Outdoor enthusiasts know there’s nothing like the thrill of battling rapids in a kayak or the peace and tranquility that comes from paddling out onto the lake on a calm day. Getting your kayak to those spots however, is another mtatter entirely. Sure you can strap them to your roof using a kayak roof rack or try and jam them into the back of your van or SUV if you’ve got the room, but doing so is more likely to strain your back and cause wear and tear to your kayaks.
Kayaks aren’t exactly known for being the lightest weight objects around and lifting a kayak onto your vehicle’s roof can be a serious struggle. So is trying to wedge kayaks into the cab of your vehicle. In these cases, it might be a better idea to look into a kayak trailer. Whether it’s a single kayak for your self or a whole group of kayaks for the entire family, a kayak trailer can make the whole process of loading and unloading your kayaks much easier and simpler.
We’ve put together this guide to give your our top 10 best kayak trailers along with all the information you’ll need to know before you head out for the water on your next kayaking trip.
Continue reading to see a quick breakdown of our Top 10 Kayak trailers
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When looking to transport your kayaks, one of the many types of kayak trailer is a great way to go. Our top pick the C.E Smith Multi-Sport Trailer Model 48810 has all the features a kayaker could want in a kayak trailer. Able to transport two kayaks with an 800 lb weight limit and padded bumpers the solid steel is suitable to transport even the heaviest and longest kayaks out there or any other boat or sports equipment.
But before we get into the details of these products, let’s dive into some frequently asked questions about kayak trailers and the different types of trailers out there.
Types of Kayak Trailers – Everything You NEED to Know
Kayak trailers come in a variety of types and styles. Each kayak trailer type has a different loading method or way that they store the kayaks when you pull them behind your vehicle. Some are made specifically as a kayak carrier while others are made to carry just about anything from cargo boxes to bicycles and other equipment. Most of them can be pulled by any vehicles with a trailer hitch
We’ll break down the types now
Low Bed Kayak Trailers
Exactly as they sound, low bed kayak trailers are made to be pulled behind a vehicle and are specifically built low to ground to reduce drag on the vehicle. They can typically carry a single kayak and sometimes two kayaks. The low profile of this type of kayak trailer makes them not impact your fuel economy as much as a roof rack or larger trailer options.
Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer
Multi-sport trailers are some of the most versatile trailer options. They generally have more than enough space for kayaks as well as storage area for a bike or other items. These are great for doing multiple activities during one trip and are large enough to hold all your articles of equipment whether you’re kayaking down the amazon or biking down your favorite trail.
Stacked Kayak Trailers
Though they are less aerodynamic, stacked kayak trailers allow you to stack your kayaks on top of each other and carry 3 or even 4 kayaks at a time when transporting them. They are generally separated by spacers and allows you to carry a couple kayaks at a time or more.
Side By Side Kayak Trailers
These types of trailer allow you to carry two or three kayaks side by side. This keeps the ride height low and reduces drag on your vehicle. The extra width of these trailers is ideal for carry multiple kayaks or a boat, bunk boards, or other items without needing a roof rack or other storage space. Many of the products in this category are tailored to fit kayaks without restricting the road capabilities of the trailer or your vehicle.
Multi Kayak Trailer
These are designed with a heavy weight limit and are made to stack kayaks both side by side and stack on top up to 3 or 4 kayaks high. With one of these trailers you can carry a whole family of kayaks or carry kayaks for commercial purposes like selling to a customer or for delivery to a specific location.
Trailer Top Carrier
These are essentially an add-on to an existing standard trailer that allows you to carry one or two kayaks on top of the trailer. This frees up room in the trailer for other items or cargo. The height of the trailer top carrier often allows for access to the trailer for storage of everything else you might need on an outdoor trip .
The 10 Best Kayak Trailers For 2023 (Ultimate Guide)
For this top 10 we found the best kayak trailers in a number of categories and will provide you with not only a basic outline of each listing, but a complete guide to specific facts and details about each one so that when you’re ready to make that final purchase you’ll know everything you need to know to make the right buy.
Our top pick is an excellent choice when wanting to transport one or two kayaks. It has exceptional length and weight capacity for carrying kayaks a small boat or other equipment and the sturdy construction ensures it will last on all your sporting trips. In terms of features, this model has plenty of spots to tie down your craft and the bunks add that extra protection to prevent damaging your kayaks. Our top pick is a good all around option for kayaking enthusiasts.
