Embarking on a journey with kayaks on your travel trailer is a fun and economical way to bring built-in recreation with you on an adventure. It allows you to have easy access to your kayaks while exploring the great outdoors. I can’t tell you how many times we as a family have been hiking, camping or exploring when we stumbled upon a picturesque river, lake or secret beach cove and wished we had our kayaks with us. As a result, we began to plan for just this type of surprise and started to bring our kayaks with us every time we left for an adventure.

If you’re a kayaking enthusiast, or even just someone who likes to casually paddle around a scenic body of water, we highly recommend bringing kayaks along in your own travel trailer. It is one of the best ways to enhance your adventures and once you get the hang of it you will be glad you did. In this guide, we’ll explore the advantages of traveling with kayaks and highlight the benefits of bringing them along on your trip on a travel trailer. So let’s dive right in!

Traveling with your kayaks opens up a variety of opportunities to explore waterways. If you’re planning to camp near lakes, rivers, or coastal areas, having your kayaks readily available allows you to effortlessly paddle out and immerse yourself in various water bodies and beautiful settings that you might not otherwise be able to reach. You can spontaneously venture out and explore hidden coves and waterfalls without the hassle of renting equipment or arranging transportation. Some of our favorite adventures as a family have been when we were surprised to find a beautiful lake or river and were lucky enough to have our kayaks with us and went out for a paddle in a new setting.

Here are just a few of the reasons you should consider bringing kayaks with you on your next adventure…

Kayaking offers numerous health benefits, including cardiovascular exercise, improved strength and endurance, stress relief, and enhanced mental well-being. You can paddle for hours out in nature, which not only keeps your body healthy but allows for a unique way to commune with nature and be in the outdoors. Deciding to carry your kayaks with you allows for not only physical benefits, but mental as well. One of my favorite things to see is one of our kiddos grab a kayak and paddle out to some sleepy part of the lake by themselves to enjoy the peace and quiet. We always make a point of bringing our kayaks on all our journeys and it has led to some of our favorite adventures!

Bringing your kayaks with you saves money. Renting kayaks can quickly add up cost wise, especially if you plan to paddle frequently. By bringing your own kayaks, you eliminate the need for rentals, saving you money in the long run. We bought every single kayak we own second hand and it is normally quite easy to find used ones for sale. Kayaking is also a great way to recreate and have adventure, but with little to no expense. Additionally, you also avoid potential equipment availability issues during peak seasons, or if you plan to camp in remote locations. We learned this lesson the hard way a few years back when we headed to the Sierras for a week long lake trip, only to find out that all the equipment was rented at the only rental place in the area.  

Taking your own kayaks also allows for you to get comfortable and familiar with a particular kayak which can be especially helpful when working on improving your skills or navigating unfamiliar waters.  Our kids have learned how to navigate and steer our kayaks which makes it easier for them to go out exploring with ease and familiarity.  As a result they feel very comfortable taking them in oceans, lakes and rivers.  

Traveling with kayaks is easier than ever with a great selection of trailers to choose from.  Travel trailers provide convenient storage options for carrying kayaks securely and they are extremely easy to use.  

kayaking on water

We have a fail proof roof rack that even our ten year old can manage, and you can also find hitch-mounted racks and well designed ladder-mounted systems as well.  We shopped around for a bit and received great guidance on the design that would work best on our car.  We suggest doing a bit of research on the type that would work best for you based on your vehicle, how many kayaks you have and types of kayaks you own.  You are certain to find a make and model that works for your needs as there are dozens on the market.  We also highly encourage trying to find a used travel trailer, as these items are often found second-hand, but in perfect condition and at a reduced cost.  

In the upcoming sections, we’ll dive deeper into the practical aspects of carrying kayaks with a travel trailer. We’ll discuss the different kayak transportation options available for trailers, explore the necessary equipment and accessories for secure hauling, and provide step-by-step instructions on loading and unloading your kayaks safely. We’ll address potential challenges and offer tips for maximizing space efficiency and weight distribution. By the end of this guide, you should be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to carry your kayaks with your travel trailer, enhancing your outdoor experiences that will allow you to create lasting memories.

