Best Kayak Trailer – Buyer’s Guide To Towing Yaks
Transporting your kayak from your home to the water and back again can be a pain if you don’t have the right gear.
In a hurry? The Malone MicroSport Seawing package is our favorite. What are the best kayak trailers?
Racking your kayaks or canoes up on the roof of your car and taking them off can often be a struggle, especially if you’re on your own, but that’s where a trailer can help.
Top Picks: Trailers For Kayaks (and small boats)
(these links take you to the trailer in Amazon. There's more info further below)
We have looked at the main features of what makes a good trailer to give you a better idea of what you’ll need before you make your purchase.
Top 9 Best Kayak Trailer Reviews
1: Malone MicroSport 2-Boat SeaWing Package (best of best)
This MicroSport trailer package could be a good choice for longer vessels and for those looking for a trailer that is complete with everything you need to be ready to load.
This one can hold up to 2 kayaks of up to 20 feet long, with a load capacity of 355 pounds. It measures 159 inches long and 65 inches wide, with 65 inch rectangular crossbars that are compatible with many car rack accessories.
Another feature is its galvanized steel frame, giving it durability in a range of conditions. It also benefits from 12 inch galvanized wheels and comes with a handy spare tire with a locking attachment.
The package includes two sets of two SeaWing carriers, that are padded and wide to help give your craft more protection when you’re on the road. It also comes with the mounting hardware and the tie down straps, so you’ll be ready to load as soon as it’s assembled.
2: Yakima Rack and Roll Trailer (best wide side-by-side trailer)
With the Yakima Rack and Roll trailer you could potentially carry up to six lightweight kayaks if you use J-style cradle style racks, as long as the maximum weight doesn’t exceed 250 pounds. With the additional purchase of Heavy Duty Shock springs the trailer can hold up to 350 pounds.
The trailer features 78 inch crossbars that are compatible with Yakima accessories and can hold bikes and roof top boxes, as well as canoes.
It’s a lightweight aluminum trailer that measures 132 inches long and features LED lights for safety as well as lockable levers to prevent theft. It also features a carrying handle so you can pull it by hand, which can make it easier to haul your yaks closer to the water.
A handy feature on this trailer is the small wheels at the back that can allow you to roll it up for easier vertical storage. The tongue and wheels are also removable so it can take up minimum space when stored.
For security, the Rack and Roll has locking levers with keys.
3: Malone MicroSport Trailer (best j-cradle kayak)
With this trailer you can transport up to four vessels of up to 19 feet at the same time. Made from marine grade pre-galvanized steel, it measures 164 inches long and 78 inches wide and also has durable, galvanized wheels.
The 78 inch steel crossbar is coated for added durability and is designed to fit most car rack accessories and the trailer has a load capacity of 350 pounds. The package features four sets of J-Pro 2 yak carriers, which feature a protective foam covering and a corrosion resistant frame. The carriers are designed to fit most sit-inside and sit-on-top yaks.
The package also conveniently includes a spare tire, for those emergency situations, as well as tie down straps and other hardware, so if this is your first trailer you will have everything you need to get your yaks out on the road to get to the water as soon as possible.
4: Ruff-Sport Trailer (best multi-sport trailer)
This one from Ruff-Sport measures 11 and ½ feet long and 64 inches wide. It is designed to carry up to two yaks plus two bicycles and can also be configured to carry SUPs and surfboards, so could be a good choice if you participate in a lot of watersports.
The trailer has large 12 inch wheels, with springs to reduce vibration, and the frame is made from galvanized steel, meaning it’s strong and durable, not to mention being well suited to saltwater environments.
It takes a little bit of time to assemble and it does not come with padded crossbars, but they can be purchased separately. It does, however, have locking tongue that folds up, as well as submersible LED lights.
5: Malone MicroSport Kayak Base Trailer (best low bed trailer)
If you’re looking to transport up to 4 kayaks, this one from MicroSport could be a good choice. It boasts of being easy to assemble, with clear instructions, and features a galvanized steel frame for added strength and corrosion resistance.
