Newbie with hauling questions

Hello all. I am brand new to the site and new to paddling and have a question about hauling/mounting a canoe on my GMC crewcab pickup.

We travel and tow a 30 foot camper when we travel, and I am able to get a 16’ Old Town Stillwater canoe from my uncle, that we can start taking with us. The question is, what is the best/safest way to haul it on my truck, which does not have a roof rack.

Essentially I made two “goalpost” like wooden structures to go in the front and rear stake body holes in the bed. The crossbars for each of these I wrapped in carpet to protect the gunwales. These holes in the bed rails are only five feet apart, which leads me to my question. I am able to over hang the rear of the pickup about 4 feet, thereby leaving 5 feet of canoe behind the rear support, 5 feet of canoe between the supports, and 6 feet of canoe over the cab (in front of the front support).

Will this work? Or does the canoe really need to be supported closer to the ends? I have seen people overhang them on smaller cars, but we are traveling pretty good distances when towing our camper and I just wondered what you think, and/or what you would recommend.

Please feel free to suggests good straps or pads as you will not insult my intelligence - I am just a music teacher :slight_smile: (SO if you ever have a question about how to play a G# on a saxophone… ask away).

Thanks very much for any suggestions!


Why not put as good set of racks…
on the truck roof, and do it right ?

Yakama provides all kinds of configurations, and when your boat is on them, it is very secure.

You won’t have to worry about the overhanging stern hitting your trailer when you make tight turns.

I haul a travel trailer with my Ford F-150 and carry two long kayaks and a 17 foot long canoe, and never worry about them. -they are like one with the truck !



I’m not going to speak to the 6, 5, and 5 spacing. Instead here are some general items to consider: 1. Be sure the posts are well secured to the truck, as a large canoe can be quite a parachute. 2. secure the torso of the canoe to the racks and the stems to the truck. Do not listen to naysayers, do both, it’s important. 3. The tie-down lines on the ends should never be parallel, EVER. 4. I prefer rope for both. At least 3/8" polypropeylene. If using rope, learn to tie really effective knots. In no time you’ll be able to secure a hull with rope faster than straps. 5. Hulls flying off vehicles at 70 mph can be lethal. Pay attention.

check out Mohawk’s website

I built a rack using the basic picture at the bottom of the page. I haul my 13.5 yak with no problems.

PIpe insulation
If you stay with the racks you made (will be alright, I think, if you have only one canoe and keep it centered), I would ditch the carpet that you put on for padding. It’s to stiff and slippery. Foam pipe insulation will cushion it better and help a little with the boat shifting around.

Definitely run some poly rope (not nylon - it stretches when wet) from the stems, along with your ropes or straps over the boat and around the racks. Two lines at angles from each end. Definitely anchor the racks to the bed.

A music teacher?
so a D flat, an F and a B flat walk in to a bar…no really stop me if you have heard this one…The bartender looks up and says, “I’m sorry. We don’t serve minors”

ba dum bum

There are so many options for professionally manufactured racks it would be worth investing in one. You will open up a world of options for family fun and adventure. Untill then if your Back rack section is slightly higer than your cab, and you remove the front one, you could use a bit of Pool noodle and rest the front on the cab. That would give you a bit less overhang.

But if it were me, I would get a regular ladder rack. I had one on my old pick up and I loved it. So dog gone useful (mine was the ugly home made kind with welds you could see fron a quarter mile away, but I didn’t make it, I just got it with the truck) A decent ladder rack will have an over hang over the cab and allow you many hauling options.


I am considering a real rack in the long run, but was hoping to be cheap for right now. I don’t quite have $300-400 laying around for the roof rack at the moment, and was trying to get started without it.

Eventually I wouldn’t mind getting the roof rack for the cab and going that way.

The wooden racks I made fit tightly into the holes, and there is a hole in the side of the stack pocket that I am planning to put a t-nut/bolt into to keep the rack from lifting up. OR, I could strap the canoe to the truck tie downs, which would hold the racks down as well.

If there are cheaper roof racks, please advise. Since we pull the truck into our garage every night, I was also hoping to have a rack that would fit in the garage and/or would be easy to remove. I am afraid one of those big ladder racks may not be/do either. I am not opposed to “real” rack, but I am just trying to weigh my options.

Is there any reason not to go with the gunwale pads directly on the roof of the truck with the front?

I have a friend who is a certified mechanic/welder, who owes me a favor, so i could consider calling it in, and having him weld me some supports as well. It just seems like overkill to have a full ladder rack on the truck all the time, for the occasional times I will haul the canoe.

