I love my Kayak, but how do I haul it? There are many types of RV kayak racks. Each has its pros and cons depending on your unique setup and destination. I will break it all down for you. What are the best racks for each RV type and each kayaking opportunities? Now, let’s get these kayaks to the water.
The Thule Hullavator Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier is the best choice and the most innovative when looking to haul your kayak to the water. If it is compatible with your method of transportation, you will not find any better rack on the market. While doing your research, take a minute to read the touching reviews and remember freedom is worth the price.
- Types of RV Kayak Racks
- Best RV Kayak Racks for Your Camper
- Best RV Kayak Rack for Large RVs (A Vertical Rack)
- Best Vertical Rack
- Best RV Kayak Rack for Small RVs (A Roof Rack)
- Best Roof Racks
- Best Rack for Car-Top
- Products for Loading and Unloading Kayaks
- Best Truck Kayak Rack
- Best Kayak Trailer for RVs
- Things to Consider When Buying an RV Kayak Rack
- Size and Rack Capacity
- Durability and Sturdiness
- Rattle and Vibration Free
- Adjustability and Fit
- How to Build a Kayak Rack for Your RV
- Final Thoughts
Types of RV Kayak Racks
A vertical kayak rack mounts vertically against the back of your RV. This is an excellent choice if you have a Class A or fifth wheel camper or van. This rack mounts directly to your hitch. Important to note, It is recommended that your receiver is frame-welded to maintain security. Vertical racks are usually mounted to two-inch hitch receivers.
Ladder Mounted Kayak Rack
Mounting your kayak to your RV ladder is an inexpensive way to haul your kayaks. However, this method is not as secure as other mounting methods, especially interstate use. It’s also very impractical if you want to use your ladder as a ladder.
Rooftop Racks to Carry Kayaks
Rooftop racks can be a great choice if you drive cars and lower-profile vehicles and smaller Class C RVs, smaller campers, Vans, and pop-ups. However, If your RV is a trailer-pull, your kayaks on your SUV or truck may be your best option. Also the opposite if you travel extensively and tow a car or SUV, you might find it works well to add a kayak roof rack to your vehicle.
Truck Mounted Racks
You can also add a kayak rack to your pickup truck. Since this type of rack hovers above the truck bed, this could be the perfect option since you will carry your kayak while conserving space in your truck bed for other items. A crossbar added to your truck’s cab is required as well as an aft mounting rack to handle your kayak. A truck mount gives you more options if you use your truck to head to the river after setting up camp. Also, consider your surroundings. Often we put our kayaks in the water in secluded rough terrain that we could not get our RV into.
A kayak trailer is ideal if you own several kayaks. A great feature is most kayak trailers can be customized to haul different types of toys, including kayaks, paddleboards, surfboards, and bikes. A kayak trailer is the most effortless loading and unloading experience. Kayaks can range from 20lbs to over 100lbs before customizing and adding your gear.
Best RV Kayak Racks for Your Camper
Best RV Kayak Rack for Large RVs (A Vertical Rack)
Best RV Kayak Rack if you have a larger RV, like a Class A, you will likely want to look for a vertical kayak rack. Accessing a rack on your RV roof can be rather complex, depending on the height of your vehicle. In addition, if your vehicle is tall, you might run the risk of hitting overhead obstacles with a roof rack.
Best Vertical Rack
This kayak mount is perfect for mounting your kayaks on the back of your RV or Jeep for an upcoming trip. This mount allows you to haul two kayaks, paddleboards, or one of both. It can accommodate kayaks and paddleboards up to 12 feet long and hold up to 150lbs.
We always love those made in America products. It is constructed of 14-gauge steel, 1/16” thick, and made for security and durability. It mounts to a Two-inch hitch receiver, and for safety, a frame welded receiver is recommended.
The lower cradle hoop has holes for three different mounting heights and includes an anti-rattle device, ratchet straps, and pool noodles for installation. This ensures you are able to adjust for a perfect fit for your kayak or paddleboard.
When you are not using this kayak mount, you can conveniently fold up the brackets and store them flat against your RV or even in your truck bed. This rack is black powder-coated. Even with movement and use, your color should hold and not rub onto other surfaces. The powdered coating gives the mount a nice clean appearance.
