Best Kayak Rack For Truck

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BEST FOR BEGINNERS AA-Rack Model APX25 

BEST OVERALL Thule Xsports Pro

BEST POPULAR TMS 800 LB

Now that you have finally got yourself a kayak (we have an amazing kayak guide btw if you do not have a kayak yet), you would definitely want to ensure that you can safely transport it. Nobody wants their kayak to get ruined in transit or pose a danger to other drivers on the road.

So, the best way to carry your kayak is by using a kayak rack. But before you buy a kayak rack, you would want to understand the various types of kayak racks first. There are many different types and sizes, so choosing the ideal rack can be confusing sometimes.  If you are in a hurry and want to get the best kayak rack, we recommend you Thule Xsporter Pro Pickup Truck Rack.

Here we will review the 5 best kayak racks for your truck and how to select the ideal one for you.   

Table of Contents

5 Best Kayak Rack For Truck

The Darby Industries 944 is a great rack for those who do not want to lift their kayak up the truck every time. It has a 350 pounds weight capacity and extends up to 53 inches from the back of your truck. 

Being a receiver rack, it has a very versatile use. You can install this to horizontally extend your truck bed or to extend your roof rack. With a 4 foot wide horizontal support and eyelets on either end to better secure straps, this rack offers really good stability.

This rack weighs just 25 pounds and comes with a red flag for you to attach to the end of your kayak. The flag helps to alert other drivers on the road so that they will be wary of your extended truck bed.

Installing this rack is very easy. With just pin and clip, it mounts to your truck’s 2-inch receiver hitch. Hence, you do not need to drill anything on your truck. Just ensure you have a receiver on your truck and you are good to use this rack. 

When using this rack as a truck bed extender, you have to be very mindful of your truck’s new total length. Especially when you are not extending it regularly. So, there is a possibility of accidentally dragging the rack or worse; your kayak, on the ground when you drive over a large dip. 

Pros

  • Very flexible, can extend horizontally or vertically
  • Comes with a flag to alert other drivers
  • Very easy to set up
Cons
  • Mounts quite loosely on the hitch

PROS

CONS

  • Very flexible, can extend horizontally or vertically
  • Comes with a flag to alert other drivers
  • Very easy to set up

 

  • Mounts quite loosely on the hitch

The AA-Racks’ APX25 is a universal rail rack because it fits on any trucks that do not already have an existing utility track system. The horizontal bar features 2 adjustable slider brackets. You can use these brackets as support to tie down your kayak safely on the rack.   

Built from heavy-duty, reinforced aluminum, it has a weight capacity of 800 pounds! That is a mighty impressive capacity for an aluminum frame. On top of that, their aluminum frames are powder-coated to ensure no rusting. It will last you a long time even if you leave the rack permanently installed on your truck. 

Installing this APX25 rack is superbly easy. You do not need to drill any holes on your truck. It comes with eight mounting clamps in total, 2 on each rack base to securely clamp it onto your truck. The clamps can tightly secure your rack to prevent it from rattling, which causes annoying noise when driving.

There is only one thing you need to take note of before getting this rack. It is not compatible with trucks that have an existing utility track system or any accessories fixed on the rail. 

Pros

  • No drilling required
  • Made from aluminum with powder coat
  • Each horizontal bar has adjustable slider brackets
Cons
  • Not for trucks with accessories on the bed/railing

PROS

CONS

  • No drilling required
  • Made from aluminum with powder coat
  • Each horizontal bar has adjustable slider brackets

 

  • Not for trucks with accessories on the bed/railing

The TMS Adjustable Utility Rack is a versatile rail rack that can hold a variety of cargo or equipment. Its width can be adjusted from 5 feet to 7 feet wide to fit most trucks in the market. 

When fully installed, it has a maximum height of 30 inches. Hence, giving you plenty of space below to fit in various other essential items like your paddles for your trip.  

This rack mounts to the sides of the truck bed and is built to hold up to 800 pounds of weight owing to its heavy-duty steel material. But the steel does not have powder coating. So, the paint is prone to scratches which will lead to rusting. 

There is a hook on each vertical bar of the rack. Those hooks work conveniently as attachment points for bungees and ropes to tie down your kayak. 

Unfortunately, the TMS Utility Rack is not for beginners. You need to drill your truck to securely bolt this rack on. Some even suggest using clamps as well to be extra secure.  

Pros

  • Universally designed for most trucks
  • Made from heavy-duty steel
  • Hooks on each vertical bar as tie-down points
Cons
  • No powder coating – prone to rusts 

PROS

CONS

  • Universally designed for most trucks
  • Made from heavy-duty steel
  • Hooks on each vertical bar as tie-down points

 

  • No powder coating – prone to rusts 

Established since 1942 in Sweden, Thule has 80 years of experience in designing and developing amazing vehicle roof racks to carry our outdoor gear wherever we go. Built with quality, safety and ease of use in mind, Thule racks are always setting new market standards. 

Thule has various patents and trademarks from their extensive R&D to give you the most pleasant experience when using their products. They have an AirTrip technology that redirects airflow around their racks for superior aerodynamics. Plus, WindDiffuser technology disrupts airflow which gives you a quieter journey on the road. 

With an adjustable width and height, Thule’s Xsporter Pro is truly the most universal rack in the market. Plus, it’s so easy to install – no cutting or drilling needed. However, it is able to hold up to 450 pounds only. So while it can carry 2 kayaks with ease, you need to be more mindful if you are planning to put more items on. 

Since this is such a premium rack, it comes with their SecureLock technology. That includes 2 locking cylinders on each of the racks which allows you to securely lock the rack to your truck. 

