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 when compared to a storage rack. 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 roof 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.

We offer three vertical bed extenders: the Thule Goal Post, the Yakima Dry Dock and the Darby Extend-A-Truck Bed Extender.

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.

We offer three truck utility racks: the Thule Xsporter, the Invis-A-Rack Truck Rack and the Yakima Outdoorsman.

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



  1. Just wish to say your article is as surprising. The clarity for your publish is simply great and i can assume you’re an expert on this
    subject. Well together with your permission let me to clutch
    your feed to keep updated with impending post.
    Thank you 1,000,000 and please keep up the
    enjoyable work.

  2. Any thoughts on using a bed extender with some type of vertical (J-style) holders? Trying to fit four kayaks into an F-150 . . . thinking of mounting J-holders into the bed on 2×4 and mounting four J-holders on the bed extender??

  3. Is there an extender that is flat? I am looking for a truck bed extender that is like the bed of a truck. Like a flat panel that stretches the actual bed, not just a bar extension. If anyone knows where I could find one, that would be fantastic. If not, it looks like Todd’s idea of using plywood is the next best option.

  4. I use the Darby Truck Extender and it works fantastic. Beware that if you travel to some states, they require lights onthe extender if it sits more than 4 feet from your tail lights. Light kits can be purchased at local stores (academy, auto zone, etc) for around $20.

    I also weatherproofed a piece of plywood and use it to extend from my tailgate to the extend a truck to prevent debris from flying up and hitting the underside of the Kayak.

    I recently drove from Austin to Cape San Blas, FL and back to fish in the ST Joe Bay with this setup. It worked very well.