If you’ve ever tried kayaking, you’ll appreciate the simplicity, tranquility, and feeling of liberation that comes with sliding your kayak into the water and escaping from the stresses of the week. But, you’ll also know the frustration of loading and unloading your kayak onto or in your vehicle. If this is you then it’s time you took a look at the best kayak trailer of 2019. In fact, there are several options worth considering, all of which will make your life easier.
Of course, if you’re not familiar with kayaking, you need to book your first lesson today. A kayak is essentially similar to a canoe, except that you’re lower to the water and sit facing forward. Once you’ve given it a go you’re going to need your own kayak as well as this guide to getting the best kayak trailer!
It should be noted that a kayak trailer is not the only option, you can also lift your trailer onto the roof of your vehicle. There are special kayak roof racks to check out if you want to try this option. In addition, you may be able to slide the kayak into the back of your van, or car – assuming it’s big enough.
However, sliding a kayak into your vehicle is likely to cause deterioration; especially when it’s still wet after use. A roof rack is a viable option but you’ll need to lift the kayak into position – this is not always as easy as it seems.
In short, the kayak trailer is an easier option; particularly for loading and when you want to carry more than a couple. But it is not the only option, consider carefully before continuing with any purchase.
Keep it simple
This Malone kayak trailer is undoubtedly one of the best kayak trailers currently available. It has a simple design that can accommodate up to 4 kayaks; providing they are 20’ long or less.
Understanding The Types Of Kayak Trailer
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:
Instead of having a dedicated kayak trailer you can purchase a trailer top; this mounts on top of your existing trailer, allowing you to carry items in the trailer wand your kayaks on top. Of course, you’ll need to verify weight limits to ensure the total weight of your kayaks, trailer, and other goods don’t exceed what the trailer axle can handle.
You’ll also need to consider the length of your kayaks; you need to be able to fit them on top of the trailer and still be able to turn; without the kayaks touching your vehicle.
As you can imagine this type of trailer effectively stacks the kayaks on top of each other. Each kayak has its own cradle and you should be able to stack them 3 or 4 high. This does slow you down when driving on fast roads. The stacking system creates extra drag and is not exceptionally stable.
However, it is a good option for slower speeds and narrower roads/lanes. This could be a real benefit if you’re heading for a lesser-known launching spot and will have limited parking and maneuvering room.
This type of kayak trailer is the opposite, it allows you to place 2, or sometimes even 3 kayaks side by side on your trailer. The weight is kept lower, reducing drag and helping you to keep your speed up. Of course, the cost is the accessibility to some spots. But, if you know you’ll be traveling a lot then this can be a good option.
If you mix both of the trailers above you’ll end up with 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; not only can they move a lot of kayaks in one go, but they are also sturdy enough, with large enough wheels to go anywhere.
Of course, this type of trailer is generally used on shorter journeys as it would significantly affect fuel efficiency and speed on a longer trip.
Before we take a look at the best kayak trailers available today, it is important to be aware that a hand trailer (also known as a ‘dolly’) is different from a truck trailer.
The truck trailer is designed to fit onto your hitch and be pulled by your vehicle, wherever you need to go. In contrast, the hand trailer is designed to be pulled by hand. This is really an accessory to your truck trailer. The idea is to slide your kayak onto the hand trailer and pull it into the water from your vehicle.
It’s perfect if you live close to the water or if you’re at a very popular spot and there isn’t enough room to back your trailer up to the launching ramp. This is especially effective if
the river has a little drop-off; which is surprisingly common.
The hand trailer will often have a fastening mechanism; allowing you to attach it to your bike. This makes it very easy to take your kayak to the water without a vehicle; as long as you’re not too far away from the water!
This Malone kayak trailer is undoubtedly one of the best kayak trailers currently available. It has a simple design that can accommodate up to 4 kayaks; providing they are 20’ long or less. The total capacity for this trailer is 800 pounds.
The frame is made from galvanized steel and has aluminum cross beams to keep the weight down while the strength is high.
