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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Kayak Trailers For Safe Transportation

Keep your kayak protected while in transit with these highly-rated brands!

by

Buyers Guide & Information

Best Kayak Trailers For Safe Transportation

Keep your kayak protected while in transit with these highly-rated brands!

by PITeam

by PITeam

Kayaking is great, but transporting your kayaks to and from the water is not always easy. Kayak trailers are racks that let you stack and store several kayaks at once, making transporting kayaks easy. They attach directly to your car so you can tow them along behind you from location to location.

In this review, we'll explore the types, best features, and review the top kayak trailers on the market. This will put you in the ideal position to pick the best one to meet your needs.

Types of Kayak Trailers

  • Single Kayak Trailers
    These are suitable for carrying one kayak and are therefore smaller and lighter than other models.
  • Multi-Kayak Trailers
    These are perfect for groups or families who enjoy kayaking because you can store several kayaks at once. Tandem or Multi-Kayak trailers are more expensive but can carry more weight, they also usually include room for accessories.
  • Rack and Roll Kayak Trailers
    These have space for multiple kayaks, bikes, or other storage. They are lightweight and easy to maneuver or store. They are also lower, making them easier to load and unload. The Yakima brand produces the most popular models of this type. 
  • Folding Kayak Trailers
    These trailers can be folded when not in use, and, in some cases, can be collapsed entirely. These are best suited for those with limited storage space.
  • Aluminum Kayak Trailers
    Aluminum is tough, durable, and more resistant to saltwater than alternative metals. Most kayak trailers feature some aluminum, but some are made entirely from it.

Buying a Reliable Kayak Trailer

Number of Kayaks & Kayak Size

Different trailers will accommodate different numbers of kayaks. If you are part of a group, or your family has several kayaks, then you will need a multi kayak trailer which can support the higher weight. These are more flexible than single or tandem trailers which can only fit one or two kayaks.

Larger kayaks will need larger trailers which can handle more weight. Generally, the cheaper kayak trailers cannot fit larger kayaks on them so you'll need to be careful when making your choice.

Ease of Installation & Loading/Unloading

Generally, most modern kayak trailers come already assembled and just need to be put together. Some models are entirely DIY, which means several boxes full of steel parts to put together. If you are not a fan of DIY, then you should look for premade models. Malone trailers are generally considered the quickest and easiest to put together.

When loading and unloading, you'll need to consider the weight and the capacity of the trailer. Kayak trailers can range from 150-400 pounds, with heavier models being much more challenging to move unassisted. These heavier, sturdier models can generally support higher weight, so if you have multiple kayaks, you'll want to look out for a higher capacity trailer.

Tyre & Wheel Size

Your tires and wheel size should reflect how you will use the trailer. Larger, thicker wheels are better suited for off-road conditions, while smaller wheels are better suited for lighter loads on paved roads. Many trailers now include a spare wheel as standard, but if not, then you should look to get one.

Traveling Distance & Usage

You need to consider how far you will be going as this will determine how much use your trailer will see. Galvanized steel and thick tires are features you should look out for if you need a more durable trailer. You should also consider the suspension of the trailer to make sure it can support the weight for longer journeys.

Design & Construction Materials

Durability generally comes down to materials. Galvanized steel offers protection against rust and corrosion, which is vital as it may be coming into contact with saltwater. Steel is also robust enough to support heavy loads long term. Aluminum offers the same durability but greater resistance to corrosion, however, it is generally more expensive.

Maneuverability

You will need to consider the wheels, suspension, and overall weight of the kayak trailer to make sure it suits your needs. If you are going off-road, then wider tires are better, with higher suspension. Lightweight models also allow you to pick up the trailer so you can quickly move and store it as needed.

Tongue Length, Tongue Jacks, Tongue Wheels

Your trailer tongue should be at least half as long as the vehicle you are using to tow it in order for it to be stable when turning. Tongue jacks are useful pieces of equipment that allow you to lower and raise the trailer to attach it to your vehicle. This prevents any damage to the trailer, vehicle, or kayaks. Some kayak trailers will include this as standard, but if not it's worth getting one.

Storage Space & Safety Features

The amount of storage space you have available will have a dramatic impact on your choice of trailer. The smaller, more lightweight trailers can fit comfortably on the wall of your garage, and some can be put up in a matter of minutes. Other, larger kayak trailers will need more space, and you should consider the dimensions before buying.

