11 Best Kayak Racks for Trucks

truck with kayak on roof on the side of the road

Kayaks are one of the best ways to explore coastal and inland waterways. They’re easy to use, stable, and enjoyable to paddle, and there are lots of different types to choose from.

Depending on your needs, there are kayaks for fishing, touring, racing, or recreation. There are also sit-in and sit-on kayaks and even folding and inflatable kayaks too.

But, except for the last two, you’ll need a way to transport your kayak from your home to the water’s edge, which means a trailer or roof rack. In this article, we’re looking for the best kayak rack for trucks.

In a lot of ways, roof racks are easier to use than trailers. Towing a trailer can significantly affect how your truck handles, and reversing is a skill that many drivers find challenging to master. Also, when you get home, you’ll need space to store your trailer and your kayak.

Kayak racks come in all shapes and sizes to suit most kayakers needs and, generally, are a whole lot more user friendly than most trailers.

We’ve tried and tested the best kayak racks for trucks to make choosing the right one a whole lot easier!

11 Best Kayak Racks for Trucks

AMP
$257.60
$276.90
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3 used from $217.23
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$101.29
in stock
16 new from $101.29
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$799.95
in stock
7 new from $799.95
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TMS
$179.95
in stock
2 new from $179.95
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$111.52
in stock
1 new from $111.52
6 used from $83.64
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$93.00
in stock
1 new from $93.00
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out of stock
Amazon.com
$145.99
in stock
23 new from $123.75
Amazon.com
$69.99
in stock
2 new from $69.99
8 used from $56.05
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Free shipping
$254.90
$269.99
in stock
1 new from $254.90
2 used from $249.99
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$330.00
in stock
1 new from $330.00
Amazon.com
Last updated on November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

1. AMP Research HD 

AMP

$276.90
$257.60  in stock
60 new from $255.99
3 used from $217.23
Free shipping
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • Classic U-Shaped design for maximum cargo capacity
  • Flip it out with the tailgate open to gain up to 2-feet of enclosed cargo area or flip it inside and close the tailgate to keep tools and smaller cargo contained in the truck bed
  • Torque-resistant clam-shell design with composite uprights and rounded-rectangle, 6063 T6 aluminum alloy tubes with durable powder coat finish
  • Easy assembly and installation
  • Made in the USA and backed by a 3-year limited warranty

This product provides an easy way to extend your truck bed so you can transport your kayak in the back of your pickup. This will decrease wind resistance and won’t affect either truck handling or performance.

Key Features

  • U-shaped design for maximum space
  • Extends truck bed by around two feet
  • Easy assembly and installation
  • Available to fit most trucks
  • Made in the USA and backed with a three-year limited warranty

If your kayak doesn’t quite fit in your truck bed, this is the carrier you want. It allows you to drive with your tailgate down and stops anything in your truck bed sliding out. Because of this, it’s not just a kayak carrier for trucks but improves general carrying capacity too.

Pros

  • Quality product
  • An excellent alternative to roof racks
  • Makes loading and unloading easier
  • Won’t affect truck handling or performance

Cons

  • Not specifically designed for carrying kayaks
  • Won’t accommodate longer kayaks
  • Kayak will still need to be tied down to stop it from sliding from side to side

If you’ve got a compact kayak and don’t want to strap it to the roof of your vehicle, this truck bed extender is an option worth considering. But, if you are looking for a dedicated kayak holder for trucks, this is not the product you want.

2. Darby Industries

Darby

$101.29  in stock
16 new from $101.29
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • Designed for secure and safe hauling of long loads
  • Features a 4 Feet wide support
  • Can be stored flat behind the seat when not in use
  • Features adjustable height for roof top hauling
  • Comes with a red flag

All but the most compact kayaks are considerably longer than the average truck bed. This means if you put your kayak in the back of your truck, at least some of its weight will be unsupported. That is unless you use this innovative truck bed extender by Darby Industries!

Key Features

  • Four feet wide support arm
  • Extends 53” from hitch
  • Adjustable height for roof haulage
  • Fold-flat design for easy storage
  • Comes with a receiver hitch
  • Supplied with a long load warning flag

This easy to use product means you can put your kayak on a suitable roof rack or in your truck bed and then support it, so it won’t bend or break in the middle. With very few working parts, this rack is easy to install, use, and remove.

