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Kayak Trailers, Canoe Trailers, SUP Trailers

Kayak Trailer Guide

Hauling more than a couple of kayaks from point to point, whether for a group paddle along a nearby shoreline or for shuttling boats/gear to a starting point for a river flotilla, often requires either a caravan of vehicles or the services of a trailer.  Besides boats, the shear volume of gear needed can quickly turn an afternoon paddle into a mock expeditionary campaign.

Whether you need a simple one/two capacity trailer to help you move your boat around or a mega-rack on wheels that can hold up to a dozen kayaks or more, the basic trailer is simply a kayak rack on wheels, hauled behind a vehicle. Adding multiple tiers, including a floor or better yet a full-frame gear box, turns a simple wheeled frame into a major piece of kayak utility transport. The number and type of racks,  support bars and storage area, as well as other components (wheels, signals, tongue length and strength) all come into consideration when determining what kind of trailer will best serve your needs.

Key Features in a Kayak Trailer

Key kayak trailer features and options:

  • Galvanized-coated steel frames to protect against rust and corrison (particularly in a salt-water/marine environment)
  • Fitted with 12” galvanized wheels (consider marine-grade bearings; galvanized axle)
  • Tail lights (submersible)
  • Padded load bars (installed, available as a kit or add on your own)
  • Ability to attach standard/commercial roof rack cradles
  • Suspension system for long-distance, faster, heavier use
  • Adjustable tongue length (measured from hitch to trailer axle) for hauling longer boats, ease of towing and turning
  • Consider a fold-up or removable tongue for storage
  • Ability/capacity to carry multi-shaped watercraft; other equipment
  • Platform or gear box for storage of equipment
  • Spare tires

Other Considerations

  • Where do you intend to store your trailer? You might want to park it and use it as the storage rack for your boats when not in use. If parked unloaded, consider trailers with easily removable parts (racks to reduce height or tongues that can be folded or removed to reduce length).
  • The tongue on a trailer is as important as the chassis and racks. Even loaded, the trailer should be easy to maneuver by hand, especially those with a light-weight frame. Also, the longer the tongue, the longer the boats it can haul and the easier it will be to maneuver (straighter, easier backing up with less chance of jack-knifing).
  • Multiple, secure tie-down points add options to attach straps or ropes [never use bungees to secure a heavy load] but make sure there are no unpadded/unprotected protrusions (cleats, hooks, loops, other hardware) that can damage your boat.
  • If carrying gear on the trailer is a requirement, trailers are available with open or boxed floors, some even with coverings. If not, you can usually add your own floor using marine-grade plywood. Consider the length of paddles and the height of any items when determining the size and placement of a floor/box on the trailer.
  • Bicyclists also have trailer options that can be adjusted to haul boats up to about 15’ or so. The ability to swing in a wide arc and some kind of accessories storage area are important features on these small, lightweight trailer frames.

Kayak Trailer - Build it or Buy it?

Many a conversation have taken place as to whether you should build your own DIY kayak trailer or buy a manufactured one. If you are mechanically-inclined enough to rig or weld your Harbor Freight trailer into a taller, leveled, multi-kayak device, go for it! But for many of us who prefer to spend our time on the water and in our kayaks, having a high-quality trailer that we can back up to, hook up, and go is all the work we need. The expert brands that make trailers these days have been through enough iterations to have a perfect product for all levels of paddlers.

How Many Kayaks Will You Haul?

One of the most important questions that you need to start with is: how many kayaks in your fleet will you need to haul at once? If it is just you and your spouse or you and a couple of comrades, then one of the roof-rack style or micro trailers is perfect. You might find that a 4-6 place kayak trailer will ensure you can transport the whole family or maybe your groups are 8, 10, or more deep!