Best Kayak Racks for Trucks in 2020

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What is the best way to transport your kayak? If you’re a kayaking enthusiast, you’ve probably asked yourself this question several times. Driving with a trailer attached to your truck can be a little challenging. But this is where the importance of the best kayak racks for trucks becomes evident.

These racks require no maintenance and are quite easy to install, leaving you with enough time to plan your outdoor adventure. They’re designed to make your life easier, before and after your trip because they don’t take much storage space.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know before buying the best rack system. We’ll also suggest a few products to help you find the best kayak carrier.

How to Choose the Best Rack for Your Truck

When it’s time to buy the best kayak rack, there isn’t a single solution that works for everyone. Here are a few things to consider before buying yours.

Types of Kayak Racks

A roof rack won’t work unless your vehicle has enough room to secure your cargo. If you have a pickup truck, there are other extenders that you can use to secure your canoe, kayak, or other loads.

There are two types of kayak racks; bed rail and receiver racks. Bed rail racks can stay attached to the truck all the time, so they’re convenient to use. They also allow you to connect your toolbox and other accessories.

Receiver racks are suitable for shorter bed trucks when there’s no room for a longer kayak. These are easy to install and are adjusted vertically to support your kayak.

Material

When it comes to choosing the best kayak carrier, you need to make sure that it’s well-built and sturdy enough to handle the weight of your kayak. Kayak racks are either made of aluminum or steel, and both can withstand heavy-duty use.

Steel is quite affordable, but it’s heavy. If you need the frame to carry the weight of a heavyweight kayak or any other purpose, you can pick steel.

Aluminum is a little bit more expensive than steel, but it’s lightweight. You should pick an aluminum rack if you’re planning to remove and install the rack every time. In some cases, you’ll find high-quality kayak racks that are made of both steel and aluminum to offer the best of both worlds.

Capacity

You need to consider the number of kayaks you want to carry and the length of each one. Most racks can support the weight of one kayak, while some racks can handle two kayaks at the same time. However, if you have longer boats, you should consider getting a bed rail rack, as these models are usually designed to handle longer kayaks.

What are the Benefits of Getting the Best Kayak Rack for your Truck?

Here are some reasons why you should invest in a high-quality kayak rack before your upcoming outdoor adventure.

Safety and Protection

Kayaks are sturdy, but when they’re not stored properly, they can slide and break, especially when they’re stored wet. A kayak rack will keep your kayak in place in all conditions. Even if you’re driving on a bumpy road, the right frame will protect all the corners of your kayak from friction.

Stability

Driving with a heavy load can be a little tricky. A frame will stabilize your boat, so you can drive safely in all conditions.

Easy to Use

The right rack will allow you to load and unload your boat quickly. This is an excellent option for people who like to spend a lot of time away from home because you can gain fast access to the kayak, even if there aren’t many people around to help you.

Reviews of the Best Kayak Racks

After reading this section, you’ll be able to find the best kayak rack for you. Check out our top choices.

1.    Darby Industries 944 Extend-A-Truck

This extender is a new and reliable way to extend the length of your truck bed. You can easily drag your kayak without risking any instability that can jeopardize your ability to drive or affect your boat.

It takes the load off the truck and allows you to haul heavier loads with maximum safety, with loads up to 4 inches wide. The maximum capacity of this steel extender is 350 pounds, so you can pack your boat and all other necessary accessories. It fits any truck or SUV with a 2-inch receiver hitch.

If you’ve never used a kayak extender before, you need to check this one out because it’s quick and easy to install. It’s simple and requires no prior assembly, so it’s the best choice for first-timers.

When used for bed-level hauling, it extends horizontally to 49 inches, reaching 53 inches from the hitch. It can also be used as a roof rack extension, extending 9.5 inches from the center of the hitch.

For maximum safety, this rack comes with pins to secure it in place. There’s also a red safety flag to alert drivers of the load you’re carrying. It can be stored flat behind the seat when it’s not used. It weighs 25 pounds. You might need to use extra straps to stop it from wobbling, especially if you’re driving on a bumpy road.

What We Like

  • Heavy-duty steel construction
  • Folds when not used.
  • Easy and quick installation.
  • Versatile applications for bed-level hauling and as a roof rack extension.

What We Don’t Like

  • Needs extra straps on bumpy roads.

2.    MaxxHaul 70231 Hitch Mount Truck Bed Extender

Whether you need to haul kayaks, canoes, or construction material, this extender will come in handy. This 2-in-1 gear is made of durable stainless steel with a maximum capacity of 350 pounds. It can be used vertically or horizontally.

It’s the right choice for any truck with a 2-inch hitch receiver and comes with 4 fast release clevis pins for easy assembly and disassembly. The width can be extended from 28.25 to 48.75 inches to cover all your needs.