Pros

  • Simple, practical design
  • Made to last
  • Light yet strong construction
  • Won’t affect handling
  • It can be used to transport any long item, including ladders, logs, etc.

Cons

  • Long kayaks will extend a long way out behind your truck
  • Can only carry one kayak

Providing you remember it’s there, this rack offers an easy and safe way to transport even a very long kayak. But, because your boat will hang way out the back of your truck bed, you’ll need to take extra care when parking, turning, and in traffic.

3. Thule Xsporter Truck Rack

Thule

$799.95  in stock
7 new from $799.95
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • Your purchase includes Two Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum Truck Racks, 500XT model | Four One-Key lock cylinders & crossbars
  • Truck rack dimensions – 16” W x 71” L x 29” H | Max weight load – 450 lbs. of evenly distributed weight (Vehicle limits may vary, please review your vehicle owners manual)
  • AirTrip Technology is integrated into the bar to redirect airflow for superior aerodynamics
  • WindDiffuser technology disturbs airflow to reduce noise and drag for improved fuel economy
  • CustomAdjust Bar Height provides maximum carrying versatility for easy loading, carrying and storage

Thule makes some of the best transporters, roof boxes, and roof racks available. Never cheap, these are high-quality products that should last many years. These roof racks for trucks are strong, versatile, and provide an easy way to carry your kayak on top of your vehicle.

Key Features

  • High weight capacity – 450 lbs.
  • Curved profile to cut down on wind resistance and noise
  • Lockable for security
  • Height adjustable for various set-ups and configurations
  • Adjustable width crossbars to hold kayak securely

Kayak racks for pickups don’t come much better than this model from Thule. Because they are adjustable, you can alter the height and length to suit your truck and how you prefer to carry your kayak. Very well made, this could be the only kayak rack you ever need to buy.

Pros

  • Made to last (and last, and last!)
  • Lockable for increased security
  • Easy and versatile to use
  • Perfect for kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and even small boats

Cons

  • Expensive

If you are looking for one of the best truck kayak transporters, the Thule Xsporter Truck Rack is worth looking at. It’s not cheap, but it’s one of the strongest racks around, and it should provide many years of reliable and faithful service.

4. TMS Universal 

TMS

$179.95  in stock
2 new from $179.95
Free shipping
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • Easy to install.
  • Some drilling required.
  • Max Height: 30" Plus the height of your truck bed.
  • Width: Adjustable for most pickup trucks (Adjustable width from 5' feet minimum to 7' feet maximum)

This rack is not a purpose made kayak holder for trucks, but that doesn’t mean it can be used for one. Wide, sturdy, and easy to use, it provides a convenient way to transport your kayak securely above your truck bed, leaving plenty of free space for additional equipment.

Key Features

  • Adjustable to fit most truck beds
  • Easy to install
  • Made from strong but light tubing
  • 800lb weight capacity
  • Adjustable height up to 30” above the level of the truck bed
  • Built-in cinch points for secure tie-downs

This truck rack is ideal for kayaks, paddleboards, and anything else that’s too long to fit in your truck bed. It’s well-priced but also lacks some of the features that make other kayak racks so easy to use. A decent product for the budget-conscious buyer.

Pros

  • Simple to assemble and install
  • Strong and secure
  • Universal fit
  • Could hold two kayaks side by side
  • Kayaks can also be strapped to the side instead of on top to carry four

Cons

  • Has to be screwed into place, so not easy to remove
  • Joints in tubes prone to corrosion
  • Allen bolts are metric and not American, so make sure you’ve got the right tools for assembly

This well-priced kayak rack is ideal for anyone who doesn’t mind fitting their carrier and leaving it in place. The good news is it’s not too obtrusive and won’t have a negative impact on how your truck looks or performs.