Size Of Kayak
It is worth noting that the center of the ball hitch is 9’ in front of the forward crossbar, centering a 20’ kayak should give you 1’ of room between the kayak and your hitch.
The trailer does arrive with some assembly necessary. Fortunately, the guide is good and you can have this completed in under a day. What is worth noting is the positive feedback regarding Malone customer service; the quality of the trailer is excellent and they will quickly supply any parts that are missing when you take delivery of the trailer.
However, it is important to note that you’ll need to contact Malone for the VIN details; these are not supplied when you purchase the trailer.
One feature that is well worth noting is the retractable tongue; this shortens the length of the trailer; making it possible to stand it up in your garage; if you wish; providing you have somewhere else to keep the kayaks….
The trailer board, lights, electrics, and even the safety chain all come with this trailer. To use, you simply need to lift your kayak into the cradles on the trailer; they are shaped so that two kayaks can sit on each side of the center. Straps go round the front and the rear, these ratchet tight and you can knot the leftover strap for extra security.
It should be noted that a cable lock will need to be purchased separately if you want to secure the kayaks to the trailer. If you’re looking for a simpler version of this trailer but one that can still carry 4 kayaks, you may want to check out the Malone MicroSport.
Perhaps the greatest feature of this trailer is actually that it is very simplistic; you’ll be able to easily customize it to ensure it suits your purposes and has all the pocket spaces you need to carry supplies for a day out on the kayaks.
The kayak carriers can even be removed, allowing you to carry other weights on the horizontal bars; you can even use it for the local DIY run!
The fact that it is created by Malone is really just the icing on the cake; there are few names in this industry s reputable as Malone.
best Yakima bike racks here.
This trailer is made from aluminum, this helps to ensure it is light enough to be barely noticeable when towing. The frame is incredibly simple, an extending tongue, two crossbars, and two outer bars, along with the axle and some slimline looking 12” wheels.
However, although the trailer may look very simplistic, it is actually easy to assemble and surprisingly solid when towing it behind your vehicle. What is really impressive is the fact that you can unhitch it and add a carrying handle that will make this trailer into a hand cart; allowing you to effortlessly take the kayaks right to the water.
There are actually two size options, the 78” crossbars, or the 66” crossbars. The larger rack and roll Yakima trailer comes with heavy-duty shocks, allowing you to carry 350 pounds of weight; that’s pretty impressive and enough for 4 heavy kayaks. The shocks also allow 4” of travel, independently, helping to ensure the ride remains smooth no matter what terrain you’re riding over.
It’s also nice to see LED trailer lights, these are designed to last for several years without being replaced or maintained.
As well as a simple lever that allows you to slide the tongue under the trailer, you can also purchase a tongue extension piece; this will help you to carry a longer kayak if needed.
The simple crossbars can be used to add dedicated kayak carriers, ensuring your kayaks are sat at a 45° angle and then strapped to the trailer. If you only have 2 kayaks you can simply turn them upside down and rest them on these crossbars, strapping them in place will ensure they don’t move while you’re in transit.
The one disappointing factor that several customers have commented on is that the customer service from Yakima is not as good as you would hope. This kayak trailer does come with a limited lifetime warranty but getting hold of customer services can be difficult.
Another issue worth noting is the use of different sized nuts and bolts, for example, the spare wheel is held in place with an 18mm nut, but the wheels are held on with 21mm nuts; meaning you have to carry several sockets to ensure you can do something as simple as a wheel change beside the road.
Can handle 4 kayaks. Trailer weighs 150 pounds. Maximum weight capability – 300 pounds.Length of 13’ 5”.The width of the crossbar is 78”.The weight of trailer: 161.2 pounds
You probably won’t be surprised to find another offering from Malone on this list. Malone has been making trailers and other vehicle accessories for in excess of 18 years; they are dedicated to providing the very best quality products every time.
This particular model is a great idea if you’re carrying smaller kayaks.
The first thing to note is that this is a base trailer, there are no dedicated arms for kayaks. You can either check out this Xtralight package or simply purchase cradles; if you think you need them. In fact, that’s one of the advantages of this trailer, the raised arms are flat, allowing you to fasten your kayaks in place, add bike rails, or even just carry wood. This makes it an incredibly flexible option and very practical when you’re not carrying your kayaks.
