The Perfect Sport Buyers Guide

How To Transport A Kayak In A Truck? [10 Easy Steps]

how to transport a kayak in a truck

The feeling of putting my first Kayak in the back of the truck was quite nerve-wracking, to say the least. I was unsure of the best way to do it. I thought I was going to damage my new kayak. In this article, we’ll share some information from our experience to help you find the best way to transport a kayak.

Having a pickup truck is one of the most practical things you can have. Anyone who has one can attest to this. A kayak may be transported in a truck in a variety of ways.

  • With the tailgate up, smaller kayaks can fit in the bed.
  • With the tailgate down, medium kayaks may be fastened in.
  • A bed load extender can be used to transport larger kayaks.
  • Truck bed racks may be used to transport numerous kayaks.
  • Finally, a truck bed rack may be used to transport numerous kayaks.

There are three distinct bed lengths to select from: an 8-foot long bed, a 6-foot-5-inch regular bed, and a 5-foot-7-inch small bed. Depending on the manufacturer, they vary by a few inches. 

A kayak may be loaded either straight out or diagonally onto a truck bed. If you pack it diagonally, you can carry somewhat longer kayaks.

What are the requirements to transport a kayak in a truck?

Before we get into the meat of the matter, I’d like to suggest that you always check with your local authorities regarding the legal requirements to transport a kayak using a truck.

Here’s a list of things you’ll need to transport your kayak in a truck. As a result, you may need to buy:

? A rubber mat

? A truck that can be extended, which is totally optional

? Cam strap

? Cable for lock

? Truck bed extender

? Foam padding

? Red flag

How To Transport A Kayak In A Truck?

One of the simplest methods to get your kayak to the water is to transport it in a truck. 

If you’ve never done something like this before, it’s normal to feel puzzled about how to accomplish it. So, here’s a step-by-step guide we hope will help.

Step 1: Check that your truck is suitable to hold the weight of your kayak

Before you begin loading your kayak, double-check that your truck bed can support the weight correctly. Supporting a kayak that is between 10′ and 12.5′ in length may need some forethought. 

At least 70% of the length of your kayak should be supported from beneath the hull. 

When just a tiny portion of the hull is supported, issues, ranging from hull deformation to your kayak becoming lost on the roadway, might arise. 

Typical T-Bar truck bed extender for kayak
Typical T-Bar Extender

You should be OK hauling a shorter kayak in a 6′ truck bed with the tailgate down. However, if you have a longer kayak or a 5 foot truck bed, you may want to consider adding a bed extension. 

Spending a lot of money on a bed extension for your truck is unnecessary. The majority of bed extenders cost between $50 and $200.

Step 2: Clean the bed of the truck

The first thing you should do before putting your kayak into the vehicle is remove everything from the back of the truck. Making sure to remove anything that could damage your kayak. This is also a great opportunity to wipe the hull of your kayak to remove anything that has become stuck to the bottom.

The next step is to place your foam padding or kayak foam blocks in your truck’s bed. You can get foam kayak blocks from most good sporting stores.

The foam padding and blocks will assist in protecting the hull of your kayak by preventing it from sitting directly on the truck bed floor.

You may put a rubber mat on the bed’s floor to give some padding, so your boat doesn’t get scratched while being transported. I always keep a 1/2″ rubber mat on the truck tray. This also helps to protect the tray.

Step 3: Bring the tailgate down and carry the kayak

You should drop the tailgate once you’ve adequately cleaned up the truck bed. After that, you may go grab your kayak. 

It’s best to ask for help from someone to get the kayak into the truck. Having two people makes it easier to maneuver. This reduces the chances of damaging the kayak or truck. Most kayaks have handles that are made for lifting the full weight of the kayak. So be sure to use the grab handles while picking it up.

Step 4: Put the kayak in the truck’s bed

It’s time to load your kayak into the bed of your truck once you’ve made sure it’ll be adequately supported. 

Lift your kayak and load it stern-first into your truck, with the bow out the back of the truck. If you’re using a truck bed extender, just hoist the stern of your kayak onto the T bar of the extender. Then lift and slide from the bow. Once you reach the balance point, the kayak should simply onto your truck’s bed. 

Your vessel should now sit on top of the foam blocks or cushioning. Covering your foam with carpet or a fabric that has less friction than foam is also optional. This makes the sliding procedure a little simpler and smoother.

If you have a kayak that has a keel wheel, you’ll want to go ahead and load it into the truck the opposite way. That is bow first instead of stern first.

Because loading the kayak with the wheel in the keel in the back is the simplest, the front bow of the kayak should be against the cab of the vehicle. 

You must first stop the wheel in the keel from moving freely before elevating the front of your kayak. 

When loading, you don’t want to load the front and then have the back roll away. A simple way to lock the wheel is to use towel or a doorstop. 

If you have a rudder, you should load it, in the same way, to avoid harming the mechanism. If you don’t have a rudder, though, loading it from the back is OK; just make sure you don’t drag your kayak’s front (bow) on the concrete or asphalt. 

