Safe overhang off bed for a kayak to avoid deforming hull, etc


I am considering getting a truck in the near future to help easily transport a kayak. I’m currently putting the kayak in my car and pushing it all the way to the windshield (Chevy Volt). The setup is not very safe but I don’t generally go too far. So I was looking at the Ford Maverick with the 4.5 foot bed length. Also, the Ford Ranger with either 5 foot or 6 foot bed length depending on options.

My kayak is 13 feet. I’d like to just be able to lay the kayak in the bed and use a bed extender like the t-bone to give me more stability/support on the kayak. See: . It seems this gives me another 4 feet of support.

If I went with the Maverick, I’d have 4.5 + 4 feet (tbone) = 8.5 feet of support.
So of the 13 feet of my kayak 65% would be supported (8.5/13) with an overhang of 4 feet 6 inches. That’s just enough to require the orange flag per NC law.

Is going with a 6 foot bed to get another 1.5 feet going to help a lot for transporting a 13 foot kayak with bed extender or is 4.5 feet from the Maverick enough? With the 6 foot Ranger I’d get 76% of support. With the 5 foot Ranger, 69%.

My question is, is the 4.5 foot bed enough support on the kayak to avoid deforming it over short distances generally less than 40 minutes… Possibly 2 hours if I decide to venture further out in the future.

Is 70% of the kayak length being supported a general guideline to avoid deforming the hull or is it okay to go lower to around say only 50% of it being supported? My main concern is keeping the kayak secure and not deforming it.

Thank you for any help!

Shouldn’t matter. Pad the t bar well. You can try to extend the width of the bar to 6" with some wood to give you a bigger flat area and then pad that. Does your boat have a flat bottom?, flat deck?, what material?

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Actually, a member posted laws in different states. I put a 14.5 kayak in a 73 inch bed. I lock it down well and have never had a problem, but I’m afraid I’ll be stopped one day. Rather than furnish the name, I’m sure the person with the original post will be happy to repost.

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I carry a 16’ in my 6’ bed with an extender.

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Hi - thank you ! It says it’s made of High-Density Polyethylene. It is somewhat rounded on the near the center but not by a lot. As you get to the ends, it is very rounded.

Here is a link to it:

It’s got a little curve to the bottom but not a ton. It’s the Perception Conduit 13.

I planned to go that route until I read the laws posted by the member. My interpretation is that Maryland measures overhang starting at the bed, not the tailgate. Even with the extender, it would not make my method within the law. I’ve driven past police vehicles, they’ve followed and passed me, I’ve driven through toll booths, and have never been challenged, so good luck. My main concern since reading the code is someone claiming I contributed to an accident.

I decided to go with a rack before resuming kayaking this spring, because it’s become too much of a distraction. The code addresses front overhang as well, but fortunately, a ladder rack puts me in compliance. Continuing to transport in the bed, I believe, would involve a light bar - too much like work.

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Don’t load stuff in your boat and keep out of sun for extended periods on very hot days if possible.

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Here is a link to a summary of state laws:

How Far Can Stuff Hang out of Trucks? (Numbers per State!) (

I would hang a hazard flag even if it is not required.

I know you are really asking about how to prevent your kayak from deforming. Unless your kayak is made of really thin or soft plastic and or you are transporting it in high heat
conditions you should be ok with any of the options you mention. Roof racks typically provide much less support than what you will have. Just be sure to tie it down :slight_smile:


Thanks raosborne. That’s the one. My 145 is the limit for me. Beyond that bounces without a hitch brace. Maryland shows 6 ft past the back of the truck (for some reason I was thinking 4 ft). When you posted this last time, I can’t recall if there was a consensus whether the back of the truck is defined as the bed (74 inches, leaving me with 100 inches of overhang), or measured from the end of the dropped tailgate (98 inches which leave a 76 inch overhang, or 4 inches beyond legal). So I’m either 2 ft or 4 inches beyond legal. If I decide to take out my 175, it must be on a ladder rack. Thanks again for the OP and the repost.

