DIY Kayak Trailer

DIY Kayak Trailer | How to Build Your Own DIY Kayak Trailer

It used to be that when you bought a kayak you also purchased a roof rack and with minimal effort, you’d be on your way. With kayaks increasing in size, more kayak anglers are turning to trailers, either made for kayaks or a DIY kayak trailer, to help get their kayaks to and from fishing destinations safely. 

Now if you’re reading this article, you’ve most likely explored some of the trailer options out there. If you’re like me, the first thing you noticed was the price. One of my favorite things about kayak fishing is the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach that many anglers have. When I got the idea to get a trailer for my kayak, I figured it’d be the perfect place to put my DIY skills to the test.

DIY Kayak Trailer: Locate a Trailer Option That Works for You

The first thing you need to do is locate a trailer option that will work for you and your vehicle. The first DIY kayak trailer I put together was from Harbor Freight. If you search for this trailer online, you’ll most likely see mixed reviews about it. I will say that I trailered my kayaks from New Hampshire to North Carolina twice with zero issues along the way. Oh yeah, did I mention that I towed this trailer with a Toyota Yaris?!?! 

DIY Kayak Trailer(1)

The major benefit of these trailers is they’re super lightweight and can hold over 1000-pounds which should be plenty for any kayak trailer.

If you search on craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, you can usually find a used trailer from between $200 – $500 depending on what you’re looking for specifically. If you buy a Harbor Freight trailer new, you’ll have to put it together. I was lucky enough to find a used trailer that was already assembled for $200.

DIY Kayak Trailer: Putting the Trailer Together

Once I purchased a trailer, I added bunks for easy loading and unloading of my kayak. These are simple and super affordable. All you need is some PVC pipe, and some square bolts to attach them to the trailer. This method allows the kayak to sit securely on the trailer while distributing the force from the straps holding it down. I’ve used this method for two different kayaks and never had any issues. This being said, be sure to use cinch style straps and loosen them after every trip to prevent warping and other damage.

After adding bunks, I focused on increasing the kayak carrying capacity of the trailer. My brother-in-law had an old truck rack kicking around so I decided to barter for it. After getting it for a fair trade, I bolted the rack down to the trailer and ended up with the ability to carry three kayaks at a time, not including the roof. When the trailer was finished, I was able to transport three kayaks with a trailer that had a combined weight of 600-pounds. When you do the math, this is a similar weight as some of the more expensive options at a fraction of the price. You’ll be surprised how cheap you can put a quality trailer together if you’re resourceful enough. 

As fun as all this DIY kayak trailer building talk can be, it wouldn’t be fair of me to write about all of this without sharing some precautions as well.

Be sure you don’t take any chances when it comes to a trailer, make sure your wheel bearings, axel, and leaf springs are in good working order. My rule of thumb is to try and stay away from the trailer’s weight limit as much as possible. Just because it says it can handle 1000-pounds doesn’t mean it can comfortably or for a long period of time.

Along with that, be sure to evenly distribute weight on the trailer, you’ll want your trailer to ride as smooth as possible down the road, especially on highways. Do not use cheap materials when putting your trailer together and when tying down your kayaks. It’s one thing if you lose your kayak, but it’s a totally different situation when your kayak flies off the trailer and causes a major accident. Take the time to get things right, make sure everything is secured and you’re going to have a great time towing your kayak to the next fishing spot!

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Adam Rourke


Adam Rourke is a bass angler with over 10 years of tournament fishing experience. About eight years ago, he shifted his focus to the sport of kayak bass fishing which led him qualifying for the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship in 2018 and 2019.

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ANGLR Expert, Adam Rourke

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