Best kayak rack for trucks

best kayak rack for truck

With kayaks becoming increasingly popular as a way for anglers to get on their favorite bodies of water at a considerably cheaper price than with an expensive fishing boat, the best methods to transport them have become another topic of discussion. In this article, we will choose the best kayak rack for trucks in the three main categories of roof rack.

For those in a hurry, our top picks in each category were:

And for a little explanation of each type of kayak rack for trucks, please check at the end of the article.

Hitch-Mount Extenders

Darby Industries Extend-A-Truck

The Extend-A-Truck truck rack is a goal post extension that you simply attach to your ball hitch receiver. The T section of the goal post features 4 feet of length with tie-off points at each end of the crossbar to ensure a secure hold when you strap down your kayak.

When not in use the Extend-A-Truck breaks down into parts that are small enough to fit behind the seat of most trucks, keeping it out of sight and out of mind until it’s needed, and is also extendable vertically, allowing for rooftop hauling if you have a car.

One of the great selling points of this product is that it does come with a receiver hitch, and to top it all off a red flag. Like some other kayak transport options, this truck rack works great for more than just a kayak and is great for hauling other items like long pieces of timber or planks in your pick up.

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Compact for storage
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Extends behind truck
  • Takes up box space

Erickson 07600 Bed Extender

The Erickson bed extender will extend the capacity of your truck bed by an additional 4 feet in length and this great truck rack comes in two separate weight ratings, 350 and 450 weight rated models.

The extender itself is only 40 pounds, and it can fold up, making it take up very little space when it comes to storing the extender when not in use.

Pros

  • Multiple weight ratings
  • Light weight
  • Compact for storage

Cons

  • Extends behind your pick up
  • Takes up box space

Winner

Our pick for this category has to be the Darby Extend-A-Truck if for no other reason than the 4 foot width.

Truck Bed Racks

Thule Xsporter Pro

While definitely not the cheapest rack on this list, the Thule features and design more than justify its price. The rack installs to your truck’s box attachment areas with no drilling or vehicle modifications.

This Thule rack is vertically adjustable and actually sits above the bed of your truck clearing the cab, allowing you to put kayaks on the rack, and still have a full truck box for other gear, or even more kayaks, making it great for out of town trips.

The Thule Xsporter also comes with a great strap system to secure your kayak and can handle a total of 450 pounds in weight.

Pros

  • Vertically adjustable
  • 450 lb rating
  • No vehicle modification

Cons

  • Expensive

AA Racks APX25

The APX25 is another great kayak rack system that requires no modifications to your vehicle, or any sort of drilling. It comes with all you need to attach to your truck with 8 provided C-clamps, making the installation very easy to do.

The APX25 also comes with straps to securely fasten your kayaks, and did we mention this rack is custom built to fit 2 or them?

The rack can handle both canoes and kayaks up to 16 feet, making it a great truck rack for anglers who own larger kayaks.

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Zero vehicle modification
  • Can take kayaks up to 16 feet long

Cons

  • None

TMS Rack

The TMS kayak rack is a very affordable truck rack, although this one will require some drilling and assembly to install in your pick up.

It has a maximum height of 30 inches above your truck bed, can handle a whopping 800 pounds of weight and has an adjustable width of 5 to 7 feet depending on your truck model.

Like a few of the other options on this list, the rack is great at hauling more than just your kayak.

Pros

  • Can haul more than just kayaks
  • Can carry 800 pounds of weight
  • Adjustable from 5 to 7 feet

Cons

●      Requires drilling

AMP Research 74813 BedXTender

The BedXTender flips out with the tailgate down to allow 2 extra feet of length for storage and incorporates a U-shaped design for maximum storage capacity. This is a great truck rack for shorter kayaks in the 10 to 12-foot range.

The BedXTender is constructed with 6063 T6 Aluminum alloy and a durable powder coat finish, keeping it very light, durable, and resistant to corrosion.

The BedXTender is also incredibly quick and easy to install, and to top it all off comes with a 3-year warranty, and one of the other great things about this product, is that it can be used for much more than just kayak, allowing you to safely transport various items that are longer than the inside of your truck bed.

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • 3 year warranty
  • Great for a variety of things

Cons

  • Is more of a box extension and not necessarily a rack
  • Takes up box space

Winner

Our winner for this rack type is the AMP BedXtender, its loaded with features, and on top of those you get a 3 year warranty

RELATED POSTS: Best 2 person kayakHobie Pro Angler reviewbest inflatable kayaks

Roof Mounted Racks

best kayak rack for truck

Tirol Soft Rack

If you don’t want to invest in a permanent style roof rack for an SUV or even a car, then you should look into the Tirol soft rack.

