If you own a kayak, you probably know the unbridled joy and frustration it can bring you. The pleasure comes from the afternoons you spend out on the water, soaking up the sun, working out your mind and body. The frustrations can come from trying to haul the darn boat to the water, to begin with.
Some people are lucky enough to dock their kayaks near the water, while others have to deal with hauling them on their vehicles.
A kayak carrier makes hauling your kayak around easier for you.
Trailer Hitch Kayak Carriers
For several reasons, the kayak carrier’s most popular style is the trailer hitch receiver kayak racks. Your trailer hitch is located on the back-end of your car, and it is what you use for the majority of your towing, hauling, and carrying needs. Trailer hitches are great for kayak hauling duties because they are stable, durable, and capable of handling a ton of weight. This means that you can even haul multiple kayaks at a time if you buy the appropriate carrier for the job. However, no matter how big and rugged your truck or SUV is, you won’t be able to correctly fit a 12′ boat into your trunk or pick-up bed. If you want an easy way to haul your kayak around, you need to look at trailer hitch kayak carriers.
Top Selling Hitch Mounted Kayak Racks
You can spend hours on the internet mindlessly browsing through page after page of kayak carriers. After a while, you’ll notice that they start to blend together, and you aren’t making any progress towards actually picking one. To spare you a headache and make your job a little bit easier, we decided to compile a list of trailer hitch kayak racks that are affordable as well as great at their job. We have three different brands and three different prices, depending on your budget.
Extend-A-Truck 944 Truck Bed Extender
The Extend-a-Track can carry more than just one canoe. It can carry many other things. It can be put on after a minute and tied down in another 30 seconds. It’s easy to carry the kayak or canoe as it slides into the bed and under the tonneau or folding bed cover (if you have one). Unfortunately, there is nothing on the Extend-a-Track that secures the bow of the canoe to the front of the bed, so you have to buy straps and feed them through the bow of the canoe (unless you have a bed cover).
Extend-a-Track’s downside is that putting a 16-foot canoe into an 8-foot bed makes the truck very long and difficult to maneuver in tight parking spaces. But, with a stand like this, you can easily move your kayak or canoe twice as fast as you could without it. But, with a stand like this, you can easily move your kayak or canoe twice as fast as you could without it.
At under $100, you aren’t going to find a trailer hitch rack that is more affordable. Haul your kayak face down as there are no cushioning mechanisms at the front of the carrier.
Yakima DryDock Truck Hitch Boat Carrier
The Yakima brand is already familiar to you if you are an outdoorsy type, thanks to their work with bicycle racks. The Yakima DryDock Truck Hitch rack is perfect if you have a kayak that you want to take good care of when hauling it around. You’ll notice that this carrier utilizes a Y frame to give your kayak a wide base to rest on while minimizing how much space it takes up. You can adjust the carrier’s height to match your roof, and you can lower it out-of-the-way when not in use. You also have strong safety straps to make sure that nothing moves on longer trips. This hitch carrier fits a 2″ hitch receiver and requires Bow/Stern straps, purchased separately.
Rhino Rack T-Loader Kayak Rack
Rhino Rack isn’t a juggernaut in the industry yet, but they will be soon thanks to products like the Rhino Rack T-Loader Kayak Rack. The Rhino Rack is as easy to use as it looks and requires little more than a 2″ hitch receiver to get in operation. This carrier can have its height and tilt adjusted and is perfect for someone with a single kayak that needs to be carried around. You don’t need any additional straps or accessories, and you’ll have it installed and ready to go in a few minutes. We love this kayak for situations where you won’t have an additional rider with you to help load/unload. Easy to install, easy to use, the Rhino Rack T-Loader Kayak Rack is our overall favorite top option in the marketplace right now.
What should you look for in a trailer hitch carrier?
Alright, so you’ve wisely decided to opt for the trailer hitch carrier to solve your kayak hauling needs. What are you exactly looking for? A cursory search on Google will reveal to you various sorts of hitch carriers that all kind of look-alike. Are they all similar? Sure. Are they interchangeable? Not at all. Let’s break down what you’ll be looking for as you start shopping.
Unless we all owned the same car, the height would be a priority when you shop for your trailer hitch kayak rack. You optimally want a hitch carrier that you can adjust the height and tilt with relative ease. This allows you to accommodate tight spaces and more effortless loading.
Do you have two single-person kayaks that you need to carry around? Are you just interested in hauling your kayak around? The width of the T-bar in your hitch carrier will decide how many kayaks you can load on top of it. If you need to carry two kayaks, then make sure your vehicle and carrier are both wide enough to take on the job.
When you don’t have your kayak loaded up, you don’t want to be dragging a couple of feet of steel rack behind you, do you? The best kayak carriers are as easy to install as they are to put away. We’ve seen trailer hitch carriers that fold nicely against your vehicle when not in use. Ultimately this is a preference and not something mandatory, but we like a carrier that we can shove out-of-the-way when we are done without any fuss.
This kayak carrier is installed directly onto your roof by way of your roof racks. For a horizontal kayak carrier, you will need a roof rack along with the 4-piece fitted kayak handles that clip on top of your ride. From there, you load your boat and then strap it down by going end to end, underneath the car.
There are a couple of different roof racks: Horizontal Kayak Carrier, J-Style Kayak Carrier, and Vertical Kayak Carrier. When you use a roof rack, you will be sacrificing fuel efficiency and height to load/unload your kayak effortlessly.