Whether you’ve been kayaking for years or just starting out in the kayak life, if you have a kayak, you need a way to transport it. In fact, there’s a good chance that you’ll often need a way to transport more than one; you’ll probably want to go with friends and family, too. At the very least, consider that at some point, you may marry or have children that share in your kayaking adventures. As time goes, it will become more and more apparent to you that you need a kayak trailer.
After all our research, it was abundantly clear that the Malone XtraLight Base Trailer had to be our Top Pick. It securely hooks up to your truck or SUV and has brake lights to make sure those who are following you know when you’re braking, keeping you safe.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Kayak Trailers
|Best Overall||Malone XtraLight Base Trailer||4.9|
|Runner Up||TMS CART-CANOE Deluxe Boat Kayak Canoe Carrier||4.3|
|Best Budget Buy||Bonnlo Kayak Cart Canoe Carrier Trolley||4.5|
|Best Truck Kayak Trailer||Yakima Rack and Roll Trailer||4.0|
|Best Hand Kayak Trailer||Ctug Kayak or Canoe Trolley Cart||4.1|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: Malone XtraLight Base Trailer
The Malone XtraLight Base Trailer is designed to carry two kayaks (or canoes, if that better suits your fancy – or if you like the versatility of being able to use this one trailer for both). You can fit a decently wide kayak on the rack, up to 29″ width will fit comfortably in each slot. You’ll place these kayaks into the trailer bottom down and count on the extra padding to protect them.
The electrical, mechanical and hub hook-ups come pre-fitted, are universal fits and give the trailer a Department of Transportation approved brake lights. These complement the DOT-approved road-safe tires and the leaf spring suspension makes the trailer all the smoother and safer for your kayaks and your trip.
This trailers has only a handful of reviews on Amazon, but still a 4.9 star rating and if you’d like to find a few more details, you can check the Malone website. (But you’ll save a bit if you opt for an Amazon purchase.)
Malone XtraLight Base Trailer Key Features:
- Galvanized steel construction
- 275 lb max weight capacity
- 5-year manufacturer warranty
Our Runner-Up Pick: TMS CART-CANOE Deluxe Boat Kayak Canoe Carrier
The TMS CART-CANOE Deluxe Kayak Carrier is made with aluminum pipes, and reinforced with anodized stainless steel so your trailer is a lightweight one with added durability. The tires are a durable solid 9.5″ in diameter and handle grass, gravel, and sand well, so taking this to the beach is a breeze. And the no-air feature means you won’t need to refill tires in between uses.
This hand trailer acts as a dolly for your kayak and folds flat for an extra compact storage or transport. The portability is so convenient that you may find you just keep it in the back of your vehicle; and if you kayak frequently, this is probably especially appealing to you.
With over 400 customer reviews on Amazon and an overall rating of 4.3 stars, there’s no shock that it’s Amazon’s Choice for kayak trolley cart.
TMS CART-CANOE Deluxe Boat Kayak Canoe Carrier Key Features:
- Max load capacity 120 lbs
- 2-sided kickstand
- Includes 12 Ft long tie-down strap with buckle
Best Budget Pick: Bonnlo Kayak Cart Canoe Carrier Trolley
The Bonnlo Kayak Cart Canoe Carrier Trolley has a spring loaded support stand that will keep your trailer steady while loading and unloading on the bank. And that will also make just rolling it from point A to point B a smoother process, as well. It breaks down and stores flat so you can take it without it taking up too much room.
This kayak hand trailer comes with your choice of either a U-shape kickstand or an inverted U (more like an “n”) shaped kickstand. The U-shape will likely work best to steady in sand or gravel and the n-shape will dig into more solid ground.
There aren’t many customer reviews on Amazon, under 100, but they have given this trailer an overall rating of 4.4 stars and if you check other sites (and we have!), the reviews are consistent with that rating no matter where you look. And if you want a good deal, this is what you’re looking for; it’s only $45!
Bonnlo Kayak Cart Canoe Carrier Trolley Key Features:
- 165 lb max load capacity
- Includes two 5 ft bungee cords and 12 ft spare tie-down strap
- 10″ solid tires
Best Truck Kayak Trailer: Yakima Rack and Roll Trailer
The Yakima Rack and Roll Trailer will attach to your vehicle and make hauling your kayaks long distances no trouble at all.
