Transporting Canoe

I want to use an Extend-A-Bed Hitch mounted T-Bar rack in the horizontal position to transport my 14’ canoe in the 6’ bed of my pickup. The tailgate down supports an additional 2’ of the canoe.

The Extend-A-Bed Hitch mounted T-Bar extends 5’ out past the end of my opened tailgate. The canoe would extend 1’out past the end of the T-Bar.

According to my State Motor Vehicle Laws, this is legal providing I attach 2 orange flags to the end of the load.

This is a much easier way for me to solo load, unload and transport my 75# canoe as opposed to lifting it up onto the roof racks on my truck.

Has anyone else used this method of transporting ? If so could you please tell me how well this method worked for you and if you experienced any safety issues during transporting on the roadways and highways ?


Sounds like it would work
If I understand the situation, I see two minor problems, which may or may not concern you.

First, with the canoe extending just one foot beyond the T-bar, and no rack within the truck bed, that means the nearly all of the boat’s weight is supported on the pointy end of of the opposite end of the boat. Installing a crossbar inside the truck bed would be a really good idea, so that the weight is entirely supported on the boat’s gunwales.

Second, six feet of overhang off the rear will be a bit inconvenient at times, and of course you greatly increase the risk that someone will find a way to bump into your boat with their car.

This raises one of my “favorite” topics (“favorite” meaning that I very often say what I’m saying here). There is positively no need to work hard when lifting a 75-pound boat onto overhead racks on a pickup truck. Yes, it’s terribly difficult if you are actually “lifting” the boat up there, but that’s not the way to do it. Learn how to carry the boat balanced on your shoulders, and of course, that includes learning an efficient way to get it into that position (you’ll be out of luck if you have an inexpensive boat with molded seats and no thwart in the proper location for balanced carrying, but any halfway-decent boat won’t have that design flaw). Once the boat is on your shoulders, all you have to do is walk up behind your truck and tilt the front of the boat a little higher as you get close so that you can step out from under the boat, leaving the boat leaning against the rear crossbar of your overhead rack. Then just walk to the back of the boat, pick that end off the ground, and push the canoe the rest of the way up. With a 75-pound boat, the only overhead lifting you will do will be once the boat is nearly all the way forward into the carrying position, at which point you won’t be lifting any weight at all, only steering the boat into position. The most weight you will have to lift during the whole process will be about 30 pounds (the maximum weight you lift will be when you first lift the back end of the boat off the ground, and that will always be less than half of the total weight because the front end of the boat extends beyond the crossbar on which you initially leaned it). That first, heaviest part of the lift is easy because you’ll be holding that weight about waist-high. Then, the farther forward you push the boat onto the rack, the lighter “your end” of the boat becomes.

Yes, I went overboard explaining the details, but it is important that you realize that no real “arm lifting” or “manhandling” is ever required when using high racks on a vehicle like yours that allows the boat to be leaned onto the rack as a first step. You need proper technique to get the boat onto your shoulders for carrying it to and from the truck, but you do not need much of any arm strength for that part, OR for getting it on and off the rack.

Being an old guy
I get heavy canoes up on my shoulders by laying them bottom side up on the ground. Then I pick up the stern by reaching under and getting one hand on each gunwale just forward of the stem. I pick this end up over my head and then walk hands and feet forward to the middle of the canoe. Once there I duck my head under the portage yoke and tip the canoe on my shoulders. From that point on it is as Guideboatguy says.

I don’t like to see boats sticking out the back of trucks. Too big a risk of getting them rear-ended.