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So you’ve got the itch to go kayaking but worry about the transportation?

Pickup trucks are a great way of transporting kayaks, but it’s always recommended to have a truck rack for your boats. The best kayak racks for trucks will keep your boat safe and secure while you transport it to the water. You may want to learn how to tie a kayak to racks the right way.

There are many different types of kayak racks that range from a bed rail rack to a truck bed extender.

For all types of full-size pickup trucks, I’ve compiled a list of the eight best kayak racks for trucks, as well as the reasons you need one.



Best Overall

GoPlus Rack

  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 23.5 Pounds

For Adventure Lovers

AA-Racks Model APX25

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 40.15 Pounds

Best Stylish Rack

Thule Xsporter Pro Pickup Truck Rack

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 67.65 Pounds

Best for Heavy Duty

TMS Adjustable Utility Rack

  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 50.37 Pounds

Best Durable Rack

MaxxHaul 70231 Hitch Mount Truck Bed Extender

  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 34.5 Pounds

Best Rubber Padded Saddles

Tidal Pickup Truck Utility Rack

  • Material: Gold zinc-plated
  • Weight: 88 Pounds

Best Durable Rack

AA-Racks Model X39 Utility Rack

  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 105.8 Pounds

Best Lightweight Rack

Darby Industries 944 Extend-A-Truck

  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Weight: 25 Pounds

Best Aluminum Truck Rack

AA-Racks Model APX25 Aluminum Truck Rack

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 78.1 Pounds

Our Top Picks for Best Kayak Rack for Truck

A kayak carrier for truck makes transportation so much easier and more efficient for you. You won’t have to worry about renting kayaks and will get to enjoy the perks of owning yours!

Below are the tried and tested options for the best kayak racks for trucks.

1. GoPlus Extension Rack

kayak rack for truck

The Goplus Pickup Truck Bed Hitch Extender is versatile and can be used as a truck bed extender to load hardwood or other items like that on all types of pickup trucks. Someone even considered using it as an umbrella stand with the arms removed!

This kayak rack with heavy-duty steel construction is best for hauling small boats. Larger boats may experience some movement because the arms are not high enough. They will need to be strapped down; however, this kayak rack is missing welded loops for tie-down capabilities or to connect hooks and straps.

kayak racks for pickups

The truck bed kayak rack feels a bit wobbly while driving. I think there’s too much wiggle room in the fittings. This might need some extra handy work for fixing. It can only hold up to one kayak even though it has a large storage capacity.

What’s great about this extender it’s lightweight construction and storability. This is a practical kayak rack. You’ve got to secure the kayak with a rear strap that goes through a hole at the top of each of the rack’s vertical arms. This steel rack also comes with reflection tape and an attachable flag to warn other drivers behind you.

At this price, you almost won’t expect this to last forever. It is a basic extender that is wobbly but transports small boats from A to B. If you won’t be using a truck rack for kayak all the time and only require it for limited use, this is a great budget option that you won’t feel buyer’s remorse replacing.


  • Price: Approx $75
  • Weight Capacity: 750 lb.
  • Load Capacity: 350 lb.
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Style: Bed extender/hitch loader
  • Adjustability: Height: 15–19 in./ width: 29–49 in.
  • Hitch Receivers: Fits 2 in.
  • Weight: 23.5 lb.
  • Padding: None
  • Lockable: No


  • Reflective tape and flag for easy identification
  • Bed extender is easy to load for people of all strengths


  • Feels wobbly on the drive.

GoPlus Extension Rack

The price of “GoPlus Rack” varies, so check the latest price at

2. AA-Racks Model APX25

truck roof rack for kayak

The AA Racks Model APX25 looks professional like the ones used by beach lifeguards with their surfboards racked on top. This truck ladder rack has four adjustable load support brackets for straps and lightweight aluminum construction.

What I love most about AA Racks Model APX25 is the easy installation using universal mounting clamps. This means it doesn’t require drilling. That said, if you aren’t familiar with using installation tools, this might not be as easy as it sounds.

kayak racks for pickup trucks

Roof-mounted racks are sold separately for this device, but it doesn’t mean you’ll need one. It seems pretty universal for all trucks except ones with a utility track system. Though, many reviewers with utility systems said it fit on their trucks. You shouldn’t rely on this information but look into it with your individualized model.

