Kayak Rack for Truck: Best Kayak Racks For Any Budget


Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 7/4/2022

It's hard to find kayak racks for trucks, and it's hard to sift through all the reviews and similar products online.

Roof racks for kayaks are too essential to buy without knowing the ins and outs of each model.

This guide will look at the best kayak racks for trucks on the market today, help you understand the differences, and get your watercraft to its destination safely.


Two-Kayak System All-in-One (AA Model APX25)  

In our review of the APX25, we named it the best all-in-one system. Because it includes everything, you need to fit both your kayaks on your truck and your paddle partner's kayaks comfortably. There are four j-racks for two kayaks, eight c-clamps, and ratchet straps on the kayak roof rack.

Can it be used with any bed?

As well as standard truck beds like the Chevy and Ford, the AA Model APX25 can fit the unique bed of the Toyota Tacoma. For both mounts, the steel tube can be adjusted to fit a variety of truck bed widths.

Avalanche or Honda Ridgeline trucks, or any non-standard truck bed, are incompatible with the AA Model.

The c-clamps, ratchet straps, and extended bolts will keep both of your watercraft in place as you drive down bumpy roads to your water destination.

With an extra set of J-racks, one adventure traveler took their APX25 cross-country:

In Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, I traveled 2500 miles in three kayaks, where speed limits reach 80 mph and severe side winds can occur. There are 2 c-clamps per side per bar (for 4 c-clamps per bar), and the rack is solid. Stability wasn't a problem, and no bowlines or stern lines were used."

Some kayak racks can only hold kayaks up to 12 feet in length. Even canoes fall into that category!

One or both kayaks can weigh up to 2200 pounds, and the company has tested them thoroughly.

No drilling is required

Are you looking for an easy-to-install and easy-to-deconstruct truck rack? 

Look no further than the AA Model APX25. There is no need to drill any holes in the side of your bed! Eight included C-Clamps make this easy for you and preserve the resale value of your vehicle. 

BedXTender 74813 (Best Truck Bed Extender) from AMP Research

AMP Research 74813 BedXTender is a U-shaped gate. You can utilize the entire bed by lowering the tailgate and attaching the extender. Basically, it's a universal truck bed extender that gives you an extra two feet of kayak space.

Those with shorter kayaks or trucks without a hitch may find this helpful product.

Alternatively, you might not want a long kayak hanging from your truck. Parking and driving with long cargo are more complicated than it seems!

The kayak can be secured by placing one end on the extender, and the other end diagonally tucked away toward the cab. To prevent the craft from moving around and hitting the sides of your bed, lash it down in that position. 

Simply flip your truck bed extender inside and close your tailgate when you are not using it for carrying water sports gear. This keeps any items that are easy to lose from flying out so you can cruise down the interstate carefree.

It is important to remember that the AMP Bed Xtender comes with instructions for drilling it into your truck. Still, bracket install kits are available that prevent permanent modifications to your truck bed.

(Best Goal Post Truck Racks) Darby Industries Extend-A-Truck

Darby Industries 944 Extend-A-Truck
Value for money

Extend-A-Truck by Darby Industries is a goal post truck rack. A single bar extends upward from the hitch of this 25-pound kayak transport into the shape of a football goal post. Thus, this truck rack's unoriginal name! 

It is convenient to have the red flag and receiver hitch included with this Darby product. This product can be used if you have a class III or class IV hitch with a 2-inch receiver. So, buying accessories isn't a guessing game.

Only the ratchet straps for securing your craft for the trip to your water-filled destination will need to be purchased. 

You can fold up your Extend-A-Truck and store it behind a seat or in your bed when you aren't using it. This is extremely useful when you're trying to find a spot at a crowded boat ramp.

One user said,

"...you can put it on in about one minute and strap it down in another 30 seconds".

Quite versatile

We'll give you a quick rundown of how it differs from a traditional kayak roof rack. Five holes are drilled in the painted black steel bar to attach your kayak to both the laptop and the bed, and this gives you the most flexibility when transporting your kayak.

Extend-A-Truck also has the advantage of not requiring a truck to work. Are you driving a Jeep, Honda Element, or another SUV with 58 inches between the hitch and the top of the roof? This item can be used as long as you have a roof rack to take the place of the truck bed. 

Users can't say enough good things about the Extend-A-Truck, describing it as 'versatile,' 'no brainer, 'easy to use, even 'ingenious.' 

Your Darby can support up to 350 pounds of equipment and a width of 4 feet, no matter what you decide to carry. Tandem kayaks, canoes, solo kayaks, timber, crown molding, or anything else that meets these requirements can be hauled!

(The Best Adjustable Bar Truck Racks) Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum

Thule Xsporter Pro
Easy to install
Value for money

As mentioned in our Kayak Transport Made Easy article, the Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum is another worthwhile product. Still, we thought it was worth exploring what makes it such a popular truck rack accessory. 

Thule products are known for their reliability and easy integration.

Another benefit of this top kayak rack is its ability to perform consistently during long trips, rocky 4x4 roads, and high speeds. Your truck's black or silver finish will look fantastic; didn't we mention that?

Whisper-quiet kayaks transportation

For those riding in the cab, transporting a kayak on your truck is a nuisance because of the loud noise. The Thule kayak rack uses Airstrip Technology to make the trip to the lake fun, not painful.

When it's attached to your truck, this roof rack will cost you a lot of money, so you must protect it.

