Published: 9/1/2018

Update (June 2020): scroll down to see the video I made.

I keep acquiring more kayaks, and I’ve ended up being able to outfit around 10 people. My old method works for about 8-10 single kayaks, but then I can’t take any gear or pull a trailer.

I was asked to help with a campout and paddle for about 10 people, and had an upcoming scout trip, so I decided making a trailer was a good idea. My design goals were:

  • Haul as many single kayaks as possible
  • Be flexible enough to haul canoes, tandem kayaks, etc.
  • Fit in my normal garage (mostly a height problem)
  • Be removable and storable, so I can still use the original trailer.
  • Make it as low as possible, since every time I try to load a boat on my truck’s ladder rack I feel I’m risking injury.
  • Lightweight (somewhat) in case I ever want to pull it with something other than my truck

Here’s what I came up with, starting with a 5×8 trailer from Tractor Supply. I cut off the tailgate and built the rack to bolt on. The whole thing is 78″ tall, so it fits inside my garage. The crossbars are spaced vertically to fit my recreational kayaks. The floor of the trailer is expanded metal, so I wrapped plywood in indoor/outdoor carpet and bolted it down.

Here I have a bunch of kayaks loaded. Note that the top shelf is still available for the canoe, or kayaks laid flat. If I put my stacker on the top crossbar, I should be able to carry 6 on top, 6 in the middle, and 5 on bottom (17 total).

Close-up details of brackets, etc.:

The uprights and crossbars are made of 2″ square steel tubing (11ga) and have flat brackets on the bottom, bolted to the rails of the trailer. The uprights are prevented from leaning front/back by the diagonal tongue brace and a brace from the front to back upright. Those braces are made of 1.5″ tubing, and the brackets holding them are just a piece of 2″ tubing cut down, except the bracket for the tongue is just a 2″ flat plate bent to fit the tongue. The short diagonal braces (also 1.5″) on the crossbars are to add stability side-to-side, and also make a good place to run your straps (like on a stacker, or to keep them from slipping off the end of the lower crossbars). Using 1.5″ for these also makes welding easier. I capped the crossbars with 2″ plastic plugs from Amazon.

Here are my drawings. Note that I changed my mind and used 1.5″ for the braces, and therefore made the brackets differently.

Kayak Trailer plans

Future plans:

  • Find or make a box to go over one of the fenders to hold my paddles. I’d like to not take them apart if possible – DONE!
  • Lengthen the tongue, so I can haul long boats on the trailer and still use the rack on my truck. I don’t anticipate a time where I’ll need to carry more than the trailer holds, though — DONE!
  • Get a box for the tongue to carry the life jackets. Right now I cram them and the paddles into the boats, which isn’t ideal.
  • Come up with some durable padding for the crossbars. – DONE!

Suggestions on any of these topics are welcome!

The only thing I’m not happy with so far is that the diagonal braces on top of the bottom crossbar interfere with loading the boats stacker-style a bit. I might have made them a little smaller, and they probably could have been solid gussets anyway, since that’s not a spot you’d need to run a strap through.


After using the trailer for most of a season, I came up with a few upgrades. I made a box for the paddles (not perfect, but it works, and it’s handy).  I later added metal brackets underneath to support the box better.

I made some clips for holding the fronts of the bottom rack boats. I mounted the spare tire (it’s not in the way at all, because the boats are curved). Finally, I’m trying some jumbo pool noodles as padding, though we’ll see how well this holds up.