Kayak Trailer: Transporting A Non-Inflatable Kayak Or Canoe Easily

How To Choose The Best Kayak Trailer – Buying Guide

Taking more than one kayak or canoe to the water for a group paddle along a nearby shoreline or for shuttling boats/gear to a starting point for a river flotilla will require either a caravan or an excellent trailer to get the job done.

And the reason why I’m saying you will need something like that is that, besides your kayaks, the volume of the gear that you need for that trip will take a lot more space so it can turn your afternoon into a mock expeditionary campaign.

And no, my friends, we won’t let that happen!

You see, kayak trailers are specifically designed for getting your boats to the beach. But even some of the best lightweight kayak trailer reviews agree that even though a one or a 2 kayak trailer is a fantastic tool to have, you still have to think about a few key features that could either make or break this whole thing.

However, do not worry. Here I am talking about everything you need to know about kayak trailers from different materials to volume to capacity.

So, before going on a kayak or canoe trailer shopping spree, be sure to read this article to the end so that you make the right investment!

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The different trailers

As kayaking expands, so does the gear linked to it. More and more tools are available on the market, and so do the many different trailers, all offering something a little different.

This is why you cannot just buy one and be over with it. You have to pay attention to the specs on the trailer you are considering to see if it’ll do the job above all.

The Trailer’s Capacity

The capacity of a kayak trailer varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and from design to design.

While the more, the better is surely true, the majority of the kayak trailers on the market can carry between 2 and 4 kayaks. This is somehow the mid ground for all kayakers, and it’s the most they need.

Of course, you have those specialty trailers that can hold up to 16 kayaks, but unless you are transporting the kayaks of your whole neighborhood, you won’t need this capacity. Plus, you can always carry 2 more kayaks along the roof of your car if you have a kayak roof rack.

Kayak Trailer for Tandem Kayaks

2 person kayaks don’t usually require a 2 kayak trailer, but they are quite a bit longer than standard solo kayaks, which could potentially be an issue.

So, if all you have is tandem kayaks, then you should definitely pay attention to how long of a kayak your trailer is suited to carry. As a general rule of thumb, I would say look for a kayak trailer with a capacity of 19-foot kayak length.

Surely, you can carry a tandem kayak on a regular kayak trailer. Still, it will overhang, and this could be potentially dangerous not only for your kayaking gear but also for other drivers and you on the road. You see, by overhanging, your kayak automatically does not sit as securely on the trailer, and you risk an accident.

Additionally, note that if you have a solo kayak but an ocean type of kayak, you will also need a trailer that is longer than usual because these types of boats tend to be longer.


Multi Kayak Trailers

Almost all kayak trailers out there are designed to carry more than one kayak on board. This is incredibly convenient since you have more room to take your friend’s or family’s kayak or simply load (securely) more gear onto it. Just make sure that when you are loading more than one kayak on the trailer with all the gear included, to pay attention to the weight capacity, not only of the trailer but of your vehicle too.

Because at that point, you not only have the weight of the kayaks to carry, but you also have the weight of the trailer and any other gear strapped to the trailer that your vehicle has to pull.

There are also trailers that allow you to haul other gear as well, but for this, you will either have to read the description closely or ask the seller/manufacturer to be sure. Plus, some trailers that are designed for this will come with suitable adapters that allow for the carrying of additional gear, and for some that don’t, you have to get the specific adapters.


The Weight

As I already touched on the weight capacity previously, I will simply continue here.

You see, every kayak trailer has a maximum weight rating you have to respect so that you don’t risk the damage of your kayak, canoe, gear, or even your vehicle.

Speaking of gear, check out these awesome Paddle Board Kayak Seats.

So, to put things into perspective, an average kayak weighs around 20 kilos while an average kayak trailer can be approximately 80 to 90 kilos. So, when carrying 2 to 4 kayaks on it, consider that so you don’t exceed the limit or you’ll end up breaking it.

The Storage

Another thing to consider when getting a trailer is the same as what you would consider when getting a kayak; the storage.
You need to make sure you have the space to store your kayak trailer when not in use.

However, people have come up with a solution to this too! A foldable trailer!

You can buy a foldable kayak trailer with the same type of portability as the rigid ones, but this will at least provide more storage space. Also, keep in mind that these trailers, foldable or not, will be hefty so that you will need a designated area for storage for them. You won’t be able just to move them around whenever you need the space.

One pro tip:
You know how I always say before buying a kayak, you need to think whether you have a suitable space for it or not to store it securely! Well, your kayak trailer can also be your kayak storage place. Isn’t that awesome? I know, I am a genius, you don’t have to say it twice.

So, with this, instead of having space both for the trailer and your kayak, you can have one designated spot for both. Just keep in mind they have to be protected from the sun and high temperatures!

Plus, this way, whenever you decide to kayak, it’ll be much easier for you to go to the beach since everything is already loaded instead of having to set up the rack and put your kayak on the trailer.


The Price

If you are thinking between buying a roof rack to transport your kayak on your car or getting a trailer, let me tell you straight away, a roof rack will be cheaper than a trailer but not necessarily more helpful or secure.

Kayak trailers offer you more storage space for all your gear, so if you don’t want to drill holes into the roof of your car and you are looking to carry more kayaks, then a kayak trailer would be ideal.

