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Best Kayak Racks For Your RV Or Camper

Mark Armstrong
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Getting out on the open road and exploring the country in an RV can be an exciting way to spend a vacation. What’s not to love?

But it can be even more fun if you can bring along your kayak!

I’ve written up the ultimate guide to RV kayak racks (BTW – the RecPro vertical is the best I think!), ensuring your water companion is always with you. Safety, convenience, and adventure rolled into one – let’s paddle ahead!

Quick Picks

7 Best Kayak Racks For Camper Vans And RVs

1: RecPro RV Vertical Kayak Rack (best vertical)

  • Dimensions: 66.5 inches (height), 41 inches (depth), 38.5 inches (width at top)
  • Weight: 46 pounds

The RecPro RV Kayak Rack is a vertical kayak rack designed specifically for campers and RVs. It’s also made in the USA.

It’s designed to fit on a standard 2-inch hitch and has a maximum carrying capacity of 150 pounds. This means you can carry up to two kayaks at the same time. You can also carry two paddle boards or one paddle board and one recreational kayak.

The bottom section of the rack is 20-inches wide, so if the bow or stern or your kayak is very wide, you may struggle to get it to fit. Additionally, this rack can only carry kayaks up to 12-feet in length. So it’s not suitable for sea kayaks or touring kayaks.

The rack is made from strong steel and comes with ratchet straps and pool noodles for wrapping around the frame.

Another handy feature is that it folds flat when not in use.

Pros

  • Can carry kayaks vertically
  • Made in USA
  • Holds up to two kayaks or paddle boards

Cons

  • Not suitable for long kayaks
  • Not great for wide vessels

2: Thule Hullavator Pro (best for camper roofs)

  • Dimensions: 36 by 16 by 6 inches
  • Weight: 39.75 pounds

The Thule Hullavator Pro is a roof-mounted kayak rack that can be ideal for carrying kayaks on camper vans.

It’s designed to be mounted onto crossbars, so you’ll need to purchase crossbars separately if you don’t already have them installed on your roof.

This is a lift-assist carrier that can help you load your kayak on the roof of your camper van. And it also features cradles to support hulls up to 36-inches wide during transport.

A good thing about this kayak rack is that it extends 40-inches down the side of your vehicle. So if you have a small ladder on your camper, you can climb just part of the way up for easier loading. The rack also helps to take the weight of the kayak, up to 40-pounds.

This can be ideal for all types of kayaks, including touring kayaks and long sea kayaks. However, it’s not built for kayaks heavier than 77-pounds.

Pros

  • Load-assist rack
  • No length limit on kayaks
  • Lowers down the side of your vehicle

Cons

  • You’ll probably still need a ladder
  • 77-pound weight limit

3: Yakima JayLow Kayak Carrier (best J-Cradle)

  • Dimensions: 20 by 6.7 by 6 inches
  • Weight: 11 pounds

The Yakima JayLow is designed for mounting onto crossbars on the roof of camper vans and other vehicles, such as SUVs towing an RV. Because this rack is attached to the roof, it can be more suitable for smaller motorhomes where clearance isn’t as much of an issue.

A great feature of this kayak rack is that it folds down flat against your roof when not in use. So when you’re not hauling kayaks you can leave it attached to your roof rack.

This is a quality kayak rack that is designed for carrying a wide range of kayaks, including whitewater kayaks, touring kayaks, and some fishing kayaks. However, it won’t work with SUPs or canoes.

This rack can carry one kayak in the J-cradle position or it can be used to carry two kayaks when adjusting the cradle arms to an upright position. Straps are included.

Pros

  • Folds for storage/clearance
  • Carries up to two kayaks
  • Roof mounted

Cons

  • Not the best for larger motorhomes
  • Not suitable for SUPs or canoes

4: Yakups KR2B56S Vertical Kayak Racks (best for capacity)

  • Dimensions: 56 by 32 inches
  • Weight: 90 pounds

The Yakups KR2B56S is one of several patented vertical kayak racks designed by this brand. This kayak rack has been designed and made in the USA to fit various motorhomes and campers.

