It is not a hidden fact that outdoor sports gear can be costly and expensive at times, and kayaks are no exception. This pricey gear needs to be stored properly to avoid damage and scratches, which kayak owners are efficient in doing.
But the real problem arises during the transit, as it is not the most straightforward job to transport them from destination A to B. It would help if you had a reliable and sturdy kayak storage rack to haul your gear easily.
Luckily, there are tons and tons of gear options to choose from, but most kayak owners return the product because of its incompatibility.
This guide took into consideration and prepared a comprehensive buyer’s guide with five of the most efficient and versatile kayak racks. Each rack suits either standard cars, SUVs, or trucks, so you can choose the one that fits your car’s design and need.
#1 Winner: AMP Research 74813-01A Kayak Rack For Truck
Our winner, the Amp Research 74813-01A kayak rack, is the industry’s most renowned pickup gear specialist.
This company manufactures its products in Tustin, California, to retain their quality.
- Manufacturer: AMP Research
- Type: U- Shaped Bed Extender
- Size: 36.5 x 19.5 x 17 inches
- Weight:17 pounds
- Material: Aluminum
- This AMP Research Bed extender has a classic U shape design for a maximum cargo capacity. Most V or slant-shaped bed extenders usually do not allow you to use the total space because of their cut-out, but this product makes sure to use every inch of your extended tailgate.
- Its visionary torque-resistant clam-shell design makes it easy and safe to drive around without any worries. Once fixed, this extender would stay in its place securely and provide the extra space you wished to have.
- The product is made out of aluminum alloy tubes which are robust and thick. The aluminum discourages the fixture from getting rusty even under constant rain and humid conditions.
- The guided inclusions and relatively easy assembly make it a breeze to install. This uncomplicated design structure can also be easily dismantled when needed.
- The durable powder finish makes the structure extra weatherproof and robust. Your extender would take heavy beatings without falling apart.
- This product comes with lightweight yet super strong 6063 T6 aluminum alloy tubes and high-quality glass-reinforced nylon composite uprights for a tight and robust fitting.
- AMP Research’s bed extender is made in the USA for the ultimate quality. Its high standard testing regulations ensure you get a good product every time upon purchase.
- Each bed extender is backed by a generous three-year limited warranty in case of any physical damage to the product.
- The product is sleek and surely would not stand out as an eyesore once installed. It thoroughly blends with your vehicle while giving you unmatched functionality.
- Some of the compatible vehicles with this bed structure include the 2019 Toyota Tundra, 2005-2008 Lincoln Mark LT, and 2004-2019 Ford F-150.
- Few customers have faced a little trouble connecting to the customer service executives for their grievances. They have a less proactive part replacement and customer service body.
- The template provided by the company does not match the mounting bracket. If you follow the template, chances are you might need to re-drill a few holes.
- Unlike most extenders, you get to choose from two color variants. This product is available in pitch black and matte silver coating.
- This bed extender is the most versatile multi-purpose structure you can install. Once flipped out with the tailgate, it will instantly give you a 2-feet cargo area, and when you flip it inside and close the tailgate, it works excellent to contain little tools and groceries at the back. The cargo would not keep rolling around the entire bed but will stay adequately secure.
If you like multifunctional instruments, this is undoubtedly the product you are looking for. If you are unsure about drilling your truck, you can use a no-drill bracket to affix this structure into the bed, which makes this the best kayak rack for truck bed on the market.
#2 Runner up TMS 800 LB Kayak Rack For Truck
Our second runner-up on the list is the TMS 800 LB Kayak Rack For Truck. This 2 bars pickup rack is purely made to cater to people with pickup trucks.
Let us dive down and find all the benefits and drawbacks to understand this product.
- Manufacturer: TMS
- Type: 2 Bars Pickup Kayak Rack
- Size: 51 x 26.25 x 1.5 inches
- Weight: 806.4 Ounces
- Material: Steel
- This TMS 800 LB rack comes with a set of 2 heavy-duty steel truck ladder units. The two ladders work exceptionally well to hold onto your kayak, while space below lets you add more stuff and cargo in the trunk.
