Sometimes even truck owners need help to haul all the gear they want. For example a truck bed might not be able to accommodate a long kayak or canoe or be big enough to pack enough gear for longer trips. As a point of reference for truck owning paddlers, the center point of a kayak should rest at least two feet within a truck’s tailgate, otherwise sagging over the end can cause dents and even slight bends or even worse cause an auto accident. To avoid these issues, there are a number of rack options to customize your vehicle for your specific needs.
Before reading, remember that regulations for overhanging loads behind vehicles vary from place to place. Most often a red flag is required to be attached and in some cases tail lights are necessary. Visit your local auto regulations website for details.
The Horizontal Bed Extender
The simplest and most cost effective option for truck owners is the bed extender. The bed extender attaches to your trailer hitch and when laid horizontally (vertical extenders will be discussed in next the section) will offer lengthened support that is adjustable to your needs. This is a good option for those who own longer kayaks or canoes. The cross bar at the end of extender is wide enough to hold up to two kayaks (depending on the width of your bed and kayaks) or a single canoe.
We offer one horizontal bed extender: the Darby Extend-A-Truck Bed Extender.
The Vertical Bed Extender
Bed extenders can also be attached vertically and used in conjunction with a single cross bar or foam pad on top of the vehicle’s cab. In doing this, you are able to carry a kayak or canoe above the cab, leaving the bed available for storage space – making this a popular option for those who take longer or multipurpose trips and require more gear. This method is also relatively inexpensive, especially when using a foam pad rather than an aftermarket cross bar on the roof of your truck. That said, if you decide to purchase a more secure and semi-permanent crossbar rack system for the top of your roof, be sure to use one of our Thule or Yakima fit guides.
The Utility Rack
Finally, you have the option of an over-bed utility rack. This option does not require any mounting to the cab. Instead, these racks extend up from each corner of the truck bed and include cross bars at the front and rear of the bed, offering maximum load capacity for any truck. These racks allow for the bed to be utilized for storage, can hold several boats and let users take advantage of additional rack accessories from Thule or Yakima. These are premium racks that in general require that you spend more than you would for a bed extender but the benefits outweigh the cost.
Just like picking out your kayak, you should pick a rack that is specific to your needs. We hope that this blog gets you started in the right direction, and be sure to check the Thule and Yakima fit guides to help you find the best fit for your specific make and model. If you have any questions or comments please write them in below, we’d love to hear them! – Joseph@ACK