Kayaking in different locations is exciting and fun, but there’s one problem – transporting a kayak or canoe is not the easiest thing to do! That’s where these best kayak trailer models come in.
Rather than putting your watercraft on a roof rack and risk straining your back, all you need is to put it on a trailer’s marine-grade galvanized steel frame, tie the ratchet straps, and be on your way to your next kayaking adventure. Some are even fitted with larger wheels and a suspension system for smooth hauling!
What You Should Consider Before Buying a Kayak Trailer
The last thing you’d want is a trailer that damages your kayak or cause an accident. Here are the things you should look out for before you purchase a trailer for your kayak.
Kayak Trailer Types
All kayak trailers have one purpose – to make kayak transporting convenient. However, some types are more suitable for a specific lifestyle or kayaking needs.
- Low Bed Kayak Trailer: Manufacturers design a low bed kayak trailer to sit lower or closer to the ground. This low-profile configuration allows you to easily load and unload your watercraft; it minimizes the need to lift your kayak.
- Multi-Sport Trailer: As its name suggests, this trailer is not only capable of carrying a kayak, it can also carry sports equipment like bicycles. They are often made from strengthened steel tubular frames to support the weight.
- Stacked Trailer: This kayak trailer type consists of multiple racks, allowing you to stack kayaks on top of each other. It consists of a heavier-duty elevated frame and larger wheels.
- Side-by-Side Trailer: The design is to carry two kayaks on a low-bed frame, each next to the other. This style makes it easier for drivers when pulling up and dropping off their passengers at water access points.
- Trailer Top Carrier: If you already have a trailer but not for kayaks, you can convert it by using a trailer top carrier. It directly attaches to the trailer, giving you an extra level to place kayaks and other kayak gear like paddles on top.
- Multi-Kayak Trailer: This kayak trailer is a combo of stacked and side-by-side. You have up to three elevated levels, and each level can accommodate two to three kayaks next to each other.
Number of Kayaks
How many kayaks do you own, and are you planning to bring all of them to your next weekend getaway? Knowing this can help you further shortlist your option for the best kayak trailer. Keep in mind that it’s not recommended to modify the trailer to accommodate more kayaks in the future. Doing so can throw off balance and put stress on the frames.
Maximum Load Capacity
All kayak trailers have a recommended maximum load capacity. Overloading can, again, put pressure on the frames, wheels and axles, causing the trailer to sway or give out. So, unless you want to cause an accident, always double-check the maximum weight capacity of the kayak trailer.
You have two options for the frame material – galvanized steel and aluminum. Galvanized steel is inexpensive. The downside is it’s heavy, which means it can put more stress on your vehicle to haul. On the other hand, aluminum is more expensive, but it is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and has better payload capacity.
Most kayak trailers are designed to fit different types of hitch receivers. Some designs include a ball mount that will accept multiple styles of hitches, while others incorporate a receiver that “snaps” over the ball mount for a more permanent installation. If you have a hitch that allows horizontal adjustment, you may not need an adapter with a ball mount.
Don’t want your kayak hitting your vehicle? Get a trailer with a longer tongue length. Unlike regular utility trailers, kayak trailers have an extended tongue to accommodate the protruding stern. A more extended tongue also results in less strain on the hitch.
Wheel Size and Suspension System
The best kayak trailer models are fitted with either a leaf-spring or Torsion Axle suspension system. The latter has fewer moving parts and offers better handling control. On the other hand, a leaf-spring system has curved springs, allowing equal weight distribution per wheel.
As for the wheel size, smaller wheels make loading and unloading easier because it’s much closer to the ground. However, they are not recommended because they wear out faster and are not suitable for highway driving.
Kayak Trailer Accessories You Will Need
In addition to getting a kayak trailer per se, you will need to pick up a couple of accessories for secure and safe kayak transporting.
- Tow Flag: Nothing works better than a bright color to make your kayak trailer more visible to other drivers on the road. Using a tow flag prevents anyone from rear-ending your trailer and causing damage to you and your kayak.
- Cam Straps: You don’t want your kayak sliding and hitting the pavement, right? Cam straps make sure that nothing comes loose and falls off of your kayak trailer.
- Receiver and Cable Lock: If you want to be 100% absolutely sure that the hitch is locked in place, get a receiver lock. You can also grab a cable lock to lock the wheels when parked.