5. MaxxHaul Hitch Mount 

MaxxHaul

$111.52  in stock
1 new from $111.52
6 used from $83.64
Free shipping
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • Extends your truck bed for carrying longer payloads, designed to fit 2-Inch hitch receivers
  • Adjustable length and width gives versatility for use in many different applications
  • Features 4 quick release clevis pins for quick assembly and disassembly
  • Reflective tape on front and sides for visibility and safety
  • Side arms can be folded down creating the supports for a portable work area

This easy to fit hitch rack extends the length of your truck bed and is designed to support the end of your kayak that hangs out over the end of your vehicle. Easy to fit and remove, this is the ideal solution for pickup owners who don’t want to put a kayak up on a roof rack.

Key Features

  • Attaches to the tow hitch receiver
  • Adjustable length
  • Quick-release pins for speedy assembly
  • Reflective tape for increased visibility
  • Easy to fold away when not needed
  • Can be used on trucks and RVs

This might not be a specially designed RV kayak rack, but so long as you have a tow hook, it should fit. It can also be used to extend a truck bed. Such versatility means you may only need to buy one kayak rack, even if you have two different types of vehicles.

Pros

  • Easy to fit
  • No need to drill any holes
  • Strong, stable, and made to last
  • Very well priced
  • Suitable for carrying kayaks, paddleboards, ladders, and any other long but narrow payload.

Cons

  • Not wide enough for more than one kayak
  • Won’t work without a hitch receiver

If you’ve got a tow hitch on your truck or RV, this kayak carrier will work on your vehicle. Easy to install and quick to take apart and remove, this product is ideal for short journeys with a single kayak. However, if you want to drive far or fast or carry more than one kayak, you’ll need something a little more substantial than this budget-friendly option.

6. ECOTRIC Foldable 

ECOTRIC

$93.00  in stock
1 new from $93.00
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • Function: Expand your vehicle's loading length another 4 FEET. Rated for 400lbs of distributed weight.
  • As long as there's a 2" square hitch receiver, it will be suitable for any short-bed truck, van, SUV, or other vehicle capable of hauling large loads.
  • Fold the extender when not in use for space saving storage. To get a classic non-foldable extender, you can search for the ASIN B07ZTGSQ6T.
  • Dimensions: Extender is 46" x 50.2" x 18.1" when installed and 46" x 5" x 7" when collapsed.
  • Black powder coated, making it rust resistant and features two welded loops on the cross bar (one on each side).

To fit a kayak in your truck bed, you’ll probably need to drop the tailgate and leave it down. Even then, maybe as much as half of your kayak will be hanging out in free space. That’s not safe, and it’s not good for your kayak, either. This truck bed extender helps support your kayak, making transportation a whole lot safer.

Key Features

  • Rated for up to 400lbs
  • Easy to fit into a tow hitch receiver
  • Suitable for any short-bed van, truck, or SUV
  • Folds away when not in use
  • Width and height are both adjustable
  • Powder-coated and not painted for increased corrosion resistance

Using this product extends your truck bed, so your overhanging kayak has all the support it needs not to bend or break during transport. You’ll need to secure it to stop it from moving, but you should arrive at your destination with your kayak in perfect condition and without adversely affecting the performance or handling of your truck.

Pros

  • Low wind resistance
  • Easy to load/unload
  • Well-made product
  • Will hold two kayaks side-by-side
  • Compact design that folds down to save space when not in use

Cons

  • Won’t work unless you have a tow hitch receiver
  • Only the height is adjustable, and not the length
  • Very vague installation instructions

This easy to use truck bed extender makes transporting your kayak or paddleboard a breeze. With no high roof rack to lift your kayak onto, it’s perfect for solo paddlers and anyone who doesn’t want to perform a weightlifting move to stow their boat. It’s also very budget-friendly.

7. AA-Racks 

AA-Racks

 out of stock
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • Universal design to fit a variety of full-size pickup trucks, NOT COMPATIBLE with trucks with Utility Track Systems
  • Durable, reinforced heavy duty aluminum construction 71" wide x 28" high
  • The Cantilever mounts to the crossbars and provides 38 inches of additional carrying capacity
  • The tested loading capacity of 800 lbs when evenly distributed across both racks and installed correctly
  • No drilling required, easy installation with unique mounting clamps (set of 8 clamps included)

A lot of pickup kayak racks support your kayak on two bars only. That’s okay if you have a lightweight kayak. But if you’ve loaded your kayak with supplies for the weekend, all that weight on two loading points could damage the hull. This AA rack supports your kayak on three points, spreading the load better and reducing the risk of hull damage.