Incredibly lightweight, twelve foot length to fit most kayaks, galvanized steel construction for durability, holds two kayaks
Despite being made of solid galvanized steel this trailer is surprisingly light. It weighs just 168 pounds, that’s as light as some aluminum trailer versions and yet it can hold up to 800 pounds of weight. This is an important number to remember because that means this trailer is under 1,000 pounds even when fully loaded down.
This also means that with a trailer this light, moving it around during loading and unloading will be much easier and will make dropping your kayak or boat into the water a breeze when it comes to maneuvering
This trailer even includes two five feet long bunk boards covered in marine grade carpet. This is a great added benefit as the carpeted boards are mildew and mold resistant as well as provide padding for kayak to trailer and kayak to kayak contact. Even better , they are fully maneuverable to accommodate kayaks with different shaped bottoms. The boards accommodate V shaped kayaks, soft bottom kayaks, and flat bottom kayaks, ensuring that no matter the rig you’re hitting the pond in, this trailer will fit it. You can even switch them to run width ways of the trailer instead of length ways
As far as assembly, this trailer comes in three different boxes, meaning that assembly is going to be required. The good news is that the instructions are detailed and straight forward so that assembly should only take a few hours from start to finish.
One added benefit is that the trailer is made from galvanized steel which is rust and corrosion resistant to a great degree. This means not only that the trailer can tolerate salt water, the lights are also waterproof and the springs that support the trailer are salt water proof as well. You can practically dump this thing in the ocean and it’ll hold up. All brackets, wiring and safety equipment is included and the only maintenance necessary will be the occasional washing.
C.E Smith stands behind their goods with a 3 year sun-fade warranty on the marine carpet and a two year warranty on the tires, which are on five stud wheels. If you prefer sturdier wheels, the standard wheels can be swapped for 12″ wheels which makes going over rugged terrain a bit easier, though to do so you’ll have to change out the fenders on the trailer as well, but for off road spots this is a great choice.
2. RIGHT ON TRAILER Kayak Trailer – Best Value Kayak Trailer
The perfect rack for versatility on a budget, the RIGHT ON kayak trailer is really a jack of all trades trailer with the ability to carry just about any outdoor goods you can imagine. From kayaks to wake boards and surfboards and paddleboards and canoe.
The trick to this multipurpose trailer is that it is a flatbed trailer with a set of crossbars for mounting your kayaks. You can then attach a second tier of crossbars to carry loads of stuff.
Dual crossbar system, powder coated steel frame, 800 lb weight capacity, carries 6 kayaks
Simplistic and Functional Design
The way this trailer works is so simple and effective you’d be forgiven for thinking it was really a trailer. The crossbars are round and formatted the same as most roof bars so that you can fit almost any rooftop system to your trailer to expand your storage capabilities. This ingenious design makes your trailer have the space to carry up to 6 kayaks. This is the most of any normal non commercial carrier.
The crossbar design lets you store kayaks in the middle, where the bars will keep them from moving. You can then store bicycles or other things on top. The ability to transports kayaks at the same time as your bike makes this a one stop trailer for all your outdoor needs.
Beyond all of the extra room, this is also a fairly long trailer. The length of the tongue is 10 feet, leaving you room for a 19 foot trailer with a 1 foot buffer between the kayak and your bumper. Considering the number of kayaks you can carry, this is one of the best options on our list for the price.
This trailer is also easy to assemble. It comes with super instructions that can be completed solo in 3-4 hours and even less time if you enlist the help of some friends. The assembly also doesn’t require any specialized tools to complete the assembly making it friendly even for those aren’t mechanically inclined or don’t have a lot of tools.
3. Yakima Rack and Roll 66 – Best Low Bed Kayak Trailer
This is a lightweight aluminum trailer made by Yakima, a brand that is know to make all sorts of outdoor equipment from bike racks to cargo boxes and beyond. The trailer is light enough to be barely noticeable and can be pulled by almost any vehicle.