Note: At the writing of this article, I could not find any other vertical kayak racks for purchase. We will have a few DIY ideas at the end, so stay tuned.
Best RV Kayak Rack for Small RVs (A Roof Rack)
If you have a camper van or other Class C RV, you may want to opt for installing a rack on the roof of your vehicle. It will not be that difficult to access the kayak, and the height should still be OK for most driving situations. In many cases, they are also less cumbersome than having them at the back of your vehicle.
Best Roof Racks
When I found this carrier, I was in awe of the reviews. Kayakers in their 70s report loving the freedom to spend more time out on the water with the Thule Hullavator Pro rooftop kayak carrier.
The lift-assist is this kayak rack selling point because it allows one person to load and unload on their own even with diminished abilities. Gas-assist struts lift and lower up to 40 lbs of the kayak’s weight, while double extend arms lower the kayak to waist height. There is no need to wait until someone is available to help.
Having independence even if you are not that young anymore is a bargain at even this price. People have paid much more for freedom. With a 4.6 out of 5 ratings, it seems others agree.
Padded support at eight different points offers maximum kayak protection. The rooftop kayak rack is constructed of corrosion-resistant cradles and aluminum, double coated steel. It is also installed easily, and Thule has excellent customer service.
Security is also a priority with this model. Thule’s One-key lock cylinders allow you to lock the carrier to the vehicle, but these are sold separately.
This rack is also great because it accommodates a variety of kayaks due to the wide cradles. It can hold hulls up to 36″ wide. If you need to haul two kayaks, it may be possible to install two, depending on the width of your vehicle.
The Yakima JayLow can carry up to 2 kayaks. It will fit one kayak up to 80lb in the J-cradle position. Or it can accommodate two kayaks up to 110lbs combined in a vertical, stacked position.
It is a Universal rack that is compatible with Yakima SteamLine, round, square, and factory crossbars. You will need a minimum crossbar spread of 24″.
Included are all the necessary hardware and straps. Heavy-Duty Straps and Bow/Stern Tie-Downs secure your gear. It is lockable, and SKS (Same Key System) locks are sold separately. Padded contact points provide durability, protection, and security while traveling.
This rack features a versatile design integrating a cam lever that allows you to adjust the upright position easily. When not in use, the rack folds flat for better clearance and reduced drag.
Installation is easy when it comes fully assembled out of the box and is Tool-free. It can be installed in about 10 minutes. Amazon reviewers report that installation is as easy as promised. It is also echoed that it is very secure and safe with a sturdy design.
Best Rack for Car-Top
This Rhino-Rack J-Style Kayak Carrier folds down and is designed to safely & securely transport your kayak or canoe on its side. This can save space on your roof rack. The cradle folds down for easy storage. It also includes padded buckle straps, tie-down straps, & paddle holders.
This rack is universal and will mount to most elliptical & round bars. Please note this rack does not work with square bars. Sit-in kayaks, fishing kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, wakeboards, and surfboards work nicely with this hauling system.
Australian designed and engineered this kayak carrier is constructed of high-quality powder coated steel for extreme strength, durability, endurance, and longevity. Added rubber saddles and pads secure the kayak from rubbing/damage.
A variety of watercraft sizes and styles, including kayaks, stand up paddleboards (SUP), and even some canoes, can be hauled with the Rhino-Rack. You can also purchase a separate S512X Arm Extension, enabling you to carry two kayaks side by side. You could carry up to 4 watercraft when you buy extensions based on your crossbars. There is a 132-pound weight capacity (60 kg) to consider.
Not only does the Rhino-Rack carrier fold down when not in use which improves aerodynamics, but it reduces fuel consumption and noise.
CargoLoc offers an affordable option for roof mounts, and it gets four out of five stars on Amazon reviews. This rack features rigid steel construction, a weather resistant coating, and protective padding for strength, durability, and safety from damage.
Kayak, mountain bike, or skis, this model will haul all your toys up to 150lbs. And it includes a carrier and bow/stern straps for security. Padded J-Cradles are installed for maximum protection of your vehicle and toys.
It features a Universal fit and can be installed on most vehicles with rooftop crossbars on raised side rails, and is lockable.
Products for Loading and Unloading Kayaks
This roller helps hoist up and control your kayak as you place it into a roof rack. It works on a suction system so it can be moved for loading a second kayak.