This truck bed rack is advertised as a truck ladder rack, but it’s versatile for boats and equipment as well. The downside to it is the sharp-edged exposed brackets. This could cause potential harm to your kayak. I tried to install some padding over them, and it worked with my recent transport, but I can’t say how long it will last.

This one is a bit noisy while driving. Strips come with the product to put inside the slots to prevent it from making noises, but they seem to limit the adjustability.


  • Price: Approx $395
  • Weight Capacity: 800 lb.
  • Material: Reinforced aluminum
  • Style: Over-cab design rack with clamps
  • Adjustability: The rack is not adjustable. Length: 28”/ width: 71”
  • Weight: 40.2 lb.
  • Padding: No
  • Lockable: No


  • Can also be used on a trailer hitched to the back of the truck
  • Tie-down adjustment hooks and pegs.


  • Not compatible with trucks with utility track systems already installed
  • Brackets have sharp edges and no padding on them

AA-Racks Model APX25

The price of “AA-Racks Model APX25” varies, so check the latest price at

3. Thule Xsporter Pro Pickup Truck Rack

kayak carriers for pickup trucks

Thule is a name brand that needs no introduction. German engineering is always a trustable choice for durability, especially when it comes to Thule’s transporting gear. The Thule Xsporter Pro Pickup Truck Rack is just that: a reliable product.

 It comes with an adjustable bar height to ensure the boat will clear the roof of your cab without needing any kayak roof racks. The Thule Xsporter Pro Rack is solid, and I found it super easy to install.

kayak truck mount

This kayak rack has some incredible technology specs: Air Trip technology in the bars for an aerodynamic design that redirects the airflow for smooth transport, a quiet performance due to the WindDiffuser technology incorporated in the raised texture strip, which disturbs the airflow, and Secure lock to lock your goods from theft.

Some truck types are incompatible and need an additional adapter kit to fit on their standard truck beds. However, some may find a less expensive option if they need it.

 There’s nothing else to say about this rack except that it does it all and will be a one-time buy. Thule produces great products; however, the steep price tag is not conducive to everyone’s budget.


  • Price: Above $1000
  • Weight Capacity: 450 lb.
  • Material: Reinforced aluminum construction
  • Style: Over bed with clamps
  • Adjustability: Bar height
  • Weight: 67.65 lb.
  • Padding: No
  • Lockable: Yes


  • Durable and sturdy
  • You won’t need to buy another rack
  • Clamps so you won’t have to drill holes in your truck


  • Not compatible with every truck, and you may need to purchase the adapter kit
  • Expensive

Thule Xsporter Pro Pickup Truck Rack

The price of “Thule Xsporter Pro Pickup Truck Rack” varies, so check the latest price at

4. TMS Adjustable Utility Rack

pick up kayak rack

If you are looking for an installed rack to put over your truck’s bed, then TMS Adjustable Utility Rack is just that. This is a basic setup that needs to be installed by bolting it to your truck. That means this is more of a permanent modifications option and not so easy to just install and uninstall.

It has tie-down hooks installed on each outer bar, but it’s not compatible with trucks with channel tracks. Unfortunately, rainwater can easily penetrate these racks and rust the joints. However, this is an easy fix if you just drill some holes for the water to drain out of.

kayak holders for trucks

The TMS Adjustable Utility Rack is durable but has a poor-quality paint coating that easily chips off. This can be remedied by weatherproof paint, but you have to put some extra work into it.

 At such a low price for a rack of this style, it’s pretty great. You have to consider the drilling part and whether you want to be able to put on and take off the rack often. If that doesn’t matter, this guy has a lot of life in him.


