Trailer for Dual Use: Utility and Kayaks

Let me start by saying I don’t own a kayak, but I’ve been renting kayaks in different destinations (mainly sea kayaking tours, etc) the last few years and am in love with it. I’m all prepared to buy one, not just for me, but for my wife and son as well. That’d be 3 and then when my daughter gets a little older I can foresee carting around 4 kayaks. Of course, in order to own a kayak I first need something to carry it with. I’ve also been thinking of getting a decent size utility trailer for other needs. I got to thinking if maybe I could somehow have one trailer for this dual purpose?

There are all kinds of utility trailer kits out there that one can build on top of, like this:

I was wondering if anyone has done this and has any tips/recommendations on how to go about doing so?


Did that trailer from Harbor Freight
with the 12" tires, spare, jack, and all the added wood, title and registration, $500 out of pocket.

Mods I found necessary -

extra steel attaching tongue to front of deck, to reduce flex.

removed lower leaf spring (1 of 3) to reduce bounce with the light loads.

2"x4" used for braces across sides to reduce sway when supporting kayaks.

Normally holds 4 tubs of firewood, one box of kayak gear, two kayaks. Could easily hold 4 kayaks if I didn’t carry wood. Or carry a lot of other stuff

Many extend the tongue to clear longer boats. Me, I use extension on my hitch since I can adjust to various lengths, use it with an overhanging truck camper, and it still folds for storage in the garage between vehicles.

There have been numerous threads on this type of trailer over the last year - perhaps with some searching you might find more useful info.

Here ya go

Tried several different methods. Extending the tongue is a good thing. I didn’t remove any springs since I wanted to use it as a utility trailer also. No boat damage with the regular springs (but I did slow down at RR crossings!) Pulled that Harbor Freight trailer all over the country, never had a problem.

Dave/Redmond, thanks! Wow, looks like you tried just about every combination possible on top of that utility trailer. On the latter pics where you’re using the steel pipe as the base, where did you get the various kayak holders from (the ones that hold the kayaks on an angle/sideways)? Can you buy those things from Yakima, Thule, and others to just clamp on the piping?

another option…

Mine is an example of how far you can

– Last Updated: May-01-10 7:55 AM EST –

take a cheap tractor supply tilt bed trailer. My friend is in the dunnage business and put the aluminum diamond plate on it for me. It can haul a Harley, Snowmobile, 6 kayaks, or other items. The sides are sectional and removeable along with the racks, paddle tube, wheel chock, and spare tire. There is a ramp underneath the deck for driving the Harley on. By sheer luck alone, the Tractor Supply storage box was a perfect fit and unplanned add on. The storage box really comes in handy for hauling smaller loose items, and it is lockable. For the most part this elaborate rig is used to dry my wet gear after paddling as it spends most of it life taking up room in my garage. With my old Yukon XL I could haul 8 paddlers and 9 kayaks, perfect for group trips. A couple of pics here.¤t=SouthBass011.jpg¤t=SouthBass014.jpg

ps- In my opinion, you MUST extend the tongue or it becomes very difficult to manage tongue weight and tight turns.

That is a nice trailer!
Curious on how you support 2 on the bottom - can you put foam blocks or carriers to attach somewhere?

Two on top rung, two on top of bottom
rung, and two underneath bottom rung. Strapping two to bottom of the bottom rack makes access to the storage box pretty poor so we load the box first. If you did not want to use the bottom of the bottom rack ,you could put foam on the front and back of the box and strap them to the box. Boats are loaded from longest to shortest from the top down. It is a great little trailer and our group has made good use of it.Bill

the 3/4" iron pipe will fit the Yakima’s and the Malone’s. The Malone’s are the ones that carry the boats on their sides.

If you have multiple boats, the Malone’s are nice 'cuz you don’t have to adjust their spacing on the bars for the different hull designs.

If you are planning on purchasing nice, fiberglass/Wood/Composite sea kayaks, you may want to reconsider the trailer. The springs are tough and will rattle nice kayaks to pieces. If rotomolded rec kayaks, not a problem, I trailer mine.

The heavy duty version of that exact same trailer, 1195 lb, vs the 950 lb version you listed, can be had for $299 plus tax at Harbor Fright. The super duty, 1720 lb, version can be had for $359. They are nearly exactly the same as the Northern Tool trailers. I just purchased the 1195 lb version last week from Harbor Fright. Tough little trailer.

Here is my kayak trailer.

How long are the kayaks?
If they’re sea kayaks, you need a long trailer tongue to minimize chances of jackknifing. Keep that in mind.

I have a modified one-snowmobile trailer on which tongue extension was a simple matter of undoing one bolt, drilling another position hole, and then pulling the tongue out its double-tubed configuration. Since the trailer payload is rated to 1300 lbs, I now consider the payload half that, which is more than enough to carry 2 kayaks plus a few other things.

The trailer came with a plywood flatbed so there’s rock protection for about 9.5 ft. This trailer, being designed for one snowmobile, is fairly narrow and has a narrow track (span between the left and right wheels). For that reason, I will never place more than 2 kayaks on it (I have heard of top-heavy trailers tipping over on fast turns). However, if you bought a two-snowmobile trailer you could put at least 3 side-by-side, maybe 4 if you use stackers. Or build a second tier to put 1 or 2 on that. The wider trailer will have a much wider track, making it more stable.

Downside is that these are more expensive than DIY utility trailers. But the suspension is likely to be Torflex, which is softer than leaf springs.

4x8 Harbor Freight
I bought the HF with 12 inch tires for something like $240 and put it all together in a day. Then added some decking and some two-by’s that can be removed with pins.


Extending the Tongue
Well, I finally put my money down on two kayaks (a 17’ Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 for me and a 16’ Wilderness Systems Tsnumami 160 for my wife) and I also bought and assembled this HF utility trailer:

The kayaks are rotomolded so I guess I won’t worry too much about trailering them, but they’re sea kayaks so they’re plenty long.

Any suggestions on:

  1. What length of tongue extender I’d need?
  2. Where I could find this product?
  3. Should I make it?


One More Thing
One more question. Do I actually need to add something to extend the tongue on the trailer or can I extend the hitch? Either?