Aluminum Frame, 250 lb weight capacity, 13.5 foot length, holds 3 kayaks
The biggest selling point of this trailer is that it is extremely light weight for a full size trailer. Wheels and all this trailer weighs 150 pounds. This is due to the fact that it is comprised of a simply constructed set of aluminum crossbars, sidebars, a tongue and axle. The wheels are 12″ inch slimlines to round out the trailer.
Despite the simplistic design the trailer is surprisingly sturdy when traveling and is very easy to assemble A unique feature that this trailer has is that it can detach from your hitch and has a handle that can transform it into a handcart that can be pulled behind you. By using the handcart you can literally wheel your kayaks to their destination
Different Sizes and Accessories
This trailer has different size options, the first has 66″ crossbars and the larger version has 78″ crossbars. The larger size offers extra space for kayaks, bicycles, or whatever else you want to store. The 66 model has heavy duty shocks to hold 250 lbs of weight and allows for four inches of movement space so that the ride remains smooth even over rough terrain.
The trailer also comes with LED lights that are built for long wear and do not need to replaced for a long time. This is a great added bonus when hauling the trailer and your kayaks down the road.
It also comes with a lever included that slides the tongue under the trailer. There is also an optional tongue extender for carrying even the longest kayaks or a long boat on your trailer.
The crossbars that are built into the trailer can accommodate a kayak on each so that you can safely situate each of your kayaks at a 45 degree angle. If only carrying 2 kayaks, they can be laid flat and strapped to the crossbars themselves as an alternate means of transport.
A minor issue that some users have is that there are different hardware sizes for different parts of the trailer. The bolt on a tire will be different than on the crossbars and etc. This does not dampen the function of the trailer and is likely done so that certain parts fit properly.
4. AA Saddle-Rack Mount – Best Trailer Top Kayak Carrier
Different than the other options on our list this option isn’t a trailer itself, but an inexpensive add on for an existing trailer that lets you safely carry any number of outdoor crafts from kayaks to wakeboards, a boat, paddleboard or just about anything you can fit in a trailer.
Adaptable saddle system adjusts to kayak hull shape, 4 point contact system ensures safe hold, rubber padding for protection
Affordable and Practical Solution
This is a very inexpensive kayak carrying solution for anybody who owns a regular trailer and wants to be able to transport their kayaks with it. Since a standard trailer doesn’t come with cradles or supports for your kayaks, this solution allows you to mount these adjustable padded saddles directly to the rails of your trailer.
The saddles fit most crossbars and can conform to fit the shape of your kayak. This makes it easier to find the perfect fit for uniquely long or awkward shaped kayaks and other craft. Additionally the padded saddles are slip, rain, and sun resistant so that they will last a long time once installed.
The 16 foot ratchet straps can secure up to 2,200 lbs and lock down tight to hold your kayaks securely during transit.
All in-One Kit
The major benefit of this solution is that it is all inclusive system that mounts easily to any trailer to transform it into a trailer for kayaks. This can save a lot of money in a pinch or when you already own a trailer and don’t want to buy a second just for your kayaks.
Owners may want to invest in some security options such as a hitch lock and security straps to ensure that your trailer and kayaks are safe from theft since a conventional trailer may not have these options included.
5. Malone Megasport Kayak Trailer – Best Stacked Kayak Trailer
Malone is another name you’ll likely recognize in the outdoor equipment market. For this offering they’ve given you a heavy duty trailer with a low bed to make loading and unloading a breeze and to reduce drag on your vehicle and improve fuel efficiency. This is a great option to carry multiple kayaks thanks to the stacking design.
Galvanized steel frame, 16 1/2′ length and 7′ width, fits class two hitches, DOT and Transport Canada approved
Low Bed and High Capacity
This trailer looks like a real heavy duty piece of machinery. It is built to last and stores up to 1,000 pounds of weight worth of stuff. The trailer is divided into 2 tiers by separate rails. The lower tier has a length of 20′ in total and a width of over 7′ . This lets you transport larger and heavier fishing kayaks as well as a full length boat, canoe or other craft.
The upper tier is built to hold an additional 150 pounds and offers space for poles, oars, boxes, and other equipment. The entire trailer stands at under five feet fully assembled making loading both the top and bottom tier simple and easy. The construction is meant to maximize use of space and minimize effort.
