Kayak Transport on Ford Ranger Help

Actually I have a standard bed Mazda B2300. It’s a Ford Ranger in drag. I’ve just gotten the paddle bug and figured I needed to find a way to transport a boat BEFORE buying on. But after looking at Thule and a few other setups, it looks like I’ll be paying as much for a transport set up as I will the boat!

I’m old, poor and frustrated. Am I missing something? Or should I plan on spending 300-500 for a reliable way to transport my new found addiction?


I know a guy
who went to a small welding place that specializes in wrought iron fences. They welded him up a rack that fits in the stake pockets for like $50 plus materials. I THINK it ended up costing him $150 or something like that. Or just keep looking for a ladder rack. maybe something used in the classified…

Does the truck have
a hitch? If so you could try an “extend-a-bed” device like Cabela’s sells. If you have a use for a topper on the truck you could justify buying a new/used one and placing thule rack parts on the topper. I have one set of J-cradles and one set of saddles on my topper. I use the Js for short trips where I don’t expect to be on rough roads or in high wind.


This is what I did…

I put a single Thule bar over my cab and went to a welder (that does iron fences) and had him make up the rear for me.

It fits into the stake pockets on my truck (also Mazda B2300). It works well for me.

Right now I just lay my kayak, bottom side up, across the bars and strap it down. At some point, I’m going to get some kayak carriers to hold the boats up-right. The front will be no problem, as it’s a Thule load bar, so Thule mounts will fit. Does anyone know if the Thule’s will fit on a 1" square tube? If not, I’m sure I can have something made.

No Hitch
just a ball. I’d have to get a hitch and reciever installed.

If you can spare the $
You really will go far trying to beat the functionality of a fiberglass topper. It secures your gear from the weather, you can sleep under it, carry stuff on top of it, & etc. Bonus points for keeping the hot sun off of the back of your neck while driving. Tie two corners of a tarp to the back rack, pole and stake the other corners - instant picnic shade/rain shelter over the tail gate.



will this work for you?..depends on the boat or canoe length…


– Last Updated: Jun-24-05 4:01 PM EST –



Are you handy?

I’ve got a real Ranger, 2.5 liter cheap truck. Did start with some leftover Seta Quick’n’easy roof rack pieces.

What I did: For $30, bought a set of 2 roof mounts. Removed cab roof liner, mounted through the roof next to the door, with some metal bracing in the area. Added washers for strength instead of relying on the super thin steel roof. The racks I have mount to these through roof mounts.

The rear: I found some 2x3" square tubing scrap steel, carefully measured and drilled into the side bed where the tail lights are adjacent to. One bolt is installed by removing the tail lamp assy and accessing from inside. Then, I shaved down some 2x4 boards to fit the 2x3 tube steel, and built the rear rack.

Later, I got a camper shell and mounted duplicate mounts on it. IF you really want, I could send photos after I take some. SAR


– Last Updated: Jun-24-05 4:04 PM EST –

this one is kewl...enlarge the picture...


Best yet I think....slide in...slide out...and cheap!

How big of a boat?
I can transport both my 12 and 14 foot kayaks inside the bed… and my ranger has the narrow stepside bed. You’ve got 8 feet of bed with the tailgate down…

I also saw an ad for a small trailer for $150 the other day, might be another option…

Easy, cheap rack
I used pressure treated 2x4’s to make the “legs” of my rack. Cut down the bottoms to fit the stake pockets. Pressure treated 2x6 for the cross beams. Screwed all together with stainless deck screws. Make it 3-4" higher than your cab to get the clearance. Cover your cross beams with split pool noodles that are zip tied in place. It’s bombproof and cost less than $50.00 to make.

This stuff is GREAT!
Thanks guys. I knew you’d come up with somthing.

Origanly used a cheap topper. and even cheaper home made rack that was very strong.(120$ total)

finaly snaged a fiberglass with a yakkima rack already on it for 250$.(used car place) my topper both the cheap and nicer one have realy payed for themselves.

depending on were you live you could find a topper at aused carplace. around my area the used dealers will normaly take them of the trucks they buy. is there a car auction place close by? the one in my area has at least 10-14 toppers laying around right now.

Keep it simple…
…I have a real live Ranger short bed, so my floor/tailgate length is 8’ and my canoe is 14.5". I have found it fully feasible to just plop the boat on the bed/gate and tie it back to the inside corner tieoff doohickies. In other words, the canoe is being pulled back against the bed frame. For extra insurance, I put a flex plastic bag of water in the forward end of the cnoe (by the cab) to hold it down. I carry the bag on the water anyway to give me a more level craft and better glide. I have had no trouble with this setup, and can even lash my wife’s 9’ rec kayak next to it.

I have an Extend-a-Truck, and it works very well, but it’s heavy and the system just described is easier. If you have a Harbor Freight store in your town, they sell what looks like an EAT at a much lower price.

The only reason I can see for a high rack is if

you have a camper shell or need to carry a lot of other stuff in the bed as well.

I’m looking at mounting my camper on a small

flatbed trailer, and might not be able to let my canoe stick out that far. If so, I’ll have to mount it on the cab with foam blocks or on top of the camper.

I’ll second that…
as another Ranger owner, my homemade 2x4 rack with pool noodles does great. Actually I used a foam sleeppad between the wood and the boat, some tie downs and I drive up to 60 miles (fast) without any problems. 1 year and still doing the job…$20 and some time

Caps are handy…
for throwing your wet gear in as well as the rest of the paraphernalia.

I couldn’t find a used cap for my stepside so I went new, but if you have the standard bed you might want to look that way. I’ve seen on auction a good number of caps for the regular bed.

I made my own blocks with spare wood and an insignificant amount of foam. It works great.

Link to pick:


Good luck

Thnanks SuperTroll
I just picked up the stuff at Home Depot and Walmart to build the rack for my truck. I won’t be getting my Kayak for another 3 weeks but it looks like this will do the trick.

Thanks again and to everyone who came up with some great Ideas!


The truck bed and the cab are designed to move independently of each other. This could cause stress on the boat. Ford tried tying the bed to the cab and the trucks developed cracks in the sheet metal.