Pros

  • Adjustable height
  • Aerodynamic design
  • Disrupts airflow for a quieter journey 
  • Easy installation without drilling
Cons
  • Very expensive

PROS

CONS

  • Adjustable height
  • Aerodynamic design
  • Disrupts airflow for a quieter journey 
  • Easy installation without drilling

 

  • Very expensive

The MaxxHaul 70423 kayak rack is one of the more durable and lightweight rail racks in the market. The horizontal and vertical bars of this rack is made of aluminum while its base is made from heavy-duty steel. Hence, the overall rack weighs a mere 55 pounds only. 

Due to its aluminum frames, this rack has only 400 pounds of weight capacity. The crossbars are reinforced internally which helps to improve their durability and stability. But since no kayak weighs beyond 200 pounds, Maxxhaul’s lower capacity is not a major concern. You can still fit 2 kayaks onto this rack. 

This rack also includes adjustable stoppers that prevent your kayaks from sliding off the rack or colliding with other items when making sharp turns. But those stoppers reduce the crossbar usable length a little. 

The MaxxHaul horizontal crossbars can be extended up to 70 inches. So, it fits on most full-size truck beds. When installed on your truck, its maximum height is up to 26 inches above the rail. That leaves plenty of space below for you to load your truck bed with other items such as your fishing gear, fish finders, kayak coolers, waterproof backpacks and other necessities.

One of the advantages of this rack is its steel base is an adjustable mounting bracket. You can easily install the rack on your truck without drilling. Plus, uninstall it when you have no use for it. However, you have to remove liners, cleats and railings before you can install this mounting bracket. 

Pros

  • Made from lightweight aluminum
  • Has adjustable stoppers on the vertical bars
  • Easy to install and uninstall from your truck
Cons
  • Not for truck beds with cleats, railings and liners

PROS

CONS

  • Made from lightweight aluminum
  • Has adjustable stoppers on the vertical bars
  • Easy to install and uninstall from your truck

 

  • Not for truck beds with cleats, railings and liners

How To Choose The Best Kayak Rack

In this section, we will explain and discuss the most important factors to consider when choosing your ideal kayak rack. 

Rack types

There are basically two different types of truck racks. First is the type that allows you to mount a kayak over the top of the vehicle. These are the rail racks because they attach to your truck bed rails. 

Rail racks are a great choice because you can install them on your truck as a permanent addition. You can still fit other items below. So, you are essentially adding more storage space to your truck. But it can be a challenge to lift your kayak up to place it on the rack. We strongly advise getting a short ladder to help you lift things up to the rack. 

The second type of rack allows you to extend the length of your truck bed, known as the receiver racks or truck bed extenders. It essentially just extends your truck bed. Generally, receiver racks are much more affordable than rail racks.

However, receiver racks do not practically give you more storage space. The rack merely allows you to transport long items with your truck such as kayak, canoe and ladder. It is a great choice for short bed trucks. Just ensure your truck has a receiver installed beforehand. Or else you have to buy a receiver as well.  

Weight capacity

The weight capacity of the rack is an important factor because you have to ensure it will be able to support the weight of the kayaks you have. Especially if you have plans to put other items on as well such as your fishing gears. 

So, ensure that you accurately add up all the weights of the kayak and items you plan to put on the rack. Then, choose the rack that has easily 100 pounds more weight capacity. So that it would not break under stress when driving through bumpy roads. 

Rack Material

There are 2 commonly used materials to make these racks for trucks; steel and aluminum. Some racks even use both materials! 

Steel is one of the most common materials for making kayaks. That is because they are usually cheap and very robust. Therefore, steel racks can usually handle more weight than aluminum racks. Lookout for steel racks if you are planning to put a lot of heavy items on it.

Aluminum on the other spectrum, is more expensive. Its main advantage is being exceptionally lightweight. Thus, making it easier to install or remove at your convenience. Aluminum racks are a better choice if you do not intend to leave the rack permanently installed on your truck.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is the easiest rack to use?

A: The easiest rack to use are the ones that do not require any drilling on your truck. Look out for racks clamps onto your truck instead like the AA-Rack Model APX25. You can dismantle the rack and store it away after each trip as well. 

Q: How much weight can a kayak rack support?

A: The racks that we reviewed here are universal racks that not only can handle kayak, but various other items as well such as ladder, canoe and even lumber. So, these racks can handle anywhere between 350 to 800 pounds.

Q: How do you transport kayak with a truck?

A: Your truck has to be equipped with a rack first. That’s why we wrote this guide to help you choose the ideal truck rack to carry your kayak safely during your outdoor trip.

Q: How do you transport kayak in a short bed truck?

A: By installing a kayak rack on your truck. You can use a truck bed extender, to transport your kayak on the extended bed. Another more popular option is a truck rail rack, to transport your kayak over the roof of your truck. 

Our Verdict

All the racks we reviewed above are amazing in their own ways. Ultimately, the best kayak rack boils down to your own preferences and needs. 

For instance, the Thule Xsports Pro is an absolutely amazing rack. It is so easy to install, anyone including first-time users would love this. It works on any truck since both height and width is adjustable. Plus, it boasts a few superb features that no other kayak rack can offer. 

Being the creme de la creme of all racks, you can not go wrong with the Thule Xsports Pro. However, it comes at a pretty steep price. So, those with simple expectations may not appreciate those extra features. 

Therefore, for simpler requirements, the AA-Rack Model APX25 is a better choice. It’s easy enough for first-timers to manage, has no major drawbacks to be wary of and looks really stylish on most trucks. 

Hopefully, this guide helps you to pick the ideal rack that suits your requirements. Soon, you will finally get to enjoy your outdoor water trip!
In case you want to get a kayak trailer instead of a kayak rack, you may check out my guide on Best Kayak Trailers for the highway.

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have questions about Best Kayak Rack For Truck or want to leave your own personal comments, feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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