It has a weight capacity of 355 pounds and can carry vessels that are up to 20 feet long, so most yaks and canoes will be able to fit on this one comfortably. It is 65 inches wide and its total length is 159 inches, including the 8 foot tongue, and it benefits from having 12 inch galvanized wheels with marine grade bearings.
The 65 inch wide crossbars make it compatible with most car rack accessories and it also comes with a pre-wired electrical system for lights.
6: Malone XTRALIGHT Trailer Package (best V-style carrier)
The XtraLight package could be a good choice if you have a recreational or fishing yak. It can carry up to two yaks at once and can accommodate yaks that are up to 32 inches wide and 14 feet long, so most recreational yaks will fit on this trailer. Of course, you can just carry one kayak if you wish.
With a weight capacity of 275 pounds, this one will be able to handle even the most rigged fishing yak. It’s made in the USA with a powder coated marine-grade galvanized steel frame and galvanized axles with leaf spring suspension system.
The trailer measures 134 inches in length and is 58 inches wide, with a two piece reinforced extended tongue. The package comes complete with 4 padded V-racks for safely holding your yaks as well as 12 foot loading straps and mounting hardware, so it can be a good choice if you’re new to the sport.
Comes with ratchet straps to help secure your kayaks to the trailer.
7: Right-On Trailer Multi-Sport (best stacked trailer)
If you’re looking to carry many kayaks at once, this Right-On Multi-Sport trailer could be a good choice. It features a two tiered rack system that can let you carry multiple kayaks on both the top and the bottom, as long as the load is under 300 pounds.
Its multi-sport design means you can also carry other equipment, such as bikes, SUPs or canoes, so it could be a good choice for family trips or camping vacations, as it can also hold roof top cargo boxes to give you additional storage space.
The 64 inch crossbars are round and are designed to be compatible with a range of accessories from other brands, including Yakima and Thule. For safety on the road, the trailer also has rear lights.
8: Ultra-Tow 4ft x 8ft Aluminum Utility Trailer Kit (best folding trailer)
This Ultra-Tow 4x8 foot Aluminum trailer might be a good choice if you’re looking to customize a trailer to your own specifications, as it is not a kayak-specific trailer. It features a rust resistant aluminum frame and has a weight capacity of 1170 pounds, giving you the opportunity to carry multiple and heavy kayaks.
This is a versatile trailer that can be ideal for hauling kayaks, canoes and anything else you might want to carry, including ATVs or lumbar.
A great feature of this trailer is that it folds for easy storage, meaning it doesn't take up much room in your garage when it’s not in use. It has 12 inch tires and comes with an LED light kit for safety if you’re hauling your load in the dark.
In order to carry a number of kayaks safely you may want to install cradles (sold separately) to this trailer. You can also add additional racks or bars (sold separately) if you want to carry multiple kayaks or additional sporting equipment.
9: Malone Auto Racks TopTier Utility Trailer (best budget mod option)
This Malone Top Tier Cross Bar System is a trailer top carrier that can be ideal for carrying up to two kayaks on top of your trailer. This can let you store other gear inside your trailer, giving you additional cargo space.
It is designed to be installed on an existing trailer that has raised side rails - it does not include the trailer.
The rack is made from galvanized steel and consists of four 53 inch vertical bars and two 65 inch cross bars. It comes with all the hardware you need for attaching it to your trailer.
This rack system can be used to haul various gear, including stand up paddle boards, canoes or even building supplies. The rack does not come with straps or cradles for securing your kayak on the cross bars - you will need to purchase those separately.
Kayak Trailers Buyer’s Guide
Before you purchase a kayak trailer you need to consider a few things.
Probably the most important question will be to ask yourself how many boats you plan on putting on the trailer, and whether or not you want extra storage space for other items or gear?
