Trailers Opinions and/or Roof Carry


New to kayaking. We have limited garage/driveway space and I recently purchase a Malone Microsport XT with retractable tongue. The tongue holder was out of square so we are returning it tomorrow. I am trying to decide if I should get this Malone fixed or if I should get the Rack and Roll instead.

I will be pulling with a large Ford F250 4x4 Diesel so obviously trailer size is no issue. Right now we have two Pungo 120’s but have three boys so could soon have 4 Kayaks. The only other thing I have considered is a full size utility trailer with the Malone bars or two hullavators and put the third kayak in bed. We need to keep as much bed space free however for cooler and other gear.

I would love to hear any opinions from experienced kayakers. We are making final decision in the morning. Thanks so much!

Whatever works
You won’t get many answers by tomorrow morning, since it’s Friday night AND the start of a holiday weekend.

I think in your case, you either want something equivalent to a ladder rack on your truck, or a trailer. I suspect the ladder rack would be cheaper unless you get a really rugged model. This rack would mount to the sides of the truck’s bed, putting the kayaks slightly higher than the roof of the cab, and would not interfere with gear storage. You must have one of those four-door trucks with a micro box if something like making room for a cooler is a consideration, but the ladder rack avoids that problem.

Trailers are fine, but with that kind of truck, I personally would opt for the ladder rack. Mounting is simple, and it keeps the whole rig more compact, and avoids issues with turning around on dead-end roads or tight parking spots. The loading height for such a rack will be pretty high, but when two people are loading, one of them can stand on the tailgate. If one person is loading, once a boat is leaned up against the rear bar, pushing it up the rest of the way is easy. There will be room for all your boats on such a rack if you use stackers or J-hooks, but the same is true of a trailer. Get the trailer if you like that idea better. Either way is fine.

One thing I would recommend against is the Thule Hullavator in this case. The loading methods described above make it clear that you won’t need them on a ladder rack, but that’s even more true of a trailer. The whole idea of a trailer is to have a low enough loading height that there’s no need for loading aids like Hullavators. Besides, if you go with stackers or J-hooks, you can put four kayaks side-by-side on a trailer with a single set of bars, but using the Hullavators will automatically limit you to two kayaks on the same bars - a very pricey way to waste space when the boats are only going to be waist-high as it is.

My favorite trailer
Get a harbor freight 4x8 trailer. Build a box two feet high on it with a hinged side. Put a roof rack with good crossbars on top. Get two sets of Stackers and put four kayaks on top and all your gear inside.

Downside- all the PIA issues that go with a trailer as noted above.

You do not need hullivator. Those are for loading on top of a SUV when you can’t lift your kayak above your head. Even with a ladder rack and J cradles you could stand in the bed to load.

Thanks for the responses
Thanks for the quick responses. As stated I already have a Leer topper/shell covering the bed and Thule Rails/Crossbars built into the topper. The only reason I haven’t done J-cradles on this is because of the height of the truck. Right now the top of the truck is 8 feet (which is why since, with the topper, my Truck is very SUV-ish I was thinking Hullavator).

In regards to the trailer I DEFINITELY wouldn’t use a hullavator on it. I was going to use J cradles.

I keep running into feeling like all these small trailers look so dinky. I want something durable that will last, but it if I go trailer, it has to be able to be compact and easily done so. Both the Malone and the Rack and Roll fit this bill. Both appear to have there pro’s and con’s. The R&R looks weaker structurally but more well thought out. The Malone is more crudely built (e.g. my tongue mount is bent and won’t retract the tongue like it is supposed to thus why I am returning it) but at the same time is definitely more durable looking.

You didn’t mention the topper
And it reads like you were going to put the hullivators on a utility trailer.

Would you put the hullivators on everytime you needed them?Could you get the truck in the garage with them on?

I reread the post

– Last Updated: May-23-15 1:35 AM EST –

I re-read my initial post and see that it does read like I was referring to putting the hullivators on the trailer (and in my first rendition of the psot I mentioned the topper but forgot to put a topic so had to rewrite), I apologize for the confusion.

The truck is already too tall for the garage and I would remove hullivators assembly for my daily driving only leaving the bases installed. Many times other aspects of our trips are off the beaten path as well so we may have the kayaks with us on some seriously rough terrain.

If I go with a trailer, the tongue would be shortened and it put on end inside the garage. It was a chore with the Malone to do this as the rubber pads force us to have to lift the weight of the trailer to move it side ways when on end. I know the R&R has wheels when on end.

We are at a hotel now with the Malone (had to drive 3.5 hours to return it) and I can already see the inconveniences of a trailer. Parking was a pain and I am sitting here concerned someone could steal the trailer (and in the case of when it has a load, our kayaks very easily).

I have always used a flat bead utility trailer to haul my kayaks and yes, you do have to weigh the pluses and minuses of any system. I prefer the trailer, because it is so much easier to load and unload and the boats are not subject to blowing off and no high dollar racks are required.

My bunks are bolted together 2 X 4s nicely padded and mounted in the perimeter stake mounts. I never haul more than three boats, so I only use one layer of bunks. Double the bunks and six boats can easily be accommodated.

I always carry a length of very large chain to run through the wheels to lock the wheels in case I have to disconnect the trailer for parking. I also lock the hitch. The truth is that the only way to prevent theft is to be very discriminate about where you park and even then there is no guarantee. This is the case whether you use a trailer or roof mounts.

The bonus with a flat bead utility is that the trailer can be quickly converted to hauling all sorts of cargo with different types of side boards etc.

4 kayaks on the roof

– Last Updated: May-24-15 12:24 PM EST –

Maybe not where you want to go when you really add up all the boats, but we have regularly carried 4 kayaks on a Yakima system. WE have always used stackers, a set in the middle and boats lashed against each other with pool noodles on the straps for the inner boats. At times with Thule components in there as well.

You need longer cross bars to make this happen. 58" inches is on the close side, I prefer 63" for that kind of stack. We have fairly low decked kayaks.

The big pro is that once you get them up there you do not have to worry about what road you travel on, and the sheer mass of them tends to look unattractive to thieves.

The con is that, unless they are also in a J-bar, the outer ones tend to want to collapse outward (slightly less dicey if you go for the 63" crossbars). So if they are just lashed up there against the inner two boats, you need to have someone parked on a ladder as the boat hits the top to hold it against falling back down while you get at least one end solidly lashed. I don't know what your loading routine is or who your partner is, but in the case of my husband and I we could each carry an approximately equal part of the job. The critical variation between us was height, so I needed a step stool at moments he did not.

You can go with J-bars for four boats and lose at least some of this issue, but check the length of rail needed to do that. It probably one of the quite long ones.

That said, a trailer is a PITA when you have to stop at a Dunkin Donuts in a crowded vacation area and you need to be attentive to what roads you use, all that stuff. But if a hard look at your loading process doesn't yield a fairly even partner on loading the boats, you probably need to think about the trailer. Four boats is a lot more boat to manage no matter how you do it.