  • Price: Below $150
  • Weight Capacity: 800 lb.
  • Material: Aluminum frame and steel base
  • Style: Above bed rack, bolting
  • Adjustability: Width: 5-7 ft./ height: max 30 in.
  • Weight: 50.4 lb.
  • Padding: No
  • Lockable: No


  • Quite affordable for the features it provides
  • Durable construction


  • Rainwater seeps in and can rust the joint

TMS Adjustable Utility Rack

The price of “TMS Adjustable Utility Rack” varies, so check the latest price at

5. MaxxHaul 70231 Hitch Mount Truck Bed Extender

pickup bed kayak rack

When carrying kayaks every blue moon, you may not need a truck bed rack. Or maybe your bed rack is full, and you want to transport an extra yak. Then, an affordable extender option is the MaxxHaul 70231 Hitch Mount Truck Bed Extender.

This truck rack has adjustable arms that can lay flat for a portable work area when the truck is stationary. The extender will extend about 4.5 feet from the hitch. With the tailgate down, that is about 3-3.5 more feet past the edge of the tailgate.

kayak carriers for trucks

I found a little wiggle room in the hitch rack, but with some weight, it doesn’t seem to be an issue. However, an empty load might cause some noise and sound a bit wobbly.

The product doesn’t come with a hitch pin, so you’ll have to get one yourself. I found that a 5/8” hitch pin did the trick with this one. Material easily rusts, but you could add a rust-resistant coat.

These lumber-style racks are great for toting long items other than kayaks; hence the name, making it a versatile rack. Transporting one kayak every so often and wanting a detachable and versatile rack makes this truck rack a great buy. MaxxHaul 70231 is the best kayak holder for trucks.


  • Price: $70
  • Weight Capacity: 375 lb.
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Style: Bed extender/ hitch loader
  • Adjustability: Height: 14-23 in./ width: 46 in. extension
  • Hitch Receivers: Fits 2 in.
  • Weight: 34.5 lb.
  • Padding: No
  • Lockable: No


  • 4 quick-release clevis pins
  • Side arms can adjust from an upward position to flat


  • Surface/paint coating is dodgy.

MaxxHaul 70231 Hitch Mount Truck Bed Extender

The price of “MaxxHaul 70231 Hitch Mount Truck Bed Extender” varies, so check the latest price at

6. Tidal Pickup Truck Utility Rack

kayak rack for truck cab

The Tidal Pickup Truck Utility Rack is an all-in-one design for the serious yacker and racker. Tidal’s a name brand for construction and heavy-duty tools, so you know you’re getting quality.

This rack is attached to the truck’s bed for an over-the-bed rack but extends over the roof of your truck cab. It’s got great features included, like j-hooks and handles.

What you don’t see right away is the removable read crossbar and wind deflector to remove noise. I think the best kayak racks for trucks are the quiet ones.

kayak rack for pickup

You’ll want this kayak truck rack if you are looking for a professional rack with all the fixings that you can easily install and uninstall without drilling.


  • Price: Approx $700
  • Weight Capacity: 1500 lb.
  • Material: Gold zinc plated
  • Style: Over cab and bed with clamps
  • Adjustability: Yes
  • Weight: 88.7 lb.
  • Padding: No
  • Lockable: No


  • J-hooks and grab handles included
  • Gold zinc-plated, grade-8 hardware for maximum strength


  • To be honest, I couldn’t find any 

Tidal Pickup Truck Utility Rack

The price of “Tidal Pickup Truck Utility Rack” varies, so check the latest price at

7. AA-Racks Model X39 Utility Rack

rack for kayak on truck

The AA-Racks Model X39 Utility Rack is made of heavy-duty steel, making it a durable and versatile truck rack. In addition, this model comes with a unique design and quality brackets, handrails, a front rope hook design, extendibility, and a roof rack. This AA-Racks Model X39 is one of the only kayak racks for pickup trucks with a roof rack system.

pick up truck kayak rack

Universal kayak racks will fit any pickup truck. Unfortunately, this rack is unsuitable for fiberglass bed rails or truck beds with toolboxes and camper shells. However, the kayak rack’s capacity is huge, so you can carry additional gear comfortably.

This means it’s great for holding multiple kayaks, at least up to two kayaks, and even more gear strapped to it.

The kayak roof rack for truck provides a fit for the kayak directly on top of the truck, so there isn’t much hanging off the sides. This protects the roof of your cab.