However, good news for those on a tighter budget. You can get a kayak trailer that you can assemble yourself instead of a pre-built trailer, which will save you more money.

Also, just like the foldable trailers, these will be just as rigid as the pre-built ones, so you don’t have to worry about quality.

To go a step further, if the budget is tight and you cannot afford any of these options new, you can always get a second-hand trailer in good condition. These are pretty straightforward designs, so there really isn’t anything to wear and tear too much.

A kayak rack is a handy alternative for transporting your kayak

The Material

Now, speaking of new or second-hand kayak trailers, no matter what you go for, you have to pay attention to the materials that the trailer is made of.

Namely, your kayak trailer should be made of a lightweight yet durable material such as the specialized type of steel like the galvanized steel. This metal is light and robust but also rust-resistant, which is key to a life-long use.

With this kind of a trailer, you can pull right up to the water and even into it, and you can safely launch your kayak without risking the damage of the sand or rocks on it.

So, when buying such a high-quality trailer, it won’t be as important if you get a used kayak trailer or a new one. The most important thing is to have higher-end materials the will help you to get drastically more use out of your kayaking.

With an inflatable kayak or canoe it is really easy to carry it along anywhere without a trailer or rack

The Tongue Length

One other thing to be wary of when choosing the right dimensions for your canoe trailer is the tongue of a trailer. You see, this is the distance from where it connects to the hitch ball.

If this is too small every time you turn and take sharp corners with your car, your kayak trailer with everything on it will hit your car. So, make sure you have quite a lot of distance from your vehicle to the start of the trailer.

The Trailer Suspension

When carrying your kayak, you need to optimize your ride to be a smooth one, no matter the trail or path you are driving on.

The trailer suspension will enable your trailer to haul your kayak and ride smooth even with a stiff suspension when on paved roads and highways.

There are also trailers that come with specially designed suspensions. If you like adventures and you often drive on dirt roads, then you will want to consider such suspension to protect your kayak the best you can. I mean, you surely don’t want Potholes and washboard roads causing havoc on your trailer or your kayak, right?


The Number of Kayaks You’ll Carry

How many kayaks you actually need to carry? How much gear on top of everything, too?

The most common trailers on the market range from 1-2 to 4 kayaks, and if you need more than that, then you will need to get a specialty trailer.

The Size of The Kayaks

The kayak trailers are designed to handle long-length gear stored since they are made for kayaks. Plus, manufacturers know that many people have tandem kayaks too, so they make them even a bit longer so that you can fit any size kayak you need to.

However, do not presume anything. Always check the length restrictions of your trailer so that you aren’t driving down the road with a ton of overhang from your kayak that could potentially pose a danger. Or you end up buying a trailer you cannot use.

Do You Have The Right Tools And Skills?

Before you buy a kayak trailer online, check to see if you have the right tools to mount and install it correctly. After all, a kayak or canoe trailer is made to carry long kayaks, so properly putting it together is crucial.

First, you need to have the space to work on adequately assembling the trailer, and then you need to have the right tools and experience in such things so that you know how to do everything right. As for the tools, even if you don’t have them all, you can either buy or rent from your local hardware store.

If you don’t install everything properly, the trailer can end up costing you a lot of money and be incredibly dangerous for your kayak and yourself when on the road.

With all this in mind, sometimes getting a pre-assembled trailer ends up costing almost the same, if not less, as buying a not assembled unit and then mounting it yourself.


Tire And Wheel Size

Usually, all trailers you will be looking for based on your needs will have tires of similar size.

However, if in your range you see trailers will vastly different-sized tires, here’s what you should know.

  • Small tires are great if you are transporting one kayak on your trailer through well-kept roads like on intercity roads. They result in better gas mileage and are more economical in the long run.
  • Bigger tires are more suitable if you plan on going on any sort of rough terrain. Usually, going near lakes or rivers will require that your trailer has these because they are more resistant to the sand and rocks nearby the water. So, instead of carrying your kayak from the road to the water, you can pull your trailer right up to the water’s edge.

Final Thoughts

All in all, with the entire vast selection of kayak trailers out there, it is important to understand what you are getting and how that trailer matches your kayak.

Thoroughly compare the full list of specs of the trailer to other trailers and not just by price but also in features. One of the most important specs to watch for is the weight of the trailer. This will help you determine what type of car you will need to tow it and how much it can carry.

The length is also very important to match your kayak, as this will show you if you can tow paddleboards and canoes on it as well. Also, don’t forget to check the crossbar width as well as the warranty that comes with it.

And there you go; I hope you are now fully knowledgeable to choose your perfect kayak trailer for your kayaking adventures. If you have any questions or additional tips, do not hesitate to leave me a comment below so that we can all get informed together.

In the meantime, I’d love to connect with you on my Facebook, and Instagram account for more cool tips and recommendations on paddle boards and kayaks.

I might earn a small commission when you make a purchase through my link, so that I can keep my site running and pay the hosting bill. Read my affiliate policy to learn more.
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One response to “Kayak Trailer: Transporting A Non-Inflatable Kayak Or Canoe Easily”

  1. Looking to buy a kayak trailer for my son who generally kayaks alone, but also with his girlfriend. Should we purchase a one or two trailer capacity or a tandem type trailer? And also if we purchase a two kayak trailer can it be used with one kayak?

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)

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