- This product is the best kayak rack for a truck as the structure stays up safe as far as the fit is concerned. Apart from the kayaks, You can also use this heavy metal structure to haul pipes, lumber, ladders, and much more since it has an 800lbs loading capacity.
- The structure is straightforward to install with few materials. You can easily carry the installation with its guide and get it affixed within an hour.
- The rack can reach a maximum height of 30 inches (plus the height of your truck’s bed.) This feature lets you utilize a lot of space to keep various cargo in one truck.
- This heavy-duty steel structure comes with added hardware for easy assembly. Each set includes eight bolts and screws.
- The rack would look sporty because of its metal framing, size, and structure. Your truck would instantly look more robust as well as functional to the max.
- Few models compatible with this rack include 2000 Tacoma Xtracab, 2015 Silverado 1500, and 2016 Toyota Tundra.
- Many of the consumers have mentioned their disapproval of the messy paint job. The paint on the racks was highly chipped. The metal wasn’t coated with a powder coat to seal and make it durable.
- The welds at the sides were considerably amateur, making the structure look messed up and unpolished when inspected up close.
This kayak rack has an adjustable width option to fit your truck in the most optimal position. The adjustable width can move from 5 feet minimum to 7 feet maximum, making this the best kayak roof rack for trucks.
We would highly suggest this rack if you wish to make your truck look very different and sporty. To increase the durability of the steel, we recommend spraying the structure with a rusted shield once before you hit the roads in rains.
#3 Alternative: IKURAM R Kayak Rack For Truck
IKURAM engineers their outdoor products with the sole and simple mission to “Live With Ease.”
Their products involve highly engineered products with mechanics that work to ease your life one day at a time. Their one such product is the 4-in-1 bilateral kayak rack.
- Manufacturer: IKURAM
- Type: 4-in-1 Bilateral Kayak Rack
- Size: 19.95 x 13.25 x 11.25 inches
- Weight: 21.7 pounds
- Material: Aluminum, Rubber
- This Bilateral J- Cradle rack comes with two frames, two 25×2800 mm heavy-duty straps, and one installation kit for easy and convenient installation before your kayaking trip. This highly functional fixture is the best truck rack for a kayak.
- This model takes up to 220lbs of weight and can easily accommodate kayaks up to 42″ without any additional issues and fits square, round, and oval-shaped factory-installed cross rails with ease.
- The product is made with high-quality anodized aviation-grade aluminum alloys for a durable and lightweight experience. The mixture of different alloys makes it very hard and impossible to be susceptible to rusting. The racks are entirely waterproof and have an anti-corrosion layer.
- The rubber saddles and padded uprights are ultra-thick and oversized, which prevents any damage while hauling your kayak from one place to another.
- Its bilateral quick-fold design helps fold or raise your structure up to 180° as per your convenience. The J-bars can be easily locked at different angles to perfectly keep all the other sized kayaks. You can set the size accordingly.
- The built-in straps for the paddle make it much more versatile and functional. You can easily store your paddles with the kayak and drive your small SUV or regular car.
- Some easily compatible vehicles include Mercury Milan Hybrid, 2004 Subaru Wrx, and 2020 RAV 4.
- The carriage bolts given with the kit are way too long. When installed, it tends to damage the roof of your car. You can either check the height before installing or opt-out for smaller bolts to save your car’s paint.
- The gear mechanism that aids the bars to pivot up and down is made out of plastic. The material of the round gear isn’t the sturdiest. With some added pressure, it can break down in the nick of time.
This J-cradle kayak carrier lets you carry multiple kayaks at the same time. You can fit in many kayaks even if you have a small standard car.
We highly recommend this model if you have multiple kayaks to transport. The directions are very unclear, so you might need another pair of hands to help with the installation.
