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Last updated: September 20, 2021
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Finding the best kayak trailer is essential if you want to keep your kayaks and canoes safe while you are on the road. You may also want a model that can keep bikes as well as kayaks and canoes, and the right trailer can be your road trip companion. There are lots of different options with different capacities, so discovering which is best can be tricky.
After extensive comparisons, our team found that the Ironton Personal Watercraft and Boat Trailer Kit comes out on top. It fits the bill in terms of capacity and ease of use. These are two of the main important features we’ve considered when creating reviews. Others include the max length of the kayaks, dimensions of the trailer and the weight. We’ve also looked at any warranty which is on offer from the manufacturers to back up the quality of trailer they have on offer.
Our team has spent weeks researching these products and considering all of the vital features when coming up with the reviews. Our research is presented very simply, first as an overview table and then with reviews of each of the products, and a full buying guide to help you to work out what you should look for when finding your own ideal kayak trailer. These aren’t exactly everyday purchases so some research will be required to make sure you get something suitable for your vehicle, your kayaks and your own needs.
The Ironton Personal Watercraft and Boat Trailer Kit is excellent not only for kayaks but also for other larger and heavier watercraft like jet skis. It has a weight limit of 610 lbs. Also, since it has a roomy bed size, we feel it might be possible to modify it to carry multiple small kayaks.
Assembly isn’t very complicated though it does take time. There are, however, some aspects that might be pretty confusing. The wiring, for instance, seems to stump a few users, especially when it comes to grounding the electric current. However, if you can get it right, you’re guaranteed the side marker and tail lights included in the trailer will work.
Some users report having modified the trailer by adding a longer tongue to match their larger crafts. Notably, this doesn’t seem to negatively affect the trailer’s functionality, although we wouldn’t recommend it.
In addition to the lights, other valuable additions are protective fenders and a coupler. The fenders will protect your watercraft from damage as you transport it on the trailer. As for the coupler, it will make attaching and detaching the trailer to your car any time you need to a walk in the park.
There’s also the element of the white powder coat finish which adds durability. That said, the shipping doesn’t seem to be streamlined, as several reports mention damaged packaging.
Why is it special?
Can support larger and heavier crafts
It comes with functional side marker and back indicator lights
As for the Seattle Sports Paddleboy ATC Kayak and Canoe Cart, it should be a suitable option for a singular canoe. The weight capacity of the trailer is limited to 300 lbs. That said, most kayaks weigh under 150 pounds, although there are some other watercraft that might make full use of the weight limit, including canoes, Jon boats, paddle boats and more.
It features adjustable padded top bars so you can tweak the settings depending on the size of your craft. Furthermore, a cinch strap is also included. However, we noticed the cinch strap isn’t enough to center different watercraft and kayaks on the trailer. As such, it might be necessary to purchase an extra one or two and add them to the trailer’s setup.
The wheels included are 16-inch air-less options. As such, they have an easier time going over difficult terrain as compared to smaller trailers. They also seem to glide over flat surfaces like tarmac.
Additionally, they might come in handy if your parking spot is far from the water. The wheel height makes it easier for any user to push or pull the trailer. However, in our opinion, these wheels also seem somewhat flimsy, and they rust when continuously exposed to saltwater.
Another likeable feature in this trailer is the spring-loaded kickstand. Furthermore, the cart folds up, which makes storage easier to handle.
What are its best features?
Handles difficult terrain better than most other trailers
The wheel height makes it easy to push or pull the trailer with your hands
It folds for storage
A spring-loaded and stable kickstand is included
What could be improved?
The wheels are not durable and rust when exposed to saltwater
The straps included are insufficient to center kayaks and other watercraft
If assembly is something you worry about, the RAILBLAZA C-Tug Kayak/Canoe Cart can put you at ease. It’s a 9.6 lb trailer that can be dismantled in under 20 seconds. Assembly doesn’t take long either and requires no tools. Once you’ve disassembled it, the trailer even fits in your kayak hatch. As such, you don’t need to worry about landing in the same place you got into the water.
Most of the construction consists of non-corroding engineering polymers that hold their own against the weight of your crafts, heat, saltwater and more. That said, the axles are made from reinforced stainless steel that is even more durable and resistant to rust.
