If you ask a bunch of kayakers about trailers, you will get a wide variety of opinions. Some use repurposed Jet Ski or boat trailers and some go all out with dedicated trailers built and marketed just for kayaks. A lot of us use multi-purpose yard or cargo trailers and have to be ready to turn them from boat haulers to cargo haulers as needed. That has been my mode of operation for the last several years. I really love my trailer, but it hauls much more than just kayaks; hunting gear, camping gear and more limbs and yard waste than I care to speak of.
I have been through multiple removable racks with this trailer and not all of them have been good. The worst was a beast made of 2” PVC that cost a small fortune. I was proud of my PVC masterpiece and it worked for a while. On an early morning trip a bounce from a pothole broke the arms off under my sons kayak. If I had not tied bow and stern lines I would have lost a boat and could have caused an accident. I secured the kayak with more rope and a pillow to protect it from the broken rack. We limped to a hardware store and quickly rigged a 2x4 rack to save the trip.
This incident was when I decided to quit fooling with PVC and build a removable steel rack. My first one was 1” square tubing and held four boats on their sides. It worked well for quite a while but our needs changed over time. My family and I love to introduce people to kayaking and try to get as many folks on the water as we can. We ended up with a small fleet of kayaks and needed to expand the rack to transport them as well as make it easier to load and unload.
I wanted to beef it up a little so this time I went with 1 ½ “tubing in 14 gauge thickness. This would be plenty strong but still light enough to be manageable. I wanted to replicate the width of the rack of my truck so I can add my Malone “Stax Pro” uprights to carry more boats if needed. This setup has allowed me to carry 4 boats on top of my truck so on the trailer I can carry 6 or 8 kayaks depending on the configuration.
I went with 30 inch arms since my trailer is pretty narrow. At 64 inches from upright to upright these arms are long enough to hold all of my boats. They will be wrapped with an outdoor carpet to cushion and protect the kayaks. This type carpet is mildew and rot resistant and lasts considerably longer than the “pool noodles” I have used in the past. The uprights are 54” tall and ended up just a couple inches taller than my truck rack so I can still load boats with no issue. The spaces in between the rungs are 15” tall so even the largest profiled of my boats will fit. There is ample room below the rack for coolers and camping gear as well.
Let me say, I am no engineer, welder or fabricator but I scratch my way along with the tools of the trade. My welding has been described as “gorilla” welding; ugly but strong. When you see me at boondoggles and such, feel free to check out the trailer but please don’t look too close! It is sort of like my prom date, better seen at a distance. With three 20ft sticks of steel, good paint and a small roll of outdoor carpet I will have about 125 bucks in a solid piece of boat toting structure; not counting my Malone Stax Pro. If you have access to a cargo trailer, with a little plan drawing and effort, you can build a solid yak hauler yourself.