Many trailers now come with LED lights as standard, but you may need to have some fitted. You will need to have brake lights fitted on the back when driving to be able to transport it safely (and legally).

Price & Warranty

Price is always a key factor to consider with any purchase. The price range of kayak trailers varies massively depending on requirements. You will want to pick a good quality trailer that will last at least several years, rather than a cheap product that will only last a few trips. A durable trailer will generally cost between $750 and $1,750, but some models will be far more than this.

Most companies offer a warranty on their kayak trailers. The average is between 3-5 years, with a few companies like Yakima offering a lifetime limited warranty. The warranty provides essential protection to you as a buyer, and you should make sure you are covered for at least a year. 


5 Best Kayak Trailers Reviewed

1. Malone Auto Racks MicroSport

Best Kayak Trailer (Top Pick)

Kayak Capacity (number of kayaks)

4 plus a tow function

Trailer Weight

300 lbs.

Frame Material

Steel

Weight Capacity Limit

350 lbs.

Crossbar Width

78 inches

Warranty

Yes, 5 years

The Malone Microsport trailer is one of the best out there, and our top pick for a kayak trailer. It offers a great combination of quality and durability with an efficient design that makes it simple and effective.

The frame is made from galvanized marine grade steel which can support up to 350 pounds, much more than other trailers available on the market. It’s completely resistant to rusting and extremely durable even under heavy use.

The Malone Microsport is designed to carry kayaks, canoes, and other vessels. It isn't overly large but has 4 Malone J-Pro2 J-style kayak saddles meaning you can store four kayaks easily. It also features a heavy-duty tongue which allows you to tow medium-sized boats behind you.

The Malone Microsport also has galvanized wheels which can handle heavy use. A spare tire is included, so you aren't caught short when you need a replacement. The whole unit should only take 2 or 3 hours to assemble and comes with everything you need. Malone has won awards for their detailed instructions, and users agree that the manual makes it simple to get going quickly. 

The Malone Auto Racks MicroSport Kayak Trailer is one of the best value on the market. It’s been designed purely to meet the needs of the user with materials that stand the test of time. Malone also backs up their kayak trailer with a full warranty, but you will need to make sure you register it to be protected.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Includes 4x J-Pro Kayak Carriers
  • Easy Assembly

Cons

  • Heavy

2. Yakima Rack and Roll

Best Kayak Trailer (Runner Up)

Kayak Capacity (number of kayaks)

2

Trailer Weight

161.2 lbs.

Frame Material

Steel

Weight Capacity Limit

300 lbs.

Crossbar Width

78 inches

Warranty

Yes, Lifetime

The Yakima Rack and Roll trailer is a close second on our list. It offers a great deal of quality and functionality that allows you to transport multiple kayaks without any hassle. 

Yakima has made this trailer more adaptable than other models by keeping it light. There's a handle built into it which allows you to turn it into a hand-pulled trailer in seconds. It's also easy to lift and store, going from the back of your car to the garage wall in a few minutes.

Despite being lightweight, it's still durable. The frame is made from steel which is resistant to rust and corrosion. Heavy-duty springs are built into the device, allowing it to support up to 300 pounds in weight. Shock absorbers are used in both wheels to enable it to move effortlessly behind your vehicle even when heavily laden. 

Yakima has designed this kayak trailer to be stylish as well as functional. It's one of the more elegant units, and there is even an option to have it customized to your car. It's compatible with all Yakima accessories and well suited for carrying two kayaks. 

Yakima is a well-known name in the trailer world, and it's clear to see why this model has made the list. It's the lightweight and dynamic nature of the trailer which really stands out but the quality and durability back it up. Yakima also provides a warranty, but as with Malone, you have to register your product.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Lower weight limit

3. Malone MicroSport

Best Multi-Kayak Trailer

Kayak Capacity (number of kayaks)

4

Trailer Weight

132 lbs.

Frame Material

Steel

Weight Capacity Limit

800 lbs.

Crossbar Width

60 inches

Warranty

Yes, 5 years

Malone makes great quality kayak trailers, so it's no real surprise to see another on the list. This trailer is perfectly suited for carrying multiple kayaks at once, making it perfect for larger families or groups that go adventuring together.

The Malone Microsport trailer can handle a massive amount of weight compared to other products. It features a galvanized steel frame which is incredibly durable and two aluminum cross rails which provide further support. Galvanized steel is also used on the wheels with chrome acorn nuts keeping them secure. All of this makes this kayak trailer well made for carrying four kayaks up to 20 feet long.