When you’re considering purchasing a trailer, you should think about where you will be storing it when it’s not in use. Some trailers come with some parts that can be folded, allowing you to store them in smaller spaces in your garage.
It’s also a good idea to measure your available storage space to make sure the trailer you’re planning on purchasing doesn’t exceed those dimensions.
A lot of yak trailers are made with steel, and this is a good material to choose. It is durable and strong and will wear well. You will probably find that most will have a galvanized coating that will give them extra protection against rust and corrosion, and these are particularly ideal for saltwater environments.
Some trailers also come with racks (protective padding) as a package, to keep your vessel safe during transit. However, it’s also possible to purchase separate padded racks/accessories for the ones that don’t have built-in padding (known as base trailers.)
These racks may also be used on top of a car (check with manufacturer.)
Easy To Move
An important feature of a kayak trailer is that it is easy to move. A good trailer will be one that you are able to move by hand, even when it’s fully loaded with all your yaks and gear. A lightweight frame should be easy to maneuver.
Some yaks will come with suspension systems and this can be important for giving your vessels a smooth ride, especially over bumpy roads. A trailer with suspension will be able to travel over rougher terrain than one without, but if you’re traveling mostly over paved roads your trailer may not require suspension.
If you’re planning on traveling off-road to find the best paddling zones, you will probably want one with suspension to prevent it and your yaks from bouncing too much.
Tongue length, which is the distance between the axle and the hitch, will be an important factor when choosing your trailer because it is this that will determine the length of kayak you can carry as well as determining how easy it will be to tow.
The shorter the tongue length the less chance there is of being able to carry longer yaks and the more difficult it will be to back up in a straight line. The longer the tongue length the less likely it will be that you will jackknife and the easier it will be to travel straight when you’re moving backwards.
You may be tempted to choose a trailer that has smaller wheels as it may seem like it would be easier to load and unload your craft from a lower platform. However, while this may be the case, you will need to consider that smaller wheels will mean your tires will wear out more quickly.
Smaller wheels will have to do more rotations in order to cover the same distance as that of a larger wheel, simply because it’s smaller, so your trailer could end up costing you more in the long run. Smaller tires can also be more difficult to purchase.
If you’re looking for a trailer for your tandem yak, the main things to consider are its maximum weight capacity and whether or not it can carry a vessel of your length. Many trailers will have the capacity for carrying tandems, with some being able to extend to accommodate longer length boats.
Tandem yaks may tend to be wider than those designed for one paddler, which means you will need to look for a trailer that is designed to handle wider vessels, particularly if you’re looking to tow more than one tandem.
Kayak Trailer Loading Options
Multi-Sport Kayak Trailer
A multi-sport kayak trailer lets you store an assortment of different items, such as bikes and storage boxes in addition to a kayak or two.
This can be a great option for camping trips or vacations where you want to do other sports as well as kayaking. Our top trailer pick falls into this category - Ruff-Sport Trailer
Extra Wide Side-by-Side Trailer
An extra wide trailer is designed to let you load kayaks, usually three, alongside each other. Often the kayaks are positioned on their sides. This can help to minimize drag since the yaks are kept lower to the ground. The Rack and Roll trailer is a prime example of this type.
Low Bed Kayak Trailer
A low bed trailer (like this one from Malone) can usually let you carry up to two kayaks positioned alongside each other. This is often a good choice for minimizing drag as it keeps your gear low to the ground and is ideal if you only want to haul one or two yaks.
A stacked trailer can be great if you’re looking to carry multiple kayaks as this can let you stack them on top of each other without affecting the width of your vehicle. You may be able up to four yaks on this type of trailer.
Multi-kayak trailers are designed to carry several kayaks, even as many as twelve, with options to store three alongside each other up to four rows high. You may have seen this type of trailer used in commercial settings at kayak or canoe outfitters.
