wanted: trailer padding ideas...

I am excited about the transformation from sunfish sailboat trailer to kayak/canoe trailer…


I found with the first use that the boats tied down for transport killed the foam with one use.

O.K. maybe I was a little cautious and tightened them more than needed…but I would hope the padding would last longer!

The angle iron has a layer of blue foam (Walmart sleeping pad) covered with black pipe insulation.

I didn’t expect it to be a miracle…but I want to find out if others have padded their trailers with something that has a longer life.

I greatly apprecialte any suggestions. I may try bubble wrap covered with duct tape next…maybe as a base layer.

wool carpet

– Last Updated: Jan-26-04 1:02 PM EST –

less abrasive than synthetic.

BTW, nice rig. We are considering the same type of conversion for hauling canoes.

I can tell you what I use
I built my own canoe rack on my truck. For padding I used the closed cell foam insulation on hardwood(poplar–last a long time before rotting). Over that I put automotive carpeting. It saves the foam and easily attached by stapling it on.

You can easily put wood over the metal then add the foam and carpeting. It will last a long time.

The other option would be to put the foam on the steel, wrap with the carpet and fasten in place with zip ties. The carpet is available at most carpet shops and some Lowe’s stores.

Pool Noodles
Try pool noodles-the large ones—secured with electrician’s wire ties. Been using them on my truck rack for two years with much success and little money ($9.00 investment).

Stay safe on the water

“Fruit jello” foam
We padded our 2x4 crossbars with carpet padding (the kind that looks like pink jello with chunks of fruit in it) and all-weather carpeting. It has held up through 2 years of frequent use and still looks/feels fine.

I did the same…
but I added 2 layers of padding under the carpet. Its nice and soft so I can pull the straps a little tighter.

old rubber (snowmobile track ,tire or anything along those lines with indoor/outdoor carpet on top. Gives you strenth,flexability and durability.

On a canoe trailer …
I tried pool noodles; they lasted two trips.

I tried rubber innertubes; they left marks on the gunwales. I attached them with duct tape which wasn’t too bright; the duct tape made a mess too as it deteriorated from being in the sun all the time.

My current padding is indoor/outdoor carpeting attached with cable ties. I’ve had it for 2 1/2 years, with the trailer (not the boats) left outside summer and winter. The gunwales have no more marks, and the carpeting is solid enough to feel secure.


I’ve had similar results with my trailer
I used closed cell covered with carpet for a boat trailer. I’ve thought of cutting a bicycle tube near the stem, folding and gluing the ends a few times, then clamping the ends, and cable tying the middle, and carpeting. I’ve got some inflatable roof racks that work great.

If you get the nerve to try something like this let me know how it works.

Good Luck


I’ve used carpet to cover homemade racks in the past but there is one drawback that others have told me about. They will hold water for a time, like after a rainstorm, and if your boats have any kind of wood gunwales or wood in contact and help promote rot. I never had a problem with this but thought it might be worth mentioning.


if you want pics of mine
email me and I’ll send them to you. Might be something you can use.


excellent point
Any thick padding will hold water for a while.

rust too
anything that holds moisture will be a perfect enviro for rust.

steve (who owns 10 kayak or so trailers)

I make wooden saddles for my racks and pad them with marine carpet. Been using them for years.

so what do you use?
Any padding? Rubberized paint on rack bars?

When I used a trailer (years ago)the padding was removable and the boats were not stored on the trailer. Our current racks are Yakima and have no padding.

Thanks…I’m intrigued
I find the thought that Randy provided about bicycle innertubes very interesting…I imagine them inflated, uncut, folded to be a long side by side shape attached to the top flat surface of the metal (zip/cable ties)…and then covered with some carpet. Air leaks? that could get inconvenient. But I still find this an interesting option I may experiment with!

Covering a standard carpet pad with a waterproof layer could help minimize water retention…I store the trailer covered from rain and will not be backing it into the water. And I was lucky enough that the friend who did the work had connections to get his add-on structure galvanized!

Thanks so much for all the brainstorming…I hope others following this post will benefit as I have from the good ideas.

Inflated tubes probably a bad idea
Too much rocking and rolling! They would need to be firmer and more stable.

Here’s another idea, one I might try when I make cradles for my in-progress S&G kayak: spray foam into small plastic garbage bags and then sit the hull on top of the bags in the same locations where the crossbars will contact. Have the bags of foam curing (and shaping) inside some boxes so that you end up with a rectangular block with a hull-shaped top. When foam is cured, remove plastic bags, “paint” foam with GE Silicone II for UV protection, waterproofing, and stickiness.

I don’t know how well this would work but it’s easy to try.

Outdoor carpeting.
You don’t need padding. That just makes you want to cinch down tighter and collapes anyways while traveling. You already have a great web hanger set up for storage so for transport, simply use the “astro-turf” type outdoor carpeting on it. Been working on boat trailors for eons. Dries out fast too.

I found several
used boat cushions (the regular old square ones) at a thrift store for one dollar each. I tie two of them to each boat and then tie the boat down to the trailer. Looks crappy but works great.

pipe insulation
we sell it by the foot. have both 1/2" and 3/4" thickness. The problem is only .25% of the foam is used for padding, the other .75% just sits there, un-used.

It works well, tho.