Guide To Finding A Kayak Rack For Your Pickup Truck

It’s one thing to find an awesome kayak at a nearby store. It’s another thing to know how to transport a kayak from point A to point B. Searching for the right kayak rack for trucks can be challenging. There are lots of options and not all trucks are the same.

Kayak roof racks are essential, as they help minimize damage during transportation. To get an excellent kayak rack, you’ll need one that suits the pickup truck you’re driving.

In this article, we’ll go over all the different kinds of kayak racks and how they can be used with different kinds of trucks.

No-Drill Kayak Rack

no drill kayak rack

The HandiRack inflatable roof rack is a universal roof rack system that is quick and easy to install. There is no need for tools or to drill holes, making it a great kayak rack for pickup trucks. The soft roof rack pads are secured by a pass-through strap.

The design is also thoughtful as it includes o-rings to help prevent scratches on your car’s paint job. This is a great kayak roof rack for those who want an easy, no-drill installation.

HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars (Pair); Tie-Downs and Bow and Stern Lines Included; Carries Kayaks, Canoes, Surfboards and SUPs; Fits Cars and SUVs
  • Inflatable technology: Air filled bars cushion and protect your load; Strong and durable inflatable roof rack; Load capacity of 175lbs; Heavy-duty 400D Nylon material; Low drag and noise; Easy to store and totally portable; Certified for use up to Highway Speeds
  • Multi-purpose: Cost-effective universal roof rack for all types of gear and luggage; Makes a practical kayak roof rack, canoe rooftop carrier, surfboard pads, SUP and paddleboard rack; Great car roof rack solution for ladders and bulky store purchases; Bare roof system; Roof rack for cars without rails, with rails and panoramic roofs
  • Universal size: Fits Compact, Sedan, MPV, SUV, Crossover, 4x4, 2, 3, 4 or 5 door vehicles; Unsuitable for vehicles with soft-tops and curtain airbags; Should not be left on vehicle when not in use; Tested on many brands including: Audi BMW Chevrolet Ford Honda Hyundai Jeep Kia Mazda Mercedes Mitsubishi Nissan Smart Subaru Suzuki Toyota VW; Please contact our team if you are unsure about the compatibility of your vehicle
  • No tools required: Takes 5 minutes; Quick to fit soft roof rack; Twin-bars secured by a pass-through cabin fitting strap which then fastens in a heavy-duty cam buckle; To view the installation process, please watch the video; Detailed User Manual included
  • Includes: 2 x HandiRack twin-tubes each with 5 D ring metal anchor points, 2 x 9.8ft tiedown HandiStraps, 2 x 11ft Bow and Stern lines, High-volume HandiPump for inflating each bladder, User Manual, Drawstring travel bag

For Truck Beds

If your truck has a long bed, you can simply put your kayak in the bed and secure it with straps. If your truck has a short bed, you can still transport your kayak by using a bed extender. Bed extenders are essentially platforms that extend the length of your truck bed, giving you enough room to securely transport your kayak.

Truck Bed Extender

Darby Industries 944 Extend-A-Truck

This option is suitable if you are looking for the best goal post truck rack. It comes with one bar extending from the hitch, forming a football goal post shape. Its 25-pound capacity allows it to carry different sizes of watercraft.

This item comes along with a receiver hitch and red flag. With that, it becomes easier for you to use a 2-inch receiver and a Class III/IV hitch. It also excludes guesswork when buying your items.


This extension rack comes with all the required accessories, providing you with the convenience you need. However, it will be best to buy extra ratchet straps to help secure the kayak during the journey.


This bed extender boasts 4-feet of width support. This space is enough to carry a large watercraft. Its ingenious storage space allows you to fold it up whenever necessary. Once folded, you can store it behind your seats. It can support up to 350 pounds, allowing you to haul canoes, solo kayaks, crown molding, and tandem kayaks.


Its incredible versatility makes it a suitable choice for most people. It comes with five different hols in the steel bar, allowing you to attach the kayak at the bed level or cabtop. This aspect provides you with more flexibility in how you transport your kayak.