One of the best features of this custom rack is that it can hold up to four kayaks. It can also carry up to eight surfboards.

There is also an optional bike rack attachment (custom feature – not included as standard on this model), allowing you to carry two bicycles and two kayaks. The rack is custom-made to fit your specific camper. But if your kayak is longer than 12-feet and wider than 32-inches, your kayak won’t fit.

The one-piece rack features a double powder-coated steel frame and stainless steel hardware and guards for durability.

A handy feature is that the bar at the top pivots for easy loading and locks in place for safety.

Pros

  • Custom-made to your specifications
  • Holds 4 kayaks
  • Vertical kayak rack

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not for long watercraft

5: TMS Universal Pickup Truck Rack (best budget rack)

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  • Dimensions: 24 inches (height), 5 to 7 feet (adjustable width)
  • Weight: 57.9 pounds

This TMS Universal Rack is a durable, heavy-duty rack with a more affordable price tag, designed for pickup trucks. So it can be a great option if you tow your camper behind your truck.

One of the main features of this cargo rack is that it has a huge 800-pound capacity. So you should be able to carry kayaks as well as other cargo.

This rack is a set of crossbars that are mounted to the bed of your truck, providing additional space above the truck bed. This means you can still use the bed to store gear.

This doesn’t come with ratcheting straps so remember you will need to purchase straps separately. There’s also no padding on the bars.

Pros

  • High capacity
  • Crossbars
  • Fits pickup trucks

Cons

  • Straps not included
  • No padding

6: VertiYak Vertical Hitch Mount Kayak Rack

  • Dimensions: 11.5 by 17 inches (lower loop)
  • Weight: 46 pounds

The VertiYak is a hitch mounting kayak rack that can carry kayaks vertically at the back of your camper or motorhome.

This can be a good way to carry two recreational kayaks on the back of camper vans, saving you from having to climb a ladder onto the roof every time you load and unload.

This mounts to the tow hitch at the back of your vehicle and features a metal loop at the bottom section. This loop is 11.5-inches in depth and 17-inches wide, so your kayak bow or stern needs to fit in that space. However, narrow kayaks will likely be too narrow and could affect the clearance underneath.

This vertical rack can work with other vehicles as well as camper vans and fifth wheels, such as pickups and large SUVs.

Straps and padding are not included.

Pros

  • Ideal for recreational kayaks
  • Designed specifically for motorhomes
  • American brand

Cons

  • Not for long or narrow kayaks
  • No ratcheting straps or padding

7: Yakups 2KR37W Vertical Kayak Rack For RVs And Fifth Wheels

  • Dimensions: 37 inches (width) by 32 inches (depth)
  • Weight: 80 pounds

The Yakups 2KR37W is an ideal solution for carrying kayaks on the back of camper vans or fifth wheels. This vertical kayak rack is designed specifically for RVs and motorhomes, so you can easily load and unload kayaks without a ladder.

This kayak rack that is made to fit your specifications (you simply provide your measurement details when ordering).

This heavy-duty rack comes with a 5-year warranty. It can hold up to two kayaks but you can also use it to hold other cargo, such as paddle boards or surfboards.

However, your kayak needs to be no more than 12-feet long for it to work with this rack.

If you have rear parking cameras or sensors, this rack might block those. 

Pros

  • Holds up to two kayaks
  • Great for recreational kayaks
  • Custom details

Cons

  • Blocks parking sensors
  • 12-foot kayak length limit

How To Choose The Right Rack For Your RV Or Camper

Compatibility

Confirming suitability of the rack with your RV or camper is a given. It can also be worth making sure it will work with the size of your kayak, as some kayaks may be too wide or too long for some racks.

Some RV kayak racks can let you haul your kayak in a vertical position, so that the length of the kayak is against the back of the RV, which can let you make use of the height of your RV.