Also, like the Seattle Sports Paddleboy ATC Kayak and Canoe Cart, it comes with a kickstand. This one can be adjusted at any time according to the requirements. However, it’s not very reliable. Another similarity is in the weight limit, with this option maxing out at 300 lbs as well.
The design of the trailer incorporates high grip rubber wheels that we noticed handle difficult terrain relatively well, especially when it comes to sandy beaches. They’re also puncture-free.
One of the biggest assets for the trailer is the inclusion of rubberized pads. They provide soft padding for your kayak and other watercraft. They’re also adjustable to fit the shape and size of the craft. However, they are not universal and may not fit all types of kayaks. Lastly, a C-Tug Strap Kit is part of the package and can hold your crafts in place during transport.
Why is it special?
Rubberized pads conform to the hull of most crafts
Easy to assemble and disassemble without tools
Portable enough to fit in a kayak hatch
High grip rubber wheels
What are the flaws?
The trailer won’t work for crafts with an irregular hull configuration
Another option for single kayak transport is the Attwood 11930-4 Kayak and Canoe Cart. The trailer features a simple design that caters to most lightweight canoes and kayaks. Notably, we wouldn’t advise putting any craft that weighs over 100 lbs on this trailer. It is, however, very flexible in terms of the kayak length.
We noticed the wheels are quite bulky, and this comes in handy while crossing difficult terrain. Furthermore, they’re well treaded and grip easily onto most surfaces. They’re also airless, so there’s no chance of them deflating.
Another construction component is the aluminum frame which is padded to protect the hull of your craft. The device is not meant to be dragged behind your car. Instead, its only job should be to get your kayak from the car or truck to the water, and that will require that you pull it manually.
The design also includes straps that you can use to secure your craft during transit. Notably, the frame folds down, and you can take off the wheels, which makes it easier to transport. Additionally, it fits on most kayak hitches in the market, so you won’t even need to look for storage space in your trunk.
However, it doesn’t fit into a kayak hatch which can make things difficult, especially if you’re worried about its security. Additionally, some components are pretty small and may be easy to lose.
What are our favorite features?
The rack assembles and disassembles easily
The wheels don’t deflate
It fits most kayak hitches
What could be better?
The weight capacity is relatively low; hence the trailer only works for small crafts
A lot of the best kayak trailers on the list are made with hardcore use in mind. Manufacturers often build the biggest and bulkiest product they can and ensure it has a huge capacity. This isn’t the case with the Rambo R187 Canoe/Kayak Trailer which is designed to be nimble, and vitally, affordable. It fits on the back of your bike rather than your car.
Keep in mind when buying this that you will need the R150 luggage rack made by the same brand in order to install it on your bike.
This has some level of adjustability, but generally, it is designed to fit kayaks which are 8-10 feet long.
If you’re using this on a bike, it has a 70lb capacity, but using by hand increases this capacity to 300 lbs.
It includes padded points to stop scratches from occurring on your kayak or canoe. It also has tie-down straps to keep your gear nice and secure.
Obviously, being the best cheap kayak trailer, this does have some level of limitations. It isn’t perfect, and isn’t really something we’d recommend for long trips as it is only good for use with a bike. However, it could be exactly what you’re looking for if you want to transport your canoe by hand or by bike.
Why is it special?
Very affordable compared to a lot of the other kayak trailers.
Easy to construct.
Some level of adjustability.
Decent capacity for the size (300lb when used by hand).
What are the flaws?
Not attachable to cars.
Can’t attach multiple kayaks.
Not as well-built as some competing models due to the cheap price.
In terms of design, the TMS Kayak/Canoe Carrier draws many similarities to the Attwood 11930-4 Kayak and Canoe Cart. It features a solid metal frame with a mix of aluminum and stainless steel components that can be folded down during storage or transport.
The flat-free tires feature a large 9-1/2” diameter ideal for the sandy terrain that you’re more than likely to encounter. In addition to being large, we noticed the wheels are treaded to ensure a good grip on sand and various other terrains. Furthermore, they come off the trailer quite easily if necessary.
The frame also seems designed with V-shaped hulls in mind. As such, you’re better off checking the shape of your craft or crafts before committing to this purchase. Notably, there are also foam bumpers that ensure no damage comes to your craft during transit.