You can easily add any type of rack/cradle to your trailer, depending on what you need to carry.
Strength & Durability
The Malone comes with a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty, this is a testimony to the quality of the construction. The frame is galvanized steel for strength and has 58” steel coated loading bars; to give your kayaks support and strengthen the entire trailer. The 8” wheels are not the largest but should allow you to reach most places without an issue and will allow you to hit the speed limit on any road.
In addition, you’ll note the steel spring suspension which helps to keep the trailer on the road and absorb the bumps, it also has DOT approved lighting.
The trailer is exceptionally adaptable, add to 4 kayaks with any roof style mounting system, or carry fewer by just strapping them to the flat bars. You can carry your kayaks upside down this way, reducing drag and helping them any water to drain out!
It’s very easy to load the kayaks on as the trailer height is approximately 3 feet from the ground; high enough to ensure your kayaks don’t get damaged, but low enough to make loading and securing easy.
However, you should remember that the load capacity s a maximum of 275 pounds, consider this when loading the trailer to ensure you don’t have any issues.
You can have this trailer assembled in a matter of hours, half a day should be more than enough time, then you’re ready to start using it.
In essence, it is the perfect option for anyone who needs to move their kayaks but also uses a trailer for a multitude of other jobs; this trailer can do it all. In fact, it’s the perfect option for anyone looking to carry 2 bikes, 2 kayaks, and some other gear.
However, if you prefer to just load and go this may not be the best kayak trailer for you; it is just too flexible.
At first glance, this kayak trailer appears more like a trike! It’s a stylish looking piece of kit, designed to accommodate 2 kayaks up to 18’ long each. The trailer comes with 2 sets of SeaWing kayak carriers which are ‘V’ shaped to accommodate the hulls of your kayaks and fully padded to ensure they don’t get damaged.
The frame is galvanized steel, this gives it a pleasant shine and helps to ensure it will last for years; providing you give it a little care and attention.
As with most of these kayak trailers, there is some assembly required. However, this can be done in as little as 3 hours and will definitely take no more than 6. But, what should impress you the most is the positive comments that existing users post; virtually every user has had a positive experience.
The trailer comes with a galvanized spare tire which mounts on the front bar with a locking attachment; this ensures it doesn’t go missing. The hitch is supported by two safety chains to ensure the trailer stays safely in position.
Fitting this to the back of your vehicle is as easy as lifting the trailer onto your hitch ball, drop it into position and secure the handle. The kayaks can then be slid virtually effortlessly into position and tighten down with ratchet straps; giving you peace of mind during your travels. Loading should take no more than 5 minutes per kayak; you really can be ready to go in less than 15 minutes. Of course, if you leave the kayaks in position when storing your trailer you’ll be ready to go in seconds.
It should be noted that although the spare wheel is locked to the trailer, you’ll need to purchase a hitch lock and a security chain if you are considering leaving the trailer unattended. This will help to protect your kayaks from opportunist thieves.
This is a different approach to the classic kayak trailer, but still an effective and good way of carrying your beloved boat to the water’s edge. In fact, it can carry one kayak and a couple of bikes, or, with careful planning, as many as 4 kayaks.
Quality & Flexibility
The powder coating on the steel frame helps to ensure that the Road Keel folding kayak trailer is a good investment; if looked after it should last for years.
Alongside this, the tubular frame creates strength and support for your kayaks while presenting you with aluminum tread plate at the base of the trailer; giving you the space to fasten other items securely.
It’s not just well made; this is one of the best kayak carriers as it can carry a multitude of different pieces of equipment, ranging from kayaks to kayaks and bikes, or even kayaks, paddleboards, and surfboards; the options really are virtually limitless.
In addition, the trailer has been fitted with 12” aluminum wheels, helping to keep the weight down while providing enough strength to support the Road Keel trailer and almost any load. By using a torsion axle the trailer is sturdy and well balanced, regardless of the surface o even the speed you’re traveling at.
