Solutions For When Your Kayak Doesn’t Fit the Truck Bed

Kayaks vary in size, and sometimes they can be tough to transport. If you buy the kayak yourself and not online, you will face transportation issues. This article will discuss several solutions for safely transporting kayaks in trucks; we will also discuss kayaks in short bed and address several queries related to kayaks.

kayak in truck short bed

Solutions for Kayaks not fitting in the Truck Bed

Below there are a few solutions that will help you easily transport the kayak:

Utility Track for the Truck

You can buy a good quality utility rack for the truck as well, especially if you want to transport the kayak to different lakes and rivers. Kayaks don’t come cheap, so you don’t want to damage it; use the safest transportation method.

If you use an unsafe means of transportation, your kayak can fall off the truck. There are different types of truck utility racks in the market that you can choose from. These racks come in different sizes and shapes.

One of the best racks you can invest in is the AA-Rack Model X35 800LB. It has a reasonable price tag and works well with kayaks. This rack can safely carry ten-foot-long kayaks and comes with nuts and bolts. Some other features of the rack:

  • The X35 rack can carry a total weight of 800 pounds. It has a black matte color and comes with a powder coating.
  • The hook on the uprights gives you the ability to tie loads or tools.
  • There are several drilling holes in the upright plate, which enable this rack to be compatible with different truck beds.
  • The upper section of the rack is constructed from a pair of T sleeves and a middle crossbar. The middle section is double-barred and sturdy, so won’t easily bend or dent, and is stronger than one-bar designs.
  • This rack is extendable, making it compatible with truck beds that fall in the range of 51 to 71 inches.

Extender for the Truck

Many kayakers use the T-Bone truck extender. One of the best T-Bone truck extenders in the market is the Boonedox T-Bone Bed Extender.

This extender is adjustable and is made from aluminum. The curvy design of the extender, allows it to smoothly go over rough terrain without damaging the kayak.

Boonedox designs each extender with high-quality aircraft aluminum, which is rust-free, sturdy and lightweight. This T-Bone extender is compatible with all stock truck bed heights and is broad enough to hold a pair of canoes or kayaks at a time.

Paddlers have also praised this extender from Boonedox, and were satisfied with its ability to easily carry the kayak without damaging it.

Kayak Rack Roof System

If you want to carry your kayak on a rack roof system rather than a truck bed, you should use this transport method. This system is installed on the truck’s roof; it is a non-permanent transportation method and is easy to install.

Rack systems are available in different sizes shapes and come with different features. You can install these racks on top of a truck, car or SUV. To secure the stern and bow of the kayak, use a set of straps and tie it down to the rack. Stern and bow lines are mandatory with the transportation method since they will protect the kayak in extremely windy conditions.

Transport the Kayak with the Trailer

Kayak trailers are a good solution for transporting kayaks; it requires rigging a trailer with a truck and then loading the kayak on the trailer. If you are experienced and know how to use trailers, you can load more than one kayak in the trailer.

However, some people who have a short truck bed always ask this question: Kayaks in a Short bed? If your truck bed is short, you can use a trailer to transport the kayak. If you are going for a long trip, a trailer will become an additional storage spot, and you can load up all types of gear along with the kayak.

How to Transport Kayaks in Short Bed?

To transport kayaks in a short bed, you will need to load them at the back of your pickup truck, and with the help of tie-downs, you will have to secure them. However, is the process that simple? Let us explain.

You can also lower the pickup truck’s tailgate and let the kayak hang from the back. The kayak overhanging can be reduced by moving the kayak from one side to another. You will then need to tie the kayak securely.

Thankfully, most pickup trucks come with loops that will enable you to tie the kayak easily. You can tie the kayak by putting a strap or rope through the grab handle. Once you’ve done that, secure the kayak with the top of the truck.

If you feel you aren’t getting enough pressure in the bed, you can tie the bed to the points. One strap or rope can go across the tailgate and into the hitch. Then, you can tie one of the bed tie-down.

Ensure there is a sign at the end of the kayak, so other vehicles on the road are careful. You can place a red-coloured flag if you don’t have a sign. This is how you can place kayaks in a short bed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you Transport a Kayak in a UTE?

To transport a kayak in a UTE, you will need to do the following:

  • Load the kayak in the bed of the UTE.
  • You can also transport a kayak through the UTE extender.
  • You can invest in UTE racks to transport a kayak from one location to another.
  • Attach a kayak trailer to the UTE to transport it.
  • Attach a kayak roof rack at the top of a UTE.
  • Transport a kayak with the UTE through Tonneau Covers.

How to Ensure Kayak Safety during Transportation?

Use the following tips to transport a kayak safely on a truck:

  • Put the tailgate down, and slide the bow first into the truck.
  • The kayak should have a grab handle or some hardware at the stern and bow for transporting it to the truck.
  • Run a cam strap through bed rails or anchor points on the floor. Once you have done that, repeat the process with the kayak’s bow. The goal is to protect the kayaking from sliding.
  • Please refrain from using ratchet straps since they can apply too much pressure and damage the kayak. If you use ratchet straps, do not tighten them too much.
  • For the kayak’s stern, ran a cam strap through the mounting point of the stern or the anchor points given in the bed.
  • Once done, the straps should make a ‘V’ like shape.
  • If the kayak sticks out more than feet from the truck’s bed, you need to secure a sign or red flag to it. Not placing a sign or red flag is considered illegal. The flagging will prevent another vehicle from running in the truck and damaging the kayak.