Built For Utility
The entire trailer is made to be weather proof and corrosion resistant and can literally be dropped directly into a lake or pond with your kayaks without rusting. The plug and play LED lights are also waterproof and built to last for years.
To hold the weight, the trailer sits on 10″ marine grade tires with galvanized bearings to prevent rust with a triple leaf spring suspension system to handle the load during travel. Even though it looks like a massive piece of machinery, it has a great set of instructions and part details and can be assembled in just a few hours without the need for specialty tools. The trailer is approved for travel in both the United States and Canada and has been built to last for years. Not only that, Malone stands behind their trailer with a 5 year warranty.
6. Malone Microsport Sports Trailer – Best Extra-Wide Side By Side Trailer
This option by Malone is made specifically to hold kayaks side by side on the 78″ rails. It features the same high quality galvanized steel construction that Malone is known for. This trailer holds all your kayaks a single level thanks to the tie down slots on each side of the rails so that loading and unloading is easy and doesn’t require high overhead lifting.
78″ load bars, galvanized steel frame, 20′ kayak capacity and 800 pound load weight
Quality Construction and Service
Even though the trailer itself is pretty bare bones, the galvanized steel construction and solid 12″ tires provide plenty of strength for carrying the weight of multiple kayaks. The steel is offset by aluminum load bars making the trailer incredibly light weight by comparison to its frame. This makes the trailer easily maneuverable.
Customers report that the manufacturer provides excellent service and they are eager to help customers and even provide a set award winning instructions that make assembly a snap, being able to put the entire trailer together in just 2-3 hours. Like all Malone equipment the trailer comes with a 5 year warranty.
Kayak Carrying Capacity
The spacing on this trailer is quite good with nine feet of space between the ball hitch and the first crossbar. This gives adequate space for a 20 foot kayak, canoe, or boat with 1 foot of space between your kayaks and the trailer. With 4 tie-down points you can easily store two kayaks side by side on each side of the bars without fear of rubbing. You can even store a couple kayaks and a bike or two if necessary since the spacing on the bars leaves plenty of room for other objects if you’re not carrying the full compliment of 4 kayaks.
Weight shouldn’t be an issue with the galvanized steel frame and high grade aluminum bars, the maximum load weight is 800 pounds and the trailer is 135 pounds, putting your entire pull weight at under 1,000 pounds fully loaded.
Registration and Features
A minor hiccup with this particular trailer is that you’ll have to contact the manufacturer to get the VIN number for proper registration. This is relatively simple and requires a quick phone call.
A convenient feature this model has is the retractable tongue. This shortens the length of the trailer to where it can be stored upright if the kayaks and other objects are unloaded. This is a great space saving solution for putting the trailer away when not in use.
The trailer includes all lights, electrics, and safety chain so all that’s needed is to load the kayaks into the cradles and tie them down with the ratcheting straps. The trailer provides for two points of contact on each kayak, at the front and rear end so secure tie down is assured.
Security and Versatility
To secure your kayaks to the trailer you will need to buy cable locks separately, this is a security measure to prevent theft but is worth noting.
The trailer is incredibly versatile due to the simplistic construction. You can even remove the kayak cradles to fit other outdoor stuff, like a bike, or even materials for your next DIY project. The setup allows the trailer to be used for other things than just carrying kayaks which makes your investment worthwhile.
7. Ironton Boat Trailer – Best Multi-Sport Trailer
This option is from a relatively new company and is designed specifically for craft like boats and kayaks. It utilizes bunk boards instead of traditional bars and is tailored to fit two kayaks or small boats. It features twelve inch tires as standard and powder coated white steel construction instead of the standard 10 inch tires and aluminum or galvanized steel construction.
Relatively light weight stainless steel construction, powder coated to prevent wear, comfortably seats 2 kayaks
Look and Feel
This option is different from others in our guide in a number of ways. Firstly, it is the only option we’ve seen that employs powder coated white steel instead of the traditional aluminum or galvanized steel frame.
Secondly, it is notably shorter than others and features specific cradles and boards to carry exactly two kayaks of roughly 12 feet. While this doesn’t allow for a lot of versatility by itself, users do support the ability to do a DIY tongue extension to increase the carrying length.
