A red truck Transporting a kayak in a truck bed

Transporting a kayak in a truck bed – all you need to know

You’ve got a couple of things here that go hand in hand. A kayak and a truck.

Transporting a kayak in a truck with a truck bed gives you loads of options to choose from to haul your kayak to and from the water.

After this article, you won’t be stuck wondering how to carry a kayak in a pickup truckyou’ll have loads of ideas, and you can pick which one suits you and your truck best. 

6 ways to transport a kayak in truck with a truck bed

Here we cover extensively pretty much all the ways you could transport a kayak on your truck, making use of the truck bed and other opportunities. 

We’ve scoured the internet and put hours of research into gathering all the available options for truck owners to transport kayaks on or in their trucks and truck beds.

Let’s have a look at the list.

A truck with a kayak in the back - one of 6 ways to transport a kayak in truck with a truck bed

1. Transport a kayak in the Truck Bed itself

First up is the actual truck bed itself – this is such an easy way to haul a kayak or two. 

You just need to drop the tailgate and load your kayak inside. 

You should invest in some form of padding underneath your kayak, to prevent any damage should you go over a bump or two.

And some cushioning objects to wedge the kayak in place. 

Then all you need to do is to strap and tie it down nice and tight to prevent the kayak from shifting at all when you accelerate. 

What we like: it is so easy! Because it requires no installation, you can just tie down your kayak in the back

What we don’t like: it’s not the best solution for all kayaks, particularly long kayaks that extend further than 60-70% off the back – then you need an extender for your truck bed.

2. Carry a kayak on a Truck Bed Extender 

Truck bed extenders do exactly as they say they will – make your truck bed longer so you can rest your cargo, like a kayak more stably onto your truck bed.

It also gives you more places to tie down your kayak securely, which is a bonus. 

Firstly there are basket-style tailgate bed extenders, but this is more appropriate for smaller goods and probably not suited to carrying kayaks.

There are also the extenders you can buy that attach to the hitch and extend a metal arm and holding bar out the back of the truck.

These are typically used to transport building material, like planks or ladders for example, but can also be used for kayaks.

The third option for a truck bed extender is a dedicated truck bed extender for kayaks. 

What we like: standard truck bed extenders can work nicely for kayaks. If you’re planning on using the extender for other things than just a kayak, this is probably the best option for you. 

But, if you’re going to use it solely for transporting a kayak, then go for a dedicated kayak truck bed extender for the additional protection it gives to your expensive boat. 

What we don’t like: standard extenders are not designed specifically for kayaks, so they come without any padding to protect the hull of your kayak. This could end up damaging your kayak if you hit a bump in the road!

3. Transport a Kayak on Truck Rack

Truck racks come in many forms and capacities to carry anything from timber to ladders, piping, to outdoor gear. 

These racks are a great way to enhance the carrying capacity of your truck, and there are multiple types of truck racks you can purchase. 

  • Truck bed racks with bars that run across the bed. 
  • Truck bed racks designed to transport cargo with different rails you can adjust.
  • Truck bed racks that are designed for expeditions. These have many different points at which you can tie objects down – those essential things you might need on a distant adventure into the wilds! 

All of these versions are designed to keep things out of the way of the actual storage of the truck bed – meaning you are still free to use that for transporting other items and gear. 

You can fit kayaks on a truck rack, but measure the distance between the crossbars and the length of your kayak.

You don’t want it so wide that the kayak doesn’t fit, or all of the weight of the kayak is being supported on the rack only by the two ends. 

What we like: truck racks keep your truck storage free of kayaks. This means you can pack additional gear if you’re traveling further afield on expeditions or adventures. 

What we don’t like: they are not solely designed for kayaks, so not every truck rack will be suitable for all kayak types and lengths. It’s worth measuring the rack and your kayak.

A man unloading a kayak thinking How do you unload a kayak from a truck bed 

4. Haul a Kayak with a Kayak Trailer

Kayak trailers are a pretty comprehensive solution to hauling your kayak.

It requires rigging a trailer to your hitch and loading the kayaks onto the trailer. 

If you have experience with trailers and have more than one kayak that won’t fit in your truck – this is an effective solution.

If you’re traveling away for a long trip, a trailer allows you to store even more essential gear in your truck, or on a roof rack if you are going all-out on the storage options. 

What we like: Ideal for transporting more than one kayak, or if your kayaks are too long for your truck bed. Also great if you need to carry other important equipment in the truck that you don’t want on a trailer. 

What we don’t like: They are a bit cumbersome, but if you’re experienced with driving a trailer, and have plenty of parking space for the trailer then go for it.  

5. Attach a kayak to a Kayak Roof Rack

One of the simplest solutions is to invest in a kayak roof rack.

This sits on the top of your truck cab, not the truck bed. So you’d load your kayaks onto the roof rather than the truck bed. 

There is a huge range of options for kayak roof racks, that suit truck cabs that either do or do not have roof rails to attach them to.

After an easy installation, they provide a solid and stable platform that protects your truck while transporting your kayaks securely. 

If your truck cab is particularly high, you can even get load-assist kayak roof racks that do some of the heavy lifting for you.

What we like: One of the easiest solutions for transporting a kayak on your truck, without affecting the truck bed storage.

There is a massive range of options, so it should be easy to find the right rack for your truck and kayak.