  • Price: $388
  • Weight Capacity: 1000 lb.
  • Material: Alloy steel, metal
  • Style: Over bed and cab rack
  • Adjustability: Top crossbar:width: 51-71 in./ height: max. 30.5 in.// Over Cab: width: 45-56 in./ length: max. 55 in.
  • Weight: 106 lb.
  • Padding: No
  • Lockable: No


  • Weather-resistant paint
  • Available in black or white colors
  • Has a ton of loops and spots for hooks or straps


  • Limited compatibility—you must double-check that your truck and its features will fit.
  • Bed width must not be smaller than 51 inches.

AA-Racks Model X39 Utility Rack

The price of “AA-Racks Model X39 Utility Rack” varies, so check the latest price at

8. Darby Industries 944 Extend-A-Truck

kayak carrier for truck

Another extendable rack because these are just so easy and versatile when you don’t want a rack on top of your truck’s bed or already have one. The Darby Industries 944 Extend-A Truck is like many of the other U-shaped bed extenders but has a lot of adjustability and feels the sturdiest.

kayak rack for pickup truck

This rack system is completely collapsible to be stored flat in the truck’s bed when not in use. It’s got a four feet wide support and adjustable height for rooftop hauling. It includes a receiver hitch and a red flag for warning other drivers.

It is more expensive than the other choices of its style but is a very sturdy buy. Purchase this hauler for versatility and durability only if you are an expert in strapping down your kayak.


  • Price: Approx $150
  • Weight Capacity: 350 lb.
  • Material: Stainless steel powder coating tubing
  • Style: Bed extender/ hitch loader
  • Adjustability: Height: 15.5-62.5 in./ Width: 49 in.
  • Hitch Receivers: Fits 2 in.
  • Weight: 25 lb.
  • Padding: No
  • Lockable: No


  • Comes in a vibrant red color
  • Is storable
  • Has two hooks welded to the arms


  • Arms are only 49 in. wide
  • T construction instead of U shape

Darby Industries 944 Extend-A-Truck

The price of “Darby Industries 944 Extend-A-Truck” varies, so check the latest price at

9. AA-Racks Model APX25 Aluminum Truck Rack

kayak carrier for truck bed

Here’s another AA Racks Model APX25, but what’s great about this one is its additional features. The AA Racks Model APX25 Aluminum Truck Rack comes with 2 kayak J-racks, 4 bungee hooks, 8 clamps, and 4 ratchet straps that hold 300 lb each. This guy can hold up to a 16 ft canoe!

You won’t need an additional over-the-cab rack because the bungees hold the canoe from the back and the front. The rack should be higher than your cab, so the boat clears the height of your roof. Since these are not adjustable, you should measure the height of your cab from the edge of your bed.

truck rack for kayak

The other thing about the AA Racks Model APX25 universal design is that you’ll be driving with a bungee cord down the front of your truck. The J-racks and ratchet heavy-duty straps hold your kayak in place without movement.

At a moderate price, made with heavy-duty aluminum, and with all the fixings for your kayak, this rack is my absolute favorite. Easy to install and using clamps instead of drilling, this one has all you need without breaking the bank.


  • Price: $305
  • Weight Capacity: 2200 lb.
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Style: Over-bed with clamps
  • Adjustability: rack is not adjustable. Length: 28”/ width: 71”
  • Weight: 78.1 lb.
  • Padding: Adjustable padding on J-racks
  • Lockable: No


  • Includes kayak rack and ratchet straps
  • Large weight capacity


  • Not adjustable to height and width or for specialty bed trucks

AA-Racks Model APX25 Aluminum Truck Rack

The price of “AA-Racks Model APX25 Aluminum Truck Rack” varies, so check the latest price at

How Do I Choose the Best Kayak Rack for My Truck?

Truck racks for kayaks have a variety of features that make them convenient to use, while some of them have specialized features that make them stand out from the crowd. Here are some features you should consider when choosing your truck kayak rack.