#4 Alternative: IKURAM R J-Style Kayak Rack for Truck
Our second alternative is from the same company that advocates the mantra of “Live With Ease.” Let us look at the product to understand its features, drawbacks, and buying advice for a sensible purchase.
- Manufacturer: IKURAM
- Type: J-Style Kayak Rack
- Size: 20 x 11.25 x 10 inches
- Weight: 9.92 Pounds
- Material: Aluminum, Rubber
- This J-style kayak rack is built with high-quality metal, which is exceptionally lightweight and rust-resistant. The structure can withstand wet conditions with excellence. The installation is rapid and easy.
- The base is compatible with most factory vehicle cross rails. We highly recommend thinking twice if you have square ones, as it doesn’t give the most snug-fitting.
- The ingenious 180° quick raise and fold down design makes it easy to get out of the way when not in use. Upon molding, the stand does not take up much space or stands out way too much.
- The structure can carry up to two kayaks with its multiple position design.
- This kayak roof rack pair can accommodate kayaks up to 42″ wide and 158 lbs without any pressure.
- The high-density all-weather rubber saddles and padded upright works swimmingly to provide excellent damage protection against scraping and rubbing.
- The extra longer cushioned contact points provide additional grip during your transit.
- These J- bars would fit perfectly with models like the 2017 Subaru Legacy, 2016 Prius, and Ford Explorer.
- The manufacturer has sent many pairs with incomplete accessory sets.
The price is the extra feature of this product. This J-cradle is comparatively cheaper than the bi-lateral version of this product. If you do not need the double sides, we highly recommend buying this model for affordability.
This stand works exceptionally well for local streets, but this kayak holder isn’t an ideal fixture if you plan to visit faraway places.
#5 Alternative: TMS Kayak Rack For Truck
This straightforward and classic design is a win for people who wish to keep things simple and effective. Let us look at their features and specs to know more about this product in detail.
- Manufacturer: TMS
- Type: J-Bar Kayak Rack
- Size: 17.5 x 12 x 6.5 inches
- Weight:16 Pounds
- Material: Alloy Steel
- This product comes with two pair of stands that securely holds one kayak at a time.
- This kayak carrier can be affixed to most crossbars available on the market. The shape takes up minimal space.
- The steel body is highly robust, durable, and strong for its purpose. The adjustable padding keeps your kayak safe during traveling.
- The ultra-wide J-bar offers ease of loading and unloading without any second person’s help.
- The company’s quick and fast installation makes it easy to install and uninstall the fixture when not in use.
- The bars come with a heavy rust-resistant coating for long-lasting life.
- The fixture comes with two stands, mounting hardware, and two straps for fastening the kayak with the bar.
- TMS offers a lifetime warranty on its products. Buyers carefully read the warranty manual before purchasing the product with this warranty.
- These racks fit perfectly on many models, including Jeep Cherokee, 2013 Highlander, and 2006 Lexus RX SUV.
The straps aren’t the sturdiest of them all. If you plan to travel on a highway, we recommend buying a sturdier strap to keep your kayak in place.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any extra striking feature while reviewing this product.
We highly recommend this product if you wish to own a sturdy yet simple kayak carrier. The product does not have extra features like a folding flap; it is reasonably plain nonetheless does the work.
Kayak Rack for Truck FAQs
How do you carry kayaks in a pickup truck?
You can carry any ordinary kayak on any vehicle using several techniques. An assortment of racks often helps in taking the kayaks to the water. If you’re looking for kayaks and kayak racks, then you need to buy them in unison so that they fit perfectly.
One of the most common ways to move your kayak around is to throw it in the back of your pickup truck and take it to your nearest water body for a spin. You need to fasten and secure it in the back with a couple of harnesses or tie-downs.
However, many-a-times your kayak will stick out from the back of the truck due to its sheer size, especially if it is a 2-person boat.
There are several aids to this problem. You can buy and attach products like Extend-A-Truck, which will slide into the back and act as an extension.