Others carry a flag on the rear of their kayak for transporting and use the wheel in the keel to stop by rolling it back over the flag. You can also ask someone to hold the back while you are getting the kayak in position. 

The goal is to keep the wheel from spinning freely during loading. It doesn’t matter how it gets locked, just as long as it does.

Now, lift the front of the kayak onto the tailgate or bed extension after the wheel in the keel is secured into position. 

Make sure your kayak is balanced before heading to the back. You don’t want it to topple over and get damaged or hurt someone. Simply hoist your kayak and slide it into your truck bed when you reach the back of it. 

Both your kayak and your truck will be protected if you place a piece of padding between the truck cab and the front of your kayak.

Step 5: Beaver tail and overdrive have special instructions

If you have an overdrive on your kayak, make sure to remove it before loading it into the truck bed. The overdrive should not be used to carry your kayak since it will stress the hull unnecessarily. 

If your kayak has a beaver tail rudder, it is advised that you use a cart to load and unload it from your vehicle. 

The beaver tail will drag on the ground without a cart during loading and unloading, putting unnecessary stress on the rudder, rudder cables, and kayak hull.

Step 6: Place the kayak in the appropriate position

Once the kayak is inside, make sure it is properly positioned. Depending on your truck’s size, one end should be facing the cab’s corner, while the other should be towards the tailgate’s opposite corner. Or the kayak should be loaded so that it goes straight in, and positioned on the middle of the truck tray. 

Do not attempt to close the tailgate if the kayak does not fit the length of the vehicle. Instead, place the kayak’s bow over it. 

We always recommend having your kayak flat in the tray and not over the closed tailgate. This adds extra load to the resting point on the tailgate, and once the kayak is tied down, it adds even more load. This will possible cause damage to the kayak.

Step 7: Secure the kayak

Step 7: Secure the kayak with its straps

It’s time to strap the kayak down once it’s within the truck bed. Fortunately, most trucks have anchor points on the bed wall, so this process isn’t difficult. If yours doesn’t, you’ll want to consider having some installed. 

A minimum of two cam straps are required. One for the bow and one for the stern. Thread them through the grab handles, draw them taut, and attach them to the anchor points on the wall. Use additional straps as you see fit. Be careful not to tighten the straps too much as you don’t what to add too much pressure that the kayak starts to bend.

Then double-check that your kayak doesn’t move significantly.

Step 8: Attach a red flag

Step 8: A red flag should be attached

Most states require you to attach a flag to anything sticking out more than a couple of feet from your truck’s bed. 

Check your local laws, but remember that a flag isn’t going to damage you. 

Even a simple red caution flag tied to your kayak, which is available at most local kayak stores, increases your kayak’s visibility to other vehicles on the streets.

Step 9: Double-check everything!

After a period of driving, it’s a good idea to pull over and double-check that your kayak is still secure and the straps are snug.

Step 10: Unloading the kayak

When you’re ready to unload your kayak, attempt to park somewhere flat, that is, not sloping and clear of huge pebbles. 

A boat ramp may appear to be ideal at first, but it frequently means that your kayak may roll away from you while unloading. If not using a cart, remove the straps and brake the wheel in the keel. 

Rear out of the truck bed and bed extender until the kayak hits its tipping point, then lower the back end to the ground or onto the cart. Return to the front end of the vehicle and pull the nose out, allowing it to rest on the ground. 

Wheel your kayak to the water using either the wheel in the keel or your cart. If you have an overdrive, connect it after the kayak’s hull is in the water.

If you’re interested in building your own kayak, you can read our article on how to build a kayak

Pros & Cons of transporting a kayak by truck

Loading your kayak onto the back of your vehicle and tying it down doesn’t get much easier. 

There’s a little more to it than that – you’ll also need a truck bed liner, a sturdy rubber mat to protect your goods, and foam blocks for cushioning – but you get the idea. 

Cable locks are an excellent technique to keep burglars out of your kayak. They may be wrapped around each kayak handle and an anchor point, making it nearly hard for anyone to use or steal without permission. 

If your tie downs or rope come free or break, they also serve as a safety line, stopping your kayak from flying down the roadway.

Pros Cons
✅ Your truck does not require any extra equipment or aftermarket modifications.To keep your kayak from being stolen, you’ll need a cable lock or lockable straps instead of ordinary ones.
✅ If you have a limited kayaking budget, this is an economical option for carrying your kayak.
✅ A simple and convenient approach that works well for shorter journeys.


You’ve made a list of everything you’ll need to move your kayak: Check that the kayak is in the pickup truck and that it is adequately secured. 

But before you can cross anything off your to-do list, you need to know how to do it correctly. It’s crucial to think about transportation when purchasing a kayak. 

Your pickup may be the perfect tool for the task, so we’ve put up a checklist to assist you properly secure your kayak in the bed of your truck.

Try it for yourself now that you know how to carry your kayak in your vehicle. The most crucial aspect is that it is properly fastened to prevent it from becoming loose and triggering a traffic disaster.