How to Unload a Kayak from a Truck Bed?

The unloading process for a kayak is pretty straightforward and is the reverse of loading up the kayak. Get the trolley ready for the kayak, and position it behind the truck. Pull the kayak out of the truck’s bed, and push it down on the trolley. The trolley will take the weight of the kayak. Once on the trolley, secure the kayak in place.

At the other end of the truck bed, pull the kayak towards you, and manoeuvre it with the grip at the front.

How to Safely Transport a Kayak on a Truck Bed?

When it comes to kayaks, safety is the main priority. If you are uncertain about the safety of your kayak, then you need to rethink your transporting strategy. The kayak should be stable in the back of your truck bed. You can also think of other transport methods. Check out the ones listed above.

How to Load a Pair of Kayaks in a Truck?

Yes, you read that right; it is possible to simultaneously load a pair of kayaks onto one truck. One of the best tactics of using an extender and then stacking the two kayaks on each other. However, ensure sufficient padding so that the extended bars don’t damage the kayaks.

How to Strap a Kayak to an Extender?

Typically, three to four straps are used to strap a kayak in the truck bed extender. You will need to start by strapping the kayak around the extender bar. Then you will need to loop the strap around the kayak’s hull.

Then come back around the extender bar, and loop the strap around the hull. Repeat the same process a few times until the kayak is secure.

The Law for Transporting the Kayak in a Truck?

While there are laws in place, you should know that they were from state to state, so it is important to check with the regulatory authorities of your state.


The Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal size laws apply to passenger and commercial vehicles. These regulations state that:

  • It is permissible for the cargo to overhang a truck by three feet in the front, four feet in the rear and four inches on the sides.

However, some states have additional regulations. Some examples are:

  • Arizona: It is permissible for the cargo to hang from the rear by six feet.
  • Louisiana: It is permissible for the cargo to hang from the rear by eight feet.
  • Colorado: It is permissible for the cargo to hang from the rear by ten feet.
  • Pennsylvania: It is permissible for the cargo to hang from the rear by six feet.
  • Washington: It is permissible for the cargo to hang from the rear by fifteen feet.
  • Oregon: It is permissible for the cargo to hang from the rear by five feet.

Some states, like Nebraska and Michigan, have no overhanging restrictions whatsoever.

Red Flag (Displaying Safety Flags)

Whether you need to place a flag on the cargo or not depends on the rules and regulations of the state. It also depends on how long your kayak is and how far it overhangs from the truck. Generally, if the kayak overhangs by four feet, a red flag must be placed on the cargo.

The colour of the safety flag should be orange or red, and it should at least measure eighteen inches. If the kayak has a two-foot width, you will need to use two flags. During the nighttime, you will need to add red reflectors and lights.

Unsecured Loads

Due to unsecured Loads, the AAA foundation for traffic research states that road debris is a significant factor behind traffic accidents. Dropping cargo from a moving vehicle such as a car or a truck is considered illegal in the United States.

More than fifteen states have rules and regulations for carrying unsecured cargo. The punishment for disobeying this law can be up to fifteen years in jail. Transporting unsecured cargo can be disastrous and can pose a safety risk to both pedestrians and vehicles.

Roof Rack Systems

A rook rack system is also considered illegal in some states since it could be on the list of illegal vehicle modifications. You should know how to safely load the cargo on the rack and understand that having cargo on the roof will affect the braking and driving performance of the truck.

You need to understand that most vehicles have a dynamic roof rating, which is the weight they can carry while in motion.

 Usually, vehicles can only carry a weight of 165 pounds or less while in motion. To ensure that you are carrying the appropriate weight, please consult the manufacturer to know the restrictions of your truck and don’t try to overburden the truck.

Maximum Kayak Size that a Truck can Transport?

The first thing you need to look at is the truck’s length, and most truck beds are divided into three categories:

  • Standard Beds: 6 feet and 5 inches (77 inches)
  • Short Beds: 5 feet and eight inches (68 inches)
  • Long Beds: 8 feet (96 inches)

You will then need to consider the length of your kayak:

  • Whitewater Kayaks: 6 feet to 9 feet
  • Recreational Kayaks: 9 feet to 12 feet
  • Fishing Kayaks: 10 feet to 14 feet
  • Touring kayaks: 12 feet to 20 feet
  • Tandem Kayaks: 12 feet to 16 feet


In this article, we discussed several queries related to Kayaks. We discussed what to do if your kayak doesn’t fit in the truck bed. We also addressed how to transport kayaks in short bed. Lastly, we shed some light on the rules and regulations regarding the transportation of kayaks.

Vanessa Hopkins

Hi, I'm Vanessa. Long-time kayaker who's proud to be part of this community. I strive to provide our visitors with insightful guides with the aim to improve their kayaking experience. I've been working with SunshineKayaking for over 5 years, providing world-class services.

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