How To Haul A Kayak In A Truck

If you’re a kayaker and don’t own a truck, don’t worry. There are still ways to get your kayak from point A to point B. Here are two popular methods for transporting your kayak.


Using a Kayak Trailer

Kayak trailers are designed to be pulled behind a car and can usually accommodate multiple kayaks. When using a kayak trailer, secure your kayaks with tie-down straps or bungee cords to prevent them from moving around during transport.

Using a Roof Rack

Roof racks provide a great way to transport your kayak and are relatively easy to use. Many cars come equipped with roof racks, but if yours doesn’t, you can always purchase one and have it installed. When using a roof rack, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure your kayak is secured correctly.

Transporting Your Kayak on a Pickup Truck

Crossbars are the only way to securely transport a kayak on a pickup truck. They mount over the pickup bed or on top of the cab, providing a stable base for attaching a kayak rack. When using a pickup truck, choose a rack with additional features like gear storage baskets or cargo nets if you plan on transporting other gear along with your kayak.

Securing Your Kayak in the Back of a Truck

To secure your kayak in the back of a truck, follow these steps:

  1. Run a cam buckle strap across the top of the kayak parallel to the tailgate.
  2. Attach the cam buckle to the truck’s anchor points and pull to tighten.
  3. Run a second tie-down from the tow loop back to the bed anchor.
  4. Tighten the strap to pull the boat into the rear bed wall.
  5. Use a ratchet strap or rope to secure the paddle to the truck’s roof.

By following these tips and tricks, you can ensure that your kayak arrives safely at your destination.

How Far Should a Kayak Stick Out of a Truck?

When transporting a kayak on top of a vehicle, it is crucial to determine how far it can safely stick out of the back of the truck. While regulations allow for up to 4 feet of overhang without a warning flag, keeping the kayak shorter than 3 feet is advisable. This precaution ensures that other drivers are aware of the potential danger and can take steps to avoid accidents. It also helps to prevent wind damage.

Transporting a 16-Foot Kayak Safely

Transporting a 16-foot kayak requires extra care and attention to ensure its safety. Begin by securing it to the vehicle’s roof using crossbars and ratchet straps. Secure the paddle to the roof as well using a rope or tie-down. Since a 16-foot kayak can stick out quite far from the back of the vehicle, drivers must take extra care when driving.

Should Kayaks Be Transported Upside Down?

Kayaks made of rotomolded plastic can withstand being transported on their edge or upside down without sustaining damage. However, composite kayaks made of more delicate materials require careful transportation to prevent deformation. For this reason, it is always best to transport composite kayaks on their bottom using cradles.

Overhang Regulations for Trucks

According to the Federal Size Regulations law by the United States Department of Transportation, cargo can overhang a vehicle by 3 feet in the front, 4 inches on the side, and 4 feet in the rear. However, some exceptions apply, depending on the load being transported. Local authorities must be consulted to ensure compliance with state-size regulations that may differ from federal laws.

Using a Bed Extender for Kayak Transport

Bed extenders provide additional space in a truck bed to transport longer items, such as kayaks. If using a short-bed truck or a long kayak, consider adding a bed extender to the truck. Bed extenders are inexpensive and readily available at most auto parts stores. They also help prevent the kayak from sliding around in the truck bed during transport.


Transporting a kayak using a truck is a great way to reach your paddling destination. Following the safety tips outlined above, kayakers can ensure their kayaks arrive safely. Remember to exercise caution and take necessary precautions when transporting your kayak to your next adventure.

About the author, Laurence Perkins

Laurence Perkins is the passionate car enthusiast behind the blog My Auto Machine. With over a decade of experience in the automotive industry, Perkins has knowledge and experience with a wide range of car makes and models. His particular interests lie in performance and modification, and his blog covers these topics in-depth. In addition to his own blog, Perkins is a respected voice in the automotive community and writes for various automotive publications. His insights and opinions on cars are highly sought-after.