Since camping gear is no small investment, it makes sense to build your own kayak rack. There are several things to consider before starting a do-it-yourself project called “How to Build a Kayak Rack for Truck.”
Kayak Rack build: things to consider
- Make a plan that would fit all your needs. Do not forget to ask yourself:
- How often are you going to use your rack?
- Do you need to carry one or more kayaks at a time?
- Do you need the rack to function for work or play?
- Decide on the style of a homemade rack. You can go with a roof kayak rack, thus keeping your truck bed free to haul other gear, or opt for a kayak rack for a truck bed.
- Sunlight, extreme heat, damp, cold, and so on can negatively affect the roof rack strength. Therefore, you should choose heavy-duty yet lightweight materials so that your kayak rack serves you reliably for years to come. Kayak racks made from PVC are sufficiently sturdy, lightweight, and affordable.
- Be sure to have everything necessary for your DIY project: safety goggles, a drill, measuring tape, saw, hammer, screwdriver, and so on are necessary.
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Kayak Rack for truck: building your custom solution
When you are about to build your own kayak carrier, if will fit your specific bed truck. So you will have to make your own measurements. Also keep in mind, that if you have 2 trucks with different bed lengths, the construction may be different for these two. So pick the truck you plan transporting your kayak or canoe with and stick to the exact bed measurements.
- Measure the bed of your truck (length, width and depth).
- Decide what height of the rack will be over the bed walls. Consider specs of your kayak or canoe to get better ideas on that.
- Get measurements for the corner mounting holes to run hardware for pipes.
- Based on the measurements you’ve got, cut the pipes for the construction. Sand the edges with sandpaper once done to avoid sharp edges.
- Hammer down edges of the pipes that will work as vertical anchors. You will need to put a pipe on a flat surface and just flatten the edge with the hammer. Keep fitting the pipe into the mount hole and when needed keep hammering it until it works fine. Do that to each pipe that will work as an anchor.
- Not to drill your truck, it’s recommended to use adjustable hook and eye pieces attached to a pipe collar to attach the pipes of the rack to the truck bed. Using this hardware, mount the vertical pipes.
- Create mounting poles on top of each vertical pipe to attach cross pipes. To do that, you will need to mount the collars to the upper side of each pipe and make sure they sit vertical.
- Once done, add support rails. This will ensure you are making a sturdy rack.
- Add insulation foam to the pipes that will potentially support the kayaks. This will prevent your kayak/kanoe from getting scratched and sliding around. You can do this before you mount the pipes.
- Once done, tighten the anchors and bolts, and you are ready to load your canoes or kayaks into the truck bed.
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How to transport a kayak in a truck
Once everything is tightened, test the construction to make sure it is firm enough. Potentially, you can transport pretty much anything using the rack you’ve built, not only watercrafts. It can be anything that runs along two pipes over the bed of your truck.
- To transport kayaks, ladders, canoes or whatever you need to, load your investment over the pipes and lay flat.
- Next, take straps and attach them to the bed of your truck.
- Run the straps over the kayaks to ensure snug fit.
- Tighten the straps and you are good to go!
How to tie down a kayak in a truck bed
Since kayaks are pretty expensive items, you definitely don’t want to do anything that would damage them. Tying a kayak or canoe down securely will help you keep it safe on the road. Let’s go through how to do it.
- Get the kayak in the truck. Clean out your truck bed, lower your tailgate, then slide the kayak into the truck bed, and close the tailgate. In case of sufficient overhang, tie a flag to the end of the boat to alert other drivers behind you to the potential hazard.
- Position the kayak in your truck bed. First, angle the stern of the kayak into the front left corner of the truck bed and then align the kayak’s bow to the tailgate at the opposite corner. If you are using the rack you’ve build by yourself, you may need to put the kayak over the pipes.
- Secure fastening straps. Run a cam buckle strap over the top of the boat, then attach the cam buckle to the anchor points of your truck and pull to tighten. Run a second tie-down from the tow loop back to the bed anchor. Tighten down the strap and pull the kayak forward into your truck’s rear bed wall.