Key Features

  • Universal design to fit most truck beds
  • Clamps securely in place – not need to drill holes
  • 800lbs loading capacity
  • Adjustable holders for secure, stable transportation
  • Available in black or silver

If the idea of drilling holes in your truck bed is unappealing, this rack is for you. It clamps into position in seconds and can be removed just as quick. Despite this, it’s still very sturdy and can comfortably support even two fully-loaded kayaks.

Pros

  • Not permanently attached to your truck
  • Easy to install and remove
  • Very strong
  • Wide enough for two kayaks side-by-side
  • Well-made and durable
  • Fits most trucks

Cons

  • Could be easily stolen

This kayak mount for trucks is very easy to install and remove, and that’s a double-edged sword. It’s great knowing you can fix this rack to your vehicle in seconds, but an opportunistic thief could also remove it just as quickly, and there is no way to secure it in place. That minor issue aside, this is an excellent kayak rack.

8. Lund Hitch Mounted

Lund

$145.99  in stock
23 new from $123.75
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • Allows to carry extended length cargo
  • Provides additional 7 inch ground clearance
  • Creates portable sawhorse
  • Includes flag and red reflective tape
  • Fits standard 2 inch receiver hitch

This product allows you to extend your truck bed by about four feet, making it long enough for even long touring kayaks. Easy to fit and remove, this is an excellent rack for anyone who prefers to transport their kayak in the bed of their truck and not on top of it.

Key Features

  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Fits a standard hitch receiver
  • Department of Transport approved
  • 750lbs load capacity
  • Adjustable width
  • Vertical side wings to keep the kayak from sliding side to side
  • Includes a safety flag and reflective tape for increased visibility

A tow hitch truck bed extender means you can carry a kayak without having to struggle and lift it onto your roof. On the downside, it also means your truck bed will be full of kayak, so you may not have much space for carrying other equipment. This is not an issue with racks that raise your kayak above the truck bed.

Pros

  • Light but solid construction
  • Easy to fit, use, and remove
  • Should fit all widths
  • Provides good support for even the longest kayak
  • Holds kayak securely in place

Cons

  • Kayak will still need to be tied down
  • Will only take a single kayak

Providing you only want to transport a single kayak, this truck bed extender is an excellent option. Easy to load and unload, as well as install and dismantle, it’s an excellent rack for solo users and should ensure your kayak reaches the water in perfect condition.

9. Leader Accessories 

Leader

$69.99  in stock
2 new from $69.99
8 used from $56.05
Free shipping
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • DOUBLE KAYAK RACK: 4PCS set Kayak Rack to help you save cargo space and keep your kayak safe during long drive on the way to the destination.
  • HEAVY DUTY: Doesn't fit ROUND BAR. Steel construction with power coated, makes the rack stronger and not easy to get rust. Maximum Lock tight on your kayak, Canoe, 8 Ft long, 150 Lbs Tested, easy and safe for your transport.
  • REDUCE SCRATCH: Extra foam padded design to reduce any scratch and prevent the cannoe or kayak from rubbing
  • MULTI PURPOSE USE: Easy to Install, use this car roof rack to carry Kayak, Canoe, Suif board, Ski board, Snow Board and SUP
  • Extra 4 pcs tie down straps including.

This vertical kayak roof rack is perfect if you’ve already got horizontal roof bars on your truck. It’s designed to hold your kayak on its side, which is a good way to drain it of water on your way back home. Light and easy to fit, this is a good option for truck, car, SUV, and RV drivers. All you need is some roof bars.

Key Features

  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Powder-coated for resistance to corrosion
  • Sold in pairs
  • Oval tubing for increased strength and less wind resistance
  • Very easy to fit and remove
  • 150lbs weight capacity
  • Foam padding to avoid stretching your kayak
  • Tie-down straps included

While this roof rack will only hold one kayak, most trucks can accommodate two sets, making it a dual kayak roof rack. Easy to fit, this product will keep your kayak securely in place, even on a long journey.