If you want the ultimate in flexibility then this is the trailer for you! The raised bars can easily be removed, creating a small flatbed trailer which can be used to carry almost any item you can think of. As a matter of interest, the side rails are 20” tall, giving you an idea of how much space can be available under the kayaks, especially if you block the sides up.
Another great feature of this trailer s the fact that you can fold the raised bars into the trailer and then fold the rear part of the aluminum plate up, creating a flat base. In turn, this will allow you to stand the trailer up and minimize the space it needs for storage.
You can even slide the tongue out to reduce the storage height needed. It is worth noting that the trailer comes with a 53 ¼ inch tongue but that you could purchase a longer, 83 1/8 inch tongue if desired.
The secret to this is the fact the base design of the trailer is a simple square, with two crossbars that will allow you to attach your kayaks or other equipment. Alongside this a second tier can be quickly and easily mounted, allowing you to increase the number of kayaks or other pieces of equipment being carried.
The crossbars are round and the same format as round roof bars, allowing you to mount virtually any roof rack system on top of your trailer. There is no doubt that this adds a lot of value to this trailer. In fact, it’s quite possible the best kayak trailer for value on this list.
But, what is really great is the flexibility this trailer offers you. It is possible to slide two kayaks into the gap between the raised bars, keeping them secure as the bars will stop them from sliding to left or right. Depending on the size of your kayaks you may even be able to get 4 kayaks slid through the middle.
This leaves the top free for more kayaks, a cargo box, or even your bikes. It is worth noting that kayaks can also be fitted to the outside of the rails; effectively leaving the perfect spot for fastening a cargo box free in the middle.
The length between the hitch and the axle is 10’, allowing you to carry a 19’ kayak and still have at least 1’ left between the kayak and your vehicle.
The instructions that come with this are really easy to follow, you should be able to assemble it yourself in a matter of 3-4 hours, shorter if you want to enlist a friend to help! It is worth noting that no specialist tools are required, although a torque wrench is a good idea.
This is a fantastic option if you’re looking to carry more than just a kayak or two. The C.E. Smith Multi-Sport trailer is designed to carry kayaks, small boats, paddleboards, and other small recreational craft; up to 12 feet long. It does the job exceptionally well.
This trailer is surprisingly light, allowing you to unhitch it and maneuver your kayaks into position by hand. The pole at the front supports the hand winch, allowing you to slide the trailer into the water and secure the kayak or boat without having to lift them. Built into this post is a bow roller to ensure a boat nestles into position without being damaged.
There are two 5ft long bunk boards which are covered in marine grade carpet; this is designed to resist mold and mildew; as well as prevent scratches from appearing on your kayak or boat. But, the best thing about these bunks is the fact that they are adjustable, they can be moved into any position you need to support a ‘V’ shaped hull, softer hull, or even a flat surface to strap your kayaks too.
It should be noted that this kayak arrives in 3 boxes, there are a lot of parts and it is worth checking they are all there before you start making the trailer. The instructions are straight forward and you should be able to complete the trailer in less than a day.
All brackets, hitch, lights, wiring, and safety chains are included. You’ll also be pleased to note the galvanized frame is designed to resist rust and corrosion; you can roll the trailer into saltwater if you wish. The lights are waterproof and the sturdy leaf spring suspension is more than capable of carrying your kayaks and dealing with the saltwater. Of course, a little routine maintenance, including washing the trailer, is a good idea.
C.E. Smith even offers a 3-year sun-fade warranty on the marine carpeting and a 2-year warranty for the tires; which are on 5 stud steel wheels. It’s also useful to be aware that the bunk boards can be moved to run across the width of the trailer instead of the length of this. You may find this preferable if you’re loading kayaks.
It is also possible to update the wheels to 12” ones, but, you’ll need to change the fenders for larger ones as well. This could be a good idea if you’re going over a lot of rough terrains and are worried about the clearance of your kayaks or boat.
If you’re looking for a trailer that will handle 2, 3, or even 4 kayaks, or 2 kayaks and a couple of bikes then you’re going to need the Ruff-Sport Trailer. It is surprisingly compact and yet exceptionally well designed; giving you easy storage for everything you need on your next vacation.