Thanks so much for all your thoughts & opinions…

Racks for trucks
Hi K. I have basically the same truck as you, a Chevy HD Crew Cab. This is my second one actually, and I have had both types of racks you mention, a roof rack on my previous rig, and a ladder-type rack on my current truck.

The roof rack I installed was a factory one manufactured for the Chevy Avalanche, as they have pretty much the same roof. Installation is quite easy if you take care in the layout and drilling of holes in the roof of your truck. Once you have the rails, you can use any of a variety of crossbars that are available from various rack makers. I just used the bars that came with the factory set-up and mounted 2 sets of Hul-A-Port kayak carriers on them to haul my 2 12-foot Pungos. This arrangement worked well and the rails actually looked good on the truck.

On my new truck, I just installed a TracRac Cargo Rac, which cost $400. I would highly recommend this rack as it is very rugged with well-designed aluminum extrusions and clamp system that holds it to the side rails of the truck bed. With this rack, I haul my 16-foot Mad River canoe in the center, and have the kayak carriers mounted on the outsides. This rack is rated for 750 pounds. I lash everything down with cam-buckle straps, and have never had even a hint of a problem with those. I also pull a 25-foot camper with no interferance issues with the boats.

I think the most important thing is to be sure that your boat is securely attached to your rack, and the rack is securely attached to your vehicle. A previous reply said that “the boat, rack and vehicle should be as one”, and I think that’s the key. Also, just take a minute now and then to check your straps or ropes and make sure nothing’s loosened up. Good luck!

I am a “naysayer"
It keeps the tail gaiters off my rear bumper.

I have to admit though, when I have my long 18’6”, 29 pound ultralight racing canoe on, I use two front tie downs. But that is to keep the long front overhang from being affected by wind shear.



TracRac/TracRac Pro
are good, but pricey options.

A cheaper or homemade rack will often work, but may be less suited for boats.


you’ve been lucky so far…
but in this particular case the set up is a 6, 5, and 5 foot and as you admit with a long overhang in front, stem tie-downs are good to use. BTW, when travelling on high speed roads, why not tie down the stems? I can do one in less than 30 seconds and surely that little bit of time to possibly save someone’s life is not too onerous.

I am not sure how old you are, or
how long you have been carrying boats on your vehicle, but if I were using ropes, and or a make shift rack system then I certainly would be tying them down all over the place.

In my many years of experience traveling all over the US at high speeds with multiple boats, with a properly installed high end roof rack, and the boats properly secured with camlock buckle straps, I have never ever heard of a rack or boat coming off.

I know someone will now come back and say “it happened to me”, but my answer to that is the rack was not installed properly or it was a vehicle rack or improper tie downs were used.

Please site one case to me where a boat came off a roof and caused serious injury to another person or vehicle.

If you can’t then you should stop your preaching.

End of discussion for me. I’ll keep doing it my way, and you keep doing it your way.



get over yourself…
My comments were for the benefit of the O.P., not to confront you. The term “naysayer” is merely generic, I did not have you in mind. I am positive that you will continue to do things your way and would not dream of trying to change you. But to the O.P, I would say, “Please do not make the classic mistake of confusing probability and risk. Yes, the probability that a hull will fly off your rack is low. Indeed that has never happened to me and only rarely to my many acquaintances. I can recall only 3 paddlers who have had this experience. But at 70 mph a flying hull could easily result in a highway fatality and loss of life is the highest risk known. So you see the probability can be low but the risk high. If you are responsible for another’s death in a case like this you can pay a civil award for the rest of your life. Everything you own or will own in the future, could be subject to a court garnishment, not to mention a lifelong personal guilt. Why risk this? Tying down the stems is too easy.

BTW, I don’t see what age has to do with any decision requiring plain old good sense, but for the record I am 64 years and have been continuously paddling for the past 44 years all over the U.S. and several foreign countries. I hauled every kind of paddlecraft in all kinds of vehicles during this time. I have been a competitor, instructor, and recreational paddler. I’ve taught hundreds of students and recently tried to list all the venues paddled over these years but it was just taking too much time.

The folks I know who have lost hulls off vehicles all had strap with cams failure. They all now use rope and tie the stems.


Sounds like
the OP was asking if only supporting the ‘center’ 5 feet of the canoe will affect the canoe. If your bed rack is the right height you could put gunwale pads on to rest on the roof of the truck (though they will rub the paint), thereby supporting more of the body of the canoe.

