How Do You Carry A Kayak On A Pickup Truck?

This article may contain affiliate links. For details, visit our Affiliate Disclosure page.

How Do You Carry A Kayak On A Pickup Truck?

If you are going to be kayaking in an area with little or no road access, you will need to pack up your kayak and carry it on your pickup truck.

Most people simply use ratchet straps or ropes to secure the kayak on the top of their truck bed and then tie down other items on top. A better method is to use a kayak sail kit.

A kayak sail kit is a set of poles that fit into your kayak and when rigged up properly, allow you to carry your kayak on the top of your truck bed. It’s very secure and allows you to load everything else on top of it as well without having to worry about the wind pushing your car over. I have been using a kayak sail kit for almost 15 years now. I originally used it to carry my aluminum boat on top of my pickup truck in Idaho. Finding the right set of kayak poles came down to a few things:

Lift and weight ratio

The best kayak sail kit I’ve found has two main parts (two poles), each with a lift of about 2,000 lbs. That is way more than necessary but also less than you will likely ever need. The weight of the poles alone is already about 1,000 lbs. Jump those up to 2,000 and you are at 5,000 lbs. This is far more than is necessary but I always like to have a little extra lift on hand just in case I need it.

Check Out: Which one is the best truck racks for kayaks?!

Kayak sail kit

A set of 12 x 10 carbon fiber kayak poles with a lift of 2,000 lbs. The sail kit is hooked up with two Class III winches from my ’78 GMC pickup (cable pulled by a tractor).

Pole Diameter

The poles should be at least 5 inches in diameter (to fit inside the kayak sail kit) with a wall thickness of at least 1/2 inch. The poles I use are 6 inch diameter with a wall thickness of 3/4 inch. These poles are extremely rigid and I am very confident that they could hold up to an accidental wind gust if at all possible.

Kayak Pole Strength

One of the most important factors when selecting kayak poles is the strength you want. The two poles I use in my kayak sail kits have a strength rating of 4,000 lbs. per pole. The strongest I’ve found are made by Grav-Lok and are rated at 8,000 lbs. No matter what kind of weight you plan on carrying on your car, you need to make sure that your kayak sail kit has the capacity to handle it (4,000 lbs. per pole).

Kayak Sail Kit Weight

The weight of the kayak sail kit is what really determines how much you can carry. You would normally have a bed of at least 2,000 lbs. in your pickup truck. The way I handle this is by using a set of 4″ drum type wheels that come on my GMC and are cut down to fit the bed. They are very light duty and only cost about $50 each (about $20 each if you steal them from your dad’s farm tractor).