How To Transport Kayak In A Pickup Truck: The 5 Best Methods

How To Transport Kayak In A Pickup Truck: The 5 Best Methods

You’ve just acquired your kayak, and you happen to be driving a pickup truck. Well, you’ve got what you need to transport your kayak to and from the waters. Pickup is by far much easier compared to small cars.

The main challenge is: how do you secure a kayak on a pickup truck for transport?

Don’t worry! Here you will learn 5 methods of transporting a kayak in a pickup truck so you can pick one that is convenient to you.

5 ways to transport a kayak in a pickup truck

The method you choose for transporting your kayak will depend on how much room is in the back of your truck and what kind of vehicle it’s being shipped with. Here I’ll break down each option so that no matter which one suits you best, there won’t be any surprises!

1.    Truck bed

Transporting a kayak in the truck bed is the most straightforward method many starters prefer. It is simple, quick, and convenient. You do not need to buy any additional equipment; all you need is a truck bed mat, cam straps, bow and stern lines, and a red flag.

Once you have the accessories, follow the steps below to haul and secure the kayak in place.

Step-by-Step Guide For Transporting A Kayak In A Truck Bed

Step1: Prepare your truck bed

Remove the tonneau cover from the trunk and ensure no debris is left. After you ensure there is no dirt or grim, lay down a truck bed mat on the base to protect your pickup and kayak.

Step 2: Load your kayak in the back of your pickup

Once you have prepared the truck bed, it is time to load your kayak onto the back. First, lower the tailgate, and then lift the kayak onto the truck bed. You can do it by yourself if the kayak is small, but if it is heavier, ask someone for help.

Using grab handles, gently slide the boat up the ramp onto the truck bed with the hull facing up to prevent damages. You can use foam blocks to protect your kayak’s hull and raise it a little from the bed.

Now adjust the kayak’s position, ensuring no more than 30% is overhanding at the edge. If the kayak is too long and there is much overhang, you’ll have to use a truck bed extender to transport the kayak safely.

Step 3: Secure the kayak

You’ll have to secure the kayak to ensure it doesn’t fly away while driving. Depending on your pickup truck, place the kayak in the best position. Some kayakers like putting it corner to corner, but the choice is all yours.

Use two cam straps to tie the kayak in position, ensuring it will not slide around. Strap through the truck bed anchor point close to the front and run it over the top of your boat. Let the strap exit through the opposite anchor point and then run it again over the kayak and tighten it.

Repeat the same process with the second cam strap at the rear of the pickup.

Avoid overtightening the straps too tight so you do not damage the kayak.

Step 4: Lock the kayak

Locking the kayak is optional though it is an additional safety layer. Plus, it prevents thieves from stealing your kayak if you make a stop and leave the vehicle unattended.

So, once the kayak is securely in place, use simple cable locks to further secure it.

For sit-on-top kayaks, thread the cable through the scupper hole and lock it. And for sit-ins, locate the dedicated cable bars to lock the kayak.

Step 5: Attach the red flag

When transporting any oversized cargo, most states require you to attach a brightly colored flag (red or orange). It alerts other drivers not to approach your pickup. So, whether or not it is a legal requirement, secure the red flag for your own and others’ safety.

Step 6: Tie down the bow and stern

The bow and stern of your kayak can easily cause drag. As a result, you should secure the points with bow and stern lines. Tie the stern to the back of the truck and strap the bow to the cabin with a grab handle.

After that, double-check to make sure everything is secure enough, and you’re ready to go!

Important Tip: Always pull over after 10-15 minutes of driving to ensure the kayak is still securely fastened. You’d rather spend a few extra minutes on the road than watch your kayak fall back behind the truck as you drive.

2.    Truck bed extender

If your truck bed is not big enough to accommodate at least 70% of the length of your kayak, then you’ll have to buy a truck bed extender for transporting your kayak.

The truck bed extender adds 2 feet to your pickup to provide additional support for the large kayak. All you have to do is attach the equipment to your tow bar, load and secure the kayak, and you’re ready to go.

3.    Truck bed rack

If you want to use your truck bed to store other items and don’t mind making minor modifications to it, you should think about getting a rack.

A truck rack is attached to the truck bed’s sides to provide an extended base for your kayak. Furthermore, if your kayak is long enough, some of it can rest on the cab and the rest will overhang the pickup.

Important Tip: Place the kayak hull-side down in the center of the truck rack, strap it down, and secure the bow and stern.

4.    Truck utility rack

One of the best systems for transporting your kayak in a pickup truck is a truck utility rack. It has the capacity to transport two kayaks while leaving the truck bed free for other equipment. It attaches to the truck bed similarly to a bed rack, but it has more anchor points and space for securing your kayak. It is essentially a system that combines a truck rack and a roof rack.

However, you will require assistance in lifting the kayak onto the system because it is too high for you to do so on your own. Once the kayak is on the utility rack, secure it with the cam straps and bow and stern lines, and you’re ready to go.

5.    Roof rack system

If you are on a tight budget, then the roof rack system is a better option than the truck utility rack. Furthermore, if your truck already has roof rack fittings, installing the rack system is simple.

Fortunately, kayak racks come in a variety of shapes and sizes that will easily fit on most trucks. Once purchased, you can use it on any pickup, car, or SUV.

Install the roof rack, load the kayak, tie it securely, and secure the bow and stern.

Final Thoughts & Takeaways

One of the difficulties that many kayakers face is transporting their kayak. And, if you already own a pickup, you are far ahead of those who only own a kayak. All you need are a few accessories and an understanding of the state rules. Now, follow the steps I outlined above for transporting a kayak on a pickup to safely carry your boat to and from the shore.

About the author:

Name: Ally Mash

Bio: A world traveler and outdoor enthusiast, Ally has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty with fellow adventurers like him on Adventures Pursuit!       

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