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My S10 had a removeable single cantilevered side rack that worked very well, and provided better lockdown. I don’t want to install it in my 2018 Colorado, and haven’t settled on a full width removable model yet. A rack is too tall for most public garage parking, and our local landfill treats all trucks with a ladder rack as a contractor-work truck and have to pay to drop off material.

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Thank you all for the details - very helpful and I like seeing other setups… So it sounds like getting the Maverick with the 4.5 foot bed isn’t going to be much different than the Ranger with the 5 or 6 foot bed. That’s my main thing in deciding between the trucks is whether I needed the larger bed for this activity.

I was also concerned about the legal aspects of it as well. At least in North Carolina, I believe I can go beyond 4 feet as long as I put up the red square flag of size 18" x 18" along with a red light if it’s dark. Based on [](Section 20-117 - Flag or light at end of load, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-117 | Casetext Search + Citator), it can go as far as 14 feet with the flag and light - I won’t be getting any where near that.

Appreciate it! I might go with the smaller Ford Maverick with the 4.5 foot bed then. With the bed being so low to the ground, I think it would make loading the kayak as easy as possible… Just a little push. My goal is to minimize the time loading/prepping, etc so I have more time to spend kayaking. This style looks the easiest to me.

And for reference, this is the terrible approach I am currently taking… After getting a new roof rack and seeing how poorly it fit, I gave up on racks. I had better luck on a previous car and setup, but I couldn’t get it to secure properly on my current vehicle. I felt much better off just putting the kayak in the car. I am certainly concerned about someone rear ending me. My trips are generally only about 15 minutes on back roads at least.

Big problem with your current situation is exhaust fumes. The air flowing over the car gets sucked in. Buying a kayak is complicated beyond initi cost and fit or comfort. After buying the paddle and a PFD, you need a place to paddle, storage space and transportation. I needed to buy another truck before I could resume kayaking, and with that. I’m still out of legal limits. It’s a pastime ypu have to love.

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As long as your boat is the only one you ever have, 4.5’ vs 6’ might not matter much, when using the hitch-mounted extending support.


As so many of us discovered, you might get other boats. A longer bed gives you all the choices of a shorter bed PLUS more.

For example, if you get a shorty boat (like if you take up WW kayaking), that kayak might fit diagonally, completely inside the closed bed. Easiest way of all to carry a boat, and with a topper it is protected from UV, dirt, road salt, etc.

The longer bed also gives you increased crossbar spread if you want to carry a longer boat at above rooftop height. With a 4.5’ bed you don’t get an actual 4.5’ spread. Same for longer beds, but a 6’ bed will allow up to 1.5’ more spread. Very useful to have a longer potential range.


I have carried 16’ and 14’ boats in my 6’ bed for a few years and in only had one problem.
I was making a left turn and the kid behind me wasn’t paying attention.
He hit the boat hard enough to move my truck. The boat bounced off his grill and made a groove up his hood.
It bent my extender but didn’t damage the boat at all.
The responding cop wrote him up. Then his dad showed up and chewed him out.
I had a hard time convincing State Farm that my truck wasn’t damaged and they replaced my extender with a better one. They apparently don’t get many low $ claims from car wrecks.


I wouldn’t buy a truck just to haul a paddleboat.

Go back and rethink the roof rack. It is the safest and most legal way to go and it leaves the hatchback shut and empty for hauling gear.


Depends on how much you enjoy kayaking. Many times I carry two, sometimes three and occasionally five.

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Get a flat-bed utility trailer; then build an appropriate bunk.

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Especially since you are picking such a minimalist truck. The real hauling need must be small.

At is likely less expensive option.

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If you are planning on a pickup, go with a rack. I have an AdaRac on F150, to which I add rollers and saddles for kayaks or a single Yakima bar over the driver’s door for longer canoes. If you are looking at a Maverick or a Ranger, you could probably go with 1 upright on the bed and one bar over the driver door. The beauty of the AdaRac is that it does not interfere if you want to add a bed cover and is easily removed. It also leaves you bed open for gear without fear of it blowing out on the road.


I had not really thought about exhaust fumes. Fortunately, my car does not usually turn on the combustion engine since it is on battery for most of my trips and I’m driving down lightly traveled backroads usually, but I’ll occasionally get on a busy road, so I’ll keep that in mind.