These carriers are fantastic for getting your yak from the vehicle to the water and back. It also has other handy uses.
Best Truck Kayak Rack
- Provides 4 ft. of additional truck bed length via the 60 in. wide crossbar
- Adjustable to 3 distinct load-carrying heights and rated to carry up to 300 lbs. in lower positions, the LongArm takes your truck bed to the next level
- Bed height is for use when your truck tailgate is open (300 lb. carrying capacity)
Yakima has created an excellent option for those in the market for a truck rack. It provides four feet of additional truck bed length via the 60-inch wide crossbar. And is adjustable to three different load-carrying heights and rated to carry up to 300 lbs. in lower positions. The LongArm takes your truck bed to the next level and supports those longer kayaks and toys.
You can haul your yaks in the truck bed, above the bed using the tailgate, and even on top of your cab with an extender. This offers great versatility when you have a bed cover installed or just need the added space for hauling.
Installation is easy, and it secures to any two-inch hitch receiver using the included 5/8 in. threaded hitch bolt. It also offers effortless removal and is simple to store. The aluminum construction is built for strength but only weighs only 12.5 lbs.
A black powder-coated finish ensures durability.
Integrated tie-down points ensure a secure ride for your load, and Add any Yakima boat mount to the crossbar for extra boat protection.
Apex has manufactured this universal rack with high-strength, lightweight anodized aluminum and gold zinc-plated hardware. Apex is no stranger to affordable automotive accessories for hauling, loading, and transporting commercial or recreational cargo.
Easily transport large objects of varying lengths and width using the Apex Universal Utility Rack. It has a fantastic 800-lb weight capacity evenly distributed across both bars.
Fully adjustable crossbars and a sliding system fit any full, mid-size or compact pick-up truck bed 45″ – 65″ wide. The versatility of this hauling rack is as extensive as your hauling needs. Kayaks, paddleboards, or even lumber to the job site is within its ability.
Installation is quick and easy and a no-drill, C-clamp installation. It also includes adjustable width four ladder stops with max width of 52″.
This rack has built-in eye bolts and hooks for tie-downs. It assembles easily and is simple to remove when not needed.
Best Kayak Trailer for RVs
Another made-in-the-USA product, the Malone MicroSport 2 Kayak Bunk-Style Trailer Package, is an excellent trailer if you need to transport two kayaks. And transporting fishing kayaks doesn’t get easier.
Fishing kayaks can be on the heavier side, and some racks can not accommodate this weight. That’s when a kayak trailer is an option worth exploring.
These padded carriers are manufactured to fit nearly any hull design. MicoSport trailers come with detailed assembly instructions and pre-fitted electrical, mechanical, and hub assemblies.
This lightweight, low-profile trailer with padded bunks permits transporting your favorite kayaks or canoes. Because of the trailer’s low-profile design, the crossbars sit only 22″ above the ground. The lower crossbars provide a safe height to load heavy kayaks and help avoid unnecessary injury.
This trailer offers exceptional clearance with a 7-1/2′ tongue during tight turns. The extended tongue also makes backing up the trailer easier and prevents binding than trailers with shorter tongues.
This lightweight and versatile trailer comes with V-style carriers making transporting your favorite kayaks or canoes easy. The padded carriers cradle your boat’s hull while holding it securely in place.
A 6-3/4′ long tongue offers exceptional clearance during tight turns, even for beginners. The extended tongue simplifies backing up the trailer and prevents binding that can happen with shorter tongues.
When you’re ready to connect the trailer to your vehicle, simply plug the trailer end of the main harness into the 4-way flat connector on your vehicle: plug and play.
This trailer comes with a leaf spring suspension system that limits road shock while in tow. A sturdy steel axle runs beneath the trailer frame. The trailer’s coupler connects to a 2″ hitch ball, and the included safety chains act as security if the coupler disconnects from your hitch ball.
Things to Consider When Buying an RV Kayak Rack
The compatibility of a kayak rack relies on various factors. What size and weight is the kayak? Are you hauling more than one? What size and type of RV will do the hauling? Will you be using a car, truck, fifth wheel, motorhome, or bumper-pull? Where will you be using your kayaks? All of these answers will ultimately lead you to the most compatible kayak rack for your needs.