Pros

  • Well-priced
  • Tried-and-tested design
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to fit, use, remove, and store

Cons

  • Depending on the length of your roof, the racks may be too close together, which puts a lot of stress on the middle of the kayak

A lot of truck roof racks provide several points of support along the length of the boat. This reduces point loading and stress on the hull. With this product, the space between the racks is limited by the length of your roof bars. That’s not an issue for short kayaks but could be a problem for long touring and racing kayaks.

10. AA-Racks Low-Profile

AA Low-Profile

$269.99
$254.90  in stock
1 new from $254.90
2 used from $249.99
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • Low-profile utility rack built for the purpose of carrying bikes, skis, cargo boxes or the SkyRise Rooftop Tent all while preserving valuable cooler-carrying capacity underneath
  • The rack delivers a 300-lb. on-road capacity and AA Products Inc's exclusive new Off-Road Rating for up to 180 lbs
  • The engineered aluminum construction and durable powder-coat finish provide lasting protection from the elements
  • No drilling required, easy installation with universal mounting clamps (set of 8 clamps included)
  • Universal design to fit a variety of full-size pickup trucks, NOT COMPATIBLE with trucks with Utility Track Systems

These low-profile bars fit horizontally across the edges of your truck bed. This keeps your kayak out of the wind and also makes it easier to load and unload. But, on the downside, if you have a small truck or a long kayak, a large part of your boat will hang off the end of your vehicle unsupported. This rack is best for short, recreational kayaks.

Key Features

  • Easy to fit
  • 300lbs weight capacity
  • Made from powder-coated aluminum
  • Held in place by eight clamps – no drilling required
  • Universal design compatible with most trucks
  • Adjustable width fittings to store kayak securely in place

The main advantage of this rack over a truck bed extender is that it leaves you with lots of space beneath your kayak for storage. This is a definite benefit on weekends away or if your truck bed is usually full of stuff, and you don’t want to unpack it whenever you take your kayak down to the water.

Pros

  • Easy to fit, use, and remove
  • Strong and secure
  • Low profile, aerodynamic design
  • Leaves your truck bed free from clutter
  • Well-priced
  • No need to drill holes

Cons

  • The bars won’t be far enough apart to support long touring kayaks and may need to be used in conjunction with a tow hitch extender

If you’ve only got a short kayak, such as a recreational sit-on model, this low-profile set-up should work like a dream. But, if your kayak is more than about ten feet long, this rack won’t provide enough support and isn’t really suitable.

11. ECOTRIC Adjustable

ECOTRIC

$330.00  in stock
1 new from $330.00
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as of November 24, 2020 9:25 pm

Features

  • Heavy lumber and cumbersome steel in the back of your pick-up truck with this durable truck rack. The rack’s universal design fits both long and short bed pick-up trucks and can be installed "no-drill" or permanently for your convenience. The solid steel construction of this truck rack can withstand up to 1000 lb. making it ideal for any shop owner, home craftsman or contractor with a lot of equipment to haul!
  • Fully max load: 1000 lbs.Easy to remove when not in use Heavy duty powder-coat paint resists rust Adjustable center brace for even load distribution
  • Steel construction Multiple tie-down points for straps, bungees, and ropes Adjustable rack fits different sizes of beds Add more utility to your truck.
  • Please note: You will receive 2 packages for your purchase and it may not arrive at your place at the same time, so please be patient with the shipment. Color: Black Material: Steel Weight Capacity: 1000 LB Assembly Required: Yes Overall Dimension: 53"(W) x 138"(L) x 34"(H)
  • Adjustable leg and feet for complete customization Classis design with enhanced features Over cab design for long cargo to be loaded. All necessary installation hardware and instructions are included. Please feel free to contact us for any question, we will reply in one business day.

If you are serious about carrying your kayak as securely as possible, this could be the rack for you. It covers the entire length of your truck so your kayak can be secured and supported from nose to stern. Once fitted, this super-strong full-size rack can support up to 1000lbs, so it’s robust enough for all your outdoor gear transportation needs.

