Kayak trailer ?

I recently bought my 1st kayak and also got a boat trailer to haul it around with. I am putting a floor and sides on the trailer so I can also use it as a utility trailer. I want to make a removable rack out of ¾” steel pipe that will kinda look like a laddler rack for a pick-up to put the kayaks on. I plan to use the foam blocks or pool noodles on the pipe. My question is. Is there a rule of thumb for how far apart the cross bars should be on the rack? Most of the time I will be carrying a 12’ Pongo & a 13 ‘ Cayuga but there will times I will be carrying up to 4 boats.

Thanks in advance


Close to the bulkead/pylon
You want to locate your supports under the boats near a reinforced part of your boat. If there aren’t any bulkheads, you should try to put it near the thickest part of the boat outside the cockpit area. If there is a pylon in the front or back to keep the boat from collapsing, it can be under there too. You still want to keep at least 1/4 the length of the boat between supports

Don’t tighten the straps too much. I oil canned a plastic boat this year on my trailer brackets and had to leave it out in the sun for an afternoon to get it out.

Most of mine are about 4 feet. Seems to work well. But, place them at bulkheads if you have them. Also, try to cradle the boat with a good part of the support towards the outside of the hull. This area is more vertical and less prone to denting. A flat bar, with the weight on the keel line of a plastic boat will deform the hull over time. It’s not a permanant damage but it can be irritating.

Thanks for the good advice.


yes but
I agree with the previous poster, just keep in mind you will be swapping boats at some point. You may be hauling other peoples boats which will be different too. So I when I set mine up I just made sure my spacing was close enough to fit any short boats I might haul.

At the bulkheads
I have found that the distance between the bulkheads of most boats is fiarly close between manufacturers and models. I measured a few different boats and took an average, and none i measured were more than an inch or two off from my average.

Unless you’re talking a trailer like the un-named aluminum one, it’s rare for the cross bars to be as close as 4’ apart. Most commercial kayak trailers including the ones the manufacturers use have them about 8’ apart.

Bill H.

It is preferable to load plastic kayaks on their gunwhales to help prevent oil-canning of the hulls. The supports should be approximately 4’ apart evenly placed both for and aft the cockpits. By having the kayaks on their sides, it will give you more room along the crossbars for additional equipment. Because these trailers can generally carry a substantial amount of weight, the ride can be harsh/jarring on the kayaks. Accordingly, secure properly and check often to ensure that straps haven’t loosened. Additional weight can be help soften the impact, especially if it’s the mother-in-law…

Thanks Again
this project is still in the 1st stage of planning. I did look in the archives and saw some great ideas. I was thinking of putting a couple of upright pieces of pipe in the center kinda like a “Stacker” for when I carry more then two boats. After reading all this advice I will definitly do that to carry the boats on their side.

Thanks again