Stick with the carpet on the crossbars. I put new pipe insulation on my trailer for a trip to Algonquin and by the time I got there the insulation was in rags. Replaced it with carpet and haven’t had a problem since.

…don’t argue on my account. :slight_smile:

I too was worried about the pipe insulation rubbing away from vibrations… as I rub it in my hands it seems to come apart more easily than I think that canoe would rub it with vibrations at highway speed. I understand the concern about carpet slipperyness, but maybe with a foam pad under the carpet, I would pull the canoe down slightly into the carpet enough to keep it from sliding. With good straps and rope I don’t think it should go anywhere.

I am planning to tie down both stems (I assume this means ends of the canoe) so don’t worry about that. I made the racks last night, both high enough that the canoe won’t rest on the cab of the truck.

It seems that if people I read about on here and in other places can haul long canoes using only a rooftop carrier on a passenger car, I should be fine supporting the middle 5 feet of mine. I figure that a short (front to back) roof on a small passenger car can’t possibly have the supports farther than 5 feet apart, as the roof just isn’t that long. I was just worried about whether I would damage the canoe by only supporting the middle 5-6 feet of it, or if it would flex too much in the wind if it wasn’t supported closer to the ends. My concern was mostly in the structural integrity of the canoe itself.

My supports are 2x4’s notched to fit down into the core holes. Then I cut a centered 2x4 sized hole 3 to 6.5 inches down from the top of the upright 2x4, and then slid a 2x4 on edge through the holes on either side support, screwed them in tight, and bracketed the angles with 5 inch angle brackets. I made two of these (front and back). I am planning to add a 2x4 on edge connecting the front and rear supports on each side to prevent any movement front to back. Add a bolt through the 2x4 into the stake pocket to keep it from lifting out, and I should be good to go.

I appreciate the help. I can assure you that I am the type of person to take the time for extra precaution. I would hate for this thing to pop off at 65MPH and crash through the fiberglass front of my camper, or cause injury to anyone.

Tie downs
Run tie downs over the canoe to the bed. You should have some eyes in the bed. This will secure both the canoe and the rack. I use this system often with kayaks. I have a 5th wheel and have to stack my kayaks over the center of the cab. When I get where I am going and the trailer is parked, the pocket racks come out.

if possible at this point , add …
… corner gusseting between vertical and horizontal members of your wood frame rack … a triangular shape in the inside corners .

You may also consider bolt eyes on the verticals to draw down the rack system to your trucks’ eyes at those 4 points , as well as those T bolts in the stake pockets .

One other thing…
You indicate a rear overhang of aprox 4’. My advise is to double check if that is ok… See you may be fine on the level or when making a turn, however when you pull up an incline, this will shorten the distance between the trailer and truck considerably… My bro punched a hole through the front of his trailer that way… Just pulling into a parking lot. As far as the rest… Sounds like you are going to be fine.


A few things
The rear overhang of four feet is behind the support, not behind the truck, I should have been more clear. But I do understand your point, and I will definitely check once I get the camper hooked up Thanks for that point. One big advantage for me is that my trailer has a very sloped front design for less wind drag, so that gives me a good bit of room up that high.

The strapping over the canoe and down to the eyelets in the truck bed was something I was considering, as it would hold everything down at the same time.

Instead of gussets I considered 5" angle brackets to stop the racking. Since the brackets sit flat against the wood it wouldn’t get in the way of whatever I choose to wrap the cross members with to protect the canoe. I really am TRYING to think of everything :slight_smile:

Another tie down question - are there any tricks to finding tie downs in the front that are accessible? If you tie to the front bumper, don’t you have paint-wear issues where the rope rubs? I found some brackets at the base of the windshield, just under the hood that MAY work… Any other good places to look for tie downs on a GMC pickup?

front tie downs
You raise a good pt re paint wear …

I used a thick rope & threaded it thru a doubled over piece of closed cell foam where it contacted my hood for a recent NY-FL trip. Still got some minor abrasion/rubbing that should hopefully buff out.

For a few hr drive tomorrow I’m trying out some tie-downs a friend made & gave me. He took a 12 in piece of 1 in wide nylon webbing, folded it in half lengthwise to make a doubled piece, 6 in long & mounted a brass grommet thru the loose end. Remove bolt from under long edge of your hood & mount strap there by replacing bolt. You only need expose it when you tie bow rope to it while hauling boat & it has very minimal contact w/ thin edge of hood. He swears by 'em