Roof-Mounted Rack

This goes on the roof of the truck and secures the kayaks to the top. Roof-mounted racks are the typical options for hatchbacks and SUVs. The drawback is having the boat ends sticking out both in front and behind your truck.

kayak roof rack for truck

Truck Bed Rack

Nuts and bolts or a clamp attach truck bed racks to the sides of your truck bed to hold your boat above the bed. Remember that if you choose a bolting device, you will be drilling holes into your truck to secure this.

Some people with trucks don’t mind this because it is one reason to get a truck: installable equipment for ease of intended use, like construction, outdoor activity, etc.

This style is advantageous because it leaves your bed capacity free to accommodate other stuff. It also isn’t sticking out at car height, so you don’t have to worry about backing up with a car behind you.

But you should always be aware of what’s behind you and how long your gear is to avoid running into anything!

Bed Extension Receiver Rack

This rack style installs to your trailer hitch with extendable arms. You place the yak in the truck bed, and the boat fits in between the two football-goal-post-looking construction.

kayak mount for truck

These are also known as lumber-style racks because they extend for long pieces of wood. The rack is extendable in height and length. This means you can purchase this as an extension for your vehicle’s roof or truck bed rack if transporting an extra-long canoe.


Does the rack adjust to fit your truck? This is a big question, so get your measuring tape out. Does the rack perfectly fit your kayak or water vessel? Typically, you won’t have to worry about this unless you have a specialized boat.

truck bed racks for kayaks

If you are still wondering how to choose a kayak, you won’t necessarily have to figure this out before you get a truck rack because they are compatible with most sizes, though not all.


We all know you can buy cheap products on the market nowadays, and a rack that can’t withstand the use you are purchasing it for might be a deal breaker. That’s why I made this list. Look for the best truck racks for kayaks that are made of durable materials and have a sturdy design. Check out the reviews too!


This should be a no-brainer because no one wants a headache from installing something that they can’t figure out how to uninstall—nightmare! The kayak rack should be easy to install and even easier to take down.

Kayak Rack Carrying Capacity

This is important to note if you intend to transport large or multiple kayaks on truck. The best kayak racks for trucks can carry up to 2000 lb! Some of the best sit-in kayaks are pretty heavy, so you’ll want to consider every type of boat you might transport.


If you are carrying more than a kayak around, you’ll want to consider the versatility of your rack. Basic racks will carry only one boat of one type. A versatile kayak rack will hold whatever you want to carry.


Now you have your boat in your rack and have to make a pit stop for some lunch—how safe is it to leave your equipment unattended? With a lock feature, you won’t have to worry about boat thieves because your paddling vessels are secure.

If this is an essential feature, ensure your rack has a built-in locking mechanism to secure your yaks.


As always, you want to ensure you get the best for your money. Consider your budget and what features perfectly fit into that budget before getting your own truck rack.

Benefits of a Truck Kayak Rack

kayak holder for truck

While having a truck is convenient for carrying and loading almost anything, including yaks, it is still a good idea to secure your kayak with a rack on your truck for multiple reasons:


A good kayak rack should withstand the weight of your paddling boat and any rough roads on the drive. A pothole jolt could send even the heaviest kayaks flying out of the bed of your pickup truck—or at least have it jump around a bit and maybe even damage the boat! A kayak rack on your truck is a professional tool to avoid such mishaps.


The kayak rack holds the kayak firmly in place to prevent it from shifting or falling off during transport to the launch site or back home. Many kayakers love their boat like part of their family, like my yak, Dolly, and me.

When I transport Dolly, I want to ensure she’s safe and secure like anyone in my car, snug with a safety belt on. Well, my kayak rack is exactly like a (debatably even more secure) safety belt for my yak.

Ease of Use

The rack makes it easy to load and unload the kayak safely without damage or much strain on your back. It is also even easier to install and remove from the truck so that you can easily use other equipment on your truck.

truck racks for kayaks

You may think, well, chucking my yak right on the truck bed is the easiest thing in the world, and adding a rack is one more step. True, but the rack can actually make loading and unloading from your truck bed look like a huge pain (not to mention a rooky move).

The rack has the advantage of easily fitting any boat into place, not to mention having its own designated place. Because let’s be honest, you are using your truck bed often—that’s what it’s there for—so it isn’t always (or maybe never) empty back there.


