saris saddle rack. I am 6’ tall and don’t have too much trouble loading my boats.

my 2 cts worth…
…is you are going to end up with some sort of variation of what is commonaly referred to as a " ladder rack" set-up. the other thing you need to consider is whether you are going to use a hard shell cap or a hard or soft cover tonneau style cover for the bed. you can buy aluminum caps for P/U’s that already have a "rack " on them for carrying loads, I had one once…that way , you have a secure area for gear plus a rack for boats and you won’t need any kind of cab roof bars. as far as the bikes go, you can buy bike carriers to fir receiver hitches. No matter which way you go , u r probably looking at $500 + for everything, unless you home-build a rack.I offer the following link only as a reference to some types of racks available…


Go on put an ad on Craigs List that your looking for an old camper shell. For a truck as old as yours you may get one for hauling it off. Get a used rack from Ebay or Craigs List. I have a friend that got one for $25. It had some leaks that we fixed with “Texas Chrome”(aka foil tape)and a couple of rattle cans of paint. It’s not show quality but it does the job.

I made a good rack from treated lumber

– Last Updated: Apr-09-10 4:03 PM EST –

that would hold any load of boats you can fit on it.I no longer have the truck, but can take photos of the rack if you want to see it.
The 4 uprights and cross bars are 2"x6". I used a front to back brace made from a 2'x4".

Tough Challenge
Four sea kayaks. Are they plastic or do you need to treat them gingerly? Plastic, no problem–heave em up there on top of each other if need be. If they are yaks that want to be babied, you probably need to carry them on their sides, because four across is going to span 7-8 feet, perhaps too wide for your truck.

And a storage shelf…what exactly is that?

And be able to carry bikes, a challenge, if this storage rack is in the bed.

I have a Tacoma. I wanted to put a rack on the roof and a rack at the midpoint of the bed so I could carry boats centered on the truck. But Yakima changed their tower and clip arrangements such that they did not sell clips for my truck that could be mated with my older towers. This ticked me off, and I ended up slapping together a 2x4 rack as a temporary solution. That was January, 2002. I’ve replaced the truck and moved the temporary racks into the new truck. My racks cost me less than $50 to build. They are not perfect.

One disadvantage of my racks is that if I want to use the truck to haul stuff, I usually need to take the racks out. It slides in and out in under ten minutes, but still, ideally, I could just leave them on.

I retrofitted the racks with one pair of drop down wheels, so that I can move the rack and only have to hold one end of the rack. All four uprights are mounted to a rectangular base of 2x4s that lies in the bed, so I need to move it all at once. A nice feature is that I can leave boats tied on the rack and slide the rack out with the boats on. Often thought that if I were to do it again I would build a storage box into the base so that I could keep paddles, pfd and all that gear in the rack/box, and move it all at once. Of course, that make it so heavy that it would be harder to move.

I’m thinking about getting some of the racks that mount on the side walls of the bed and that don’t interfere with sliding materials in and out of the bed like my current rack does. I know Yakima sells 'em, I think Thule may, and there are similar products available from other makers. These aren’t cheap. They have a pro in that you can buy accessories to adapt the bars to different kinds of gear, but the accessories are not cheap either. I think you’d be in the $500 neighborhood to get a pair of these side-wall-mounting towers and bars. I like that you can drop them down when not in use to lower wind resistance. A con is that if you hit anything (e.g. overhanging tree) with these towers, they crumple the side-wall of the truck bed…seen that on two trucks. I have hit similar (a fence) with mine, and it cracked the 2x4 upright, which I replaced for a few dollars, so that is a plus for the home-made solution.

Well, long and rambling here. If you think you are building, let me know and I will send you pictures. But that is a tough challenge.

Good luck with it.