You can use this truck rack on any vehicle, not necessarily a truck. For instance, you can use it on an SUV with over 58 inches between the hitch and the rooftop. As long as the vehicle has a roof rack, this item will suit you best.

Jeremywell Adjustable Steel Pick Up Truck Bed Hitch Extender Extension Rack with Flag for Boat Lumber Long Loads Canoe Ladder Fits 2" Hitches 750 Lbs Weight Capacity Trailer Hitch Pin Included
  • Weight capacity of up to 750 lbs. included safety flag to attach to the end of your load
  • The Hitch Extender fit into 2" square hitch receivers but can be used on 1-1/4" receivers with a hitch adaptor.
  • Length: 53 1/2" from the center of 1/2" hitch pin hole to end of the extension
  • 52" from the center of 3/4" hitch pin hole to end of the extension.
  • Adjustable Width: 28.25" - 48.75" Adjustable Height: 4" - 10" Weight: 27 lbs.

AMP Research 74813 BedXtender

AMP Research 74813-01A Black BedXTender HD Max Truck Bed Extender for 2004-2019 Ford F-150

The AMP 74813 is a U-shaped gate and an excellent truck bed extender. It allows you to lower your tailgate and attach the extender. This aspect is vital whenever you want to utilize the entire bed. It can comfortably fit on any truck bed, and it provides the kayak with an extra two feet of space.

The BedXtender is an excellent choice for short kayaks and trucks with no hitch. It ensures no long kayak hangs from behind the pickup truck. AMP Research creates various BedXtender shapes to fit different truck models, so be sure to check which one fits yours.


Its robust construction highlights durability. It comes with a torque-resistant clam-shell design, featuring composite uprights and rounded rectangles. This shell is made from solid aluminum tubes, while its composite uprights feature glass-reinforced nylon. Besides, this rack is relatively lightweight.


This kayak holder comes with all the hardware necessary for installation. Its installation process is relatively straightforward, saving you enough time. It has drilling instructions, which ensure that you do not permanently damage your truck.


Its ingenious storage space allows you to carry your water sports gear and kayak altogether. It ensures that all your items are kept safe, including small ones. When not in use, all you have to do is flip the extender inside, then close its tailgate. This feature ensures that small items do not fly off when you are driving.

AMP Research 74815-01A Black BedXTender HD Max Truck Bed Extender for 2007-2018 Silverado & Sierra with Standard Bed,Large
  • 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

Elevated Bed Racks

An elevated kayak rack for trucks attaches to the bed of your pickup truck, creating a raised platform above the cabin of the truck. This allows you to store your kayak over your truck, freeing up space on the roof and keeping your kayak out of the elements.

Plus, it’s much easier to load a kayak onto an elevated rack than it is to lift it onto the roof of a vehicle. If you’re looking for a convenient and safe way to store your kayak, an elevated bed rack is the right choice.

AA Model APX33

AA-Racks Model X33 800Ibs Low-Profile Steel Utility Pick-Up Truck Ladder Rack Two-bar Set - Matte Black

The APX33 features an all-in-one system, making it an excellent choice if you want to maximize load-carrying capabilities. Its packaging includes the kayak roof rack, four j-racks, eight c-clamps, and ratchet straps. Since it is made from rust-proof aluminum, this roof rack highlights stability and durability.


The AA APX33 can fit in any standard truck bed, including the Chevy, Toyota Tacoma, and Ford. Its steel tube adjusts between different multiple truck bed widths. The length of the ladder stops is also adjustable.

Unfortunately, this roof rack might not be compatible with truck beds with a toolbox, side box, or utility track system. Non-standard beds like Honda Ridgeline and Avalanche are not suitable for this roof rack.


This item comes with heavy-duty ratchet straps that help secure your kayak on the roof rack. This feature is ideal when driving down bumpy roads. The extended bolts and c-clamps also help keep the kayak in place. You could also rely on extra j-racks to keep the watercraft much more stable.


This kayak rack can hold up to a 16-foot watercraft. That means it could easily hold a canoe too. Typically, this rack can carry up to 2,200 pounds.


Its no-drill installation process is relatively straightforward. Whether you want to deconstruct or construct it, the process takes a short time. Thanks to its eight c-clamps, you do not need to drill holes on the side of the truck bed.

