Apart from the fact that Steven is a car mechanic, we value his experience as an avid camper. Steven knows for sure how to make the most out of any space in your vehicle.
Last updated: June 02, 2021
Do you want to transport a kayak, but your truck bed isn’t quite up to the job? If so, you need to invest in the best kayak rack for truck. They will allow you to carry your kayak easier than ever before in a highly secure and stable way. Kayak racks for trucks need a high quality level, so trying to find the right one for you can be tough. To help you find your ideal kayak ladder rack, we’ve completed this list of the top-rated products.
What makes the best kayak rack for a pickup truck? We closely looked at the type of mounting, the material used, weight capacity, and color while also checking the key specifications of height, width, and weight. Our in-depth analysis contains everything you need to know about getting the right option. All that’s left to do is read on and find the best kayak rack for your truck. Let’s get started!
"While some truck racks require installation, with this product, you have four load mounts/stops that can be removed easily.800 pounds weight capacity.Includes zinc-plated hardware.Aluminum construction."
There are many reasons why we think this is the best kayak truck rack around. It can mount easily to almost all trucks with the set of 8 clamps it features, and it gives a very secure fit that won’t rattle around while you are driving. Next, the aluminum frame is very solid and able to support up to 800lbs.
It comes in a sandy white color that matches up very well with the color of most trucks. At 28” high, the kayaks are going to be well clear of the truck with plenty of space for storage underneath. It gives you everything you need for kayak transportation. The build quality is exceptional, and it’s not going to let you down.
What are our favorite features? The assembly of this truck rack is fairly simple, and you should have it installed in no time at all. If there is an issue, then the customer service will sort it out quickly. It ticks all the right boxes and offers exceptional value for money.
What could be better? There is very little to dislike, but the powder coating is quite thin and scratches easily. This is only a minor issue on an otherwise brilliant kayak rack for truck beds.
Here, we see a brilliant option for anyone looking to extend their truck bed. It has 4 quick-release pins that are all very easy to use and allow you to get the perfect set up for your kayak. It’s made from steel, which gives it exceptional durability that is shown by its 750lbs weight capacity.
It comes in a stylish black color but has reflectors on the back to warn other drivers along with a pink flag. It has a good level of adjustability and weighs a lot less than many other racks that are suitable for carrying a kayak.
What are its best features? This is the best truck rack for kayaks for anyone looking for an extender. The lightweight frame is very strong but is also easy to remove for storage. Also, the safety features are good, meaning you can drive with this in confidence.
What could be improved? The pins that secure the rack aren’t completely tight. This isn’t a big issue and is more of an annoyance. You can secure the rack with bolts, but this will make it harder to remove quickly.
This is a premium-quality rack that can cope with a very high weight capacity of up to 800lbs. That should be more than enough to carry your kayaks, and it will keep them clear of your truck easily with the 30″ height level.
It’s made from aluminum, and that keeps the weight down to 38lbs. The sliding stops make it very easy to secure your load, and you won’t have to worry about it while traveling. It’s easily mounted with the clamps, and you shouldn’t have any issues installing it.
What do we love it for? As soon as you have this kayak rack installed, you’ll appreciate just how sturdy it is and why it can hold such a high capacity. The packaging is high-quality, so there is very little chance of damage.
What were we disappointed with? While the overall build quality is quite high, the welding quality in some parts isn’t quite as good as it should be. It feels very solid, but you might have questions about its long-term durability.
Here is another kayak rack for pickup trucks that use extenders. It attaches via the hitch pins and has a weight capacity of 350lbs, which is less than some of its rivals but should be enough for your kayaks.
It’s made of highly durable steel that is painted black to give it a high level of corrosion resistance. The adjustability means you should be able to lay your kayak pretty flat. The rack also comes with a flag to warn fellow motorists that you’re carrying a long load.
What do we love it for? The level of quality throughout this kayak rack for a truck hitch is incredible, and it will take a lot of punishment. It will give you secure storage, which is helped by the attached ratchet strap loops. Also, the rack is easy to store away when not in use.
