How to select the right kayak trailer

Yakima Rack and Roll

The how to choose the right kayak roof rack article provided a lot of great detail on selecting a kayak roof rack. The one gaping hole in the equation was kayak trailers. Kayak trailers make loading your kayak really easy. The trailer is lower to the ground, you don’t have to lift your boat quite as high in the first place. The kayaks are also behind the car and not causing as much wind resistance and killing your gas mileage. really the only issue with a trailer, is well… the trailer.

Towing a trailer requires a trailers hitch. Not every vehicle has a trailer hitch, trailer hitches are usually the provenance of pick-up trucks. My van actually has a trailer package, but no hitch. So you have to either purchase your vehicle with a hitch, or get it retrofitted. And this is not cheap. However if you are looking to carry four or five kayaks and a bunch of gear, maybe this isn’t such a bad investment. I am seriously considering a trailer. But I am trying to weigh my options.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • The number of kayaks you want to carry?
  • How often you will be carrying the maximum number of kayaks?
  • Do you have a trailer hitch?
  • Do you have a lot of people with you carrying gear?
  • Do you have difficulty loading a boat onto a tall vehicle alone?

For instance: if you are like me, you have a wife, two kids, a dog, five kayaks and maybe even a bike or three. When I go on vacation, I have to load all of this onto a tall minivan. I am only 5’7″ tall, so I usually grab a step ladder and get to work. We also bring a ton of camping gear and it would be nice to be able to pack bikes. But this happens once or twice a summer where everyone goes. I am still young and fit enough to get everything up on the roof. But the payoff would be pretty nice. All of it could go on the trailer with a cargo box, and even have some of the car freed up from my smelly neoprene smell. But is it worth the once or twice a summer to buy a $2000.00 trailer?


I travel to the lake on my own a lot, or with one friend. So it probably isn’t worth it. However if your answers to the questions above are 5-14, every day, yes, yes, yes. A kayak trailer is probably for you.

I am continuing to look at some kayak trailers and evaluate my options.

I’ve seens some really nice kayak trailers. The Bloyd-Peshkin’s have a particularly nice one with custom cabinets ala Alec. Maybe they can share some pictures in a comment…
*cough* hint, hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge

Editor’s note: The Bloyd-Peshkin’s Kindly shared their comment below and these photos:

That said. Some things I would look for in a trailer.

  • Capacity to carry more than 4 kayaks.
  • Some Space to load a cargo box full of gear on the frame
  • Some space to carry 3-4 bikes
  • small enough to fit in my garage.
    • Here are some sites that are offering trailers:

      Canoe Kayak Trailers
      Yakima’s new Rack and Roll Trailer
      Castle Craft

      I tend to like the simpler high capacity trailers. I can always rig a cargo box on my own.

      The Yakima trailer looks simple and effective, but when looking at the price, it seems like the smaller fabrication shops have it made on price and capacity.

      John Fleming Shared this image.

      Bike trailer for kayaks photo

      The bike trailer is courtesy of Ben Lawry. I would love to have one of these for doing the Kal-Haven to South Haven from Kalamazoo.


    1. Ouch! Stop nudging us!

      The reason we got a trailer was this: We realized we'd never go kayaking unless we got the kids involved. So we ended up with four boats, and therefore needed a trailer. Once we had it, we realized it also provided kayak storage; we could leave the boats on the trailer, and when we wanted to paddle, we just hitched it up and drove away!

      Over time,we found other benefits. It carries more than just the kayaks. We can put gear below, extra boats and paddles above, and so on.

      We'll send you some photos of our trailer, which doubles as a gear-drying rack, coffee table and social center at symposia.

      The hitch and wiring weren't such a big deal. Maybe $250 per vehicle, max.

      Downsides: You have to store it. Now you have another vehicle-size object that needs a roof.

      Maintenance: You need to grease the wheel bearings annually. Also, you need to be prepared with a spare tire. And other stuff can and does happen. We've had issues with broken leaf springs and loose fenders. See our blog posts from summer 2008.

      Overall, it's been a good thing for us.

      If you choose a trailer, look for one with larger wheels so the bearings don't have to spin at too high an RPM. Consider getting one with storage or adding some to one you buy.

      Ours is Magneta, from Iowa, heavily modified by Alec and a friend.

      We'll send photos via email and you can insert them if you like!

      Sharon & Alec

    2. Another use case to consider is a guy like me, who doesn't have a roof rack at all and is seriously considering a convertible. I hadn't thought of a trailer but it might be my only choice if I end up getting that sweet, sweet '69 Ghia vert.