The entire trailer is surprisingly light at under 200 pounds despite being solid steel and with 12″ tires.
The trailer comes with a pole stop that helps to keep your kayaks from moving or sliding off the trailer while in motion. It can be raised in height or removed from the trailer entirely depending on your particular needs. The beds that cradle your kayak are also carpeted for improved protection and can be moved slightly to accommodate different shaped crafts. This allows for some limited customization, though the trailer is intended specifically for kayaks and canoes
8. Road Keel Kayak and Bike Trailer– Best Multi-Kayak Trailer
This option made our list as the best multi-kayak trailer for the incredibly simple yet effective design. Made to hold a variety of sporting equipment, the Road Keel is basically a triangle shaped platform with a long tongue, which means that despite it’s size it can hold pretty long kayaks without an issue and is small and easy to maneuver.
Powder coated steel frame, solid platform, room for 4 kayaks, 525 lb weight limit
Quality With Form and Function
This trailer is built to be a multi-sport carrying platform rather than a traditional trailer. The powder coated steel bars that comprise the frame ensure strength, stability, and durability for the long haul. It features an aluminum tread base for fastening all your belonging to and 12″ aluminum alloy tires for transport.
Built to hold your bike, kayak or anything in between, this option defines simplicity and versatility in a small package. For more flexibility you can even remove the raised bars, creating a completely flat bed surface for laying down your kayaks or other things and the aluminum grating creates versatile tie off points from anywhere on the trailer
Whether you use it as a trailer for kayaks or not, this trailer is great place for securely storing anything you want to bring with you on a trip to the great outdoors.
9. Ruff Sport Kayak Trailer – Best Heavy Duty Kayak Trailer
This looks like an industrial carrier with bars that swing out past the wheelbase for maximum carrying capacity without sacrificing maneuverability. The Ruff Sport is exactly that a rough and tough trailer made to leave a small footprint but carry a big load.
Galvanized steel frame, 12 foot by 6 foot body, lightweight maneuverability, customizable to fit different equipment
This trailer can be a bit of a bear to assemble, taking between 4 and 8 hours even with decent instructions, but the versatility it provides is nearly unmatched. The flat based allows you to strap almost anything onto it for easy transport since there is no solid base you can tie things down to almost any spot on the trailer. That said, it can comfortably seat up to 4 kayaks as well.
The bars are removable so that you have the full length and width of the trailer bed to use if you need the extra room or need to lie something down flat. It also features a locking tongue stand for added security so that someone can’t pull away with your trailer while it is unhitched and you’re busy loading or unloading.
The galvanized steel is a great maintenance free touch to this trailer, making it corrosion, weather, and rust resistant.
10. Malone Lowmax Kayak Trailer – Best Lightweight Kayak Trailer
While not the lightest in our guide, the Lowmax made our cut for best lightweight trailer thanks to the design and quality that the manufacturer brings to the table. It features a great load capacity for short to medium kayaks and is highly versatile. The Lowmax series even includes a variety of different models to suit different needs in case a particular size doesn’t suit your needs
Marine grade steel frame, rubber bumpers and removable tongue for storage, 5 year warranty
Portable and Easy to Use
This trailer has the same quality as others by the same manufacturer with some added benefits that make it highly versatile. Already pretty light at just over 206 pounds, the tongue and bars are removable so that the trailer can be easily stored. This makes it a snap to put away when not in use without needing room to put a trailer.
It can comfortably seat four kayaks and the marine grade construction means that it should last for years. It features a tongue lift handle, plug and play lights, and rubber bumpers for upright storage. It can accommodate kayaks up to 12 feet without extensions and has d-ring tie down spots for secure hold of all your kayaks and other equipment.
The trailer is also DOT and Transport Canada approved with all lights and road equipment included as well as the standard Malone 5 year warranty.
The Lowmax is actually a trailer series rather than a single trailer. The unit we have described here is the base model which comes exactly as we have described. However, the range of things in this line go from added J-cradles to extra boards, you can buy separate any of the equipment, as well as tie downs, spacers and larger or smaller models for storing additional equipment. The prices all range close together so you won’t see a drastic cost change if you choose a different package, but some of the benefits can be well worth the investment.
Tips and Questions About Buying a Kayak Trailer
Is a Kayak Trailer Better Than a Roof Rack?