The Yakima Rack and Roll Trailer has a shock absorbing system that’s the same style as a full sized motorcycle, making the ride smoother for your kayaks and them less likely to be damaged by any of the bumps or knocks that come with any road trip. Because the cross bars are compatible with any Yakima product (and others, if the reviews are to be believed; though they don’t advertise that), you can use this for more than your kayaks, too. You can even secure a cargo carrier next to your kayak, or a bike or two! (Just be careful on the weight.)
As an anti-theft precaution, this trailer will lock your kayaks to the cross beams with levers that use keys to keep them secure; and that means you can feel a little safer grabbing a bite to eat on your trek to the water. (And this is especially important if you have a long trip ahead of you.)
Our favorite part of this trailer is that once you detach it from your vehicle, you can use a kick stand of sorts and still use your raw strength to maneuver this trailer around. We wouldn’t go so far as to call it a hand trailer in this mode, but you won’t need to park it in the exact right spot. – Which will save those of us who struggle backing up with a trailer a lot of pain and headache.
Yakima Rack and Roll Trailer Key Features:
- Locking levers with keys
- 78″ cross bars
- 300 lb max load capacity
Best Hand Kayak Trailer: Ctug Kayak or Canoe Trolley Cart
The Ctug Kayak or Canoe Trolley Cart has an adjustable “seat” for your kayak which will allow you to secure the boat bottom-down and a padded cushion that folds up in a V-shape. The straps are built-in and allow you to buckle in the kayak to the trailer, too.
The construction of this hand trailer is an extra durable but light weight one; it’s made of a non-eroding polymer and reinforced with stainless steel axles. The no-flat tires are solid and will keep you from having to refill with air constantly. It assembles without the use of tools and in a matter of seconds, making it an easy-transport.
The numbers on this kayak hand trailer suggest you’ll likely be satisfied with it and we agree! With over 150 customer reviews and an overall rating of 4.1 stars, you can make this purchase with confidence.
Ctug Kayak or Canoe Trolley Cart Key Features:
- Easy assembly and disasembly
- Lightweight – only 10 lbs
- 300 lb max load capacity
Who Should Buy a Kayak Trailer
The more kayaks you own and the more often you use them will determine how much you would benefit from a kayak trailer. It’s true that for one (or maybe 2) you can toss it in the back (and front) of your SUV or strap it to a roof rack but even that is definitely a struggle that you won’t want to do frequently. Even if you have a smooth and uncomplicated method of transporting your kayak, that doesn’t mean you have a good method of hauling it from truck to beach or dock. A hand trailer to pull your kayak from the car to your tent and then to the water will go a long way in keeping your outing stress-free.
You may also want to pick up a kayak trailer if you’re thinking long-term. If you have a lifestyle that lends to adventure, then its reasonable to assume you’ll make friends or build a family that will join you kayaking. It’s not a bad idea to pick a trailer up before you build that family because you’ll probably better be able to afford it. And, to put it a way that will appeal to your self-interest: if you’re the person that has the kayak trailer, you’re pretty much guaranteed invites for excursions.
Important Features to Consider
A trailer for kayaks should do several things well. Here’s what to consider when selecting a trailer for your kayaks:
- Tires. If you plan on getting a truck trailer, then of course you’ll want to have tires that are road ready. You’ll want to make sure the tread isn’t worn and there are no leaks or punctures. If you have a hand trailer, you may want to consider the type of water you’ll be putting your kayak in. If you’re planning on going to the beach, then keep in mind some tires work better in sand than others. Likewise, the lake may have a muddy entrance that you could plan ahead for with more hearty tires.
- Straps. Of course you want to secure your kayak to the trailer before you drive off with it. (And always make sure the straps are tight and the kayak isn’t moving before leaving.) But keep in mind that even hand trailers will need straps to keep them secure. You don’t plan on bumps and trips, but they happen and if your kayak isn’t strapped down then you may have to struggle reloading in the most inconvenient places. Or worse yet, the fall could damage your kayak and then you’re up the creek – without a boat.