Considerations Before Carrying Kayaks with a Travel Trailer… 

Considerations Before Carrying Kayaks with a Travel Trailer

While carrying kayaks with a travel trailer it’s essential to take certain considerations into account to ensure safety, compatibility, and compliance. By paying attention to a few prerequisites you can enjoy your kayaking excursions with peace of mind. In this section, let’s explore some of the key factors you need to consider before loading your kayaks onto your travel trailer.

Trailer Weight Capacity…

Before loading your kayaks onto your travel trailer, it’s crucial to know the weight capacity of your trailer. Exceeding the maximum weight limit can compromise the stability and maneuverability of your trailer, posing safety risks on the road. Refer to your trailer’s manufacturer guidelines or consult the owner’s manual to determine its weight capacity. Consider the combined weight of your kayaks, kayak accessories, and any additional gear you plan to bring along. Ensure that the total weight is well within the trailer’s capacity to maintain a balanced and secure towing experience.

Trailer Size and Compatibility with Kayaks

The size and dimensions of your travel trailer play a significant role in determining whether it can accommodate your kayaks effectively. Consider the length, width, and height of your kayaks and compare them to the available storage options on your trailer. Make sure there is ample space and proper support to secure the kayaks during transportation. Depending on your trailer’s design, you can opt for roof racks, hitch-mounted racks, or ladder-mounted systems to carry your kayaks. Additionally, consider any potential clearance issues, such as overhanging branches or low clearance areas, when selecting the appropriate kayak transportation method.

Legal Requirements for Carrying Kayaks on Trailers

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements and regulations regarding carrying kayaks on trailers. Different jurisdictions may have specific guidelines on trailer dimensions, overhang restrictions, and proper securing methods. Ensure that your travel trailer’s lighting system such as brake lights, turn signals, and reflectors are functional and meet the requirements for proper visibility. Kayaks must be securely fastened to your trailer during transit to prevent shifting or falling off. In some areas, it may be mandatory to attach safety flags or reflective markers to the rear end of the kayaks to increase visibility for other motorists. Make sure that your travel trailer and kayaks are properly licensed and registered as per local regulations. Do research beforehand on specific legal requirements of the regions you plan to visit. Check with local transportation authorities or consult official government websites for accurate and up-to-date information.

Essential Tools and Equipment Needed for Carrying Kayaks with a Travel Trailer

For a secure and hassle-free experience when carrying kayaks with your travel trailer, it’s important to have the right tools and equipment. Here are some of the essential items you’ll need to safely transport your kayaks during trips. From kayak carriers and tie-down straps, these tools will help you keep your kayaks secure during your travels.

Kayak Carriers

Kayak carriers are specifically designed to hold and secure your kayaks on your travel trailer. There are various types of carriers available, including J-cradles, saddles, and stackers. J-cradles hold the kayak on its side, while saddles provide support along the hull. Stackers allow you to carry multiple kayaks vertically. It is best to  choose a method that suits your trailer’s size and your kayaks’ dimensions. 

Tie-Down Straps

Tie-down straps are crucial for securing your kayaks to the carriers and preventing any shifting during transit. Look for high-quality, durable straps with a reliable locking mechanism. Consider using straps with integrated buckles or cam buckles to provide strong and quick tensioning. Make sure the straps have sufficient length to wrap around the kayak and carrier securely. Remember to tighten the straps firmly but not excessively to avoid damaging your kayaks.

Hitch Locks

Hitch locks provide an additional layer of security by preventing unauthorized access to your trailer hitch. They deter theft attempts and keep your trailer and kayaks safe when parked or unattended. Hitch locks come in various designs, such as coupler locks or receiver locks. Choose a lock that fits your trailer’s specific hitch type and is made of robust materials. It’s recommended to invest in a high-quality lock that is resistant to tampering and corrosion.