AA-Racks Model X33 Low-Profile Pickup Truck Ladder Racks with (8) Non-Drilling C-Clamps Steel Utility Two-bar Set Black
  • The Model X33 Truck Rack is manufactured with premium quality powder coating and a glossy finish that will lead to long term durability. Designed in California, Made in Malaysia.
  • The top section is built with reinforced Two "T" sleeve bars plus Middle Cross Bar. The Double-barred Middle section won't easily dent or bend, making it even stronger than a one-barred design.
  • The extendable design also makes it compatible with different Truck-bed Width ranged from Min.49" - Max.69".
  • The rope hook on the side of all four uprights provides the security for tying the tools or loads.
  • Non-Drilling X33 Truck Rack comes with Black C-Clamps (Set of 8), NOT COMPATILE with trucks with Utility Track Systems.

Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum

Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum Truck Rack with Load Stops

Thule Xsporter is an adjustable bar truck rack. Its design makes it easy for you to load, carry, or store your kayak on any truck. Once you load the watercraft, you can use the adjustable bars to secure it. These bars can move to any height, making them ideal for solo travelers. Its SecureLock design makes it easier to lock everything in one place using a single key.

It comes with Wind Diffuser Technology and Air Trip Technology. These technologies help realize an aerodynamic and quiet ride. Besides, they help improve fuel efficiency in the vehicle.


Installing this truck rack requires no drilling. This straightforward installation process helps save time and avoid damaging the truck.


The Xsporter is a universal truck rack, meaning that it can fit almost any vehicle. Its sturdy aluminum construction allows it to withstand up to 450 pounds. This capacity is ideal for large kayaks and canoes.


The Xsporter boasts a robust design, highlighting durability and class. This aluminum design can comfortably withstand various elements. It can also hold significant weight for a long time.

Thule Xsporter PRO, Black, One Size
  • A truck bed rack system designed to carry 450lbs - No drilling required!
  • Adjustable bar height for added carrying, storage, and loading options
  • Secure the rack to the vehicle with included locks
  • An aerodynamic shape for maximized fuel efficiency
  • Built-in diffusers to reduce noise and drag

TMS Adjustable Pickup Truck Rack

TMS 800 LB Adjustable Fit 2 Bars Utility Ladder Truck Pick up Rack Kayak Contractor Lumber Utility (US Patent NO.D722,007)

The TMS Adjustable truck rack is an excellent choice for those on a budget. This item can fit in almost any truck bed. It can be adjusted to either 5-foot or 7-foot beds, depending on what you have. Its ability to hold up to two canoes provides you with value for your money. It can comfortably carry up to 800 pounds.

The TMS truck rack boasts incredible strength, robustness, and sturdiness. It comes with an aluminum construction that allows you to secure the kayak or canoe firmly. Such safety is all you need when driving on a relatively bumpy road.


You can use this truck rack on any truck and for any reason. Besides carrying watercraft, it is suitable for hauling lumber, pipes, and ladders.


The TMS kayak rack requires drilling. Its base is made from steel, and it comes with the necessary screws and bolts for assembly. You could also use up to eight clamps instead of drilling.

Design and Construction

The TMS rack features a relatively simple design. Its sturdy construction makes it ideal for heavy kayaks or canoes. Its bars weigh an approximate weight of 25 pounds each, making it easier for you to install them. This weight is enough to withstand a relatively large watercraft.


The TMS kayak rack is relatively affordable, making it suitable for those on a budget. Its affordability and longevity assure you of value for your money.

TMS 800 LB Adjustable Fit 2 Bars Utility Ladder Truck Pick up Rack Kayak Contractor Lumber Utility (US Patent NO.D722,007)
  • Set of 2 heavy duty steel adjustable truck ladder rack. This multi-functional rack is designed to haul bigger and longer items that the average pick-up truck bed cannot fit. It is perfect for ladders, lumber, pipes, pool equipment and much more.
  • Very sturdy frame offers a weight capacity of 800 lbs. Very easy to install. Width is adjustable from 5 feet to 7 feet to cater to a variety of truck bed sizes. Attaching longer items to a rack securely is much more convenient, and ensures the safety of your property without the worry of it falling out of your truck bed.
  • Max Height: 30 inch plus the height of your truck's bed. Width: Adjustable for most pickup trucks (Adjustable width of 5 feet minimum to 7 feet maximum where rack attaches to track bed).
  • Width: Adjustable for most pickup trucks (Adjustable width of 5 feet minimum to 7 feet maximum where rack attaches to track bed).

