Kayak Trailers in general

Hi all.

I’m thinking about a trailer for several reasons, not the least of which is the ability to carry more than 2! I’m looking into all three that I know of- Malone Downeaster, SportsRig, and Rack and Roll. Pulling with a Honda Fit.

So here are my questions:

  1. Any real fuel economy experiences? I’m looking to take boats off the roof. I get about 30% reduction in fuel economy with 2 boats on vs. plain car, 15-20% with just one. I know a trailer has SOME fuel cost, but they only weigh 200#, no more than taking a friend along…

  2. My primary boat is fiberglass, and I’m a little worried about road debris sandblasting it to bits. I suppose I could clip on some longer rear flaps to the car, but I bet I’ll still stir up the stuff on the road. I don’t care about dirty, I care about pitted. Any experience?

  3. Anyone have real reservations about the suspensions and FG boats? Mine’s pretty sturdy IMO- Boreal Ellesmere (not built to be light like some other boats). I think I’m leaning hardest towards the Malone for cost reasons.

    Thanks in advance!


Utility trailer
My brother gave me a 4X8 utility trailer. I extended the frame by pulling out the tilt tongue so that my 17’ sea kayaks would be centered on the bed. We have used this trailer rig for 7 years. I bolted some uprights so that I can also carry a canoe upside down over the kayaks. I have a Toyota truck that I usually use but we have towed the boats over 100 miles several times behind our Toyota Matrix. I think that there is less drag pulling a trailer. We have plastic boats and they get dirty but no apparent damage. I don’t know about fiberglass. The old utility trailer is getting rusty and I might replace it in a few years. It is probably 20 years old. But right now if I have a spare few hundred dollars I will buy another yak.

Kayak Trailing
I notice a 3-5 mpg loss (04 Honda Accord 4cyl) with two 13’ kayaks on the roof. I notice about the same loss with two Old Town doubles on a small boat trailer. My trips are about 200 miles at highway speeds and take about five hours each way. Removing the boats from the roof rack improves my economy by about 2mpg. I don’t notice any improvement when I pull the bare trailer. Since all of the kayaks are rotomolded, I have not noticed any problems with hull damage, either from the trailer bouncing, or from stone pits. The trailed boats get much grimier than the cartopped boats during rain storms though.

Sports Rig

– Last Updated: Aug-28-08 1:23 PM EST –

I have a sports rig but I only have about 900 miles on it behind our 4-cylinder Camry. On the way to San Diego, I got 27 mpg and normally, I'd get close to 29-30 at 70 mph.

On the return, it dropped to 23-mpg but I drove just above 75 mph.

As for damage, my kayak is fiberglass and I has the same concern. I haven't noticed any damage at all but again, the mileage is relatively small.

I will say that I love this trailer. It was more than I wanted to pay but it easy stores in front of our cars in our small, 2-car garage. I have to remove the tongue extension - two bolts - and the rest folds up to form a nice, solid T when leaned up.

They've updated the wheels to cast and mine came with a couple of options that they normally charge for.

My concerns were parking and security. I used one of the lasso products and keep it locked to the ball hitch. I had to be careful in San Diego - parking is a premium there but we managed w/o any difficulties. At the hotel, I asked for and received a room that overlooked where I parked.

It's steel/not aluminum - but I don't live near salt water. Rolls easily as every trailer should and with the adjustable shocks, I can manage the load easily. It went to well easy enough - no issues other than not reading the instructions correctly the first time - no mods, no pounding, etc.


not sure yet, BUT…
Here’s a copy of my post which is on page two:

“We looked into both Malone and Rack and Roll trailers for hauling our kayaks, both sea and surf. We were about ready to order the Rack and Roll based on a friend’s recommendation, when we visited our local kayak shop, looked at his stock, and ended up buying a LoadRite. Because of the number of boats, the smallness of both our cars, and the fact we wanted to put Thule boxes on the trailer for gear, we ended up with the 6 kayak LoadRite, which was cheaper than the Rack and Roll but a bit pricier than the Malone as we didn’t need to buy cradles.

The hitch goes on my husband’s Audi A4 Thursday. After that, we’ll see how things work out. We’re planning on hauling a NDK and a Valley, plus the two Thule boxes (on sale at REI)on a long trip next week.

That said, I give points to Malone for their customer service. I was on the phone a few times researching the trailers and the salesman told me to make sure that if we put a hitch on one of the cars it wouldn’t void the warranty. A quick call to the local Audi dealership solved that problem as the old mileage/year warranty on the Audi has long expired and that was what would be affected – and the A4 also has the bigger engine.

We went with the LoadRite because there was no assembly required and our local shop owner filled out all the RMV/Title paperwork for us, plus knew his product. We also saved a lot of money for an aluminum trailer that will hopefully haul all the boats and the gear easily.

The proof of the purchase will be next week.”