An extension like this prevents the kayak from any road mishaps and bumps that might take place in the ride. This product is helpful for pickup trucks with hitch receivers. This kind of extension is more economical than an over-the-roof setup.
Any kind of extension on the back of your pickup truck is beneficial in transporting your kayaks. However, it would be best if you were careful about packing the boat in a way where it doesn’t fall prey to the wind.
Rides can get windy, and you don’t want your kayak falling off the extension because it caught a gust.
How far can a kayak hang out of a truck?
On average, a pickup truck bed size is around 6-8 ft. Conversely, the minimum length of kayaks is upwards of 10 ft. This difference means at least a fifth of your kayak is hanging outside the back.
This part that hangs outside can be risky in traffic or while cruising at high speeds. Any cargo that extends more than a certain distance beyond the realm of your vehicle needs a red flag at its outermost point during the daytime—literally, a red flag.
Different states or regions have various regulations about this overhang issue. While a red or orange flag is enough of a warning for traffic in the daytime, you need to throw on a brake light or a reflector on your cargo come nightfall.
Vehicle code is particular while pinpointing overhang limits. It states, “The load upon any motor vehicle alone shall not extend to the rear beyond the last point of support for a greater distance than that equal to two-thirds of the length of the wheelbase of the vehicle carrying such load.”
This code means that a vehicle with a distance of 15 ft between its front and back wheel axles can carry up to 10 ft of overhang. Additionally, if this overhang is beyond the 4 ft mark, then the cargo needs a red flag to accompany it.
Another thing you might want to check out is the weight of your kayaks and other cargo. If a heavy kayak extends a significant amount over the rear of your truck, causing an imbalance in the back, you should find a different way to haul the boat.
A weight imbalance is risky while riding and can cause unwanted movement of the vehicle. If the load on the back shifts into dangerous positions, your front axle might even lift off from the tarmac at times; yes, a wheelie of sorts. It is risky, and cops will stop you if you’re doing it.
Should a kayak be transported upside down?
An upside-down kayak implies its hull being on top. While you shouldn’t transport kayaks in this way because you do not want them to crack during transportation, some Rotomolded models may be carried that way safely using kayak stackers. However, it would help if you never carried composite kayaks upside down.
If you are traveling with kayaks during the monsoon or rainy weather, it makes sense to keep the kayak upside down.
A kayak filled with water can be risky cargo in your pickup, especially if kept on a rooftop rack.
If you’re traveling in any risky position with your kayaks, it is crucial to stop a few times in your ride to check on the boats and straps.
How do you unload a kayak by yourself?
Slide it on and off. It’s the easiest method to load and unload a kayak from your car. In case you’re unloading the boat and are concerned about your car’s paint job, then you are not alone.
A blanket or any other soft stretch of cloth is an ideal solution to this hurdle. Throw the blanket on the side of the car, and gradually start pulling your kayak’s stern down towards you. It is because it is the heavier end of the boat, and you do not want it to drag down the face of your car.
Gently pull the stern down and rest it on the ground. The kayak should be resting on your vehicle now.
Then, put a hand to the bow and slowly move it to the ground. You can reverse this method to load your boat on your car. The best part of this – you can pull off this task alone.
An alternative to the blanket, in this case, is a piece of plywood. You can create a ramp for loading and unloading your kayak by laying a piece of plywood on the side of your car.
You can also employ a few tools to help you unload your kayak. However, these tools like a step-ladder, a canoe cart, a Roller Loader, etc., will cost you as much as the boat did. So you might want to think again about buying those tools.
Lastly, if you think something is going wrong while unloading the boat, jump out of that zone as fast as possible.
The kayak can handle a bounce from that elevation, but you could get seriously injured if a heavy boat falls on you. Moreover, there is a slight risk of catching a finger between the boat and the vehicle, so be careful.
We hope this buyer’s guide helped you select the most suitable and apt kayak rack for your vehicle. We highly recommend all kayak hobbyists invest in a good quality rack that serves them well for years to come. Do not forget to check your vehicle’s compatibility before ordering any frames.