Additionally, a 12-foot long tie-down strap with a buckle is included, and for most kayaks, this should be more than sufficient to center and hold them in place. The trailer is rated at about 150 lbs which encompasses most kayak designs, although the same may not be true for other larger crafts like canoes. Lastly, there is the spring-loaded stand. This component helps keep the trailer and subsequently the loaded kayak propped up for easier navigation into the water.
What do we love it for?
Folds and disassembles for easy storage
12 ft strap helps keep kayaks in place
Included stand keeps the trailer propped up on the beach
Large wheels handle sandy terrain very well
What were we disappointed with?
The maximum capacity is quite low compared to alternatives
We’ve named the Right-On Ruff-Sport Trailer our best versatile kayak trailer as it seems to have a little something for everyone. It isn’t designed just for use with kayaks and canoes, as you can also use it for boards, boxes, SUPs, bikes, and other watersport equipment.
The trailer has large 12” wheels with plenty of durability, it also has a sturdy frame which includes some springs by way of suspension so that the gear doesn’t take a beating from the road.
A 64 inch crossbar is suitable for use with accessories sold as roof rack accessories made by Yakama or Thule, for example.
LED lights ship with the product so that you can ensure you’re visible on the road.
Of course, it isn’t perfect, otherwise, it would be at the top of our list. It could do with a little bit more in the way of capacity. Also, the product can be tricky to assemble and takes a lot longer than some of the other models on this list. You also need quite a few tools which don’t automatically come with the trailer. If you aren’t the handiest person, this might be a struggle.
What are its best features?
Has a great level of versatility, can be used with roof racks and other accessories.
Suspension included to handle the road, as well as LED lights.
Can be used for kayaks which are up to 15 feet in length.
What could be improved?
Not a huge capacity.
Could do with being a little easier to install.
Things to Consider
Our buying guide is designed to talk you through all the aspects of buying a kayak trailer. This is not the easiest buying decision to get right. What works for you might not work for others, and vice versa. You need to understand the features, and how kayaks are made, and then match up your needs with these features. For this reason, we’ve created a kayak trailer buying guide to help you with this buying decision.
Kayak trailers don’t tend to be the cheapest products. You want to make sure you get the correct decision first time.
Do I need a kayak trailer?
A kayak trailer obviously serves the main purpose of transporting kayaks from one place to another. Most of the options on this list are designed to be sued with a car, though some have the capability to be towed by hand or on the back of a bicycle. Some people use roof racks for this purpose, but a trailer is usually far more efficient and uses less fuel due to the fact that it has wheels and doesn’t add the same mass to the top of the car.
Kayak trailers can also allow you to transport a lot of other equipment. Some of these models have up to 600lb capacity, such as the Ironton Personal Watercraft and Boat Trailer Kit. This means you can easily add other items such as SUPs and bikes if you attach these correctly.
A kayak trailer isn’t the only option for you to transport your kayak or canoe, but they certainly can be the easiest option.
Features to consider when choosing a kayak or canoe trailer
Features to consider when choosing a kayak or canoe trailer
One thing that all canoe or kayak trailers have in common is that there are always people who are happy with the product while others are left disgruntled. Often, what differentiates the two is the amount of thought people put into their purchases. As such, you do have a chance to get a canoe trailer that’s perfect for you, but only if you fulfill specific criteria.
This involves thinking of your needs and then determining what features in a kayak trailer would cater to those needs. That said, the jargon used to describe the features can sometimes be confusing, and we aim to eliminate any confusion on the same in the section below. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the terms and considered how these features would affect your personal user experience, choosing from a myriad of options will be a cakewalk.
Maximum weight and kayak capacity
Most of you already have a canoe, kayak or some other watercraft; otherwise, you wouldn’t be looking at a kayak trailer. Some of you even have them in multiples. As such, you’re in a perfect position to determine how many watercraft you need the trailer to carry and their maximum weight.
If, for instance, you have a single kayak, then trailers like the TMS Kayak/Canoe Carrier are sufficient. Typically even the biggest kayaks tend to weigh less than 120 lbs. As such, since the TMS Kayak/Canoe Carrier has a maximum weight capacity of 150 lbs, it should be enough for the job. Conversely, if you want to carry something like a jet ski, a 150 lbs maximum weight capacity is nowhere near enough.
