Kayak Trailer

Well, I am breaking down and looking at a trailer vs car topping anymore. I went to this website: http://www.castlecraft.com/canoe_trailer.htm and found both a single and double that I am interested in.

I went paddling last spring with Steve B who showed up with a trailer and didn’t think much of it till I noted that when we packed up to leave he was finished loading way before me and didn’t make those grunting noises like I did lifting my 55lb boat up 7 feet in the air.

Any opinions and experience using a trailer for your yak(s) vs cartopping?

I do both
but use the trailer 90% of the time.

Advantages for me are numerous, others differ.

There was a rather spirited discussion on this topic not long ago.

See if an archive search turns up a thread or two for you.


Cheap Build Your Own Trailer Site
I bought the $279 utility trailer off this site http://www.sportutilitytrailers.com/ and it has done me well for hauling everything from dirt bikes, garbage and kayaks. It was also relatively easy to put together.

Have both; definitely prefer the trailer
We started by cartopping, bought the trailer and mostly use that, and just recently went through the cartopping exercise again. No, we are not switching back to cartopping; it’s a special-purpose thing. We are taking a long road trip that requires a ferry ride. The thought of trailering onto and off the ferry snake lines is unappealing, not to mention the added cost of the extra rig length.

We still prefer the trailer over cartopping, no question about it.

Yes, you have to learn to back it up…and keep practicing. I got very good at it, and after a year of not backing much I backslid. It’s like other skills: a little practice goes a long way.

Trailers adequate for carrying kayaks are light enough you don’t need to worry much anyway. You can always unhitch the trailer and move it by hand. I can move our (snowmobile) trailer by hand.

boat trailers
The cheap crude leaf springs used on most boat and utility trailers will bounce at every bump. This shock is transfered to your canoes/kayaks. To avoid this I just had a standard boat trailer retrofitted with softer motercycle springs (coil) with shock absorbers. This suggestion is for dedacated canoe/kayak trailers only. If you also want to use the trailer for your snow mobile, Quad and 15’ boat with 50 horse on the back, you will have to suffer with the bounce when using it with light craft.


– Last Updated: Apr-28-06 9:39 AM EST –

That's a concern. The SportsRig trailer has that part nailed, but I don't like much of anything else about it, mainly that it sits too high (I tow with a VW hatchback, has a low hitch) and isn't optimal for long boats unless you add a few heavy options to it. I have the Trailex SUT-200, it has a pretty rough ride, certainly, mitigated by running the tires at 10-psi and having some distance between the cradles and the axle crossmember, to take advantage of the flex of the aluminum main bar. It doesn't have leaf springs, instead some rubber axle mounts, so doesn't bounce too much.

I can tell how rough a time my boat has had on a drive by whether the skeg has dropped down any while enroute. After paying attention to the things mentioned above it doesn't drop down much at all, if any.

What I really want is the low-slung Trailex design with a SportsRig suspension. That would be nice.


a small boat trailer
came with my sunfish sailboat. i put padded bunkers across it. two kayaks rest on it most of the time, ready to be pulled to a launch area. i have a rack on my van but the trailer can’t be beat for ease and convenience. yes the springs on mine are way too stiff, i am looking for single leaf springs when i replace the current set.

If you must here is cheap source.

– Last Updated: Apr-28-06 11:15 AM EST –

Harbor Freight: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=90154

Do plan on removing some of the springs to take the shock out of trailering your poor boat. Trailers are not nice to small boats as most all small trailers are way over built for the job!!! Also do not pump the tires up hard. Back 35 psig tires down to about 20 psig on that single, maybe 25 psig on a 6 place.

One friend transports a 22' Proa on one of these.

Hope this helps a little.



Luxury Model
For the luxury end of trailers, check out


I don’t have one, but I want one. I priced one out at my local dealer, and with the spare tire and extended tongue, the price was around $2000.


At lot like the SportsRig

– Last Updated: Apr-28-06 1:18 PM EST –

with the same tongue height (recommended hitch ball height of 22 inches) and long-boat issues.

I suppose the wheels are a bit cooler than those on the SportsRig.