While that decision depends on your needs, in most cases, yes a kayak trailer is a better option than a roof rack. For one, most trailers allow you to carry multiple kayaks. Secondly, they don’t produce as much drag on your vehicle and are better for gas mileage. There is also no contact between your vehicle and the kayaks or the trailer when using a trailer, unlike a roof rack which mounts to the top of your vehicle using the crossbars.
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Are Trailers Difficult to Assemble Without Customer Service Assistance?
There’s nothing like having to call the help line or look up a video demonstration when putting together new products. In most cases, however, trailers are relatively easy to assemble and have excellent instructions. This means no long holds on the phone with customer service reps for help, useless email or text chains with a with a faceless customer service representative. Most manufacturers even warranty their trailer.
Buyer’s Guide For Kayak Trailers
Finding the best trailer for your needs is much more important than buying the flashiest or most unique looking offering out there. To help you make that decision we are going to break down some of the things that you need to consider before buying a kayak trailer and provide tips on making the right choice.
Picking a Manufacturer You Can Trust
With literally hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of options for a kayak trailer out there, it can be hard to pick who to buy from. It’s important to consider who the manufacturer is when buying a kayak trailer. Some makers have a good reputation because of the amount of time they’ve been in the business, others may be well known for making a particularly good trailer.
The big considerations to make when choosing a trailer manufacturer are how long have they been in business and how well do they stand behind their goods. Knowing how long they’ve been around tells you how stable they are and whether or not they’ll be around to support what they sell after you buy them. Longevity usually tells you how a manufacturer treats a buyer as well. If you can, check the reviews of the manufacturer as well as the performance of their customer service department. You may have to deal with them over the course of the life of your trailer and the way department handles your issues can say a lot about the company
New brands are a good choice too. There are new ones popping up all the time. You can look into them the same way you would more well known makers. Check their website and reviews and try to judge for yourself the quality of their service. Even if they’re new they can still make quality trailers that will suit your needs
Reputation says a lot about how a manufacturer does business. Just like checking the quality of their service and support, checking online for reviews of what other buyers are saying will tell you more about a company than a item description or a warranty.
Manufacturers can make mistakes, and trailers can be faulty, just because a maker has a good reputation doesn’t mean that every single thing they make is great. It’s important to get real world knowledge on a manufacturer and any items you buy from them.
Checking social media as well as non biased and non affiliate review sites will help to get a well rounded opinion of a company. Simply checking reviews from the manufacturer and existing customers won’t give you the full picture.
Another key to get a good idea of the quality of a manufacturer is to look at how they respond to negative feedback. Do they address the issue? Do they make the necessary changes or modifications? Sometimes they may need to recall a particular trailer, issue a refund or make repairs, do they handle these appropriately? Knowing this type of information will tell you whether you want to do business with them.
Decide On Your Budget
Once you know a little about who you’re buying a trailer from, knowing how much you want to spend is the next step. A kayak trailer can cost hundreds of dollars with many trailers going into the thousands. Before you start shopping and adding items to your list, knowing how much you can really afford to spend will help you make the best choice.
Even if you can afford the most expensive trailer on the market, that might not be the right one for you. When deciding on a budget, try to consider all your needs. How often will you use the trailer? Do you need any special pieces of equipment, a new trailer hitch, maybe your boat needs repairs or your vehicle can’t tow a large kayak trailer
Once you consider all the outside factors, you can narrow down your search for a kayak trailer to one that will fit best within your budget
The Right Trailer For You
After you’ve got your price range narrowed down, start deciding on a kayak trailer that does what you want it to do. You may find that a light and easy to use aluminum kayak carrier fit for a couple kayaks is better for that once a year trip to the water on vacation than a massive steel framed 4 kayak version.
It’s also a good idea to consider what other things are on your list to carry outdoors or to the water. Having a kayak trailer that is wide enough to fit a boat or that has space to fit a bike or other pieces of equipment.
If you’re the type to take 3 kayaks to the water all the time though, then a kayak trailer that can haul several kayaks is the right choice for you. Not only will a kayak trailer be more convenient, but you’ll get your money’s worth through the sheer amount of utility a trailer has in the long run
Assembly and Installation
Being able to put your trailer together is probably the most important thing to consider once you order your it for delivery. More often than not the kayak trailer will come in pieces that need to be put together and doing so in the right order without a proper set of instructions can be nearly impossible.