Roof Racks

If your travel trailer has a roof rack or a cargo rack, you can utilize it to carry your kayaks. Roof racks are especially useful for smaller trailers or when you need to transport additional equipment along with your kayaks. Ensure that the provided roof rack can handle the weight and dimensions of your kayaks. Use foam pads or kayak cradles to provide cushioning and protection between the kayaks and the rack. Additionally, consider using bow and stern lines to secure the kayaks in place while on the move.

Steps on How to Carry Kayaks with a Travel Trailer 

How to Carry Kayaks with a Travel Trailer

You must know the proper steps for loading, securing, and traveling with your kayaks during a trip. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to carry kayaks with a travel trailer. 

Loading and Securing Kayaks on the Trailer

  • Position your travel trailer on a level surface near a clear area where you can safely load the kayaks.

  • Use ramps to lift the kayaks onto the kayak carriers or roof racks, ensuring they are centered and balanced. 

  • Attach the kayak carriers or roof rack straps to the kayak hulls, making sure they are snug but not overly tight. 

  • Secure the kayaks using tie-down straps, passing them over and under the kayak carriers or roof racks. Tighten the straps evenly to prevent any shifting or movement during transit. 

  • Double-check the security of the straps and ensure the kayaks are firmly in place.

Attaching the Trailer Hitch

  • Back your travel trailer into position and align the hitch receiver on your vehicle with the trailer hitch. 

  • Lower the trailer hitch onto the receiver, ensuring that the hitch coupler engages securely. 

  • Lock the hitch coupler in place using a hitch lock or pin, depending on the type of hitch you have. 

  • Cross-check the connection by applying slight pressure to ensure the hitch is properly seated and locked in place.

Checking the Kayak and Trailer Before Traveling: 

  • Inspect the kayak carriers, tie-down straps, and roof racks for any signs of wear, damage, or loosening. 

  • Ensure that the kayak hulls are clean, free from debris, and securely fastened to the carriers or roof racks. 

  • Check the tire pressure, tread condition, and any signs of damage. Verify that the trailer lights are functioning correctly. 

  • Confirm that the trailer brake lights, turn signals, and reflectors are working properly by having someone observe them while you operate the vehicle’s controls.

Driving with a Kayak Trailer

  • Adjust your driving style to accommodate the additional length and weight of the kayak trailer. Take wider turns and maintain a safe following distance. We always suggest doing a little driving in a familiar and open area when you are first learning to drive with a trailer. This will help you get the hang of things before setting out on the open road or larger highways.

  • Be aware of any height restrictions, such as low bridges or parking garages, and choose routes that accommodate the height of your trailer. 

  • Periodically check the rear view and side-view mirrors to monitor the kayaks and trailer during your journey.

  • Take breaks at regular intervals to inspect the kayaks, trailer, and tie-down straps for any signs of loosening or damage.

Safety Tips for Carrying Kayaks with a Travel Trailer

Carrying kayaks with a travel trailer allows you to explore stunning waterways and enjoy outdoor adventures. However, it’s crucial to prioritize utmost safety during your journey. Let’s discuss some important safety tips to keep in mind when carrying kayaks with a travel trailer.

Ensuring the Kayak and Trailer Are Stable

Before hitting the road, double-check that your kayaks are securely fastened to the carriers or roof racks. Verify that all tie-down straps are tightened adequately, preventing any movement or shifting of the kayaks during transit. A stable kayak and trailer setup is essential to maintain balance, reduce the risk of accidents, and protect your kayaks from potential damage.

Maintaining the Right Speed When Driving with a Kayak Trailer

Maintaining an appropriate speed is crucial when towing a kayak trailer. It’s recommended to drive at a moderate speed, well within the legal limits, to ensure better control and stability. Avoid excessive speeds, especially when encountering curves, uneven terrain, or windy conditions. Driving at a moderate speed allows you to react to unexpected situations and helps minimize the risk of swaying or instability.  