What were we disappointed with? While the flag seems like a good safety feature, it’s not very well made, and seemingly it isn’t going to last long. You’ll also want to ensure you have the hitch pins as they aren’t included.
TMS has also been able to produce an excellent universal rack. It will require some drilling for mounting, so you’ll want to ensure you have the tool available before you get started. Once you do, the installation isn’t going to be too difficult.
It’s made from durable steel, and with that, it can hold up to 800 lbs. On top of that, it is coated in black paint and can reach heights of up to 30″. It comes in at a weight of 55.6lbs, which is a little heavier than other racks out there. It has a good level of adjustability, so you should have no issue with getting your kayaks onboard.
What makes it special? The higher weight shows this is a very heavy-duty rack that is built to last. While it is good for kayaks, it can transport anything that you need. That helps to give it great value for money and allow you to carry your gear in confidence.
What cons did we find? While we didn’t notice any issues, quite a few users have reported that the unit has been damaged upon delivery. This is only cosmetic damage, and thankfully, this only seems to affect a small number of people.
MaxxHaul has made this truck rack that doesn’t quite have the weight capacity of other options we’ve seen but should be more than enough to hold your kayaks at 400lbs. It needs to be mounted with base brackets, and once installed, it will stand around 26” tall.
It’s made from aluminum and weighs around 55lbs. It will do a great job of securing any load, and the adjustable cargo bumpers make it very easy to use. Thus, the construction of the rack makes it very sturdy, and it will easily cope with repeated use.
What makes it special? If speed is an issue for you, then you’ll appreciate this rack. Not only is this easy to assemble, but it’s also easy to take down and store when not in use. You won’t have any issues with whistling or rattling while traveling, and it’s a solid and reliable rack.
What cons did we find? While it’s not a huge issue, some users have noted some corrosion, which can ruin the aesthetics a little. You also have to be mindful that the weight limit isn’t quite as high as on some other models.
This is another contender for the best kayak rack for truck nomination for anyone looking for high weight capacity. At 800lbs, it will easily carry anything, and it does that while having a relatively low product weight of 44lbs.
It’s made from a high-quality aluminum, and the overall construction of the truck is impressive. The width is a little smaller than some other, but that is why this is possible the best kayak rack for small trucks. It works very well and can easily carry your kayak to your favorite spot.
What makes it special? This is one of the easiest kayak racks to install, and it can be completed by just one person. It offers brilliant value for money due to the high-quality construction. The adjustability is fairly simple, and you’ll quickly be able to secure your kayaks and anything else you want to carry.
What cons did we find? While the build quality is great, they have a couple of sharp edges that you need to be mindful on. It’s easy to scratch yourself, but other than that, it’s a kayak rack that’s not going to cause you any issues.
This kayak ladder rack from Thule is another impressive model that is easy to fix onto your truck with the attached clamps. The pickup kayak rack is made from high-grade aluminum that can hold up to 800lbs.
The load stops work very well, and they will hold any load you have tightly. The shape of the bars also means a minimal amount of drag with no whistling. The drill-free installation makes it very easy to set up, and you’ll be traveling with your kayak in no time at all.
What do we love it for? Along with the bright aluminum finish, there is a black rack available, which looks fantastic. The ease of use here is very high, both in terms of adjustability and installation. The construction level is very high, and it can take a lot of punishment.
What were we disappointed with? While the frame of this kayak rack offers up exceptional quality, the same can’t be said for the mounting screws. They can get a little loose and require checking on each trip to make sure they are still tight.
This is the final pickup kayak rack, but it still has a long list of great qualities. It attaches via clamps for secure and easy installation. It’s another product made from aluminum and has a durability that will withstand many trips with your kayak.
It weighs just 41.9lbs despite this being one of the widest and highest racks in the market. The load stops have high adjustability to get the perfect fit with the nuts and bolts and a high level of quality. It all adds up to exceptional stability, allowing you to travel with confidence.
