Transporting kayak in a pickup truck

I’m planning on getting my 1st kayak next week (2008 Venture Easky 13) - it’s 13’7" long according to the spec. I have a 2005 Tacoma w/ extended cab (the latest body style); it has a 6’ bed. Almost everything I’ve seen about transporting kayaks indicates that most folks carry 'em on a roof-top rack with the 'yak nice and level. Is there any issue with propping the kayak on the back of the cab with the other end in the bed at the tailgate? Will hauling it at an angle cause any issues or aggravate the “oil canning” effect?


Inside bed
You would be better off putting the entire kayak in the bed with the tailgate down. The kayak will hang out a good bit but a flag will take care of any law issues. The extend-a-truck works well if you need to support the back of the kayak because the bed’s too short. I wouldn’t prop the kayak on the cab with one end inside the closed gate. It would be difficult to secure the boat properly.

for what it’s worth
I can’t speak for 13’ boats, but back when whitewater kayaks were all 10+ feet I saw lots of guys just throw them in the back of a pickup with a six foot bed with the tailgate up, and drive hundreds of miles that way at highway speeds.

no problem
Did it all the time with my old sea kayak, and never had any issues - besides the truck sucking too much gas (so I transport with my car). Get a hitch extender from harborfreight (like a t-bar) - it has eyeholes to connect tie-downs. Using the back of the truck that way minimizes lifting and also allows for fast loading/unloading. Use a red flag at the end of course.

I agree with most of the above posts
about just throwing it in the bed of the truck with the tailgate down.

Make sure it is tied off to the front of the bed on both sides , and then to the tailgate lift arms on both sides, so it won’t slide back and forth going around corners.

My son just came to visit and paddle with us driving well over a hundred miles each way with three yaks in the bed that way.

I do it all the time with my truck on local trips.



Another recommendation for
the extend-a-truck type units.

They’re easy to affix to your hitch and take off, plus hubby has used it numerous times (and lent it to others) to haul wallboard and other long items (usually from Home Depot type stores). These units usually can be used in a second configuration with cars to place items of long length on their roof tops.

Love being able to have things for multi purposes.

I use an extend a bed with a 14 foot Dirigo.

Works good, I padded mine with pool noodles. I put one bungee at the front bed tie down and attach it to the carry handle. Then I use a strap and a couple of bungees across the yak from the two loops on the extend bar.

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for some type of curved saddle device I can bolt onto the bar and pad to hold the yak in place without having to put as much pressure on it.

By the way, I have a short bed Dodge with an in bed tool box.

rack for the bed
I just built a wooden rack that i slide into the back of the truck to put my boats on. It attaches with clamps you would use to secure a cap on the back and you can just slide it out whenever you’re not using it. Send me a message with your email and i can send you a few pictures.

Taligate up is not a problem
if you are paddling locally. I do it all the time, but mostly paddle nearly rivers and lakes. If I were going further, I’d have a rack made. My boat is 14’.

Thanks everybody!
I’ll do a bit more investigating on the extend-a-bed thing. The outfitter with the kayak carries those and offers a 10% discount on accessories when buying a boat, so I’ll do some price comparisons before I go.

Toyota Tundra
On short hauls I load my 12 footer in the back, with straps holding both the front and back of the boat. Add a flag, ready to roll… but… DO strap both front and back. Had a back strap fly off on a nasty pothole, but yak did not move because of front strap.

I have a Yakima system on roof that I use for anything longer, works like a charm too… :slight_smile:

F-150 with 6’ bed

– Last Updated: May-26-09 10:08 AM EST –

With the tailgate down, you should have no trouble with anything up to 14'. What I do to minimize wind and shifting is use the molded foam blocks, one under the keel perpendicular (lengthwise) and one block over the gap between the bed and the gate, just about the front bulkhead on my Tsunami. The blocks allow me to tighten down enough without mis-shaping the boat. I use Thule compression straps across the tail, under the rigging, and secure the remaining strap with a bungee across to the tiedown opposite. On the back tied downs I go under the rigging and across the open cockpit. Finally, I a long ratchet strap from the back tiedowns around the front of the cockpit coaming and cinch it down SNUG BUT NOT TOO TIGHT to avoid "folding" of the kayak. I can do the same with two kayaks side by side. On really long trips, I'll secure the nose of the kayak to the hitch receiver. Always hang a red rag from the longest point, as mentioned. This will save gas mileage over loading on a rack. Loading and unloading from a pick up bed is so much easier than roof carrying.

Bed extender here…
and it adjusts wide enough to carry two kayaks. Good company as I have purchased many of their products for my business.

Quick question about your rack that you slide in. How do you fasten it to your box/bed at the front? do you make the front high enough at some point to reach the bed sides?

I load my 10 footer in the bed
but not my 14.5 footer. It’s just too long. With a 6 foot bed and a couple of feet for the gate, you can load it diagonally and only have about 4.5 feet hanging out. To me that’s pushing the limits for the amount of overhang, especially for a long trip.

Wouldn’t consider it with the gate up. You could get some oil canning where the gate puts pressure on the hull.

Best long term solution is a ladder rack or something like the Trac-Rac system. It gets your boar up out of the way.


I have a Ford Ranger, which is about the same size as your Tacoma. My first kayak was a 10-footer and it fit hanging over the tailgate on my truck just fine. I used a foam roof pad between the tailgate and the kayak to prevent scratching. My current kayak is a 13’ Necky Manitou and I use a Yakima truck rack. In a pinch, I can still carry the Manitou in the bed with the tailgate down, but I feel much better when it’s on the rack.

PVC Rack
Ran across this if you want to try a PVC rack you can slide in and out when needed…

almost a decade
of using 2 bungee straps threaded through the carry handle loop and secured to the tie down hooks in the front of the bed, tailgate UP and a red flag from the remainder overhanging.

id bet my boat (technically I do everytime I do it) that ive got 10,000 miles at least carrying boats like this. Interstate, twisty roads, messed up horse trails to the put in… never once failed.

couple of times one end of a bungee comes unhooked, but thats what the second strap is for.

laying down with the tailgate down, and some rope or straps in a criscross fashion to each corner of the bed is definately the best if you dont have a rack, but my method takes all of 5 seconds to secure and i regularly trust it with several thousand dollars in boats.

matter of fact ive got 3 kayaks in the back of my truck like this now, ill snap a pic tomorrow

Ladder racks
I mounted some ladder racks similar to this:

Clamps for a fibreeglass cap

– Last Updated: May-27-09 8:30 AM EST –

On the vertical sections i have a horizontal piece accross at the height of the bed rails that i have a metal L bracket that i clamp it down with clamps used for a firbeglass cap. They hook in under the rail and clamp the bracket on top of the rail. The clamps were actually the most expensive part of the whole setup, i think they were like $6 each, but it sure beats 300+ for custom racks. I emailed a few pictures i had to the original poster. I don't have them anywhere to post a link, but just email me through my profile and i'll send you the ones i have.
The whole setup is similar to the idea of the ladder racks posted a little farther down, i just couldn't fit one in as i already had the toolbox, so this just slide in underneath it and stays right in front of it.