Driving at night is safe, thanks to the reflective red tape. Moreover, the powder coat finish allows you to be easily seen in low light conditions. It’s rust and corrosion-resistant for heavy-duty use and comes with a high-mount load bar to secure loads above the bed.

You can use it to build a raised extension or as a roof rack extension where the goalposts can extend up to 8 inches and can be adjusted based on your needs. When not needed, the side arms can be folded to create a portable work area. It weighs 34.5 pounds.

It doesn’t come with installation instructions, so you might struggle the first time you use it. You might encounter some quality control issues, as some of the drilled holes might be missing or drilled in the wrong spot.

What We Like

  • Stainless steel extender.
  • Can be used horizontally or vertically.
  • Reflective tape and powder coat finish for safety and protection from corrosion.
  • Can be folded to create a portable work area.

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t come with installation instructions.
  • Some of the holes might be drilled in the wrong spot.

3.    TMS 800 LB Adjustable Fit Truck Pick Up Rack

This adjustable truck rack set is made of stainless steel to fit longer items like kayaks, canoes, ladders, and pool equipment. The frame is designed to handle a maximum capacity of 800 pounds, so it’s the right choice for a group of campers or kayaking enthusiasts.

Adjusting the width from 5 to 7 feet will enable you to use it with multiple truck beds, with a maximum height of 30 inches. This set allows for fast and easy installation, so you can enjoy your kayaking trip to the maximum.

You will need to drill 2 holes and use 2 bolts to secure it in place. It comes with 8 screws and bolts to prevent your load from wobbling. Nevertheless, the security system will allow you to drive on more challenging roads with no issues because it will keep your kayak stable.

It weighs 50 pounds, so you should consider its weight before installing it to your truck. The paint might chip, but you can fix it by spraying some paint to protect it from rusting.

What We Like

  • Stainless steel set with 2 racks.
  • Maximum capacity of 800 pounds for bigger loads.
  • Adjustable width to fit several trucks.
  • Comes with bolts and screws to secure your load.

What We Don’t Like

  • It’s rather heavy, compared to other racks.
  • The paint is prone to chipping, so it might rust unless you use another coat of paint on top.

4.    AA-Racks Model X35 Truck Rack

This truck bed rack is designed to support loads up to 1200 pounds. This system is very easy to install and take down when it’s not in use.

The top cross bar of this truck can be extended to a maximum width of 71 inches with a maximum height of 30.5 inches and a clearance of 26 inches. The rack weighs 50 pounds.

With a bigger tube diameter, this rack will protect your boat from the bumpy drive because it’s more durable. It comes with heavy-duty extended bolts, and ratchet straps to secure your load in place. It can support 2 kayaks with a powder coat finish that protects it from rusting and corrosion.

You can install this unit without drilling any holes, so you can enjoy your time without worrying about doing any work on your truck. The aluminum C-clamps allow for non-drilling installation, so it’s compatible with multiple types of vehicles These clamps are lightweight and durable.

Featuring a rope hook on the side, it will secure your kayaks in all conditions. However, just like other non-drilling models, it’s not compatible with trucks that come with a utility track system.

What We Like

  • Truck rack system with a maximum weight capacity of 1200 pounds.
  • Bigger tube diameter and heavy-duty bolts to support bigger kayaks.
  • Non-drilling model with aluminum C-clamps.
  • A rope hook on the side to secure your boat.

What We Don’t Like

  • It’s not compatible with vehicles that feature a utility track system.

5.    Thule TracRac TracOne Universal Truck Rack

With an overall height of 26 inches, this truck rack is the right solution for all kayaks, canoes, and other loads. It has an 800-pound capacity when the weight is evenly distributed. The aerodynamic design is extremely quiet, thanks to the wind deflectors and the elliptical cross bars that minimize wind resistance.

If you’re looking for a lightweight kayak truck rack, you should look no further because this one is made of lightweight yet sturdy aluminum. It features aluminum load stops that adjust to the width of your truck, securing your kayak in place. The frame is rust and corrosion-resistant with a powder finish to resist wear and match the finish quality of your truck.

Installing this rack is quite easy, thanks to the 8 single axis mounting clamps that allow for drill-free mounting that protects your truck from damage. They’re also very easy to remove when the rack is no longer needed. It also comes with 4 adjustable cross bar loop tie-downs for maximum safety for all types of cargo.

Moreover, the cross bar is compatible with other hauling and kayaking accessories, allowing you to adjust the rack to cater to your needs. Despite the high price of this truck rack, it doesn’t come with all the tools needed for installation. You’ll need to get a 7/32 Hex bit and a 90-degree attachment or a ratchet.

What We Like

  • Lightweight aluminum rack.
  • Quiet design with adjustable aluminum load stops.
  • Rust and corrosion-resistant construction.
  • Damage-free drill-free installation.

What We Don’t Like

  • More expensive than other models.
  • You’ll need to buy special tools for installation.