- Multiple kayak space. As we mentioned a few times, you may want to plan ahead for multiple kayaks, even if you only have one now. If for no other reason than you can better accommodate your own trips. After all, adventures are often enjoyed better with a partner. Not to mention the fact that having an adventure buddy makes your outing more safe. Should the worst happen, you’ll be grateful you have someone there with you; it could save your life. (And with that safety net of another person, you can get into more adventurous adventures.)
- Brake lights. Another big safety feature you’ll want to look into for your truck kayak trailer are functioning brake lights. If the car behind you on the road doesn’t know you’re braking they’re more likely to hit you. Checking your states laws on trailers and brake lights may make it more than a convenience and safety issue; you may find it’s the law in your state.
- Kickstand. If you’re shopping for a hand trailer that you’ll be operating by (obviously) hand, you will want to look into the ease of use and one of the biggest operating conveniences is a kickstand. By utilizing a kickstand (like with your bike) you’ll be able to take your hands off your kayak without it falling to the ground. That means you can run to the bathroom, get your life vest on, or just high-five your bro without damaging your kayak.
- Frame construction and weight. Also consider the weight of your trailer and your vehicle’s towing capacity. Very likely your car would be able to tow a couple kayaks, much less your truck, but you will want to keep that in mind. And while doing your search remember that the aluminum frames will likely be the most lightweight option.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a kayak trailer?
A wheeled carrier that will haul your kayak for you is a kayak trailer. You will either attach it to your vehicle, (Car, truck, SUV – whatever you have that will take the weight) or you will pull it yourself. (Whereas you become the vehicle that hauls it, but you do it more easily than dragging it on your own.) You could also attach one to your bike and allow it to pull for you. Often kayaks carriers intended for your bike can double as hand trailers, too. Kayak trailers will haul your kayaks great distances (on a truck or perhaps bike trailer) or just help you in getting the kayak into the water (like a hand trailer that will let you transport the kayak shorter distances.)
What’s the difference between a hand/bike trailer and a truck trailer for kayaks?
A hand trailer is one that you will push or pull yourself. It’s intended to get your kayak into the water with ease. For example, a more popular spot to put into the river will often have substantial traffic and backing your truck into the “loading zone” will likely not be possible. (Especially if the river has a bit of a drop off, like most do). You will likely park a bit of a trek from the water and getting your kayak there will be all the easier of you have a portable conveyance that will allow you to roll the kayak to the water. A bike trailer is often one that will operate as a hand trailer, but also attach to your bike so that you can travel greater distances. If you plan on biking to your destination to start your kayaking trek, then you’ll want to look into a bike trailer that will also allow you to operate it as a hand trailer, too.
The truck trailer will operate much like any other trailer for your vehicle; it will just be hauling your kayaks instead of whatever you usually haul. It will attach to your vehicle’s hitch and likely will have connections to hook into your brake lights to operate their own separate brake lights.
How heavy is a kayak?
How much your kayak weighs is entirely dependent on what type of kayak you get. You can get a kayak that weighs 20 pounds or some that weighs 80 pounds, all sizes in between and a few outliers on either extreme. You can get an inflatable kayak that will weigh less than 10 pounds and you can get a heavy duty one that weighs 100 – it’s all up to you. There are three main materials from which kayaks are made are Polyethylene, Fiberglass or Composite. Poly is a type of plastic and is the least expensive (but heaviest). Fiberglass is a mid range for both weight and price and composite is the most expensive and lightest. You get what you pay for; and a kayak is no different.
We do want to note that if you are carrying two kayaks of vastly different weights, you may need to accommodate for proper balance.
Can you strap a kayak to a car?
You can strap virtually anything to a car given the right gear and thorough enough straps. The most efficient way would be to buy specialized kayak racks intended for strapping your kayak to your car. But you can strap your kayak (or two, but probably not more than two safely) with just the roof rack and cross bars. Without the cross bars, you’ll certainly lose security and driving at normal speeds with kayak(s) aboard will become a safety concern.