The hitch went on without, well, a hitch today on my husband’s Audi. It wasn’t exactly a cheap procedure but it was made less painful by the cost of the LoadRite vs a fully-cradled Malone (which we didn’t need as we have Malone cradles) or the elegant and costly Rack and Roll. We pick up the trailer tomorrow from our dealer, so we’ll see how it makes it home. As above, the real proof as far as mileage saved and efficiency will be next week.

I do have concerns about theft but we also have kayak lassos and the Thule Boxes lock. We’ve never had a problem staying overnight in a motel while the boats are on the car, although I don’t think I’d leave our surf boats unlocked, or, for that matter, outside. However, we haven’t taken them overnight any where yet, either, so I’m not sure what would happen.

Trailering is, for us and the number of boats we have and the different stuff we paddle in at times, the way to go. However, we will still use roof racks when paddling locally and during the winter as there’s no real efficiency in trailering when you’re not driving a good distance.

I’ll have a report on gas mileage in about two weeks…

Rack & Roll
I’ve had my Rack & Roll for about a month now. Love the thing. Use it with two kayaks, an Epic (carbon/fiberglass) and a roto WS Tempest 170. IMO, the suspension treats the kayaks very gently. I see nice gently rocking back there but it is the entire trailer above the suspension moving as a unit. Not shaken, not stirred. It would be lighter than a Sportsrig or other steel units which might be an issue with a FIT.

I assembled it in my living room and rolled it out the front door on the nifty wheels they have for that purpose. We also needed something that we could store upright in the garage.

So far, (four trips with it), it has exceeded my expectations. When empty on rough, non-paved roads, I did see the rear wheels bounce a bit, which I expected since I know how suspensions can be tuned only for a pretty narrow range of weight.

Soon, I am literally going to test the trailer by putting an egg in the seat of the kayaks and see what happens. I don’t think they will break. Just not sure how to keep them from rolling around yet.


Mt. Pleasant, SC

We got a Trailex at the Jersey Paddler show this spring. It holds four kayaks and is all aluminum so it won’t rust. Weight is only 250 pounds and I tow it everywhere with a Corolla. No sign of any pitting damage on any of our kayaks.

The only thing I had to do was put some foam padding over the center aluminum sections which were damaging the boats.

What kind of wheels/tires are used on the SportsRig and the Rack and Roll trailers?

Are they motorcycle wheels?

Do the larger diameter and narrower width of those tires make them any more fuel efficient?


Pedro Almeida

Sports Rig
It has cast wheels and the tires are 3.50 x 16. That’s not quite motorcycle size (most motorcycles are 18’ or 19" on the rear and up to 21" on the front.

Impact on mileage? I have no idea of the rolling resistance compare to the smaller, fatter wheels of other trailers. For me, it was more about convenience of not having to load them on the roof and that impact on mileage.

Eight years of happy trailering
1. Fuel economy: I use a modified snowmobile trailer (much heavier than kayak trailers) and have experienced NO loss of mpg while trailering. This has been my and my husband’s experience over 8 years using several tow rigs: a Chevy Tahoe with V8, a Nissan Frontier with V6, a Toyota 1-ton with V6, and a Jeep Wranger with I-6. The few times we have rooftopped, we have lost 10 to 15% in mpg, at least. No question for us which way to go. The trailer wins.

2. Composite finishes: We have a marine plywood floor on our trailer. Between mudflaps on the tow rig, a very long trailer tongue, and the wood floor, debris damage has not been a problem. We live on a dirt road but it’s a slow-speed dirt road. High-speed travel on dirt roads would probably cause pitting on parts not protected by the wood floor (the floor is 9.5 ft long).

3. Suspension: Our trailer has a torsion flex suspension, which is fairly soft. Soft enough, anyway. I have no qualms about putting composite boats on it.

Here is mine. Not great on wind
resistance, but it is very versitile. Can haul 6 boats, snowmobile, motorcycle, mulch, tons of gear, paddle tube, and I have not had any damage to my boats yet. http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f4/Wolverinemw/SouthBass011.jpg

Have a Harbor Freight
4x8 utility trailer. Here are some modifications I’ve made:


I’ve put thousands of miles on it, highway/etc., no problems. Mainly poly boats, but also fiberglass and stitch and glue. They do get dirty sometimes, but then the shoreline is pretty muddy at times also.

Rack N Roll
My Rack N Roll trailer is almost four years old. It still looks new. It has been a great trailer. We use it in our club and I have around 25,000 miles on it. I have 78" bars, two sets of Mako Saddles and two sets of Hull Raisers; I can carry four boats. I have their tongue extension on the trailer. I can carry my 22 ft tandem. Their new trailers are a lot wider than mine and have a better tongue extension. With four boats on mine, my trailer moves like a wet noodle.

The initial cost will make you swallow, but if you are going to keep it for a long time or you paddle in salt water like I do, the trailer is a must!

Good luck