transporting a canoe on a pickup?

I just purchased an Old Town Charles River, it's my first canoe. I have a short bed pick-up truck (1992 Chevy Silverado stepside). Are there any suggestions for equipment that would allow a safer and more effecient transportation method besides putting a 16ft canoe into an 8ft bed? I'm aware of the packages that Yakima and Thule offer I just wanted some insight of someone with more experience.

Thank you,

contractor’s rack
Look for one of those steel ladder/lumber racks used by contractors.

They permanently bolt to your truck’s bed and extend over the cab roof.

They can also make your pickup more versatile when it comes to hauling lots of stuff (like when you move).

I got mine used for $25. I had to repaint it but I have no regrets.

I even had a welder modify it to enable me to carry two canoes side-by-side.

And if you bolt a strip of wood atop the crossbars you don’t even need any padding.

Receiver hitch attachment
In addition to the TracRack I think that is what it is called, I’ve seen P/U truck bed extenders that use a receiver hitch to basically extend the bed a bit for long items (such as canoes). Basically some welded steel to fit in the receiver hitch that angles up to a “T” level with the bed of the pickup truck. I witnessed one of these at a local lake with a guy with a canoe. Probably cheaper than the TracRack if all you need to do is carry a canoe.


Receiver hitch attachment
Harbor Frieght has them on line for $39.99.

Build or Buy a rear T-bar that fits into the hitch.

I built one using black iron pipes and welded it to a hitch plug. That along with a cheap cabin top cross bar hauled my canoe quite easily.

How much $$$ do …
you want to spend? Simple or more advanced. I bought a Spring Creek Outfitters “One Tuff Truck Rack” but it’s kinda pricey. I bought 2 of them. Check out too. Check the archive files here on the advice section. Lots of good info.

build a wood rack
I use a rack I built with 2x4s and 1x3s. Cut the bottom 8 inches (I think-I’d have to see if it was 6 inches) of the upright pieces to fit in the hole dealies in the wall of the bed. Attatch some cross bars and a side bar (1x3) to each side. Make sure your uprights are tall enough to get the canoe over the cab. Don’t be excessive, mine just barely do. I used 1/4 inch bolts, nuts and washers to connect, “L” braces for the cross pieces to the uprights. I load ala portage style sitting the end of the canoe on the back brace and sliding it unto the front brace. Tie it down in front at the bumper and across the canoe at and to the front cross bar. I added angeled side pieces of thin wood (1x3) from the verticle pieces to the side pieces in about one foot for support. I also added two small blocks (2x4x2) of wood on the cross pieces so the canoe would not slide sideways. These are wide enough for the canoe to fit on the cross pieces between the blocks on the front cross piece and wide enough for the widest part of the canoe to slide through on the back cross piece. These were not really necessary, but much less to worry about when ripping down the highway. I tapered the small blocks so they wouldn’t rub agaist the canoe body, just the gunw. This whole frame is light enough to remove and carry alone, but awkward enough to need two people to get it on and off unless you disconnect a couple of bolts. I leave my frame on all canoe season (which means it might come off in Dec, Jan, into Feb.) or take it off if I need the room to bring something large home that I may have bought (like an assembled picnic table).

If you go with the ladder frame suggestion above make sure it is built to handle the canoe’s weight. Initially, I was going that route, but the ones I saw at HD didn’t rate to 60 pounds. I didn’t look very hard though. If you do get this metal frame you might get a small amount of outdoor carpet and duct tape that to the small upright pieces on the cross bars that keep things from sliding sideways.

Put a cap on your bed,
and then use rack mounts on the cab and back of

the cap. You’ll expand on the versatility of the

bed and have a cover over your equipment.

You’ll think of more ideas with the cap.

Happy hauling and paddling!

2nd the contractors rack
Best way to carry boats.

also works, but …
unless you like crawling into tight spaces to retrieve stuff, be sure to get a cap that also opens on the sides and not just the rear.

Can’t go wrong with this…

OK for short kayaks, but …
The spacing between bars is only the length of the bed which means you’ll still need front tie-downs, which you wouldn’t need if the spacing between racks was 10-feet or more as you’d get with a cabover setup.

The price is pretty awesome, also … ouch!

Wait just a cotton picking minute
How can you have a eight foot bed on a short bed pick-up???



I had a short bed pick-up,
and put a cap on it. I put a standard rack on the

cab for the front, and on the back of the cap I

bolted a piece of 2" x 4" to the frame of the cap.

I laid the canoe on top, and drew lines where the

gunnels were on the 2" x 4", and cut a 1/2" groove

in the 2" x 4" for the gunnels to nest in. I also

bolted in 5/16" eye bolts right outside of the grooves

to strap down the rear of the canoe to.

The cab front rack was a standard rack tie down.

I still used tie-downs to the frame, front and back

to be secure. Worked great!