The Tirol roof rack has straps that link up in your car through your windows, and a soft padded “rack” system that will prevent any scratches or damages to your vehicle.

The best part about this roof rack is its versatility, ease of use, and cheap cost. Not to mention you can store this system just about anywhere, and heck even use it as an impromptu pillow for your wilderness fishing excursions.

Pros

  • Great kayak rack for cars and SUVs
  • Compact for storage
  • Protects vehicle from scratches

Cons

  • For its intended purpose we really can’t find any cons

PaddleSports+ Kayak Roof Rack

You can use two of these roof racks to carry 2 kayaks on the roof of your vehicle due to this kayak roof rack’s thoughtful design. Not only that but it’s incredibly easy to install and use, not requiring any modifications to your vehicle.

The Paddlesports rack does require something to be able to use though and that is a pre-existing roof rails, which many SUV’s already have.

It also comes with a padded design to protect your vehicle from scratches.

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Can carry two kayaks
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Vehicle needs a built in roof rack

Winner

I’ll be honest with you, I think that the Tirol soft rack is incredibly innovative in its design and purpose, it fills a niche that needed filling, and for that reason we picked this one as the top roof mounted rack system.

 

 

Types of Racks

Roof Mounted Racks

Roof-mounted kayak racks are great for those who might not have a truck. This style of rack isn’t the topic of this article, but we figured we would add it for those who may not have a truck.

These racks mount the roof of your car, allowing kayak owners in many cases to travel with 2 kayaks.

Truck Bed Racks

Truck bed racks are in my opinion the best option for kayaks, and I’ll explain why. With many truck bed racks, they sit above the actual truck bed at the level of the cab roof or higher.

Why this is such a major benefit is due to the fact that if your kayaks are above your truck bed you can still use the storage space available from your bed. This is great for when you go out of town on long trips, allowing you to put coolers or any other needed gear in the box of your truck.

You can even put more kayaks or canoes on it if you’re on a group trip, potentially bringing 4 to 5 kayaks with you on your journey.

Hitch-Mounted Extenders

Hitch mounted extenders are great options for kayak anglers who what to easily remove or install a rack in a short amount of time. You simply remove your ball hitch and slide the extender into the hitch receiver, taking very little time.

Many truck bed extender racks can also break down and take up minimal storage when not in use, allowing you to leave it behind the seat of your truck.

And as with bed style kayak racks, you can also use it for other things like ladders, rails, timber, pipes, and more.

Strap Options

In my opinion, a ratchet strap is going to offer the best performance in terms of securing your kayak. You can ratchet it very tightly, and it’s also very easy to release by the pull of a release trigger.

With proper care, ratchet straps can last a very long time, be sure to wrap up and secure the straps after use to prevent knots and fraying, and on occasion oil up the ratcheting mechanism.

Truck kayak rack FAQs 

Are there Removable Kayak Racks for Trucks?

Many racks on the market today are removable. Typically, if the rack you buy doesn’t require any sort of vehicle modification or drilling, they are easily removable, which is important for many kayak anglers, as we don’t fish everyday, and we don’t always need the rack installed.
On a positive side many racks such as bed extenders break down small for storage, taking up as little space as possible, allowing you to simply keep it in your truck and out of sight and mind until needed.

Do all Racks Require Drilling or Vehicle Modification?

Some racks do require drilling or vehicle modification but many anglers do not want to permanently modify their vehicle, that’s why on this list we only feature one rack that requires these modifications.
Most racks on this list and also on the market, come with attachment options like C-clamps for bed style racks that sit above your truck bed, or simply go into your ball hitch receiver for bed extenders.
And yet others still attach to pre existing racks found on the roof of an SUV or car if you don’t have a pickup truck, and clamp using C-clamps or another similar style of clamping design.

Is assembling a Kayak rack easy?

In most cases yes, assembling kayak racks is very easy. Due to not needing to drill or modify your vehicle with most racks today means that it’s as simple as slapping the parts together, tightening them and installing via clamps.
Temporary and removable racks are very easy to install and uninstall from your vehicle, especially bed extensions that fit into your hitch receiver, these can be installed in a matter of minutes.
Racks that sit above the bed of your truck may take a little more time and effort simply due to the fact that it’s larger, and has a few more parts to fit together, but again, its still easy to do.

Conclusion

There’s a rack out there for every kayak angler needs these days, you just need to pick the one that best suits you and your pickup truck best. Whether it’s more important for you to keep your bed space available, or simply want something quick and easy like an extension, or maybe you don’t even have a pickup truck and you need a roof mount, the racks featured in this list are some of the best on the market today.

Author

  • Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on print
Share on facebook