However, this vertical type of rack may not work for other vehicles, such as trucks or SUVs, as the length of the boat may hit the ground in this position or extend too high above the top of your car, making it unsafe while driving.

You may also want to think about whether or not a specific rack will work on your RV if you also plan to tow a vehicle behind it. You may be able to purchase extensions or adapters to let you install additional hitches.

However, it may be easier in this case to attach a trailer to your RV with your car and kayaks secured on top of the trailer, as this could provide you with additional storage space and still give you full access to the back of your RV if you need it.

A trailer may also be useful even if you don’t want to bring your car along. But you should make sure you don’t exceed the maximum length allowed for towing vehicles in the states you visit.

Materials

Many kayak racks are crafted using strong, durable materials so that they can hold the weight of a kayak or canoe. It can be useful to look for racks that are corrosion resistant so that they can withstand whatever nature throws at them while you’re on the road.

Not all racks will feature padding, so it can be a good idea to purchase additional accessories or padding to protect your kayak while it’s in the rack.

While some racks might be custom-made to suit your particular boat, with other racks, such as those with crossbars, you might want saddles or cradles to keep your boat in place on the rack and give it a little extra protection.

Capacity – Can You Take More Than One Kayak Or Even Bikes?

If you plan to carry more than one kayak, capacity will likely be an important factor in the type of rack you’ll need. You’ll usually find that with most multi- kayak racks you can also carry just one kayak if that’s all you need. But racks that are designed for just one kayak generally can’t handle more due to weight or size restrictions.

You may also want to carry additional items, which could affect the type of rack you need. Some racks may be able to carry other items as well as kayaks, which can be useful if you plan to haul bikes or paddle boards.

Size – Too Big Is Can Be A Problem

Size can be an important thing to consider, whether your rack will be on the back of your RV or if you’ll be towing an RV with your kayaks on the roof of your car.

If you have a towable RV you may want to make sure that you have enough distance between the front of your RV and the back of your kayak, as some longer kayaks may extend beyond the back of your vehicle.

It can be worth considering size as well if your kayaks are on the back of your RV as this could make your vehicle much longer than normal, which could affect where you can park, for example.

Different Ways Kayaks Are Transported - Pie ChartPin
Courtesy: americancanoe.org

Camper & RV Kayak Racks Commonly Asked Questions

How Many Kayaks Can I Carry On A Rack For My Camper?

Usually no more than four. But this will depend on the maximum limit for your specific rack. We have a guide on the best racks for holding three kayaks that might help you.

How Do I Install And Remove A Kayak Rack From My RV?

Vertical kayak racks usually attach to the tow hitch at the back of your RV.

Video: Installing A Kayak Carrier On RV 

How Do I Secure My Kayaks To The Kayak Rack On My Camper?

Use ratchet straps to secure the kayaks to both ends of the rack.

Can I Protect My Kayaks From Damage While Traveling?

You could use cockpit covers or kayak covers to add an extra layer of protection from the elements. You could also make sure the kayak rack is padded to prevent damage to the hull. 

Are There Legal And Safety Requirements For Using A Kayak Rack On My RV Camper?

Some vertical racks will affect ground clearance as well as height clearance. Your vehicle’s turning radius will also likely be affected. You should check the legal requirements for RVs and camper vans carrying cargo in your state.


Final Thoughts

The best kayak rack for camper vans is the RecPro RV Kayak Rack if you want to carry your kayak vertically against the back of your camper van. This can be easy to load and unload kayaks without climbing to the roof.

Another great option, if your kayak is too long for vertical transport, is the Hullavator Pro. This can be used on camper vans and SUVs, with the load-assist making it easier to load a kayak onto a high roof.

Not all of these kayak racks will fit all types of kayaks or all types of motorhomes. Remember to check the size of your kayak and your vehicle’s specifications to make sure you choose the right kayak rack.

Best Kayak Racks For Your RV Or Camper - Pinterest ImagePin

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