This is one of the best multi-kayak trailers because of its versatile nature. You can use different fitted carriers or accessories from any of the major companies (Malone, Yakima, Thule, Right-On) so you aren’t limited to one set of products.

The entire trailer is easy to assemble, with premade parts that fit together. It should take no more than 3 hours to get it set up with award-winning guidance to help you through every step.

Malone has made transporting multiple kayaks at once extremely simple with this trailer. Its toughness and ability to deal with large, heavy loads makes it a great asset, and outstanding value for the price.

Pros

  • High weight limit
  • Sturdy
  • Quick Assembly

Cons

  • More storage space needed

4. RIGHT-ON Multi-Sport

Best Double Kayak Trailer

Kayak Capacity (number of kayaks)

2 (with room for bikes and accessories)

Trailer Weight

190 lbs.

Frame Material

Steel

Weight Capacity Limit

550 lbs.

Crossbar Width

64 inches

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

Double kayak trailers are by far the most common on the market, and there is stiff competition out there. Right-On has created an elegant solution to carrying two kayaks, plus accessories, by putting a second tier on the trailer. This makes it a practical and economical alternative to racking kayaks on top of the car.

Right-On is known for its affordable but attractive trailers that go above and beyond what you would expect in the price range. This trailer continues this trend with a sturdy and durable frame that supports a substantial amount of weight. The frame is made from reinforced steel and features a powder coat finish. This makes it more than capable of supporting two kayaks, with space for bikes and accessories.

This is a slightly more complicated model to build and will take some extra time to set up when it arrives. Once built however you can easily collapse the second tier if you only need to carry the single kayak on that journey.

This is an economical solution to carrying two kayaks on the roof as the trailer allows you to use your vehicles slipstream. This means you use less fuel, helping to give you more long term value.

This Right-On kayak trailer is well suited for families or groups of people who enjoy kayaking and outdoor activity. It’s made intelligently and to last with durable materials and a great design.

Pros

  • Two tiers (collapsable)
  • Sturdy construction
  • High weight capacity

Cons

  • More difficult to assemble
  • Shorter warranty

5. RIGHT-ON Ruff-Sport

Best Cheap Kayak Trailer (Best Value)

Kayak Capacity (number of kayaks)

4 (smaller kayaks)

Trailer Weight

200 lbs.

Frame Material

Steel

Weight Capacity Limit

400 lbs.

Crossbar Width

64 inches

Warranty

Yes, 1 year

One of the best budget kayak trailers on the market is the Right-On Ruff Sport. Despite the lower price tag, it has all the features seen in other more expensive models, including top of the range materials and impressive design. All of this makes it great value for money.

The frame is made from galvanized steel that supports heavy weights and provides resistance to corrosion from saltwater. 12-inch wheels support the kayak trailer, and soft shock absorbing springs are used to keep it moving smoothly even on bumpy roads.

This is another slightly more complicated model to assemble. It comes in 4 separate boxes and may take the best part of the day to put together. All parts are included, which includes LED lights that come as standard. It's compatible with all types of holders and accessories from any of the major brands.

The Ruff-Sport trailer is an excellent alternative to expensive models which kayakers can get a great deal of use from. It's slightly smaller than other models, but still has plenty of room for multiple kayaks and some accessories. All in all, it's an impressive product and one of the best value out there.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • High weight capacity
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not suitable for larger kayaks
  • More difficult to assemble

Best Kayak Trailer Brands

Several kayak trailer brands stand out from the crowd and are seen regularly in reviews online. Malone, Yakima, Thule, and Right-On are some of the most well known with several different products to suit various user needs.

The reason these brands are so prevalent comes down to a couple of key qualities. They all use advanced construction techniques and the best materials to create high-quality products. These don't only function well, but they stand the test of time, making them suitable investments in the long run. This quality also makes them perfect for transporting multiple kayaks at once, making the trailer much more useful for families or groups. On top of this, the manufacturers have included other features that make them much more user-friendly than other companies.

While all of these brands offer a mix of style, value, and quality, it's Malone that really stands out right now. Their trailers are the most versatile and are the easiest to assemble. They take all of the effort out of it and let you focus on what you actually want to be doing, kayaking.


Setting Up Kayak Trailers

When setting up your kayak trailer, it's essential to do it safely, or you can end up injuring yourself. Most modern kayaks come prebuilt and only require you to put the pieces together, but others will take more work.