Malone Trailer Kayak Transport Package

Malone Big Foot Pro Universal Car Rack Canoe Carrier with Bow and Stern Lines

This product has everything you could ever need from a carrier. It comes with a 2-inch hitch, cross rails, four tie-down straps, base trailer, and cross rails.

Design and Construction

This kayak carrier boasts incredible space that can carry up to four kayaks at a go. Its low profile means that you do not need to lift the watercraft onto the carrier. It can carry up to 350 pounds of weight. Its design cushions it against bumping into the vehicle’s rear. This sturdy construction can also withstand high speeds, whether on highways or rough roads.


Its installation process is relatively straightforward. It comes with a set of installation instructions that are relatively easy to follow. The entire assembly process takes between two and three hours. However, it would be best to set aside four hours for this installation process, especially if you are a beginner.


This kayak carrier can work with SUVs and trucks as well. As long as the truck or SUV has a 2-inch hitch and it can tow over 250 pounds, this rack will be best.

Suppose you have a vehicle with a smaller hitch size. In this case, you can rely on adaptors. For instance, you can convert 1.25-inch adaptors to 2-inch ones.

Malone Big Foot Pro Universal Car Rack Canoe Carrier with Bow and Stern Lines
  • Car rack canoe carrier system with extra-strong 4-point gunwale system (rack/rails not included)
  • Polycarbon platform attaches to round, square, and factory oval cross rails
  • Padded deck area offers superior protection for canoe and gunwales
  • Corrosion-free and UV-resistant; universal-fit Jawz mounting hardware
  • Includes bow and stern safety tie-downs and two 12-foot buckle straps

Buying Guide For a Kayak Rack

While choosing a reliable truck kayak rack can be challenging, the insights provided above can guide you through the process. Some of the factors to consider during this pursuit are as follows.

How Strong You Are

Your strength determines which kayak rack to choose, as you will be the one to lift it to the top of the cab. Suppose you cannot lift heavy racks, it would be best to choose an adjustable product. Most people are barely comfortable with lifting heavy racks. In such cases, the most suitable choices would be the Malone Kayak Transport Package or the Darby Extend-A-Truck goal post rack.

Installation Requirements

You will choose between a kayak rack that requires drilling and that which does not. It would be wise to check with your vehicle manufacturer or garage before deciding. This installation has a permanent effect on the bed. Notably, no-drill options help preserve the integrity of your vehicle.

Check the Trailer Hitch

If you have a 2-inch hitch, getting a reliable kayak rack will be effortless. Conversely, you will need an adaptor if the hitch is smaller in size.

Suppose you have no hitch. A bed extender would be an excellent choice for you.

With a 2-inch hitch, a kayak trailer will be a great choice. It allows you to haul multiple watercraft and recreational equipment without a struggle.

Assembly Time

Labor-intensive options require more time to assemble. If you are looking forward to saving some time, it would be best to consider less labor-intensive carriers. Examples include the Darby Extend-A-Truck and AMP Bed Extender.

Storage Space

The amount of storage space determines how big a kayak rack to consider. Ensure that you choose an easy-to-store product. The AA Model APX33 will be an exceptional choice in such instances.


Undoubtedly, you are often conscious of your budget. Most top-notch brands, including Thule and Malone, assure you of top-quality products. However, their products could be a little pricy. Conversely, the TMS Adjustable could be an excellent option if you are on a smaller budget. If you’ve got the time and materials, consider building your own rack.

In conclusion, kayaks are prized items. Ensuring that they are safe during transportation should be a priority. Notably, the products provided above are suitable for this task. They are all safe, sturdy, and top-quality. However, ensure that you choose a product that suits your needs and preferences.

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