Luckily, most manufacturers worth their salt with include detailed instructions on how the assembly goes together, what tools you’ll need along with a list of any tools you’ll need and steps to put the pieces to together. Most trailers should be able to assembled in a couple hours, with larger more complex trailers taking 3-4 hours. This is not bad for something that you’ll be using for all your trips to the water and then some.
Once assembled, the trailer attaches to your vehicles hitch which is usually a fairly simple process. One thing to note though is the weight of the kayak trailer and the weight of the kayaks and other things you’ll put on the trailer. You have to be able to maneuver the trailer around to hook it up to your vehicle and your vehicle must be able to pull the combined weight of the trailer and all the things it is carrying.
Another important point is to make sure the trailer is road worthy. Much like bicycles have reflectors, trailers have lights, generally LED brake lights that have to be attached and connected. Making sure the wheels are on straight is another consideration. Most trailers use tires the same as or similar to a vehicle tire so that the trailer can support the weight and so that it rolls smoothly on the road. Most manufacturers will state outright that their kayak trailer is DOT or Transport Canada approved so you don’t have to worry once the trailer is assembled that there are any issues with taking it out on the road.
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Security should be something you think about before you ever make that first kayak trailer purchase. Whether it offers any security mechanisms and what those are is key to determining whether you want to buy that particular trailer or not.
A good first item on the list is a hitch lock. This simple item prevents your kayak trailer from being unhitched and driven off with on someone else’s vehicle. If it doesn’t come with one you can usually acquire one separately.
The next thing on the menu is how stable and secure your load is. Making sure your kayaks, boat, bunk boards, or whatever else you may be carrying is secure will save you a lot of headaches in the future. Some come with built in security locks, some just have a locking chain, and some provide nothing at all. If your kayak trailer has nothing, you can buy locks, cables, and other devices separately to perform the security fix yourself.
Looking at security offerings before you ever buy your first kayak trailer will save you the hassle of having your hard earned purchases stolen and make you feel more secure in paying the price for that investment.
Room To Store Your Kayak Trailer
A kayak trailer is a costly investment and having a place to store it that is away from the elements is key. Wind, rain, snow, all these things can wear down even the sturdiest trailer quickly when it is left out in the open.
This can lead to you having to replace your trailer every 2-3 years or so. This can get expensive quick. Even an aluminum carport with a tarp will offer some protection from the elements, but in the long run, investing in a building or garage if you don’t have one will actually serve to save you money on replacing your trailer every couple of years. Also, our post talking about hitch kayak racks might be helpful for you.
When deciding where to put your trailer, remember you’re going to need somewhere to store your kayaks, bunks, boat, and other stuff anyway so why not kill two birds with one stone. Sure you could use a wall rack or other system to store your kayaks, but why not store them all in the same place?
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Examine Your Tongue
No, not the one in your mouth, the one on the trailer. The tongue is the distance between the hitch on your trailer and the axle. For space purposes, this is the halfway point of where you kayak sits on the trailer. By measuring this distance, you can determine the maximum length of kayaks you can carry. Some manufacturers will offer a maximum length but you should always measure for your self.
A boat or sea kayak tends to be on the longer side so knowing how much length you have for storage can let you sort out whether you can carry something ahead of time. There’s nothing more frustrating than playing a game of “will it fit” will all your heavy outdoor stuff. If you want to know more about kayak storage racks for your garage, you can check our recent post!
It’s better to have more room than you need, in case you plan on carrying someone else’s kayak or boat and need the extra length. That being said, don’t opt for the longest trailer you can find, this will make backing your trailer up more of a headache than you probably bargained for.
Number of Kayaks
Now we’re on to the big money questions! How many kayaks can my kayak trailer fit? If you’re a solo kayaker then chances are you only need one kayak and any old trailer will do the next time you hit the water.
However, if you’re like most people and you want to invite family and friends along then you’ll want something that can carry a few more kayaks than just one. You’ll also need to consider whether or not you plan on using your roof. Some can accommodate this and some can’t, so figure this out ahead of time can help you figure out which trailer you need.