Key Features

  • Sturdy steel construction
  • Powder-coated for corrosion resistance
  • Very strong
  • Full width and length of most trucks, including the cab
  • Universal fit for most trucks
  • Height and width are both adjustable
  • Wide enough for two kayaks

If this product has a downside, it is that it arrives unassembled, and the instructions for putting it together are best described as vague! Most users report that it takes 2-3 hours to fit it. That said, compared to preassembled racks, this one is MUCH cheaper, so that time investment is soon rewarded.

Pros

  • Built to last
  • Provides excellent support for even a log touring kayak
  • Easy to load and use
  • Lots of tie-down points
  • Makes any oversize item easy to transport

Cons

  • Not easy to remove once fitted
  • Fiddly and time-consuming to assemble

This is the sort of truck kayak rack that is best left in place. Putting it on and then removing it again is no easy feat. That said, once it’s on your truck, it’s actually relatively unobtrusive, and you’ll soon forget it’s there. If you want to transport your kayak over long distances while leaving your truck bed free for other gear, this product is worth considering.

Key Information

Consider the following before buying or using a kayak rack for trucks.

How do they work?truck at night time with kayak on the roof racks

There are two main types of kayak racks of trucks – truck bed extenders and racks that hold your kayak above the truck bed. The former means you can load your kayak into your truck using the tailgate, whereas the latter means you’ll need to lift your kayak to above head height to stow it. Both types are typically made from tubular steel or aluminum and are screwed or clamped into place.

Are they adjustable?hand holding a screw driver

Most truck kayak racks are designed to fit a range of trucks, so they are adjustable for height and width. That said, if you are in doubt, you should contact the manufacturer with details of your vehicle (year of manufacture, make, model) to double-check that it’s compatible.

Size options?white truck with roof rack on dark road

Some racks are made for small trucks and RVs, while others are designed for big trucks. Check with the manufacturer to ensure the rack you are thinking of buying will fit your vehicle.

Are they permanent or removable?car on bridge with red kayak on roof

Most racks are removable, but some are easier to remove than others. Those attached with clamps can be taken off in seconds, while some are screwed or bolted into place, making them more laborious to remove. If you want to take your kayak rack off between uses, a model that uses clamps is your best option. Or, buy one that you don’t mind leaving in place.

Do they need to be drilled?cordless drill being used on some wood

Some kayak racks need to be screwed into the sidewalls of your truck bed. While this does provide a very secure fit, it also causes minor damage to your truck bed liner. These holes can be filled and hidden if you decide you want to sell your vehicle. Other models clamp into place and do not damage your truck in any way.

Material options?red van with American flag sun protector

Most kayak racks are made from round, square, or oval steel or aluminum tubing. Aluminum is lighter, whereas steel is more robust. Both materials are usually painted or powder-coated for corrosion resistance. Some also have foam pads to protect your kayak.

Do you need a trailer hitch?old rusted trailer hitch

Some truck bed extenders attach to your vehicle using a towing hitch receiver. Racks that support your kayak above the truck bed do not.

Bottom Line

If you want to experience the ultimate in freedom out on the water, kayaking is one of the best ways to achieve it. With a kayak, paddle, and personal flotation device, you can explore almost any body of water, fish, get fit, enjoy the surf, or just relax.

But, on the downside, unless you live close to the water, you’re going to have to transport your kayak.

You could use a trailer, and trailers are useful if you have several kayaks that you need to take to the water’s edge. However, trailers aren’t the easiest of things to tow, and reversing is not as straightforward as it looks. Plus, you’ll have to try and remember you are pulling a long trailer when you negotiate turns and road junctions. They can soon become a major impediment.

If you need to carry just one or two kayaks, especially if they are light short models, a rack may be a better option. Most racks have no real effect on vehicle handling or performance, and you don’t need to attach and disengage a rack like you do a trailer between uses. In fact, a lot of lacks can be fitted and then left in place indefinitely.

There are lots of different kayak racks available, and some are designed specifically for trucks. They either extend your truck bed or support your kayak above the truck bed and over your cab. Both options work well.

Which is right for you? That’s for you to decide! But, whatever you need, you’ll find the best kayak rack for trucks in our reviews.

For more expert product reviews visit our home page Outdoor Swim.