Having a kayak trailer is a must to take your kayaks to the beach and back home. But what type of trailer do you actually need?
There are different types and sizes of kayak trailers available that choosing the best option becomes confusing and daunting.
With this comprehensive buyer's guide, you can quickly select the ideal kayak trailer by comparing it based on the below-mentioned factors.
Furthermore, the guide is perfect for beginners and expert kayakers because when it comes to choosing the best kayak trailer having an expert’s opinion is indispensable.
You might be wondering why a buyer’s guide is essential to check before buying a kayak trailer when you can do it with your experience.
Well, a trailer has to support the kayak while protecting the kayak and your vehicle from any dings and dents, so it is vital to ensure that you are going with the best trailer that fits with your car seamlessly, and you don't face any issues afterward.
Additionally, this buyer’s guide is imperative to know about different kayak trailers and their capabilities. Let’s get started!
Here is the list of factors you should consider to narrow down the options. We know you might be having a plethora of good kayak trailers on your bucket list, but you have to select one, and that's why this guide is here for you.
There are different types of kayak trailers available. Some are ultra-lightweight and foldable while the others are DIY specialized. Moreover, you will find some kayak trailers made using galvanized steel, while some are made using aluminum.
The types even vary with the design and storage space available on the trailer. Selecting the ideal kind of trailer can be perplexing, but you can make it easier by checking the options based on the specs you are looking for.
Here are some trailer types explained in detail:
Hybrid kayak trailers are perfect for carrying gear and boats. These trailers may look like a traditional kayak trailer, but you will see a mesh basket attached to the underside of the boat rack. You can stash your gear and other accessories in the mesh so it will be easier to carry more load with the kayaks.
Some hybrid trailers even have crossbars on the roof rack so you can transport canoes, kayaks, mountain bikes, and other travel gear on the trailer.
Lastly, these trailers are lightweight, and you can tow them with passenger vehicles like cars and SUVs.
Traditional kayak trailers are what you see available on the kayak rental shops. These trailers have horizontal crossbars to hold the kayaks, and you can load around 2-8 kayaks depending on the size and capacity of the trailer.
Furthermore, these trailers are mostly made using aluminum and galvanized steel. Trailers made using aluminum are lightweight, but these cost more as compared to the steel counterparts.
Traditional kayak trailers are best for canoe rental stores, clubs, and other commercial purposes that involve transportation of multiple kayaks in one go.
Ultra-lightweight trailers are compact as compared to traditional kayak trailers, so these weigh less and are ideal for towing behind cars and SUVs. These trailers have smaller tires and lightweight springs to curtail the overall load your car has to tow.
Ultra-lightweight kayak trailers are suitable for individuals because these are small and can carry up to two kayaks at a time (depending on the model).
Also, some trailers come with storage boxes and bicycle racks, so these are perfect for individuals as well as small groups of kayakers.
Tongue length refers to the distance between the trailer’s hitch ball or hinge to your vehicle towing hook. In general, most of the kayak trailers have a long tongue so that you can transport bigger kayaks on them.
A trailer with a long tongue will curtail the chances of kayak hitting your car when taking sharp turns. If you have short kayaks, then it would be great to settle down with a kayak trailer with conventional tongue length.
On the other hand, for bigger kayaks, you need a trailer with prolonged tongue length in order to protect the kayaks and your car during transportation.
Every other kayak trailer has a different tongue length, so it won't be an issue for you to choose the best option.
How many kayaks are you going to transport in the trailer? If you love to paddle alone, then most probably, you will be taking one kayak with you provided that you don't carry a backup always.
For people with friends and families, multi-kayak trailers are better as these can carry more than one kayak at a time. Look for the availability of roof rack crossbars in the trailer as you can carry more stuff on these kayak trailers.
Buying a bigger trailer is only a good option if you go for kayaking regularly. In case you are looking to use the trailer twice or thrice a year, then bigger trailers are not right.
These are hard to maneuver on turns, and you have to shell out more money for the maintenance and other such expenses to keep the trailer in good shape.
As discussed earlier, kayak trailers generally are made using aluminum and galvanized steel, but you have to choose one material type out of these.
Galvanized steel kayak trailers are robust, durable, and resistant to corrosion due to the galvanizing process. Also, these trailers can carry more weight, but these are bulky as well. You will get a galvanized steel kayak trailer for a reasonable price as compared to trailers made using aluminum.
