The 5 Best Ways To Transport A Kayak In A Pickup Truck

You’ve just gotten your kayak, and you’re driving a pickup truck. You now have everything you need to transport your kayak to and from the water. When compared to small cars, pickup is far more convenient.

The main problem is figuring out how to transport a kayak on a pickup truck.

Don’t be concerned! Here, you’ll learn about five different ways to transport a kayak in a pickup truck so you can choose the one that works best for you.

5 methods for transporting a kayak in a pickup truck

The method you choose for transporting your kayak will be determined by the amount of space available in the back of your truck and the type of vehicle being shipped. Here, I’ll go over each option in detail so there are no surprises no matter which one you choose!

  1. Truck bed

Many beginners prefer transporting a kayak in the truck bed because it is the most straightforward method. It’s easy, quick, and practical. All you need is a truck bed mat, cam straps, bow and stern lines, and a red flag; no other equipment is required.

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, follow the steps below to transport and secure your kayak.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Transporting a Kayak in a Truck Bed

Step1: Prepare your truck bed

Remove the tonneau cover and inspect the trunk for any debris. To protect your pickup and kayak, lay down a truck bed mat on the base after making sure there is no dirt or grime.

Step 2: Load your kayak in the back of your pickup

It’s time to load your kayak onto the back of the truck after you’ve prepared the bed. Lower the tailgate first, then lift the kayak onto the bed of the truck. If the kayak is small, you can do it alone, but if it is larger, you will need assistance.

To avoid damage, gently slide the boat up the ramp onto the truck bed using grab handles with the hull facing up. To protect the hull of your kayak and raise it off the bed, use foam blocks.

Adjust the kayak’s position so that it is no more than 30% overhand at the edge. You’ll need to use a truck bed extender if the kayak is too long and has a lot of overhang.

Step 3: Secure the kayak

To keep the kayak from flying away while driving, you’ll need to secure it. Place the kayak in the best position for your pickup truck. Some kayakers prefer to put it corner to corner, but it’s entirely up to you.

To keep the kayak from sliding around, use two cam straps to secure it in place. Strap through the front of the truck bed anchor point and over the top of your boat. Allow the strap to exit through the opposite anchor point, then tighten it again over the kayak.

Replace the second cam strap at the back of the pickup and repeat the process.

If you don’t want to damage the kayak, don’t overtighten the straps.

Step 4: Lock the kayak

Although locking the kayak is an extra layer of safety, it is an option. It also keeps thieves from stealing your kayak if you pull over and leave it unattended.

Use simple cable locks to further secure the kayak once it is securely in place.

Thread the cable through the scupper hole on sit-on-top kayaks and secure it. Locate the dedicated cable bars to lock the kayak for sit-ins.

Step 5: Attach the red flag

Most states require you to attach a brightly colored flag when transporting any oversized cargo (red or orange). It serves as a warning to other drivers not to approach your pickup. So, whether it’s a legal requirement or not, secure the red flag for your own and others’ safety.

Step 6: Tie down the bow and stern

Your kayak’s bow and stern can easily cause drag. As a result, bow and stern lines should be used to secure the points. Tie the stern to the back of the truck and use a grab handle to secure the bow to the cabin.

After that, double-check everything to make sure it’s safe, and you’re ready to go!

Important Tip: After 10-15 minutes of driving, pull over to make sure the kayak is still securely fastened. You’d rather drive for a few more minutes than watch your kayak fall behind the truck as you drive.

  1. Truck bed extender 

If your truck bed isn’t large enough to accommodate at least 70% of the length of your kayak, you’ll need to purchase a truck bed extender to transport it.

The truck bed extender extends your pickup’s bed by 2 feet, providing additional support for the large kayak. Simply attach the equipment to your tow bar, load and secure the kayak, and you’re ready to go.

  1. Truck bed rack 

If you want to store other items in your truck bed and don’t mind making minor modifications, you should consider getting a rack.

To provide an extended base for your kayak, a truck rack is attached to the sides of the truck bed. Furthermore, if your kayak is long enough, you can rest some of it on the cab and the rest will overhang the pickup.

Important Tip: Position the kayak hull-side down in the center of the truck rack, strap it down, and secure the bow and stern.

  1. Truck utility rack

A truck utility rack is one of the best systems for transporting your kayak in a pickup truck. It can transport two kayaks while leaving the truck bed open for other equipment. It attaches to the truck bed in the same way that a bed rack does, but it has more anchor points and storage space for your kayak. It is essentially a combination of a truck rack and a roof rack.

However, because the kayak is too heavy for you to lift on your own, you will need help lifting it onto the system. Once the kayak is secured to the utility rack, use the cam straps and bow and stern lines to secure it, and you’re ready to go.

  1. Roof rack system

If money is an issue, the roof rack system is a better choice than the truck utility rack. In addition, if your truck already has roof rack fittings, installing the rack system is a breeze.

Kayak racks, fortunately, come in a variety of shapes and sizes that will easily fit on most trucks. You can use it on any pickup, car, or SUV once you’ve purchased it.

Install the roof rack, load the kayak, secure the bow and stern, and tie it down.


Transporting a kayak is one of the challenges that many kayakers face. Furthermore, if you already own a pickup, you are far ahead of those who only own a kayak. All you need are a few accessories and a basic understanding of state regulations. Now, to safely transport your kayak to and from the shore, follow the steps I outlined above for transporting a kayak on a pickup.

​​About the author: Ally Mash

Bio: Ally is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience at  Adventures Pursuit. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty.

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