The Best Kayak Trailer

Whether it’s going down rip-roaring rapids or gliding through quiet lakes, kayaking can be a sublime experience. Unfortunately, kayaks are pretty big and don’t fit inside the majority of vehicles. If this is a predicament you’re looking to avoid, it may be time to check out some kayak trailers.

When hauling kayaks, you can opt for a kayak roof rack, or a kayak trailer. Trailers are practical, easy to manage, and can carry hundreds of pounds of gear to various outdoor destinations. If you kayak often and know that you’ll do so in the future, buying a reliable kayak trailer will save you time, effort, and money over the long term. For safe and protected storage, investing in a kayak storage rack is another great consideration.

Our Pick!

Right-On Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer

The Right-On Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer is a unique and versatile offering that’s absolutely worth considering due to its feature-laden designs and versatility.

Our Winners

  • Best OverallRight-On Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer
  • his is where the multi-sport shines brightest. You can bring multiple kayaks and tie them comfortably with the vertical trailer arrangement. The versatility doesn’t stop when the kayaks are fastened; there are extra places to attach bikes as well!
  • Best Budget Option – Malone EcoLight 2-Boat V-Rack Kayak Trailer
  •  This kayak trailer costs several hundred dollars less than the asking price for many other models. At the end of the day, with kayak trailers costing well into the thousands of dollars, saving on the overall price becomes a very attractive option.
  • Best 4 Kayak Carrier – Malone Auto Racks MicroSport Trailer
  • If you’re looking for a kayak trailer with a 4-kayak capacity and intuitive design, this is a great option.

The Different Types of Kayak Trailers

The basic kayak trailer consists of a metal frame and small brackets, shaped to handle most kayaks. Straps are used to secure the kayaks in place while they’re in transit. The trailers are relatively low to the ground, making it very easy to slide your kayak on and off.

But, this is not the only option when considering the best kayak trailer for your needs. Here are some of the different approaches and options to loading a kayak onto a trailer.

Low Bed Kayak Trailer

Dedicated flat-bed kayak trailers carry one or two kayaks. These trailers are low-profile and can be towed behind most vehicles with a hitch with little impact on fuel consumption.

Best Kayak Trailer

Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer

Multi-sport trailers give you flexible options to load kayaks, attach bike racks, storage boxes, and whatever else you may need.

Multi Sport Kayak Trailers

Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer

Multi-sport trailers give you flexible options to load kayaks, attach bike racks, storage boxes, and whatever else you may need.

Multi Sport Kayak Trailers

Stacked Trailer

This type of trailer stacks the kayaks on top of each other, sometimes stacking them 3 or 4 high.

Stacked kayak trailer

Extra Wide Kayak Trailer

This type of trailer allows you to place 2, or 3 kayaks side by side. The weight is kept lower, reducing drag and helping you to keep your speed up.

4-kayak-trailer-wide

Multi-Kayak Trailer

A trailer that can carry 2 or 3 kayaks next to each other and go as high as 3 or 4. These are generally used for commercial purposes.

Multi Kayak Trailer

Trailer Top Carrier

This mounts on top of your existing trailer, allowing you to carry items in the trailer and your kayaks on top.

Trailer Top

Right-on’s Multi-Sport Rack Kayak Trailer Is the Best

If you’re looking for the best overall kayak carrier, look no further. The Right-On Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer is a unique and versatile offering that’s absolutely worth considering. Due to its feature-laden designs and versatility, the Right-On Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer wins our award for the best overall kayak trailer.

1. Right-On Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer

Right-On Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer

Dimensions:
144 x 64 x 19 inches

Trailer Weight:
205 lbs

Maximum Cargo Weight:
300 lbs


Versatility is where the multi-sport shines brightest. You can bring multiple kayaks and tie them comfortably with the vertical trailer arrangement. The versatility doesn’t stop when the kayaks are fastened; there are extra places to attach bikes as well! You can fit this trailer with enough gear for an extended trip involving biking and water sports, which is a huge time saver and adventure enabler. 

The crossbars on the trailer are compatible with most bike rack manufacturers like Thule and Yakima. You can stack as many as 6 bikes on the trailer at once or a combination of bikes and kayaks. Despite its hardy design and multi-sport versatility, the trailer has a suggested maximum weight limit of only 300 lbs. In most scenarios, this will not be an issue, but it does lack the weight limits of several of its competitors.

While fairly expensive, the price is below average for a trailer of this durability and performance. Most trailers offer less versatility and ultimately cost more. Therefore, for the money, you get a lot of options to work with.

Building a kayak trailer from parts is not a quick and simple task. However, with coherent instructions and great diagrams to accompany them, setting up this trailer shouldn’t take more than a few hours. Make sure to follow all steps and double-check your work before moving on to a new step. Having a handy friend or family member help out will speed the process along.

Liked

  • Versatile
  • Straightforward assembly
  • Crossbar compatibility

Disliked

  • Lower max weight limit

Best for the Budget Conscious

Trailers are expensive, no matter what you’re hauling. For kayak trailers, you can expect to pay a lot to get a good deal, which is why the Malone Ecolight 2-Boat V-Rack Kayak Trailer is such a nice find. Coming in at hundreds of dollars cheaper than other models, the Malone Ecolight 2-Boat V-Rack Kayak Trailer wins our award for the best budget buy.