You should note that this is a wide trailer, the cross beams are 6ft 4in wide, they extend out past the width of the wheels. This maximizes the load space available while minimizing the wheel footprint; helping to keep the trailer maneuverable.
You’ll have to assemble this trailer yourself or pay someone to do it for you. But, once you’ve spent between 4 and 8 hours building the Ruff-Sport trailer you’ll realize that it is an incredibly flexible investment.
In short, it’s a galvanized steel frame, which is designed to withstand the elements; whether you’re towing or reversing into saltwater. But, the real beauty is the simplicity; the flat base allows you to strap virtually anything to the trailer and the fact that there is no solid base means you have easy access to tie-down points.
With a little effort, this trailer can witch from kayak carrier to bike carrier or even a small boat.
It’s also great to see that the tongue has a locking stand. Simply move it down into position and lock it in place; this will prevent anyone from easily towing your trailer away. This really helps when you’re loading and aren’t already attached to your vehicle, the stand prevents the trailer from rolling away.
The horizontal crossbars are perfect for strapping your kayaks too. But, you can also attach standard roof bike racks from most manufacturers to these trailer bars; this will allow you to carry a bike or two, alongside your kayak or paddleboard.
That’s who this trailer should really appeal to; the adventurer who likes kayaking but also does an array of other activities. With just a little effort the trailer can be transformed into the perfect accessory for any trip.
Another reason that this is one of the best kayak trailers on the market is the fact that the galvanized steel frame simply lends itself to being altered. You can create box compartments or even sides for your trailer, in order to carry your camping gear along with your kayak.
The Right-On trailer stands out beautifully from the other options on the best kayak trailer list, simply because it is black instead of shiny silver.
This is another flexible offering. Again, the trailer is a simple frame with two horizontal bars; allowing you to add roof style bike racks and fit up to 6 bikes on one trailer. But, you can also use the bars to support the weight of between 2-4 kayaks, or a mixture of kayaks, bikes, and even paddleboards. It really is a very flexible trailer.
It should be noted that this trailer is basically the same as the Right-On multisport with rack trailer mentioned earlier; it simply doesn’t have the rack included; preventing you from stacking your kayaks as high as you could with the rack. The simplicity of this design allows you to create your own perfect carrying platform. But the real strength of this kayak trailer is in your peace of mind; provided by the powder-coated steel and the comprehensive warranty offered by the company. Their customer service appears to be excellent.
Storing the trailer is surprisingly easy; it is light enough to pivot up and lean against the wall, providing you have enough clearance; it doesn’t have a folding tongue. But, what it does have is round bars. These are designed to make it easy for you to add roof rack style accessories. However, if you have a heavy kayak you won’t be able to leave it sitting on the trailer; after a few weeks, the bars will cause deformities in your kayaks. Adding pool noodles will help to protect your kayaks but it won’t prevent the deformities from occurring; you’ll need to plan to store your heavy kayaks elsewhere when not in use.
On the plus side, you’ll be able to move the bars to suit your needs. In addition, you can add board pads to carry a small boat or cradles to help support your kayaks; especially if you’re planning on loading 3 or 4 of them. You’ll note the abundance of extra holes to help you secure your kayaks with ratchet straps.
The great thing about this is that you can easily unbolt accessories and add different ones; making the trailer extremely versatile.
Of course, the trailer comes complete with a locking tongue stand and safety chains; to ensure it stays attached to your vehicle.
There is no suspension on the Right-On trailer but this doesn’t appear to affect the smoothness of the ride, even on bumpy terrain, the trailer stays on the road well.
In short, this is a very versatile and easy to use trailer; especially useful if you like to carry different items independently or at the same time.
The final offering on this best kayak trailer list is from a company called Ironton. They have been making trailers for several years and offer an array of different options. At first glance, the Ironton Personal watercraft and boat trailer kit appear very similar to many of the other offerings available. However, there are a few key differences that are worth noting.