What are its best features? The most impressive aspect of this kayak rack is just how solid it is. It’s a large rock, but you don’t have to worry about any wobbling of the frame. All of this comes at a great price, and that makes it excellent value for money.
What could be improved? The stops have excellent adjustability but don’t go neat to the ends of the top rail, meaning the available space is narrower than it could be. It’s rarely going to be an issue, but something worth noting.
Things to Consider
Getting the wrong kayak rack for your truck could be an expensive mistake, and you want to get it right the first time. That’s why it’s important to look at all the key features in detail and see how they apply to you. In this buying guide, we’ll go through all of those key features while also answering the FAQs. By the end, you should have a clear idea of what to expect from your kayak rack and how to choose the one that most closely matches your needs.
Advantages of kayak racks for trucks
There are many advantages of using a kayak rack for truck, and here, we look at the main reasons.
Maximize storage space – Having one of these roof racks will allow you to use your truck bed to store any other items you need. It maximizes storage space and allows you to take everything you need.
Versatility – As well as kayaks, these racks can also carry a lot more gear. That gives you versatility, and you’ll find plenty of uses for one of these racks.
Prevent damage – Having the kayaks securely attached to the rack will prevent any damage that may otherwise happen to your truck.
Highest security – Having a dedicated rack is going to be the most secure way to carry your kayak. You’ll be able to travel with confidence, knowing that your kayak isn’t going to be moving around.
Simple installation – Installation on most of these kayak racks is going to be fairly simple, and you’ll have it up in no time at all. Along with that, taking them down is also simple, so you can store them away with ease when they’re not in use.
How to pick the best pickup kayak rack?
There are two key aspects to choosing the best pickup kayak rack. First, you have to get a rack that fits the dimensions of your truck. Secondly, you can look at the features to see which rack is going to be the best option for your kayaks. After checking the compatibility, you want to look at the material used, the maximum weight load it can take, the weight of the unit, and the height it has, among other factors. Finally, you may want to check it has the right color for your truck and any other features, such as an aerodynamic design.
The most important thing to know is whether the rack that you want is going to fit your truck. The key measurement for this is going to be the width of the rack. You should also check the mounting system to see if it can be installed on your truck.
While some truck racks are made to fit specific vehicles, others have a universal design and can be fitted to a wide range of different models. We see this with the TMS 800LB Universal Pick Up Truck Ladder Rack, which is great for those not certain about the measurements.
Truck computability is a step that you want to tick off before moving on. Not all of these truck racks are going to fit all types of trucks.
You’ll also want to check how the kayak rack is going to be mounted. Many of these systems will use a clamp system. We see this with the AA-Racks Model APX25, which uses 8 different clamps to give you a secure fit. Others may not use clamps and instead require you drillings holes to be able to clamp the rack.
Drilling holes can be more secure, but also it requires a permanent change to your truck and can make it slower to take down. You’ll also want to see how the various pieces fit together. Nuts and bolts can give you security and stability but can make it hard to remove quickly. That’s why many models will use pins instead, which aren’t as secure but are quicker and easier to use.
There are two main types of material used with these racks, and they are either aluminum or steel. The difference between these two materials comes down to a simple trade-off. Steel is stronger and harder than aluminum and less likely to warp. The downside is that steel is much heavier and denser than aluminum. It will also corrode much quicker if not protected.
In practice, there’s not a lot between the two materials as you’ll see thinner steel used. This means that two racks made from different materials will still have similar strength and weight. For an aluminum rack, the Erickson Truck Rack is a great example. If you want a steel rack instead, you can’t go wrong with the TMS 800LB Universal Pick Up Truck Ladder Rack.
Max weight load
A single kayak will probably weigh around 30-40lbs, but big fishing kayaks can weigh over 100lbs. Due to this, the max weight load probably isn’t going to be an issue as even if you’re transporting four kayaks, these racks would be able to cope easily.