On the other hand, aluminum kayak trailers are lightweight and durable. The weight difference is considerable that some kayakers go for aluminum trailers instead of steel.
If you don’t want your car to pull more load, then aluminum trailers should be your choice. However, these are more expensive than steel trailers.
You can take both the trailers into the water to launch the kayak without any hassles. Both material types are resistant to corrosion up to a great extent. So there is no need to worry about anything.
How much weight can the trailer carry? You should ask yourself this question before selecting a kayak trailer!
The weight capacity of a trailer depends on several factors like the size, so you should make a wise decision while choosing a trailer. Generally, an average kayak weighs somewhere around 40 lbs so you can calculate how many kayaks and gear you can transport on a trailer by checking its weight capacity.
Overloading a kayak trailer isn't a good idea as it can minimize the trailer's lifespan, and there are more chances of a breakdown during transportation.
Most kayakers don't pay attention to the tire size, considering it to be unimportant. But the tire size plays a critical role in the overall performance of the trailer.
Kayak trailers with smaller tires will make it easier for you to load kayaks and gear on the go, but at the same time, smaller tires have a lesser weight capacity.
Furthermore, these trailers have lesser ground clearance as compared to big-tire trailers, and you get less maneuverability on off-road.
Coming to kayak trailers with bigger tires, these are fit for riding on all types of roads. Plus, you can load more weight as bigger tires have more weight capacity.
Also, bigger tires last longer, and there's less stress on the wheel bearings as compared to trailers with small tires.
Look for a trailer that allows you to replace the tires if required because trailers with bigger tires cost more and are heavier.
The ultimate choice depends on how many kayaks you are going to transport, the type of roads to travel through, and lastly, your budget.
Checking the suspension system is vital to ensure added safety for the trailer and the loaded kayaks. Most of the kayak trailers come with stiff suspension because these offer smooth rides on highways and paved roads.
But the stiff suspension isn't a great choice if you have to travel through a damaged road. There are some kayak trailer manufacturers that offer specially designed suspension systems for added safety.
With this kind of suspension system, your kayaks and trailer will remain safe even if you cross through the roads with potholes and dirt.
Leaving your kayak trailer in the open will surely curtail its lifespan, and elements like dirt, winds, UV rays and rains can adversely impact the trailer. Even if you put a tarpaulin or a cover on your trailer, there are more chances that its longevity will be affected.
Check the size of the trailer to find out how much storage space it will require. Some compact kayak trailers can fit in your garage, and that’s the best place to store it.
If you need a bigger trailer, consider having a shed for it so that it remains protected from the damage-causing elements.
It’s a lot better to get a shed for the trailer than replacing the trailer every few years. Lastly, make sure to check the size of the trailer with your kayaks loaded on it, because it’s the best place to store your kayaks.
There’s no doubt that kayak trailers are expensive, so you should invest your money in the option that offers good security. Some kayak trailers come with a hitch lock so that you can lock it with your car when e you are paddling.
On the other hand, some trailers even offer added security for the kayaks as you can use locking cables and chains to tie the kayaks with the trailer.
Always check for the security options you get with the particular trailer, as anyone will easily walk away with the trailer by towing it with their vehicle.
Overlooking the security can invite some mishaps, but you can be extra sure about the security of your trailer with a hitch lock.
Have you ever assembled a kayak trailer yourself? If yes, then you can go for any DIY trailer available in the market.
Assembling a kayak trailer can be taxing even for mechanically minded kayakers. From putting the wheels to tightening all the nuts and bolts, it takes time and expertise to assemble a trailer.
If you think that this isn't your forte, then you should go for pre-assembled kayak trailers. Pre-assembled trailers cost more as it involves the cost of labor hours invested in assembling the trailer. But it's worth the money as there will be the assurance of lesser malfunctions as it is done by the experts.
Additionally, you can hire some experts to assemble a trailer for you as it will cost you less than to buy one from a store.
The choice is up to you and how much money you are planning to invest in.
It’d be great to consider your budget before looking for any options to avoid overspending. Kayak trailers are available at a myriad of prices, so knowing your budget will help you choose the best affordable option.
Make a list of kayak trailers under your budget and then compare the trailer on the above-mentioned factors to select the best one.
