How to Choose a Kayak Trailer

kayak trailer

Transporting your kayak to the water is not always fun. Sometimes the thought of it can kill your enthusiasm—but not if you have a good kayak trailer.

Choosing a trailer can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. It is wise to know what to consider first, then go from there.

Trailers are designed to meet different needs. Once you understand their varying features, it becomes easier to pick one kayak trailer from a plethora of options.

This guide lets you know what factors to consider, depending on the kayak you have and your specific situation. 

Kayak Trailer Buying Guide: What to Consider

a. Size

Just like kayaks, trailers come in various sizes. The right trailer size is determined by a few things such as the size of your kayak. How wide and long is it? if you have a big family kayak, you should go for a bigger trailer.

Another thing that will determine the trailer size is your storage space. At some point, you will need to put it away—especially if there are seasons when you don’t go kayaking. Make sure the trailer you choose can fit in your storage space.

Lastly, how many kayaks do you plan on transporting? Manufacturers indicate the capacity of a trailer. With most carriers, you can carry two or four kayaks. For a solo kayaker, a trailer with a smaller capacity will do. If you like to go out as a group or family, opt for a carrier with a higher capacity rating.

Note: just because you expect to carry one or two kayaks doesn’t mean that you should buy a trailer that is too small. Consider the fact that you need to carry gear as well. A bigger trailer means that you won’t be limited.

b. Material

You want a kayak trailer that is lightweight, rust-resistant, and sturdy. There are three main materials used in making carriers. Unfortunately, each one has its strong and weak points with reference to the named factors.

Check them out.

Galvanized steel: trailers made of this material are the best for heavy kayaks. Steel is heavy and strong. It can stand any use and abuse that you throw at it. You may want to consider it if you will be carrying heavy kayaks and gear.

Galvanized steel is also coated which makes it rust-resistant. While it sounds perfect, understand that the material is heavy and costs more.

Ungalvanized steel: this is just like galvanized steel, except it is not coated. Elements will be your biggest problem. There is also the issue of being heavy. On the upside, it is cheaper. If you are on a tight budget, it could be your best option.

Aluminum: if you hate dealing with bulky things, an aluminum trailer is just perfect. The material is lightweight and your car can handle it just fine. It is rust-resistant too. Like the three above, it is not without downsides. You won’t be able to carry heavy kayaks and gear with an aluminum trailer. It is likely to bend under extreme pressure.

c. Tongue Size

The tongue size of a kayak is the distance between the trailer hitch and the axle. A long tongue is ideal for longer kayaks like tandem kayaks. This is a very important factor. Imagine buying a trailer that is too short for your kayak. You will have to drive around with the yak hitting your car throughout the entire journey.

Worst case scenario, you will not be able to carry the kayak. This means returning it. How frustrating would that be? Be careful not to pick a carrier that is too long. That is not good either. Maneuvering will be a nightmare.

Know your kayak’s measurements.

d. Suspension

If the distance between your house is short and you don’t expect any bumps along the road, a suspension is not necessary. However, traveling on a rough road is better with a suspension system. Your kayaks won’t bounce all over and you will have peace of mind.

e. Wheel Size

Just like the suspension system, this mostly matters when it comes to dirt roads. Trailers usually come in the same wheel size. But if you come across different wheel sizes, this point will help you choose.

Smaller wheels are more economical. They make the trailer easy to drag for your car. This may save you some gas money. However, small tires are only good for smooth roads and lighter loads. For heavy kayaks and gear, go for bigger wheels.

Another thing to consider is the fact that small wheels mean more wear on your tires. Think about it. A larger wheel does fewer rotations compare to a small wheel over the same distance.

f. Other Factors

Weight Limit: kayak trailers have weight limits too. Know the weight of your kayak(s) and gear.

Price: at the end of the day, you will only buy what you can afford. The good news is that there will always be a trailer that is within your budget.

Adjustability: there is no need to buy several trailers if you have multiple kayaks. Some trailers have adjustable features like the tongue length. This way, you can adjust it to suit a single or tandem kayak.

Versatility: there is a good chance that you enjoy other kinds of sports too. If that is the case, try finding a trailer that can accommodate many types of equipment.

Storage: this has been briefly mentioned above. In case your kayak can’t allow you to choose a small trailer and you don’t have storage space, there are foldable trailers. Others have a removable tongue.

As you can see from the factors, your kayak is the biggest determinant of what trailer you should buy. If it is big and heavy, you will have to get a big and heavy trailer. Take your gear into account as well. A spacious kayak trailer will mean more space inside your car. Don’t forget to consider the terrain. For rough roads, big wheels and a suspension system are a must-have. Hopefully, this guide has cleared things up for you. Enjoy your kayaking adventures!