There is, however, no better kayak rack that provides the protection you seek than this Thule model. You can actually lock your kayak rack securely on your bed using four different patented Secure Locks. 

Because there is no need to cut or drill in to your vehicle, anyone can follow the instructions and easily install this popular rack. It can hold up to 450 pounds, making the Xsporter Pro Aluminum versatile.

Here are some examples of how one customer uses the adjustable Thule for different kinds of work and play:

"Dirt bike on weekends and do construction on weekdays. Need to haul ladders and lumber, and this does the trick. The adjustable height and easy, flexible installation make it versatile on any of our fleet vehicles. Something that fitted welded racks just can't do."

No matter what your intended use, the Thule Xsporter is the gold standard for safe, reliable, and quiet kayak racks for your truck.

The Best Affordable Kayak Truck Rack (TMS Adjustable Pick Up Truck Racks)

Almost any truck can be fitted with the TMS Adjustable Pick Up Truck Rack. You don't have to buy a new rack if you buy a new truck because it can adjust to both 5-foot and 7-foot wide beds.

In addition to being the most affordable item on our best-of list, this powerful TMS can carry up to 800 pounds of watercraft.

Are you looking for a roof rack that can hold two kayaks? Canoes? How about two canoes? It's now possible while still staying within your budget.

There is plenty of space above your bed for you to elevate your items up to 30 inches. Some people even said that this was too tall for their truck.

One Toyota Tacoma owner "cut four inches off the height" to fit his vehicle. One Ranger owner "cut three inches off the horizontal bars."

To save them $500-600 on products specific to their vehicles, these minor modifications to this universal rack were "worth it."

This adjustable product makes it easier to secure a heavier kayak if you have one. In addition, the combined weight of both bars is only 50 pounds. Outdoors people of all shapes and sizes can attach one 25-pound bar at a time.

Using this steel rack, you can firmly secure longer watercraft due to its strength and stability. A paddler takes their 17-foot canoe up to the top.

Take note if you work in construction or like to do DIY. You can attach lumber, pipes, and ladders to this pickup truck rack.

It is essential to remember that this TMS kayak rack for trucks requires drilling.

For assembly, the bases feature tough-as-nails steel and bolts and screws. Some users replaced the bolts and screws with clamps, recommending eight clamps.

Kayak Racks for RVs (limited)

There aren't many options for kayak racks for RVs unless you custom makes something, which can be expensive. Another option worth considering instead of quality and affordable standard vertical kayak rack for your RV is a kayak trailer.

There are many different types of transport trailers on the market today. Still, not all of them are reliable enough to transport your precious cargo. Not to mention worrying about the crazy drivers on the highway behind you as you rush into your paddling excursion!

The Malone MicroSport Trailer Kayak Transport Package: (Best Kayak Rack for RVs).

Malone MicroSport XT Trailer
Light weight
Easy to assemble
Value for money

An RV kayak rack user can find everything they could want with the Malone Trailer Kayak Transport Package. Included are two 2-inch hitches, a base trailer, cross rails, four tie-down straps, two tires (plus one spare! ), and four Malone kayak j racks.

There is no better system for transporting up to four kayaks at a time without having to lift them on your vehicle's roof!

Assembly is easy, and the manufacturer estimates it will take 2-3 hours. When you haven't put anything together for a while, we recommend setting aside 4 hours. Prior buyers report that the instructions are very straightforward.

Malone kayak trailers can also be used for other vehicles

The Transport Package is not limited to RVs. You can use this trailer as long as your truck, van, SUV, or other vehicle has a 2-inch hitch and can tow 250 pounds plus the kayak weight. It can, by the way, tow 350 pounds.  

Adapters can be found even if you have an automobile with a more minor hitch. A kayak enthusiast attached their Malone trailer to their Chevy Cobalt using an adaptor that "easily converts your 114" to 2".

Some people may be nervous about their gear bumping around in the back of a trailer if they have never used one before. Despite this, Malone manufactured a highly durable product and could handle highway speeds even when it wasn't carrying much.

Here Are Some Truck Kayak Rack Takeaways

This article covered a few factors you should consider when choosing the best kayak truck rack. 

  • What is your strength? Is there a way to lift your kayak onto the roof, or do you need an adjustable rack? If heavy lifting isn't possible, the Malone Kayak Transport Package or Darby Extend-A-Truck goal post rack might be your best option.
  • Drill or not to drill: If you're thinking of doing anything permanent to your bed, check with your vehicle manufacturer or garage first. Double-check if you still have the warranty on your truck. Most of the options in this article don't require drilling to preserve the integrity of your vehicle.
  • Is there a trailer hitch on your vehicle? Is it 2 inches, or do you need an adapter? Maybe an AMP bed extender will do instead if you don't have a hitch. If you do, a kayak trailer might make your life a lot easier, especially if you have a lot of kayaks and other recreational gear to transport.
  • How much time do you want to spend assembling, installing, and removing your kayak rack? AMP Bed Xtender and Darby Extend-A-Truck are both less labor-intensive options.
  • Storage space available: When not in use, kayak trailers will be more difficult to store than kayak roof racks like the AA Model APX25.
  • Price: You can't go wrong with any Thule product if you're willing to pay for peace of mind and brand trust. The Malone name is equally synonymous with quality. However, if you're on a budget after purchasing a kayak, the TMS Adjustable Pick Up Truck Kayak Rack is a great option for frugal fun-seekers.

As long as you pay attention to your needs and your truck's needs, you can't go wrong with any of the products we've listed as top contenders.