Taking Turns Slowly and Cautiously

Taking turns while towing a kayak trailer requires extra care and attention. Approach turns slowly and reduce your speed before entering the curve. Taking turns too quickly can cause the trailer to sway or create instability, potentially endangering both your vehicle and the kayaks. Remember to account for the increased length and width of your trailer when maneuvering around corners. 

Checking the Kayak and Trailer Periodically During the Trip

Regularly checking the kayak and trailer during your trip is crucial for safety. Take breaks at intervals to inspect the kayaks for any signs of loosening, damage, or shifting. Ensure that the tie-down straps remain secure and tight. Examine the trailer tires and check the trailer lights to ensure they are functioning correctly. Conducting these periodic checks will help you address any potential issues promptly and ensure the continued safety of your kayaks and trailer.

A few of our recommendations…

After thirty years of kayaking in oceans, rivers and lakes around the world we have found a few favorite products that perform better than the others. As mentioned above, it is always a good idea to check your local second-hand stores for available kayaks or trailers. But in the event you buy new here are a few of our top picks…

  • This is hands down the best kayak on the market. We love it because it is small and agile and easy for our kids to maneuver. We have had ours for years and it is still in perfect condition despite a lot of wear and tear.

  • While a hard shelled kayak or canoe is preferable, these inflatable kayaks are a great and less expensive alternative. We have had a lot of fun in these and they are lightweight and easy to assemble.

  • This is the best storage rack that can be easily stored and assembled. We can move it from the outside to inside the garage with ease, and it can store three kayaks or paddle and surfboards.

  • This travel trailer for kayaks is excellent and works on a variety of cars and trucks. It is easy to use and has never let us down.

  • While this is not a kayak we are huge fans of stand-up paddle boards and the kids love putting our dog on the front and heading out for a paddle. This paddle board is light, compact and easy to use and the entire family gets a lot of use out of it.

Conclusion…

Carrying kayaks with a travel trailer offers a multitude of benefits and opens up endless possibilities for water-based adventures. We discussed the importance of traveling with kayaks, including the ability to explore diverse waterways, access remote locations, and enjoy the convenience of having your kayaks readily available wherever you go. By carrying kayaks with a travel trailer, you can enhance your outdoor experiences and create unforgettable memories with family and friends.  Taking our kayaks with us has become one of our families favorite ways to recreate with ease and decreased expense and we highly recommend it!

We recommend that you invest in essential tools and equipment, such as kayak carriers, tie-down straps, hitch locks, and roof racks to help you securely transport your kayaks. Follow the step-by-step loading and securing instructions provided above and perform regular checks during your trip. By adhering to these recommendations, you can enjoy worry-free travels, knowing that your kayaks and trailer are well-maintained and secure. We hope you can make your future journeys in confidence and make lasting memories in the great outdoors.

Happy kayaking!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the maximum weight capacity of a travel trailer for carrying kayaks?

The average weight of a kayak trailer is about 200 pounds. Depending on the number of kayaks the travel trailer is designed to carry — one, two, four or more – the maximum weight a trailer can carry can be anywhere from 200 to 1000 pounds.

Can any travel trailer be used for carrying kayaks?

Yes! You can carry your kayaks using a variety of types of travel trailers. There are many items like roof racks or back racks available for purchase that will help carry your kayaks on your travel trailer.

Should kayaks be on a roof or trailer?

A kayak trailer is the best and safest way to transport kayaks over long distances as they securely lock onto your car. With a roof rack system, there is always a risk of your kayak flying off the roof if the fastening straps aren’t tightened correctly, but it can be done safely if secured properly.

How often should I check the kayaks and trailers during the trip?

It is wise to make regular checks during your trip to ensure your kayaks are well strapped in place. If you do a good enough job securing everything in place then you should not have anything to worry about. Be well versed in the dimensions of your truck and load weight and set your speed accordingly. 

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