No leaf springs on snowmobile trailer
No coils, either. It has a proprietary suspension meant for softer movement, “Torsion Axle” or some similar name.

Since it’s meant for hauling a snowmobile rather than two kayaks, it’s still a bouncer. But given that the truck that usually tows it is stiffly sprung, I doubt using a really soft trailer suspension would help much. Might even cause the trailer to wallow on a hard bump.

BTW, the bouncing has not hurt the kayaks one bit. We’ve used this trailer for almost 6 years now.

Disclaimer: we do not own any snowmobiles or plan to.

Adjust the atttachment height
I think you can get around the too-low hitch receiver height by putting a spacer on the hitch bar, to add height to the ball.

Trailer attachment height can be adjusted. There are even drop bars for lifted trucks to add when towing a trailer. Maybe there is a bar with a rise, though I think adding the spacer would be cheaper.

Do not underinflate trailer tires!
Aside from possibly wallowy handling, the trailer tires will wear poorly.

Our tires were rated to about 50 psi but for years we ran them at 38 psi, thinking that the light load would do better with that.

The tires developed TWO strange wear patterns, which a couple of trailer shops attributed to underinflation. They said that many people make the same mistake, and they pay for it by having to buy new tires every year.


– Last Updated: Apr-28-06 1:56 PM EST –

My hitch receiver is about 7 inches above the road and the hitch itself already has a substantial S-bend to get the ball up to about 13 inches at the top as it is. Getting something to make it at least a half a foot higher is not practical, and probably dangerous with a type-1 1.25-inch receiver. Here's a picture to show you what I mean: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v718/mhackett/boat/Dcp_2466.jpg

Of course it's possible to just have the trailer assume a severely downward slope towards the front but I don't like the looks of that.

The trailer would be great for an SUV or pickup, just not ideal for little cars.


That’s a lot of $$$$

– Last Updated: Apr-28-06 3:10 PM EST –

A trailer useable only for very light loads, for $2000? You gotta be kidding.

The ability to quickly remove wheels and fold it up for storage is a great feature, though. That alone would make it feasible for apartment/condo dwellers, unlike with regular trailers.

It's very, very light so could be used as a kayak caddy (that saves $100 for a separate cart).

The snowmobile trailer with spare tire and stock long tongue cost $1000. Another $40 for the dealer to drill another hole and extend the tongue, plus a few dollars and our own labor to make crossbars from 2x4s and indoor/outdoor carpet and foam. With the extended tongue, there is plenty of allowance for jackknifing.

Best of all, the flatbed platform protects the kayaks from gravel spray.

Not too bad having the ability to haul 6' chainlink dog kennel panels, lumber, etc. either.

Come to think of it, I don't have any film scans or digital photos of it. I'll take some pix in the next week and post them, for anybody who is interested in trailer options. The extended tongue is a hoot.

I used an SUT200
for four years and upgraded to a SportsRig one year ago.

I haul 16-18’ boats on two vehicles, one with a 16" ball height and the other is a 14" ball height.

No issues at all and I’d never go back to the Trailex. Much of my need is for offroad use and this is where the SportsRig shines and the Trailex suffers.


Is that the Trailex?
It looks pretty level to me.

Trailer guys told me not to have a tongue that slopes down to the hitch. If it can’t be level, the other way around is preferable.

I think most trailers are meant to be level with a 2WD pickup and hitch (if you use a ball directly on the bumper as I did with my old truck, the trailer slopes slightly downward to its rear). The hitch installers seem to do a good job of matching that height if you don’t have a 2WD truck.

That’s the Trailex. Maybe rather than repeat myself I’ll just ask you to reread this thread…:wink:


does it
hang over that much? The trailer that looked interesting was 96 inches long with an overall of 140? so 3 feet or so in the front, 8 feet for the trailer, leaves almost 7 feet hanging off the back of this thing.(for an 18 footer) Is that correct or am I missing something in how these are made or modifications that could be made?


You aren’t missing anything

– Last Updated: Apr-28-06 4:53 PM EST –

it gets even worse if you are carrying boats side-by-side because you need even more clearance at the front for turns to keep the bow from colliding with the back of your vehicle.