If you had thoughts of carrying more than a single kayak, then max weight load may become more of an issue. The
is a great example of a heavy-duty model, as this can carry weight up to 800lbs with no problem at all. If it’s just one kayak you’re carrying, then the minimum weight load of any of these racks exceeds 300lbs, so it won’t be an issue.
We’ve already looked at one key dimension, and that is the width. Many of these truck racks are adjustable, and that will allow them to fit on a wide range of trucks.
Along with the width, it’s also a good idea to see how high the kayak racks are going to be.
Most of these truck racks will sit between 26” and 30”, which would be an ideal fit for most trucks. The Erickson Aluminum Truck Rack, however, is very high at 34”, which may look a little too big on some trucks, whereas on larger trucks, it may be the perfect fit. It’s worth thinking for a moment about the ideal height for your truck.
A lot of people don’t like to have a kayak rack permanently installed on their truck. That extra weight will change the balance of the car, cause drag at higher speed, and also mean more fuel being used.
If you plan on taking your rack down after each kayak trip, then you’ll want that to be as easy as possible, and weight can be a factor in that.
The ECOTRIC Pick Up Truck Bed Hitch Extender at only 27.5lbs is a good example of a light rack. Even the heaviest models here are pretty easy to remove for two people. If you plan on removing your rack, then check how easy it is to do this and how much it weighs.
You’ll probably want a kayak rack that matches the color of your truck. For some, this won’t be an issue, especially if you have a more colorful truck, such as red or blue, as these options are incredibly hard to find. If you do want a color match, then there are a few options out there.
Most come in just one color, which is often the bare metal silver or a powder-coated black finish. The Thule TracRac TracOne is unique as this comes with both of these options. It offers you a little more choice compared to other models.
What else should I check?
The kayak racks usually come with load stops to hold whatever you’re carrying. You must find out how adjustable these stops are and how easy they are to use. Most are simple to operate and give you a secure fit.
Checking the shape of the rack can also be useful. Some have a more rounded aerodynamic shape, which will reduce drag. Also, any exposed holes in a rack can cause a loud whistling sound, which you’ll don’t want to happen.
Aside from that, it’s also a good idea to check what hardware comes with the rack. Some manufacturers include nuts, bolts, or pins, so you won’t have to buy them separately.
Even with a basic level of skill, you should have little issue with mounting the kayak ladder rack yourself. In terms of what you need, you’ll likely require a hammer, tape measure, screwdriver, and a wrench. You may also require a drill, but there are a few models out there that can be installed without one. Your rack should come with an instruction manual, which will be fairly easy to follow. Installing it on your own is possible, but if you can, use a second pair of hands, as getting these bars into position can be tricky on your own due to their weight and size.
That will often depend on how easy they are fit. Unfortunately, if they are simple to remove for storage purposes, then they are going to be simple to steal. Those with mounting clamps and pins are going to be fairly easy to take off. The best way to protect them is to take them off and store them when not in use. Those with screws, nuts, and bolts can be harder to steal if they are fixed very tightly. Locks can be used to deter thieves, but this is never a sure way of securing a roof rack. If you’re worried, then it’s best to simply remove it when not in use.
Due to their high weight capacity, these racks can be used for a lot more than kayaks. Along with kayaks, they can be used for other types of sport equipment, such as canoes and surfboards. You would also be able to attach bikes to them as well. There are plenty of non-recreational uses for these racks. They are ideal for carrying ladders, timber, and other building materials. With a weight capacity of up to 800lbs, the possibilities are endless, which helps to give these racks brilliant versatility. If you just wanted to use them for kayaks, then they are perfect for that too.
All of the kayak truck racks we’ve looked at here have a very high level of quality. As our top pick, we have the AA-Racks Model APX25, as this mixes in fantastic usability with the highest level of quality at a great price.
For those who need a heavy-duty model that can handle a lot more than just a kayak, the Apex ATR-RACK Ladder Rack can be a brilliant option.
Hopefully, by now, the buying guide has given you a clear idea of which type of track you should get. With the best kayak rack for truck, you will enjoy all the benefits it gives to transport anything you need effortlessly.