It’s worth every penny to have a kayak trailer, and you can save a significant amount of money by making your budget beforehand.
There are some accessories you should expect with a good kayak trailer as, without these accessories, your experience wouldn’t be that great.
Storage spots allow you to carry the paddles easily along with the kayaks. Look whether the trailer has some storage spots or not.
Kayaks can get dented or damaged if transported on a trailer without appropriate cushioning. Go with the trailers that support extra cushioning so that you can prevent any scratches and dents.
If your kayak trailer lacks a spare tire, it doesn’t mean that you can’t carry one. Get a spare tire mount and attach it with the trailer to have a spare wheel with you all the time.
Some other kayak trailer accessories include cradle sets, loading kits, and cradle adaptors.
Before you tow the kayak trailer with your car, it's vital to know whether it is road legal or not. The legalities depend on various factors like tires, frames, axles, and the trailer's size. Also, your kayak trailer should feature brake lights to make it legal on the roads.
The design also holds paramount importance and how many kayaks you can load on the trailer. You should check for the guidelines depending on your area to determine whether the trailer you are planning to buy is road-legal.
The weight of the kayak trailer relies on the material quality, size, and how many kayaks you want to transport on it. Also, you should decide the weight depending on how much load your car can tow.
There can be some instances where you have to drive uphill, and a heavy trailer will make it hard for your car to climb with excessive weight.
Reckon how much weight your car can pull to decide the trailer's weight so that it becomes more comfortable, and your vehicle doesn't become a gas-eating machine after you tow your trailer with it.
There’s no specific limit of distance if you follow all the preventive measures while driving with a kayak trailer. Make sure to inspect everything before you start like check the hitch lock, inspect the tires, tighten the security chain, and other such required things.
Moreover, take a few breaks during the journey to inspect the trailer again. Having a trailer with bigger tires is good to cover long trips, and you will get a smooth ride without any hassles.
It depends on the weight of the trailer after you load your kayaks on it. Some kayak trailers are cumbersome, but you can move them easily using a jockey wheel.
A jockey wheel makes it easier to pull the trailer to the car, and you can easily lock the hitch.
No, there is no need to register your kayak trailer as these don't come under the heavy trailer category. However, the rules can vary depending on state regulations. Always carry the title paperwork with you, which you have received at the time of purchasing a trailer.
For commercial trailers that transport many kayaks and canoes, registration is essential.
A short answer to this question is, yes! You can easily tow a kayak trailer with your car provided that you have experience in driving with a trailer licked behind your vehicle. Make sure to select a trailer with a long tongue so that it doesn’t bump into your car on sharp turns.
There are multiple brands in the market that manufacture reliable kayak trailers. The list of these brands includes Malone, FDW, Yakima, and much more. Purchasing a branded kayak trailer will reward you with the extra assurance that the trailer will last longer. Also, you'll get a guarantee on the parts.
Some models come with a spare wheel, so you can replace the punctured or damaged one. You need to check it before as not all the kayak trailers have a Stepney or a spare tire.
The price range of a kayak trailer can start from $1000 while surging up to thousands of dollars for hybrid and ultra-reliable models. Every brand has a different price for the trailers, and you will get a good kayak trailer for somewhere around $2000-2500.
We recommend you to go slow when you have a kayak trailer hitched behind your car. Going slower than usual will reward you with some extra benefits like more safety and fewer chances of accidents.
Also, it depends on the type of road and climatic conditions; if you have a heavy trailer with more kayaks, then consider going around 50-70 MPH. If you have a small trailer with a single kayak, you can go a bit faster.
Most folks think than SUVs and crossovers are better for towing kayak trailers, but that's not 100% right! If you have a car with an appropriate towing package, then you can tow the trailer hassle-freely.
However, SUVs and trucks are suitable for transporting heavy trailers because of their immense power.
No, there is no need to have any brakes on your kayak trailer if it's under 3,000 lbs. The trailers weighing more than 3,000 lbs should have brakes acting on all axles and wheels.
With this kayak trailer buyer's guide, you can land with the best option available in the market. We have covered almost everything you need to look for before buying a reliable trailer under your budget.
If you own kayaks or canoes, then having a kayak trailer is a must. Going with this buyer's guide will give you the required assurance to choose the best trailer.
Also, go through the FAQ section to know more about the modern kayak trailer.
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