It utilizes 12” tires as standard, the frame is designed for bunk boards and doesn’t have cross bars, and the stainless steel is powder coated white; which certainly makes it stand out.
This is the right choice if you want to look a little different and aren’t hoping to carry anything too long. It can just about accommodate a 12ft long RIB, potentially this will allow you to ass a 14ft kayak but this may shift the weight towards the rear of your trailer, placing unnecessary stress on the hitch point.
It is possible to extend the tongue if you can do this yourself with a new piece of metal. The tongue that comes with the trailer is 5ft long; even a 12ft boat will stick off the back of your trailer by a couple of feet.
The trailer will arrive in two boxes and the instructions are not as clear as with some of the other best kayak trailer options on this list. But, it is possible to follow them and create your trailer in approximately 6-8 hours.
This trailer comes with a useful pole that bolts to the tongue and acts as a stop for your boat; this pole can be left off the trailer or moved according to your needs. It is also a good additional securing point to ensure your kayaks don’t move in transit. The pole can even extend in height by simply repositioning the top piece in the allotted securing slot.
The beds are carpeted to help protect your kayaks or boat when you’re loading and carrying them. However, it should be noted that the angle of these beds can be moved but there is no easy option allowing you to carry other items, such as bikes. This trailer is designed to help you carry water-based equipment, such as kayaks, paddleboards, and even small boats.
It is incredibly light and easy to maneuver; allowing you to unhitch it and position your kayaks by the water; even if you’re not great at reversing with a trailer.
Your Guide To Choosing The Best Kayak Trailer
You know there are some kayak trailers which are designed to catch your eye; they scream ‘buy me, buy me’; even if they are not the best kayak trailer for your needs.
That’s why it is important to consider your options before you part with your hard-earned money. Here’s what you should be thinking about before you buy:
There are hundreds of different kayak trailer manufacturers; each one has their own unique products and price tags. Of course, some manufacturers are better known than others; partly because they have been around for longer and partly because of the quality of their products.
It is important to check out the manufacturer of your kayak trailer before you purchase it. You should look at how long they have been in business and what warranties they offer. It is also a good idea to check out their customer service department; the professionalism and friendliness of this department can tell you a lot about a specific business.
You shouldn’t be put off if the manufacturer is not already known to you, there are new ones arriving on the scene all the time. But, it is a good idea to look at their history, which should be shown on their website. This will help you to understand where their business is coming from and their values; that will help you to decide if they are the sort of company you want to be buying from.
The reputation of a specific kayak trailer is tied to the manufacturer. However, just because a manufacturer has a great reputation, it doesn’t mean the trailer is also great; even the best companies create products with issues.
The best way of assessing the reputation of a company and the quality of a specific trailer is to look online for reviews. Social media sites are also a great resource when it comes to finding out the truth about a product.
If you check several social media sites and product forums you’ll find plenty of people who have actually used the trailer you’re interested in. They will be able to tell you exactly what their experience has been like.
Don’t forget that everyone’s needs are different and that it is virtually impossible to make every customer happy; there will be some negative reviews. The trick is to make sure that the majority of the reviews are positive; this will help to ensure that you purchase the best kayak trailer for your needs and that it is as good as you think it is.
It is also worth looking at the response to the negative views, a reputable company will do their best to ensure the customer is satisfied; this should be obvious by their response to the negative comments.
There is no doubt that the best kayak trailer is going to see you back hundreds of dollars, many of them are in the 4 digit price range.
That’s why it is important to decide your budget before you start shopping. Your budget is more than just the amount of funds you can afford; it should be a balance of all the points in this guide to purchasing list.
Just because you can afford the most expensive kayak trailer in the world doesn’t mean that it is the right one for you. Consider the funds you have available, how often you’re likely to use the trailer and then decide your actual budget. You can then narrow your search to those in your budget level; it will actually make it easier to choose a trailer!
The Right Type For Your Needs, (How much are you going to use it?)
A kayak trailer is a much easier way to carry kayaks than the roof of your vehicle. However, before you commit to a trailer you should consider how much you’re going to use your kayaks and where you are likely to take them. If you generally roll them down the road to the water and only need to carry them on your annual vacation then you may find that a roof style kayak carrier is a better option.
