How to Build a Kayak Rack for an RV

How to Build a Kayak Rack for an RV


George Cummings
November 23, 2021

If you’re someone who likes to make the most out of life, you probably dream about taking a kayak along on your RV adventures.

Although they can make the camping experience a unique one, they require a rack to hold them, and the cost for a professionally made one can be a lot.

Can you build a DIY kayak rack? It is possible to make a kayak rack for your RV that allows you to store the device on the back or roof of the RV, but there are some exceptions.

You need to make sure that the kayak rack is suitable for the make and model of vehicle you own, and that the plans you’re using to build one are safe.

Kayaking and RVing go hand in hand, and if you’re looking to save a bit of money on your adventures, building a rack to store your kayak can help.

This guide walks you through the tools and steps needed to make one and what you should know before equipping your RV with a kayak rack.

Where Do I Store a Kayak Rack?

Where Do I Store a Kayak Rack?

There are two main options when traveling with larger scale items like bicycles and kayaks on your RV: the roof and the rear.

To determine the best approach, you’ll need to consider the size and weight of the extra equipment, whether you plan on carrying anything else, and the make and model of the RV you own.

For our DIY approach, we’re opting for roof placement. Although it can be dangerous traveling at high speeds with anything attached to the roof of the RV, using a dedicated roof rack will prevent anything from flying away.

If you have a lightweight kayak, even better, as it’s unlikely to impact the overall weight of your RV.

How Much Money Can You Save With a DIY Kayak Rack?

How Much Money Can You Save With a DIY Kayak Rack?

If you’ve ever looked into purchasing a professionally made kayak rack before you’ll know expensive they can be.

A quality rack that’s capable of safely transporting your vessel can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, and you’ll still only be able to take one kayak along at a time.

When you compare these costs to a DIY kayak rack, the DIY option is cheaper. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the right one.

Some people would prefer to spend on a professionally made device for the peace of mind it brings, and when you’re talking about a huge investment like an RV and the safety of those on the road around you, it’s worth the money.

Provided you’re using a quality roof rack to secure your kayak, the rest of the DIY job can be done relatively cheaply.

The majority of the project is about protecting the surface of the RV and the kayak itself, with the main stability coming from the roof rack.

What You Need to Know About Kayak Racks

What You Need to Know About Kayak Racks

Before you can jump in and start building a fancy new kayak rack, you need to assess your RV and see what it’s capable of.

The most important factor to check is whether the RV can handle any extra weight being held on the back or on the roof, so you’ll have to calculate the materials for the rack and the kayak itself.

Secondly, a kayak needs to also be loaded and unloaded safely and easily. To do this, you’ll need a rack to offer accessibility from the back and the roof but still have enough security to keep it in place even when you’re driving.

The best kayak rack is one that fits on your trailer hitch so this is where you should plan on fastening it.

A kayak rack might not always be the best approach, especially if you’re traveling with more than one.

Some people may require a kayak trailer that can be towed behind their RV and is capable of holding multiple vessels at once, in which case, you’ll have to fork out the money for a professionally built system.

How to Build a Kayak Rack

If your kayak is solo and only small, and you’ve made sure that the RV is capable of carrying it, you’re in luck. Using this DIY guide, you can start the planning stages of your kayak rack and get traveling with it in no time.

The Tools You Need

  • 2 x Milk crates
  • 2 x sheets of foam
  • 2 x pool noodles
  • Roof rack
  • Straps

The Steps

  1. Purchase an RV friendly roof rack with enough width to comfortably hold your kayak inside and make sure it’s compatible with the make and model of RV you own.
  2. Install the roof rack according to the manufacturer’s instructions on top of the RV.
  3. Secure the kayak to the mounted roof rack using the straps and attachments provided.
  4. Place one pool noodle on either side of the roof rack underneath the kayak so that it doesn’t come into contact with the roof, even when driving on a bumpy surface.
  5. Gently position the kayak into the roof rack and so it’s resting on the pool noodles.
  6. Place one sheet of foam in the bottom of the milk crate so that it’s covering the base entirely.
  7. Position the milk crate with a foam base over the end of the canoe so it’s protected and then strap it on using safety straps. Repeat for the other end with another milk crate and piece of foam.
  8. Secure the straps so that the pool noodles and milk crates are held firmly into place and won’t come loose.
  9. Double-check the kayak and roof rack have been fastened securely before taking off.

Does It Compete With a Professional Rack?

Does It Compete With a Professional Rack?

Any time you DIY something instead of purchasing a storebought version, you must face the harsh reality that it might not be as good.

The same can be said for a kayak rack that you build yourself when you compare it to a professionally manufactured one, but it doesn’t have to be.

The biggest issue when making a device like this is safety and that’s the key difference that a professional kayak rack will hold.

These structures have been designed and manufactured to meet certain safety requirements and ensure that they suit the vehicle they’re attached to, which can be hard to do with a DIY project.

This is a project that requires a lot of planning and effort, but if you’re committed to putting the time and research into it, it can be a good interim kayak rack while you’re waiting to purchase a genuine one.

Those who are unsure of their DIY skills or would rather just spend the money to have something professionally made would be better off leaving this project alone.

Conquering the Land and Water

There’s nothing like the double thrill of having both an RV and kayak to take you on adventures across water and land.

If you’ve been thinking about tackling this project, make sure you’re putting the time and effort into it that it deserves, otherwise check out some of the best-rated kayak racks for sale online.

Related Questions

Having a kayak that you can take along on your RV adventures sounds like a lot of fun, but there are safety issues involved when traveling with these larger-scale vehicles.

If you have questions about the safety of attachments on your motorhome, read on for other FAQs that might be able to help.

Can You Screw Into an RV’s Walls?

Although it might seem like a minor modification, you should avoid screwing anything into the walls of your RV if you want to keep it in good condition.

The walls in a camper are unlike a regular house wall and they’re often thinner, so screwing or nailing anything into them can lead to irreparable damage and obvious holes.

How Do I Carry a Bike on an RV?

How Do I Carry a Bike on an RV?

Most RV’s can be fitted with a specialized bike rack that can carry your bikes safely and securely while you travel.

Your chosen bike rack should not just fit the bicycle it’s holding but also the size and model of the camper, so it’s important to get the measurements and fit right.

What Vehicles Can Be Towed Behind an RV?

Not all vehicles are suitable for towing behind your RV, with the best models being those that can be flat towed as this causes the least damage to the vehicle.

Popular flat tow-friendly vehicles are Jeep Wrangler JL, Ford F-150, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Chevrolet Colorado.


George Cummings

George Cummings enjoys connecting with nature, meeting new people, and making friends from all over the world. RVing and camping create the perfect opportunity for [him/her] to take part in these activities. After spending several years on the road and exploring the great outdoors, George Cummings shares some of his best pieces of advice on how to make the most of your time while camping. TourTheOutdoors is his way of helping outdoorsy individuals like [him/her] start on a right footing with amazing recommendations and buying guides.