The kayak racks are usually compatible with every type of kayak. However, if you have a special type of kayak, a very heavy load boat, or a unique-shaped vessel, you will need to verify whether it will fit in the rack. Specialty items aren’t always universally fitting with a basic type rack.  

Just as important, the rack must be compatible with the specific type of truck that you have. Most racks are universal for trucks, but it is always a good idea to double-check. Make sure you match your truck’s make and model with the details of the yak rack before purchasing it.

no-drill kayak rack for truck

When transporting sit-on-top kayaks, which are some of the best kayaks for beginners, you need to consider the width of your kayak rack.


The price for kayak racks is reasonable, especially when you think about how much longer your boat and truck will last without damage.

It’s like when you purchase anything expensive or important to you—don’t you take care to keep it from damage? Or do you just chuck it into the truck bed and let it roll around? That’s rhetorical. Obviously, you don’t want your kayak to roll around!


Are Truck Kayak Racks Stable?

They should be because that’s the whole point. You should purchase one with good reviews to ensure it is stable enough for your intended transport. The best kayak racks will be very stable and made of durable material.

Is Using a Truck Kayak Rack a Good Idea?

Equipment for your equipment may sound redundant, but it is essential for extending the life of your quality goods. That’s a yes. But if you are reading this, you probably already have a good feeling that a truck bed kayak rack is the best option for your boat’s safekeeping.

A rack keeps your boat and your truck safe from damage. If you go for a roof-mounted rack, you will have more room in your truck bed for other equipment, providing extra space for your accessories. In addition, it keeps the boat safe from falling out and gives you peace of mind.

How many Kayaks Can a Truck Rack Hold?

Most kayak racks can hold at least one kayak. Other kayak racks are sturdy enough to hold up to 2000 lb. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will hold 50 kayaks, but it does mean that you can probably strap up three to four top-sitting kayaks on top of the kayak rack.

Most pickup trucks can already haul multiple kayaks in the truck bed. This is why it’s important when choosing the perfect kayak rack to make sure that it is doing a better job with secure and safe hauling than without one.

Final Thoughts

There are many options when it comes to buying a kayak roof rack for your truck. The type of rack, the features, whether it will fit, its maximum weight capacity, and whether you bolt it in or clamp it on are all important aspects when choosing between kayak racks for trucks—besides the price, of course!

Durability and weatherproof ability are also factors if this is going to be a long-time, permanent fixture. Certain features like tie-down hooks or specific kayak J-racks are important to consider for the ease of securing your boat.

First things first, decide on a style of rack that is most compatible with your truck model, size, and use. If you aren’t keen on lifting the boat on a rack either over the cab or over the bed, then a hitch loader is your type of rack.

Versatility is also an important component. A hitch-mounted rack is also a good consideration if you carry other long things, like lumber. If you have other boats and carry construction items like ladders, etc., you might consider a bed-mounted rack.

Most of all, consider durability and whether you need a rack that uses clamps to install it or must be bolted into your truck. Durability includes if it is weather-proof, and this is important in choosing a bolting rack since you aren’t going to uninstall one of these very often or at all.

Overall, a mid-range priced, durable kayak carrier for a truck bed is a great accessory for any truck. The bed racks are a great option because you don’t have to remove them like a truck bed extender rack. The AA Racks Model APX25 provides basic features at a much lower price than, say, Thule Xsporter Pro.

Once you’ve decided on the best kayak rack for your truck, you’re ready to hit the water while securely transporting your boat. If you want to make transportation and storage even easier for yourself, check out the Tucktec foldable kayak review, and thank me later!

Categories: Kayaking

Annie Loupy

Annie is a UX writer in the Swiss Alps who also contributes to articles on topics she’s passionate about like launching her white-water raft or climbing to the summit of Matterhorn. Despite having fingers attached to her keyboard, she very much likes to unplug while kayaking the Verzasca river or bouldering in Brione. When the sun is out and the summers are hot, she likes taking to the water standing up on a board whether that be a SUP or longboard. From the California Pacific to the Lago Maggiore, Annie follows her spirit of adventure for the sunny outdoors.


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