Of course, if you’re using them all the time and are carrying 3 or more, the trailer is likely to be the best option simply because it is so convenient. But it is worth thinking about it first!
Ease Of Fitting
Hooking up a kayak trailer to your car is pretty simple, you usually slide the trailer ball onto the hitch on your vehicle. Then simply lock it into place and make sure your safety chain is in position; this stops the trailer from running away if the hitch fails.
However, you should also consider the weight of the trailer and the weight of your kayaks. You’ll need to be able to pull this around and lift the trailer onto the hitch of your vehicle. If you don’t think this is a viable option then you’ll need to consider adding a jockey wheel. This makes it easier to move the trailer around and connect it to your vehicle. Of course, this will cost extra but is generally worth it to make your life easier.
A kayak trailer is not a cheap investment and nor are your kayaks. You need to think about security before you purchase your trailer. You’ll need the security in place as soon as you start using the trailer; you’ll also need to know what security it offers.
The first consideration is whether it has a hitch lock; if it doesn’t you’ll need to pick up a good quality aftermarket version. This will prevent someone from unhitching your trailer and hitching it up to their own vehicle, with your kayaks attached!
If your trailer has a hitch lock then you need to look at how secure the kayaks are. Leaving them alone even for five minutes can be enough time for someone to walk off with your kayak. Some trailers have built-in locking systems, others provide a security chain, while others have no security.
It’s important to be aware of what your trailer has; you can purchase hitch locks and locking cables separately; if necessary.
Security is an easy thing to overlook until something happens and you wish you’d taken the extra precautions. If you assess what security is on your trailer before you buy it then you’ll know what you need and be able to address the issue before, or as soon as you take delivery of your trailer.
A trailer that sits outside will have a shortened life; even if you cover it with tarpaulin or similar. The fact is that it will be exposed to the elements, air, damp and moisture will cause corrosion and rust, as well as potentially seizing up the wheels.
In order to ensure your trailer lasts you for many years you’re going to need to consider the space you have available to store it in; ideally undercover. Even a temporary canopy can reduce the damage caused by the elements. But, the best option is for it to be inside. If your garage is not big enough then you may need to consider erecting a shed or similar building for it.
The cost of creating a building will be significantly less than having to replace your trailer every couple of years.
When considering storage don’t forget that you’d be looking for somewhere to store your kayaks anyway, while you may be able to hang these on the wall, this won’t be necessary if you have a good storage area for your kayak trailer; the kayaks will remain on the trailer.
Once you’ve worked out what space you have you’ll be able to decide the size of your trailer and even the size of your kayaks!
Size Of Your Tongue
No, this isn’t the size of your tongue personally! The tongue is the distance between the hitch on your trailer and the axle. As the axle should be the halfway point of a loaded kayak, the distance of your tongue will dictate the longest kayak a specific trailer can make.
Sea kayaks and tandems tend to be longer than standard kayaks; you’ll need to make sure your trailer, (and its tongue), is long enough to accommodate your kayak.
This does mean you need to measure your kayak and consider if you’re likely to change your kayak or carry a friend’s kayak. It is better to prepare for these eventualities in advance.
However, don’t go for a long tongue, and effectively a long trailer, just in case. The longer your trailer is the harder it will be to reverse it in a straight line, or even maneuver it properly into a space.
Number Of Kayaks
This is actually one of the first questions you should be asking! If you kayak by yourself then the answer is probably one. But, if you have family and friends you need to consider how many kayaks you will be taking on a regular basis; that’s the minimum number of kayaks your kayak trailer will need to take.
You can then consider the extras that you may carry and how often this is likely to occur. Some kayak trailers work well with kayak roof racks, others do not. If you have a roof rack or see this as a good option for extra space then you’ll need to pick a trailer that accepts this.
However, if you want to have space on your trailer for your friend’s kayaks then you’ll need to get one that can handle a lot more kayaks. But, you shouldn’t purchase one if you’re only likely to fully load it once or twice a year; the rest of the time you’re burning a lot of extra fuel for no reason.