Also, as we mentioned above, some of you have multiple kayaks, canoes and other watercraft. Consequently, if you need to transport them to the water simultaneously, you should get a trailer that can handle the workload.
You also need to know the trailer’s limitations in terms of speed. Some are quite capable of keeping up with your car on the open road, while others aren’t. Sometimes the maximum speed is not explicitly stated by the manufacturer. However, a workaround to determine whether you can attach it to the back of your car is to check the “DOT” status.
If a trailer is stated to have met all the DOT requirements like the Ironton Personal Watercraft and Boat Trailer Kit, then you’re free to put it on the road. If not, you may need to avoid connecting them to your car altogether. Notably, most options can only be pulled or pushed manually.
Overall build and construction
Next, you look at the trailer’s overall build quality. This involves looking at all major and minor components to determine how well they hold up to use. Ideally, you want something high quality and durable. In the RAILBLAZA C-Tug Kayak/Canoe Cart example, most components seem pretty reliable unless you exceed the weight limit.
It features a non-corroding engineering polymer. This means you can expose the trailer to the different weather elements, saltwater, and a few other corrosive elements, and the device would still hold its shape and functionality. The axles feature stainless steel construction which is even more durable compared to the rest of the device. However, the kickstand’s quality seems a bit unremarkable.
If the kickstand is an essential feature for you, it might be necessary to look at other kayak trailers in the market. If not, something like the RAILBLAZA C-Tug Kayak/Canoe Cart may prove sufficient for your needs. Overall, this is the approach you should take when looking at all your trailer options. Check the quality of all the components, and if at all something is unsatisfactory according to your needs, then you look for another option.
Important extras: tires, straps, and brake lights
Extra features could also make your trailer purchase more worthwhile, depending on your needs. For instance, if you’re dragging the trailer behind your car as you head to your favorite kayaking spot, the car’s brake and tail lights might be blocked by your kayak. This is, of course, harzadous since the driver behind you can not tell whether you’re braking or not.
However, this is not a problem for a trailer like the Ironton Personal Watercraft and Boat Trailer Kit. It has built-in brake and side marker lights which should work just fine if you install the wiring correctly. There are many more extras depending on the trailer model.
The kickstand we mentioned above is one example. Others include features like straps, the ability to fold, foam pads that protect the hull of the craft and more.
Ease of assembly
Additionally, ease of assembly is another crucial factor. Some options like the Attwood 11930-4 Kayak and Canoe Cart don’t require much work during the setup process. The instructions are simple, you don’t need tools, and the assembly process takes only a few minutes.
Contrastingly, options like the Ironton Personal Watercraft and Boat Trailer Kit require a lot of attention, tools, and a commitment of at least a few hours. If you have the time, skills necessary and tools, it might not be a problem. However, for some people spending a few hours doing the assembly is overkill, and they would much rather do something else. As such, you’ll have to decide how you feel about the assembly process before you can decide on a purchase.
There is a maximum speed on each kayak trailer which will prevent you from going over a certain speed. This doesn’t impact the actual speed limit on the road that you can go when towing your trailer. It is a limit by the manufacturer though not a road limit.
There’s a lot to like about all the trailer options mentioned above. In the Ironton Personal Watercraft and Boat Trailer Kit, our editor’s choice, the 610 lbs maximum capacity is impressive. Furthermore, the incorporated brake lights could be quite useful on the road.
Another contender for one of the top spots on the list above is the Seattle Sports Paddleboy ATC Kayak and Canoe Cart. The 16-inch wheel diameter ensures the kayak is at a comfortable height level for pulling or pushing. Also, the adjustable top pad bars are padded and adjustable to fit multiple kayak designs.
Even the TMS Kayak/Canoe Carrier is one of the best kayak trailers in the market. It’s an affordable trailer with a fairly durable frame, well-designed wheels, and the weight capacity is quite impressive for the price. Ultimately it’s good value for money. That said, each option above has several pros and cons and whether or not it would prove a good purchase depends on your needs. As such, the kayak trailer you purchase has to be your choice.