2. Malone EcoLight 2-Boat V-Rack Kayak Trailer

Malone EcoLight 2-Boat V-Rack Kayak Trailer

Dimensions:
129 x 58 x 40 inches

Trailer Weight:
145 lbs

Maximum Cargo Weight:
400 lbs


This kayak trailer costs several hundred dollars less than the asking price for many other models. At the end of the day, with kayak trailers costing well into the thousands of dollars, saving on the overall price becomes a very attractive option.

Despite its budget appeal, this trailer doesn’t sacrifice how much it can carry. With a maximum load weight of 400 lbs., the Malone Ecolight 2-Boat V-Rack Kayak Trailer can haul a ton of stuff.

Fully assembled, this trailer weighs 145 lbs. This is generally much lighter than other models. It’s easy to maneuver by hand and has a lower ground clearance for easy loading and unloading. This is a perfect setup for 1-2 kayaks; however, if you want to transport more material, the trailer comes up a bit short. You can also only transport Kayaks less than 14 feet long. If you can operate within those criteria, it’s a great buy. For all others, there are burlier trailers to choose from.

Like other models, the wheel size is only 8 inches. This isn’t a concern on smaller roads but may be an issue driving on highways and rougher access roads. An adventure could turn sour if you have to fix a busted tire or a bent trailer tongue after it slams into a bumpy dirt road.

Liked

  • Affordable
  • Relatively lightweight
  • 400 lbs carrying capacity

Disliked

  • Small wheel size

Perfect for Large Kayak Groups

If you’re looking for a kayak trailer with a 4-kayak capacity and intuitive design, this is a great option. For its numerous benefits, the Malone Auto Racks Microsport Trailer wins the award for best 4 kayak carrier.

3. Malone Auto Racks MicroSport Trailer

Malone Auto Racks MicroSport Trailer

Dimensions:
129 x 58 x 40 inches

Trailer Weight:
145 lbs

Maximum Cargo Weight:
400 lbs


Like the Malone 2-Kayak Megawing trailer, the Malone Auto Racks Microsport Trailer Kayak can haul as much as 800 lbs. of cargo. You can carry multiple kayaks without worrying about overloading the trailer, which is fantastic! You can fit kayaks up to 17 or 18 feet in length. Anything longer than that, and you’ll need to purchase an extendable tongue for the trailer. This should accommodate the majority of kayaks outside of specialty designs.

Again, like all trailers that arrive in component pieces, the assembly will likely take some time to complete (several hours). There are just a lot of parts to put together. Thankfully, the instruction manual is very well-written, and the directions are clear.

 As the most expensive package on this list, the cost could be detrimental. However, you do get what you pay for, and the durability of the trailer is great. If you can manage to spend the money needed to obtain this trailer, chances are you won’t be disappointed. The lighting kit included in the package doesn’t last long and may have to be replaced within the first year. This appears to be a uniform problem across most Malone models.

Liked

  • 800 lbs carrying capacity
  • Can fit kayaks up to 17 or 18 feet in length
  • Can easily haul 4 kayaks

Disliked

  • Expensive
  • The lighting kit doesn’t last long

The Malone MicroSport Is Another Great Choice

This useful kayak trailer can haul twice as much as our best budget option and is built with durability in mind.

4. Malone MicroSport 2-Boat MegaWing Kayak Trailer

Malone MicroSport 2-Boat MegaWing Kayak Trailer

Dimensions:
 96.4 x 45 x 18.5 inches

Trailer Weight:
197 lbs

Maximum Cargo Weight:
800 lbs


With an impressive 800-pound cargo capacity, this trailer blows most of the competition out of the water. It’s an impressively sturdy trailer and would rank higher if not for a few downsides.

Like other trailers, it does take a while to set the Malone MicroSport Megawing Kayak Trailer up, but the instructions are straightforward, and you can do it solo if you have a few hours and a toolbox.

Once assembled, the mega wing components make hauling kayaks a breeze. The kayaks fit easily and stay in place. Always check to make sure the kayaks are secure before driving anywhere. It generally takes anywhere from 3-6 hours to assemble the trailer. Like other kayak trailers, the instructions are good, but the time commitment is a little longer than our best overall.

However, the price is probably the biggest detractor; you can get our best overall or budget options for hundreds less and still accomplish the same tasks. 

The trailer can carry 1-2 kayaks comfortably and other associated gear without issue, but you can’t add more than that, unlike our best overall.

Liked

  • Easy to load
  • 800 lbs hauling capacity
  • Straightforward assembly

Disliked

  • Expensive
  • Long assembly time

Kayak Trailer vs Kayak Roof Rack

Kayak Trailers and kayak roof racks have a lot of potential benefits. Similarly, they have a couple of negatives. Before you decide on one or the other, check out some brief pros and cons associated with each.

