Which foam for kayak trailer

I plan to have two padded cross members to support the kayaks during loading, unloading, and transit. Basically the cross members would be a 1x10 with a piece of closed cell foam glued to it. I am leaning towards 2 inch thick polyethelyne because it’s less dense and cheaper than minicell. I think it will conform it’s shape to the boat more, instead of the boat (poly) conforming to the support.

I might also add a thin layer of neoprene or something else over the thick foam that will help hold it in place, provide a grippy surface, and a little additional padding.

The main purpose is to have a padded surface to plop the kayaks on when loading and then support the boat after tying it up sideways for transit. The trailer will also be where the boat is stored during the off season.

Any suggestions on which foams will work best for these goals?


How about carpet
Many time closed cell or other foams get chewed up or broken off eventually from sliding an object on it. How about shaping the wood a bit to fit the boat and using indoor / outdoor carpeting. It’s certainly cheap enough. I have use regular indoor, commercial / office type of carpeting on some “V” blocks and it works great. I fastened it with construction adhesive in the calk tubes and some bronze ring nails which are like tacks.

pipe insulation
and duct tape work fine. you might have to replace either/both on occassion but their cheap enough.

I use high density closed cell padding
for industrial floor use. The guys in my shop stand on it to give their feet and knees a break from the concrete floor. MSC or some other industrial supply company can get it to you. Costco used to sell something like it in interlocking squares with a diamond plate texture. Not alot of give, but it protects the finish and has some shock absorption and is VERY durable. I attach mine using zip strips with the catch facing downward. My friend uses the Costco squares cut to size and gorilla glued to the wood plank. Good luck.

Don’t use carpet with plastic boats
I built a kayak trailer from a small boat trailer I got from Academy Sports. I have two 2 x 6 cross bars that I first covered with carpet. I carry kayaks on their side. I used it a couple times around home with no problems. However when we took a trip from home (Tenn.) to Fla. both kayaks we took ended up with 2 deep groves where they contacted the carpet. It looked like they had actually melted where they rubbed the carpet. I had strapped them tightly, but you still get some movement. I replaced the carpet with some plastic trailer slicks I got from Bass Pro Shop. I had to cut the length to fit, But the width was perfect for the 2 X 6’S. So far I’ve had no problems with this set-up, but have not taken a long trip yet. Hope this helps !

Padding a trailer
I recently built a kayak trailer, pretty much like yours.

I found the ideal foam at a Costco warehouse store. It’s 1/2 thick minicell foam packaged in 3’ squares and sold in a package of 6 squares to a pack. I don’t remember the price, but it was less than $20. Layer it to whatever thickness you want with spray on contact cement.

Glue it to the trailer with construction glue similar to Liquid Nails.

The temporary setup I have now uses dense, half inch minicell that is made for standing on in shop floors, etc. It works okay, but only compresses maybe 1/8 inch. The poly boat deforms more than the foam compresses over time.

Not doing the carpet, or custom designing the pad to fit the particular boat. I want something that will work for various boat configurations.

I want it to look pretty nice, so the duct tape and zip ties are not part of the plan. Maybe I need to draw this out and share the general plan to get better feedback.

The plastic slicks make sliding easy and I’m thinking the surface ought to be more grippy and cushy.



Pool noodles . .
I just modified a trailer I built for motorcycle hauling to accommodate our kayaks. I too was in the market for foam padding, and after looking around, thats what I came up with.

I used 1 1/2 CPVC pipe and fittings to build a couple U shaped cradles, bolted them to the trailer and covered the contacting areas with ‘pool noodles’. They came in two sizes, the ‘super’ noodle is roughly 3" ID x 4" OD.

I cut a seam down the length of the noodle, cut to length and slipped them over the pipe. Secured with a couple tie-raps and all’s well.

The noodles are ultra-cheap, much more dense and durable than plumbing insulation and something like $4 for a 5’ length tube at the local Leslie’s Pool supplies. Come summer, I know Wal-Mart stocks them even cheaper.