How often you’ll transport several kayaks is also something to think about. It may not be worth the investment in a larger trailer if you’re only taking it out once or twice a year. This is partially because pulling a bigger trailer is more difficult to maneuver and also burns a good deal more fuel if you leave it hooked up and loaded all the time. For kayakers like you, you must also know how you can unload and transport your kayaks to the water. Learn about this on our recent blog about the best kayak cart.
Sometimes a kayak trailer will have add-ons and accessories available for them or included with them that can make your life and your kayaking a lot easier. For instance some kayak trailer models have specific spots to hold oars so that your boat or kayak and the means to paddle them are in the same place, talk about convenient. Other accessories improve accessibility, safety, and comfort, such as extra padding to protect your kayak or a spare tire mount so that you don’t have to discard your tires when attaching a trailer.
Consider what you think you may need in regards to accessories when looking at what a trailer comes with. Be sure that any trailer you buy comes with all the needed safety equipment though. A trailer has to be road worthy in order to be transported and the United States and Canada require them to be registered as well. Any trailer must have proper brake lights attached as well as meet any and all road clearance standards. Apart from this, any other features and accessories are your choice.
Size of the Tires
Tire size is probably not on the top of your list of things to think about when looking for a kayak trailer, however it is very important. The type and size of tires used determines a lot of factors when buying a kayak trailer.
Most often a kayak trailer will use small tires to lower the price of the trailer. This can be a bit of a misleading gimmick. Sure, small tires lower the ride height of your trailer, which can be a good trade off in terms of placing your kayak on it and it lowers drag when you stack things up, but small tires mean less stability.
Small tires also mean less weight capacity for the trailer. The bigger the tires the heavier of a load they can handle going down the road. This means that if the tires are too small you may not be able to fully load down your trailer with all the things you’ll need on the next trip. Smaller tires also don’t handle going off road very well. Let’s face it, a lot of times you’ll be heading down some not so paved roads to get to your favorite spot on the water for kayaking.
Luckily enough, some models come with the ability to swap out the stock tires for larger ones. This is a great feature to have and while bigger tires are an extra expense, being able to change them out saves you from having to buy a whole new trailer. Apart from all these things, small tires simply don’t last as long, forcing you to buy new ones more often. Size of the tires is something that should definitely make your notes of things to check when buying trailer. Learn more about boat trailer tires in our review here.
Is Assembly Required?
If you fancy yourself mechanically inclined or just happen to work for one of those places that sells that are ridiculously complicated to put together then assembling a trailer may not seem like that big of a deal. If this is not you, then you want to consider enlisting some help to get your trailer together or placing an order for one that comes pre-assembled.
While an already assembled trailer does cost more, this is sometimes preferable to the do it yourself method, where failing to tighten down the right screws can literally be a life or death mistake for yourself or your kayak and other belongings.
Faulty assembling can be especially disastrous at highway speeds. Having your entire trailer fall apart while doing 60 mph would be a catastrophe that will ruin your kayaking trip
The last major consideration to think about is the weight of the kayak or yaks that you’re loading. The weight of one kayak to another can vary by as little as a few pounds, to as much as 100 pounds depending on the material and construction of the kayak. Making sure your trailer can carry the weight of your kayak is equally as important as all the other factors. You can also read our post about kayak rack for truck to know the right means of carrying your kayaks. Also, you might want to consider purchasing a kayak cart which may help you in the process of unloading your kayaks up to transporting them to the water.
The other consideration with kayak weight comes down to loading and unloading. Having a trailer that is easily accessible or moveable with adequate spacing so that you can easily slide your kayak on it will make the whole packing for a trip process go much smoother. Low bed options are great choices for height clearance, though there are a number of options that offer features that make loading and securing or releasing and unloading your kayaks easy as well. Side loading and stacking models offer convenient loading options as well.
The Best Kayak trailers – Final Thoughts
There you have it, our Ultimate Guide to finding the right trailer for all your kayaking needs. We hope all the information we provided was useful and that any of our suggestions is right for you. You can’t go wrong with our top pick the C.E. Smith Multi-Sport Trailer Model 48810, it has all the quality and features you need in a trailer for wherever your next outdoor adventure takes you.
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