- Kayak Cover: Transporting an expensive kayak? Get a kayak cover. Not only does it protect your kayak from rocks and tiny debris flung up by other vehicles, but it can also shield your kayak from the sun.
What Are the Best Kayak Trailers
Now that you have everything you need to make an informed buying decision, it’s time for the most exciting part – your options for the best kayak trailer! We’ve picked these trailers for kayaks based on their durability, ease of assembly, storage options (does it fold or does it fit inside a garage?), and of course, how hard it is to maneuver.
Keep in mind that you will need to register a kayak trailer before taking it on the road!
1. Malone Auto Racks Ecolight Sport Trailer
The Malone Auto Racks EcoLight Sport Trailer is a good option if you are after a light-duty trailer that you take out once or twice a month.
This galvanized trailer can hold up to 400lbs, which is more than enough if you only have one or two kayaks. Worried that it will easily rust and corrode? Don’t be. The trailer is marine-grade, offering better corrosion resistance even after repeated exposure to saltwater. You also get a 5-year warranty.
But what makes this trailer really stand out is its DOT-approved submersible incandescent lighting.
Now on to the disadvantages. Its 8″ wheels – albeit rated up to 70mph – are tiny compared to other trailers on our list. Plus, it will take you at least three hours to assemble this trailer, even if you follow the instructions to a T.
2. Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak Cart
Already have a kayak roof rack and just want to make kayak hauling from the parking to the launching point easier? The Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak Cart has you covered.
Although smaller than the Malone Auto Racks EcoLight Trailer, this hand cart for kayaks can support up to 450lbs – that’s 50lbs more than Malone’s! If that isn’t enough to win your heart, it’s the only option on our list that doesn’t require large storage space. As a matter of fact, you can take it apart and put it inside your kayak’s cargo.
3. Ultra-Tow Folding Aluminum Utility Trailer Kit
If you find the 450lbs capacity of the Wilderness Systems not suitable for your needs, check the Ultra-Tow Folding Aluminum Utility Trailer Kit. This trailer has the largest load capacity on our list – a whopping 1400lbs!
Despite its high load capacity, you can neatly store this trailer inside your garage. How? Well, you can fold it in half. Unfortunately, the 12″ wheels are not rated for highway driving, and assembling can take hours.
4. Yakima Rack and Roll Trailer
The Yakima Rack and Roll Trailer is an excellent option if you are after a trailer made from an aluminum frame and has extra security features like locking levers. It also gives the smoothest kayak transporting experience because it has shock absorbers! Unfortunately, it can only support up to 300lbs.
5. Ironton Personal Watercraft and Boat Trailer Kit
Need a kayak trailer that can support at least 500lbs? You need to get your hands on the Ironton Personal Watercraft and Boat Trailer Kit.
It has a 610lbs maximum load capacity. Yes, it’s nowhere near the Ultra-Tow, but it’s a great middle-ground for kayakers that wants more hauling load capacity. Plus, it has a spacious trailer bed so that you can carry other kayaking gear.
Unfortunately, assembling is not the easiest.
6. Malone MicroSport Trailer
Are you going kayaking with friends or family? This trailer is the answer to transporting multiple kayaks. Available in two or four kayak carrier configurations, you have an assurance that you’ll get your kayaks to the destination in a single trip.
The Malone MicroSport Trailer also uses two materials – galvanized steel for the frame and aluminum for the cross beams. This design may seem odd, but it actually makes sense because you get the sturdiness of the galvanized steel while its aluminum crossbars keep the weight down.
Carrying multiple kayaks in one trailer has its downside. This trailer is the most expensive option on our list.
7. Ce Smith Multi-Sport Trailer
We’re ending our list of the best kayak trailers with the CE Smith Mult-Sport Trailer, but that doesn’t mean it’s of low caliber. As a matter of fact, we highly recommend the CE Smith for its ease of assembly and 800lbs carrying capacity. Also, out of the options on the list, it’s the only model with a bunk carpet. The lights are also submersible.
Unfortunately, you can only transport one kayak at a time. Nevertheless, it deserves to be a part of our best kayak trailer list.
There you have it. You are now adequately equipped with the knowledge of what to look for in the best kayak trailer. What are you waiting for? Grab yourself one of these fantastic kayak trailers and embark on that kayaking experience you’ve been dreaming about. See you at the waterside.