Trailer Top Kayak Carrier
A trailer top carrier works in a similar way to a roof rack on your car in that it provides raised crossbars to go on the top of your trailer, which can then be used to carry your kayak(s). This type of carrier lets you haul other gear in your trailer, as it extends the carrying space vertically. This one from Malone made our list .
Is Trailer Installation Easy?
Your trailer should be pretty easy to install. The trailer coupler should fit over the ball on your tow hitch and then you can lower the trailer ball before securing it with the safety chains. The trailer coupler should be raised slightly above the height of your tow hitch so that you can lower it onto the ball easily.
Before you install the trailer you should probably make sure your vehicle is capable of towing the weight of your loaded trailer. You can usually find the maximum towing capacity of your vehicle in your vehicle’s handbook.
Video: How To Hook Up A Standard Trailer
Popular Kayak Trailer Manufacturers
The manufacturer can be important when choosing your kayak trailer. Good manufacturers will usually offer good customer service and may include some type of warranty with their products. As with anything you purchase, both a warranty and friendly customer service can be beneficial in case something does go wrong with it and you need replacement parts, for example.
Popular kayak trailer manufacturers, such as Malone and Yakima, will often come with or be compatible with other kayak accessories, such as J cradles. This can be useful if you’re looking for something that’s ready to go.
When looking for a good manufacturer, it can be worth checking out their website to see what other products they make and whether or not they have a strong history of manufacturing trailers for kayaks.
Social media can also be a good source of information when it comes to checking out a particular brand. Often users will post their own experiences online, which can give you a better idea of what to expect.
Kayak Trailers: Wrapping Up
Now that you have seen some of the products that are available you will probably have a better idea of what you might be looking for in a trailer.
Just keep in mind where you plan to use it, such as the type of terrain or whether it’s over long distances, as this may affect the size of wheels you will need. Also, consider how often you’ll be trailing multiple yaks to and from the water.
If you will mostly be paddling on your own, a trailer than can carry up to two vessels might suit you more than a larger one and will also likely be less expensive. You will have noticed that you can also use the trailers to carry other items and gear, such as bikes and boards, so it can be useful to think of other ways you could use yours.
Should I Get A Trailer Or A Roof Rack For Kayaks?
It will usually depend on personal preference and budget. Trailers can be easier for loading and unloading compared to a standard rack on your car but roof racks can be less expensive and much easier to store when not in use.
Can I Build My Own Kayak Trailer?
It is possible to assemble your own kayak trailer out of an existing trailer if you are mechanically inclined. however, you will need to make sure that it’s safe and meets any regulations that you may have in your city or state. Here's a video to check out.
Can I Use A Kayak Trailer To Transport A Bike Or Canoe Or Other Storage?
Some trailers will have the capacity to transport other items, such as bikes and canoes but this will usually depend on the type of trailer you opt for. Most trailers will specify if they are suitable for carrying other gear.
How Do I Lock, Tie Down And Secure Kayaks To The Trailer?
You can use cam straps to safely tie down and secure your yak to the trailer, making sure that the straps are tight enough that the yak won’t move during transit but not too tight as to damage your hull.
What Vehicles Are Best For Pulling A Trailer?
You don’t necessarily need a heavy duty vehicle to pull a trailer, especially a kayak trailer, but one with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive (4WD) could be better, especially if you plan to cross muddy or sandy terrain.
What Sort Of Weights Can These Trailers Carry?
Most kayak trailers will have a weight limit, with the upper limit on the more heavy duty trailers being no more than around the 350 pound range. However, there may be some with a higher limit and many will likely have a much lower weight capacity.
No matter the weight, always be careful driving on rough roads.
Are There Any Laws I Need To Think About?
The laws on towing vary between states but you will need to have a license plate light on the trailer and taillights. Each state has its own additional laws that you may have to think about.
If you have enjoyed discovering some of the best yak trailers on the market then please let us know by leaving a comment, or likewise if you have any questions for us. And don’t forget, you can always share this with your fellow paddlers and watersports enthusiasts.