6.    LUND 601021 Hitch Mounted Truck Bed Extender

If you’re looking for the best way to carry one kayak, you should look no further. It’s a heavy-duty rack, providing you with a ground clearance of 7 inches to carry your kayak and other outdoor equipment. It weighs 46 pounds.

It’s the right size to fit a standard 2-inch receiver hitch and allows you to carry long cargo. It can also be used to create a portable sawhorse or worktable. Once you install it to your truck, it flexes with a spring, protecting your kayak from bumps. The wings originally sit at 17 inches and can be adjusted to 49 inches to suit different types of cargo.

With a maximum weight capacity of 750 pounds, this is an excellent solution for securing all your outdoor equipment. It comes with reflective tape and a red flag to warn drivers of your presence when you’re driving in low light conditions. However, this truck rack is a bit hard to install.

What We Like

  • Heavy-duty rack with a ground clearance that reaches 7 inches.
  • The sides can be folded to create a sawhorse or a worktable.
  • Adjustable wings.
  • Reflective tape and a red flag.

What We Don’t Like

  • A bit hard to install.

7.    AMP Research HD Max Truck Bed Extender

This truck bed extender is made of lightweight aluminum. The tubing is high-strength and corrosion-resistant. It features vertical pieces of glass-reinforced nylon composite, which are flexible enough and torque-resistant to provide cushioning and structural support for the best hauling experience.

Once you flip it out, you will gain 2 feet of an enclosed cargo area. You can flip it inside and close the tailgate to keep smaller tools and cargo contained. It’s an excellent choice for short-bed pickup trucks.

It’s very easy to install and remove. You can also use it as a seat at a tailgate party. It comes with 2 hold-down straps to secure it in place when the tailgate is down.

Weighing 17 pounds, it won’t affect your driving experience. The manufacturer’s template for drilling is a little off, so you will need some work to make it level.

What We Like

  • Lightweight aluminum rack.
  • Vertical pieces are flexible enough to provide cushioning.
  • Can be flipped inside or outside depending on your needs.
  • Comes with straps to secure it in place when the tailgate is down.

What We Don’t Like

  • The manufacturer offers a template for drilling, but it’s a bit off.

8.    Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum Truck Rack

Enjoy maximum carrying versatility, if you can afford the high price of this bed extender. It provides easy loading, carrying, and storage. The AirTrip technology redirects wind for improved aerodynamics, while the raised textured strip with the wind – diffuser technology provides a quiet road experience as you carry your cargo. The rack is made of durable aluminum and weighs 65 pounds.

You don’t have to worry about drilling or cutting because this rack is quite easy to install. The aerodynamics guarantee a better driving experience while minimizing the drag as you carry a heavy load.

It comes with 4 one-key lock cylinders to secure it in place, as it supports up to 450 pounds of cargo. The height of the bar can be adjusted without any tools. Nevertheless, the finish easily scratches off the metal, which is a bit disappointing given the price of the rack system.

What We Like

  • Lightweight and heavy-duty bed extender.
  • Easy loading and storage.
  • Improved aerodynamics to minimize drag and wind-diffuser technology to reduce noise.
  • No-drilling installation and easy adjustment.

What We Don’t Like

  • It’s more expensive than other models.
  • The paint scratches off easily.

9.    AA-Racks Model APX25 Aluminum Truck Rack

This is a universal utility rack that fits multiple vehicles up to 66.5 inches wide. The system is adjustable to fit any compact, mid-size, or full truck. It comes with 4 stops to secure it in place and allow for secure installation.

It’s made of aluminum, so it’s lightweight and durable. The no-drill clamps allow for fast and effortless installation. The rack weighs 38 pounds and allows for a maximum weight capacity of 800 pounds, so it’s the right choice to support one kayak when you’re spending time away from home.

The frame is weather and corrosion-resistant for the perfect hauling experience in all conditions. However, the finish is a bit ugly, with lots of sharp edges that need to be addressed before installing it to your truck.

What We Like

  • Lightweight and durable kayak rack.
  • A versatile utility rack that fits multiple trucks.
  • Adjustable to fit compact, mid-size, and full vehicles.
  • No-drilling installation.

What We Don’t Like

  • The edges are rather rough.

Conclusion

We chose the Darby Industries 944 Extend-A-Truck as our top kayak rack for trucks because it’s well-made and reasonably priced. It’s suitable for securing one kayak and is quite easy to install and secure, with a red flag that alerts drivers of your presence. This rack provides you with an exceptional hauling experience.

If you’re looking for a lighter model or something that can handle two kayaks at the same time, you can check out the other options on our list. Kayaking is fun, and you need the right tools to secure your equipment before your adventure begins.

Kayak racks are easy to install and remove. Moreover, they’re designed to provide you with maximum comfort as you drive your truck from one destination to another. Do your homework and choose a high-quality rack that supports the weight of your kayak, so you can reach your destination safely.

Last update on 2020-09-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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