What we don’t like: Truck cabs can be high up, making it difficult to load the kayak up onto a roof rack. So you may need to invest a little more into a kayak roof rack that has a load-assist function to make it easier for you. 

6. Transport a kayak on a Truck Rack for Tonneau Covers

Does your truck have a cover over the truck bed storage?

Tonneau covers are excellent security for valuable items stored beneath them, but they can pose an issue for installing a kayak truck rack.

Take a look at this article for the best kayak roof racks for trucks with tonneau covers (click here) to check what you might need to install the right rack system. 

What we like: Racks for tonneau covers allow you to effectively access the truck bed storage while transporting things above the truck bed – doubling the amount of storage you have. 

What we don’t like: It’s easy to buy the wrong type of rack to work with a truck bed cover, so do your research to find the best rack for a tonneau cover.

Transporting kayaks in truck beds – Law and regulations

There are specific rules at a federal level about how far an object you are transporting can extend either off the front or back of your truck. 

These rules apply to everyone across the states, so it’s important you follow these wherever you are. 

For objects hanging off the back of your truck the rules are as follows in terms of the distance something can extend off the back:

3ft off the front of your vehicle

4 ft off the back /rear of your vehicle 

Any longer and you should have warning flags or lights to signal the hazard to other drivers.

Read this article for more information on how far a kayak can hang out of a truck.

Loading your kayak to transport it on a truck bed

When loading your kayak onto your truck bed you have a couple of ways you can do it. 

Either has the tailgate down and load up that way, like in this video, where you slide the kayak onto the truck bed from your kayak trolley, using it almost as a lever. 

Then you lift and slide the kayak onto the truck bed and fasten appropriately. 

Or, if you have a shorter kayak – 6-8ft – you might be able to transport it with the tailgate up and have the kayak pointing to one of the back corners of the truck, as it lies diagonally across the truck bed.

Be warned though, that the kayak can only stick out to the side a certain distance – check the rules in your state. 

Here’s that article again with information on how far a kayak can stick out the back of a truck. 

Securing your kayak to your truck

You cannot be sure enough that you’ve secured your kayak well enough. 

Shooting off the back of your truck accidentally transforms your kayak into a flying spear to meet the car behind. 

Use plenty of straps to tie down your kayak. I’ve read people using up to three of four straps to do this – don’t just rely on one, if it fails, there is nothing else to prevent the kayak from slipping.

How do you unload a kayak from a truck bed? 

Unloading the kayak from a truck bed is as simple as loading – watch the video above because it covers unloading as well as loading. 

It’s basically the reverse process. 

Get your kayak trolley ready and positioned behind your truck.

Pull ou the kayak from the truck bed, and push it down onto the kayak trolley so that the trolley takes the weight and you can fasten it onto the cart.

Then, at the other end of the kayak in the truck bed, pull the kayak toward you and maneuver it with the handle grip at the front. 

Transporting a kayak on a truck bed safely. 

Safety should be your first concern when transporting a kayak.

If you’re not certain your kayak is secure and stable on the back of your truck bed, don’t risk transporting it. 

Re-attach it and try other methods to ensure it’s nice and safely attached.

Transporting a kayak in a truck bed. FAQs

How to transport a kayak in a ute

For how to transport a kayak in a ute, the options are similar to trucks, including:

  1. Transport a kayak in the Ute Bed itself
  2. Carry a kayak on a Ute Bed Extender 
  3. Transport a Kayak on Truck Rack suited to a Ute.
  4. Haul a Kayak with a Kayak Trailer attached to your Ute
  5. Attach a kayak to a Kayak Roof Rack suited to a Ute
  6. Transport a kayak on a Truck Rack for Utes with Tonneau Covers

Can a kayak fit in a truck bed? 

Yes, a kayak can fit in a truck bed, but you may have to invest in a truck bed extender if the kayak is too long.

General rules are that the kayak should be resting about 60-70% of the hull on the truck before you need an extender.

If the kayak is short enough, 6ft-8ft, then you might be able to fit it diagonally along the truck bed with the tailgate up.

How to haul 2 kayaks in a truck

It’s possible to haul two kayaks in a truck. One of the best ways is using a truck bed extender, and then stacking the two kayaks on top of each other.

Be sure to add padding to the kayaks so that the extender bars don’t damage the kayaks, or the kayaks themselves don’t bash and dent each other while driving. 

How do you strap a kayak to a bed extender? How do you secure a kayak to a truck bed extender?

Ideally, 3-4 cargo straps are great solutions for strapping a kayak to a bed extender and the truck bed securely.

Start by wrapping the strap around the extender bar, and then loop right around the kayak hull, coming back around the extender bar and repeating a couple of times to attach securely. 

Here’s a useful video as an example.

Transporting a kayak in a truck bed. Summary.

As you’ve seen there are many options to choose from when transporting a kayak in a truck bed. 

In fact, there are 6 main kayak transportation solutions: 

  1. Transport a kayak in the truck Bed itself
  2. Carry a kayak on a truck Bed Extender.
  3. Transport a Kayak on Truck Rack.
  4. Haul a Kayak with a Kayak Trailer attached to your truck.
  5. Attach a kayak to a Kayak Roof Rack on your truck
  6. Transport a kayak on a Truck Rack for trucks with Tonneau Covers

This article has provided in-depth research and expert advice to help guide you to the right solution for you and hauling your kayak, or two kayaks on your truck bed.