Other Kayak Trailers We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other kayak trailers. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best kayak trailers list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for you. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing and we broke them into the following categories:
Truck Kayak Trailers
Adjust the beams on this trailer to carry one or two kayaks or canoes.
- 800 load capacity
- Accommodates boats up to 12 ft long
- 8″ wheels with fenders
This trailer comes with a spare tire and wheel and can carry one or two kayaks.
- 1100 lb load capacity
- Trailer length 14 ft
- Galvanized steel construction
Some assembly is required with this trailer but only takes approximately 2 to 4 hours total.
- Aluminum construction
- Max weight capacity 220lbs
- Carries 1-2 kayaks
This kayak trailer will fit a kayak or canoe roughly 12 feet long at most, but is ideally (if minimally) sized for most kayaks.
- 12″ tires
- White powder coated finish on steel
- 610 lb max load capacity
If you plan on transporting multiple kayaks, this may be your best bet: it transports 4 kayaks with ease.
- 4 kayak capacity
- Marine grade pre-galvanized steel frame
- 5-year warranty
This is the kayak trailer that will carry the most kayaks for you; with 3 tiers and 1,000 pounds capacity, you can pile on maybe up to 10+ kayaks!
- 1,000 lb total trailer capacity
- DOT and Transport Canada approved lighting and tires
- 5-year warranty
This kayak trailer will carry up to 600 pounds and kayaks up to 15 feet long.
- 64″ crossbars compatible with both Yakima® and Thule® accessories
- DOT certified for highway speeds
- 1-year warranty
This trailer is made with a powder-coated steel for maximum durability and 12″ wheels that will lead to a highly effective road-worthy trailer.
- 525 lb max load capacity
- 2 color choices
- Integrated side slots for side and top panels and tie-down points
This trailer will also include submersible taillights, safety chain, fenders, rear loading roller, and lift handle.
- 1 7/8 in. ball coupler
- Leaf spring suspension
- 220 lb load capacity
Hand Trailers for Kayaks
This kayak hand trailer will easily hold up to 100 pounds, so your kayak should be no problem.
- 2-sided kickstand
- Solid no-flat wheels
- Strap with buckle included
When not in use, this trailer folds up with ease, making it ideal for transport and travel.
- 10″ foam tires
- Includes 12′ strap and buckle
- 150 max load capacity
This kayak hand trailer has air-fill tires but comes with an air pump that will make filling them to the proper pressure a snap.
- Includes air pump
- 12″ air pump balloon tires
- 12 ft cam buckle tie down strap
This hand trailer has large pneumatic tires, stainless steel fasteners and a chrome lynch pin making it a durable trailer ideal for taking to the beach.
- 10″ wheels
- 195 load capacity
- Tie-down strap included
With an aluminum frame and powder coated finish, this hand trailer is light weight and will withstand quite a lot of abuse.
- 3.5″ padded foam rollers
- 250 max load capacity
- Airless never-flat 12″ tires
This hand trailer has a durable corrosion resistant aluminum construction and foam cushions to support your kayak through your journey.
- 165 max load capacity
- 10″ all terrain pneumatic tires
- Folds flat with removable wheels
With a double sided kick stand, this hand trailer will have plenty of support to offer you and your kayak.
- 10″ foam filled tires
- 1” nylon webbing support
- Folds flat with detachable wheels for storage
This hand trailer has a spring-loaded, super stable kickstand to keep your kayak steady while you take a step away or hand off.
- 16″ bike tires
- 300 lb load capacity
- Heavy-duty power-coated steel frame
The support stand of this hand trailer features a 9-1/4″ spring-loaded stand that will make getting your kayak out of the water all the easier.
- 9.5″ pneumatic tires
- Includes 12 ft tie-down strap
- 150 lb max load capacity
With balloon tires, this hand cart will work for a few surfaces but will really shine on the beach.
- 12″ inflatable balloon tires
- 150 lb max load capcity
- 2 – 10″ straps with buckle & 2 – 30″ without buckle
By spraying this aluminum trailer with a powder coating, the frame is more resilient to water and other elements.
- 120 max load capacity
- Aluminum frame and rubber bumper
- Fits kayak with scupper holes at least 3/4’’ in diameter