Transporting A Kayak in A Truck Bed with the Tailgate Up – A Guide

Kayaking enthusiasts know the joy of hitting the water and paddling away into the great outdoors. However, getting your kayak from point A to point B can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a trailer or roof rack. 

One option is to transport your kayak in a truck bed, which can be a convenient and affordable solution. But how do you do it safely and with the tailgate up?

To transport a kayak in a truck bed with the tailgate up, you first need to line the truck bed with foam blocks to cushion the kayak, then position the kayak so it’s lying at the center of the truck with the bow end resting on the tailgate, and further secure it with straps or tie-downs.  

Keep reading to learn more about whether it’s better to keep the tailgate up or down when transporting a kayak in a truck and how to do it securely either way.

Can You Fit A Kayak in A Truck Bed?

a photo of two kayaks in a truck bed with the tailgate up

Many outdoor enthusiasts rely on pick-up trucks to transport their gear during trips, and the same goes for kayaks.

You can definitely fit a kayak in a truck bed; you might even be able to fit two kayaks, but how tight the fit is will depend on the size of your truck bed and the size of your kayak. Most full-size truck beds can accommodate a kayak that is 8-12 feet long, while smaller truck beds may only fit kayaks that are 6-8 feet long.

If the kayak is too large for your truck bed, you may have to make adjustments, such as keeping the tailgate down to make more room. You might also need to install a truck bed extender or even a roof rack.

Truck Bed Extender for Kayak

The MaxxHaul 70231 Truck Bed Extender is a heavy-duty, adjustable length extender that can safely carry up to 300 pounds. It’s the perfect solution for kayakers or anyone needing to transport longer items in their pickup truck.

Some truck drivers don’t like keeping their tailgates down, so the real question is how to fit the kayak in the truck bed while keeping the tailgate up.

How to Transport A Kayak in A Truck Bed with the Tailgate Up?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to transport a kayak in a truck bed with the tailgate up:

  1. Measure your kayak and your truck bed to ensure a proper fit.
  2. Purchase foam blocks or pool noodles and line the truck bed with them to create a cushioned base for the kayak to rest on. 
  3. Place more of the foam blocks or pool noodles at the front of the truck bed so that the kayak can rest on them.
  4. Lift the kayak gently and place it onto the foam blocks or pool noodles, keeping the bow of the kayak resting on the tailgate. Make sure the kayak is positioned at the center of the truck bed with the cockpit facing down.
  5. Secure the kayak to the truck bed using ratchet straps and make sure they’re all tight enough to keep the kayak stable but not too tight to cause any damage to the kayak. Attach one end of the straps to the truck bed and the other end to the grab handles of the kayak.
  6. Attach a red flag or other warning device to the back of the kayak to indicate its length to other drivers on the road. You can either attach it to the end of the kayak itself or the tailgate.
    • Keep in mind that this is required by law in some areas, so make sure to always display proper signage to indicate that you’re transporting a kayak to avoid any penalties and, more importantly, to protect yourself and others from accidents.
  7. Finally, close the tailgate and latch it securely and double-check that the kayak is securely tied down before driving.

Remember to always follow safe driving practices and be aware of the added height and weight of the kayak while driving.

Additionally, there are some laws and regulations for transporting kayaks, which can vary depending on your location, so it’s important to do your research and consult local authorities to ensure that you’re transporting your kayak in a safe and secure manner.

Is It Better to Keep the Tailgate Up or Down?

For people who tend to transport their kayaks in a truck bed, there is some debate about whether it’s better to keep the tailgate up or down. 

Some believe that keeping the tailgate down allows the kayak to rest on the back of the tailgate, which provides additional support and reduces wind drag, but there are others who argue that keeping the tailgate up creates a more secure and stable platform for the kayak and also allows for better weight distribution.

In reality, the best option depends on the size of the kayak, the size of the truck bed, and personal preference. 

For larger kayaks or smaller truck beds, it may be necessary to keep the tailgate down to fit the kayak and you may even have to install a truck bed extender. However, for most situations, it’s generally recommended to transport the kayak while keeping the tailgate up, as shown in the previous steps. 

Ultimately, your decision to keep the tailgate up or down should be based on what feels safest and most comfortable for you as a driver.

Kayak your way to Freedom

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