Roof Racks are generally less expensive than kayak trailers and utilize the length and width of your roof, so no added storage is necessary. While driving, you also eliminate the need to handle a trailer, which makes driving a little easier. However, you will not be able to fit into any parking garage, uneven loading on the roof can damage your car, and if your car doesn’t come with a roof rack, good luck securing kayaks to it. Another downside is capacity; you can only safely carry two kayaks.

Kayak Trailers alleviate a lot of the kayak roof rack issues. The big downsides are price, storage, and tougher driving. Though if you’ve ever driven with a trailer attached to your car before, the principles are the same.

With a Kayak Trailer, you can load kayaks easily, increase your kayak carrying capacity, and load up a trailer with hundreds of pounds of gear. If you can fence the cost, find a place to store the trailer, and master the more challenging driving, the benefits outweigh the cons.

Buyer’s Guide

Buying a kayak trailer is a big investment, and there are a few points you should keep in mind when shopping around.

Kayak Carrying Capacity

The number of kayaks you need to carry can make the difference between a kayak rack and a trailer. Kayak Trailers are best for carrying 2+ kayaks. If you only need to haul one kayak around, the price of the trailer may seem quite high. However, if you’re hauling around kayaks for you, friends and family, a trailer is the way to go.

Assembly

Ordering a kayak trailer is easy, but the pieces come in boxes. Dedicate a few hours to assembling the full trailer and make sure to follow the instructions religiously. While snafus do occur during assembly, the process is largely straightforward as long as you have a tool chest, time, and instructions. Depending on local laws, you may also need to register your trailer and get insurance for it. Like most larger projects, it helps to slow down and make sure all the steps are done correctly. Building off of an incomplete step or process will inevitably slow down the rest of the build and could create weak points within the structure of the trailer.

Your Vehicle’s Tire Size

Trailers come in a few varieties. Kayak trailers generally have wheels between 8-12 inches. A trailer on the smaller end of that range will roll lower to the ground and be slightly easier to load. However, a lower ground clearance becomes a concern on rougher roads, many of which are needed to access rivers, lakes, and bodies of water. Larger wheels give you more ground clearance, can handle a little more weight, and generally last longer.

Tongue Length

This is the part of the trailer that connects the main body of the trailer to the hitch or coupler on your vehicle. Without the added length of the tongue, the trailer won’t be long enough to carry any type of kayak. The longer the tongue, the longer the kayak can be carried. Conversely, the longer the tongue, the harder it will be to control the trailer while making turns or backing up. For longer trailers, it helps to have a spotter direct you to a boat ramp or put-in area.

Cargo Versatility

Most trailers fit to carry kayaks can also carry additional cargo. Make sure to shop accordingly. If you’re stuffing a trailer full of items, check the weight limits to guarantee that the trailer can handle it all. A trailer that can carry kayaks could also be used for small boats etc. Some trailers come with compartments for added gear like life jackets, oars, and more. The more the trailer can carry, the easier the process of getting to the water will be. However, added maximum weight usually means a more expensive trailer.

Material

What your kayak trailer is made of has an impact on its towing capacity. For example, lightweight material like aluminum is sturdy but won’t be able to handle more than a few hundred pounds of weight. Galvanized steel is much sturdier and can handle hauling multiple heavy kayaks at once. Galvanized steel will inevitably ratchet up the overall price compared to aluminum or an alloy.

Budget

Kayak Trailers are not cheap. If you’re going to be throwing down a lot of money for a purchase, make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Generally, top-of-the-line trailers are all within a few hundred dollars of each other. When the overall price is likely over 1000 dollars, it helps to evaluate whether an extra hundred or so dollars can give you an added benefit that other models don’t have.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Tie Down a Kayak on a Trailer?

The best way to tie down a kayak is by using ratchet straps. Position straps across the width of the kayak and around one of the load bars on the kayak trailer. When you ratchet it down, make sure the buckle is over the middle of the kayak so that when tightened, the buckle will be easy to loosen when the time comes.

It’s best to use at least two straps, although more is fine. If the trailer comes with a holder like a Megawing or J-Pro, make sure the kayak is situated within these holders before strapping it down. Take a local test drive to make sure everything is sitting where it should before you head out on a bigger adventure.

How Far Can I Travel With a Kayak Trailer?

Kayak Trailers, when properly assembled, can accompany you for thousands of miles. The biggest issues with trailers over time are the wheels popping (which would require the use of a spare) or bouncing issues on the highway. Make sure to see if the trailer you’re buying is rated for highway use. Additionally, any wheel less than 8 inches tall means the trailer is low to the ground. If you need to drive on dirt roads to access some lakes, this could be an issue with bouncing and bottoming out.

What Are the Laws Regarding Kayaks?

The answer to this question varies depending on location. In many places, you’ll need to license and register your trailer before you can legally drive. That isn’t true everywhere, however. The best course of action is to look up what your local government mandates for kayak trailers.

Our Pick!

Right-On Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer

The Right-On Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer is a unique and versatile offering that’s absolutely worth considering due to its feature-laden designs and versatility.

Join the discussion