You will first need to put together the base trailer and then assemble the rack that your kayak would rest on. For the base trailer:

  1. 1
    Put the two decks along with the tongue of the trailer on top. This shouldn't be complicated, but the parts can be cumbersome, and you might need help.
  2. 2
    The decks then need to be attached with hinges on each side to secure it in place.
  3. 3
    The axles and suspension need to be attached. Make sure that this is done tightly or you can run into real problems. Once this is in place, you should connect the wheels to the base of the trailer.

Once the base is ready you can attach your kayak rack:

  1. 1
    Attach a deck on top of your trailer to prevent from damage. This is usually a thin layer of plywood which is attached using a hex bolt.
  2. 2
    Lay 2 horizontal metal crossbars across the trailer and secure using L brackets and screws. You can use piping over these crossbars to help protect your kayaks when transporting them.
  3. 3
    Attach kayak strips to the trailer so you can secure your kayaks in place. Once done, you should be ready to use it.

Most kayak trailers now come fully built, and you just need to piece it together. But always read the instructions thoroughly to prevent any errors or injuries while getting it set up.


How to Load & Transport a Kayak Safely

It's essential to take precautions when transporting your kayak to avoid any injury or damage to you or the equipment. When handling the kayak, you should look to use two people to load it onto the trailer. This is especially important with large kayaks which are more challenging to maneuver.

Using padding on the kayak trailer will help you rest the kayak without damaging it against the metal. Once you have laid it down on the crossbar, you should use cam straps to secure it in place. These cam straps should be at least 12 feet long to allow them to reach around the kayak adequately. The non-stretch, water-resistant rope should be used to secure the bow and stern. Typically one line will be used for each, but this may not be needed for smaller vessels. 

When transporting multiple kayaks, you should look for specialist kayak saddles. These make it easy to load/unload kayaks and give clear guidance on how to secure it effectively. If you regularly transport more than one kayak, it's definitely worth the investment.

You can find a full video guide on loading and unloading kayaks here:


Additional Equipment: Kayak Trailer Accessories

Alongside your kayak trailer, you should look to invest in a tongue jack. These will allow you to gradually lower and raise the trailer when attaching it or detaching it from your vehicle. This means you don’t have to handle the weight yourself and lowers any risk to you or the equipment.

It’s also worth having spare tires on hand for the trailer. Generally, kayak trailers will use specialist wheels to help support the load, and you can be stuck if your tire goes in the middle of nowhere. A lot of trailers come with a spare as standard but if not it's worth investing in a spare and taking it with you on your journeys.


Care & Maintenance of Kayak Trailers

To get the most out of your kayak trailer, you need to make sure you're using it correctly. The best way to protect it is to be careful not to exceed the weight limit. This can damage the suspension and the metal leading to long term issues with the product.

You should also be regularly examining the trailer for any wear and tear or damage. Marks in the metal, damage to the wheels, or any noticeable scuffs to the crossbar can be indications that you need to get the trailer repaired. Most companies offer a reasonable warranty on their kayak trailers so being vigilant and requesting raising the issues at the right time is the best way to take good care of your trailer in the long run.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I travel long distance with a kayak trailer?

Yes, as long as the kayaks are secured correctly. Every few hundred miles, it's worth pulling over and checking all the straps to make sure everything is still secured safely. 

How many people does it require to put a kayak on a trailer?

Generally, you should use two people to load and unload a kayak onto a trailer; however, if it is a smaller vessel, it can be done with one person.

Is padding on a kayak trailer necessary?

Padding on the trailer is recommended. It will help protect your kayak as you travel and absorb some of the shocks from sudden movements while driving. 

What vehicle is best for towing a kayak trailer?

SUVs are considered the best vehicles for towing kayak trailers as they are powerful enough to handle the extra weight.

How much does a kayak weigh? Can you strap a kayak to a car?

Kayaks will weigh between 30 and 80 pounds depending on size. They can be strapped on to the roof of cars but using a roof rack is much more secure. If securing directly to your vehicle, you should make sure the bow and stern are both tied down tightly.


Conclusion

Kayak trailers offer a simple way to get your equipment to where it needs to be. They’re much more economical than racking on top of your vehicle and make it much easier and safer to load and unload your kayak.

The Malone Auto Racks Microsport trailer is one of the best performing kayak trailers on the market. The build quality, materials, and design make it easy to use and long-lasting. It can support multiple kayaks at once with ease, but the suspension means it won't slow you down. Stylish, affordable, and easy to set up, it's a great kayak trailer that does the job well.

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