You’ll also remember that larger trailers do make it harder to maneuver, buying a larger trailer than you usually need is going to cause you a lot of extra hassle!
Some kayak trailers have storage spots on them or accessories that can be added to allow you to carry oars and other equipment easily. This will make your life easier. After all, why purchase a kayak trailer and still put your soaking wet oars into the back of your well looked-after car?
That’s not the only accessory you can get. Other accessories include loading kits, cradle sets, cradle adaptors, extra cushioning, and even a spare tire mount.
Consider what accessories come with your preferred best kayak trailer and what ones can be added; it will help to ensure you choose the best one for your needs.
The tire size is not usually the first thing people think of when looking at a kayak trailer. After all, you want to see how easy it is to mount your kayak and how secure it will be. The amount of padding and storage space for oars and other accessories is also important. But, you should also consider the size of the tires on your trailer and whether they can be changed for larger or smaller ones.
Smaller tires will reduce the height of the trailer, potentially making it easier to load your kayaks.
However, small tires will also decrease the clearance, reducing the number of kayaks that can be carried and the weight that the trailer can accommodate. In addition, smaller tires will limit your ability to drive off-road.
You may think this is not an issue, but, in many cases, it is necessary to get off-road in order to drop the kayaks right into the water, or by the water’s edge. Small tires are often fitted as standard to reduce the price of the trailer, but this could be a false economy; especially if you can’t increase the size of the tires and end up having to replace the trailer!
You should also note that smaller tires won’t last as long as larger ones, they can be hard to find replacements for, and they can even increase the stress on other parts of your trailer, specifically the wheel bearings.
Does It Need Assembling?
If you’re mechanically minded then you shouldn’t have an issue putting a trailer together. However, if mechanics and general assembly are not your forte, you’ll need to consider either getting someone over to make your trailer for you or purchasing one that is ready-made.
Obviously, a kayak trailer that is ready-assembled will cost more. But, this may be preferable to doing it yourself and failing to tighten a critical boat properly; it can literally cause a life or death scenario. This is especially true if you’re likely to be traveling on faster roads with the trailer doing 60mph or perhaps even more. Don’t forget, you may tell yourself to drive slow but it is hard to remember when on familiar roads.
An additional thought worth noting is that some kayak trailers need specialist tools to assemble them. If you don’t have these and need to purchase them, you’ll probably find they are more expensive than paying someone to assemble the trailer for you.
If you have two kayaks the same then they’ll weigh similar. But, kayaks can be made from Polyethylene, Composite, or Fiberglass. You can also get inflatable ones and rigid ones.
Depending on which type you have and the material it is made from, the weight can vary from as little as 10 pounds to as much as 100 pounds! You need to be aware of this when loading your trailer; it can affect the handling if one side weighs significantly more than the other.
Final Thoughts Before Towing Away
All of the trailers on the best kayak trailer list need to be assembled or you need to pay the supplier to do this for you. In reality, assembling any of these trailers is straightforward and shouldn’t be an issue; even if you have no experience. You just need to give yourself plenty of time and verify you have all the necessary pieces before you start.
It is important to look at the guide to choosing the best kayak trailer; this will help to ensure you get the one that suits your needs, rather than just the cheapest or coolest looking one. In fact, it is advisable to start slow and consider your options, rushing the decision will almost certainly leave you with the wrong trailer.
Consider what best suits your needs today and in the future. This will help to ensure you choose a trailer that will last for years instead of becoming a storage facility in your garden or garage.
If you’re serious about getting the best kayak trailer then you should consider the Malone Auto Racks Microsport; it is well designed, from a reputable supplier, and surprisingly versatile. However, if you’re likely to use a trailer for bikes as much as kayaks then you need to consider one of the multisport options, such as the Right-On or Ruff-Sport.
But, whatever you do, you should consider your future use first. There is no point in buying a small trailer for 2 kayaks when you know it is likely that you’ll need a larger one for 4 kayaks in the future. This is an investment, you need to make sure you choose the best kayak trailer for your needs; look after it and it will last a lifetime!