Size and Rack Capacity
As I mentioned earlier, kayaks come in various lengths and weights. The average kayak is about 10 feet long, but there’s a wide range of possible sizes. They can range anywhere from 6 to 16 feet long. They also can vary in weight even more than length. Some fishing kayaks can weigh up to 140 lbs. What are the measurements of the kayak you will be hauling, and will you be transporting more than one?
After gathering the specifics, compare that information to the capabilities of each kayak rack type and ability. I recommend making a well thought out decision and purchase as it could become a costly one.
Durability and Sturdiness
The integrity of whichever model you choose will be found in the materials and the construction. Check reviews to avoid issues that may lay in your path. Usually, a good hearted soul will add some tips, tricks, and maybe even modifications in a detailed review.
The gauge of steel or aluminum, quality of the padding, and even placement of bolts can result in a product being sturdy or weak.
Rattle and Vibration Free
This can be frustrating; you just installed your best match kayak rack, and you are loaded heading down the highway, and there it is, a whistle, a rattle, a rubbing noise. Now you begin the process of combing over every bolt, screw, gasket, and pipe. This happens, and as much as we might want to avoid it, the complexity of fitting pieces perfectly can be difficult. Again, I suggest checking out other users’ experiences and tips, and if you solve a mystery, please pass the information.
Adjustability and Fit
Adjustability and fit can actually be independent and interdependent. What do I mean? Let’s consider fit first. While doing research, the biggest complaint is people buying the wrong product or model for their vehicle or needs. Even if you need to make a phone call to the manufacturer, take the 5 min and do it if you are unsure. I promise 5 minutes now will save a lot of frustration later. Does it fit your vehicle? Does it fit your kayak? Universal does meet a lot of needs, but it is not a one size fits all guarantee.
Ok, now let’s talk adjustability. When I bought my first kayak, my husband and I opted for identical sit-on-top models. We chose a truck rack because we like to kayak locally also, so the RV is not necessary. My husband and I fell in love with kayaking very quickly.
We love drifting down the river, exploring the lake, and have even gotten brave enough to hit the ocean. We had a fishing pole in our hands for most of those trips. Now my husband is a more serious fisherman, and that first kayak didn’t quite fit his fishing needs. I advise you to think about the future a bit.
Will you want to upgrade your kayak? Will you want to make it a family sport and add it to your collection? We are so glad we left options for upgrades and expansion. Kayaking is a family event now. On any trip, you might count up to 15 of us floating and fishing.
Alright, this issue is something that we can all relate to and do not want to admit most of the time. We have all bought that item that we thought would be so awesome and change our lives only to realize that it was complicated or maybe it was too time consuming.
These factors will ultimately decide if taking the kayaks or going kayaking is even worth the effort. Also, remember that you want to purchase something that you can use without calling the fire department to help with a bucket truck.
Usability will be unique to each person’s ability and determination to hit the water. Choose something that you can confidently use within your ability.
This purchase can be affordable but also can be very expensive. It could cost you a couple hundred or a few thousand.
It is important to weigh this cost with what is practical. If you can afford it, hire someone to drive your million-dollar Class A and facilitate getting your kayak to the water for you. Have them pack a lunch too.
Suppose you are on a budget though there are affordable ways to get your yaks to the water. Check out some DIY options if money is low but time is not.
How to Build a Kayak Rack for Your RV
Building a kayak rack for your RV can be a great weekend project, and it can be as straightforward or as complicated as you want. It can also be as cheap or expensive as you wish. You can opt for a simple model or add all the bells and whistles. You could start with some steel and construct a rack to your exact specifications according to your budget and ability. Overall with a bit of knowledge and a few tools, you can DIY a rack to fit your needs. Check out the links below for inspiration.
On a channel by ssenneff, we found this first example for that vertical option I mentioned earlier.
Miguel Roaming posted his version that also allows room for a bike.
There are options. Hauling your kayak to the water is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Just remember to gather all the information before purchase. No one wants to return products that didn’t work or meet your needs. If you are traveling by car, van, SUV, or smaller RV, I love the freedom of the Thule Hullavator Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier. I love the back saving, convenience, and freedom it offers to kayakers of all ages and abilities. The most important thing is to get to the water and shove off, and may your boat stay on top of the water. Enjoy your Yak.