How to Carry a Kayak on an RV?

Are you having trouble deciding whether or not to bring a kayak with you in your RV? Before choosing which transportation method is right for your kayaks, you need to find out if your camper can handle the extra weight of kayak racks. 

We looked into a few different possibilities for transporting a kayak in your RV. These options are simple to understand and implement, so you can enjoy your trip without worry!

 How to Carry a Kayak in an RV?

1. Using a Kayak Rack

Kayak racks are one of the simplest ways to transport your kayak from one place to another. You can easily find an RV kayak rack that is similar to a bike rack in that it will fit on an RV hitch and keep your kayaks safe during your drive.

Remember that you will need a hitch mount on your vehicle to use some types of RV kayak racks, so make sure to install one if your RV isn’t already equipped with it.

If you regularly need to access a storage area on the back of your RV, consider purchasing hitch receiver swing arms. These arms allow you to swing the load on the hitch out of the way, opening up access to the back of the RV.

You can also use an RV roof rack, but keep in mind that you will have to be able to lift and carry kayaks all the way up to the roof racks. Using an RV roof rack can present a challenge for many, simply because they lack the ability to lift the kayak onto the roof.

Things to Remember

When looking for the best kayak rack for you, you must choose one that fits your requirements. 

For starters, a hitch-mounted rack should fit securely onto your RV hitch. Secondly, the kayak rack should be sturdy and secure enough to balance the kayak.

Keep in mind that if you have long kayaks, a hitch-mounted RV kayak rack may not work because the kayaks may stick out too far on each side of your vehicle.

2. Roof Rails

If a roof rack doesn’t quite suit your needs, you can opt for roof rails to carry kayaks instead. The best part about roof rails is that you can use them to transport several items at once. 

As a result, these bars are a worthwhile investment. You may want to look for a protective cradle to set under your kayak when using roof rails so the boat doesn’t rest directly on the vehicle roof. 

Overall, roof rails are a secure means of transporting your kayak. These bars also give you enough room to fit at least two kayaks, or sometimes even more, which can come in handy for couples and families.

Things to Remember

When choosing a roof rail for carrying kayaks, make sure it is made from a good-quality material and can provide a secure hold on your kayak. Uneven or bad-quality bars often do more harm than good, so it is best to go ahead and invest in high-quality, secure roof mounts.

Another factor to consider is that you must tie your kayak to the roof rails tightly and securely for maximum protection. This ensures that the kayak maintains its position on the vehicle even at high speeds or bumpy roads.

3. Kayak Trailers

If you are concerned about how you’ll get your kayak up onto a rooftop rack, a trailer can be an excellent option to consider instead. Most kayak trailers also allow you to carry at least two kayaks, or sometimes even more.

Kayak trailers are possibly the most convenient kayak carrying method in terms of loading and unloading.

Things to Remember

It’s important to note that these trailers are a little bit more pricey than your average kayak rack. So, before you buy a kayak trailer, make sure it’s a good investment. 

There are a wide variety of options on the market to carry kayaks, so analyze your options carefully to buy a product that fits your needs perfectly. Many kayak trailers can be pulled by a variety of vehicles, including an RV or a pickup truck, which may be handy if you want to use your kayaks without your RV sometimes. 

4. Ceiling Hoist

When discussing how to carry a kayak on an RV, we can’t forget the ceiling hoist. If you have no other option, you can use a ceiling hoist to carry your kayak underneath the roof of your RV, inside the vehicle.

If you have high ceilings in your travel trailer and don’t like transporting your kayak outside your RV, this option may work for you.

However, using a ceiling mount to carry kayaks in an RV is not necessarily an ideal solution because it requires solid mounting and a very sturdy build to work efficiently. They can also be a bit pricey, and often there is not room for two kayaks inside a travel trailer. 

Hence, this carrying method can be challenging to implement and is thus not often recommended as a way to carry a kayak safely.

5. Inflatable Kayaks

If you are short of space, inflatable kayaks are the best option. They are a great solution for those with a small-sized travel trailer who need to carry two kayaks or more.

Here are some advantages of inflatable kayaks as compared to hard-shelled, full-sized kayaks.

The inflatable kayaks are light weight, making them easy to carry and extremely portable. The ability to deflate them for transport effectively eliminates the need for a kayak carrier. 

You can easily carry inflatable kayaks in their original packaging. Furthermore, you can fold them into a smaller size as well. 

You can pack your inflatable kayak into a bag and store it inside a closet or storage area in your RV, and you don’t need to purchase or install any mounting hardware to transport it. 

There are various brands and models of inflatable kayaks available in both online and in stores. There are tandem models, whitewater varieties, and more, so make sure you choose the most suitable one for you.

Things to Remember

If you are traveling with an inflatable kayak, do not forget to pack a repair kit. You might need it in case of an emergency, so it is always best to carry it beforehand.

6. Ladder Rack

You can always invest in a regular rack, like a ladder rack, to carry your kayak. Since it will be installed in the bed of your tow vehicle, you will technically not be carrying your kayak on your RV.

This can be convenient if you sometimes want to transport your kayak in your towing vehicle while you are not towing your RV. Ladder racks are also inexpensive and known in the kayak community as some of the best kayak racks you can purchase. 

Ladder racks are easy to use; you simply secure your kayak using ratchet straps. Make sure to tie knots securely so your kayak stays in place.

A good amount of safety can be provided by using straps that have a locking mechanism, such as bicycle locks. Ladder racks are a good option if you want an inexpensive kayaking experience since you do not need to invest much.

Keep in mind, though, that if you have a fifth wheel that you drive and possibly tow a small car, this method will not work for you. It requires you to have a pickup truck that you use to pull your trailer.

 Features to Look for in Mounting System

Here is a guide for what you should look for in a mounting system. There are multiple things you need to remember. 

We have briefly explained each point below.

Folding Options

Some kayak racks can be folded down when not in use. Hitch-mounted racks, for example, can often be removed from the travel trailer and folded when not being used.

A rack that does not fold down might take up extra space and be a hassle to deal with during your trip.

Easy to Mount

The rack should be easy to install. Look at the reviews for the rack online to see what other customers have to say about the ease of install.

Make sure that the size of the rack is compatible with your travel trailer or fifth wheel. The roof of your RV has a strict weight capacity, so check the maximum weight that it can carry before deciding on a roof rack. 

As mentioned previously, some racks use a hitch mount. You’ll want to make sure your travel trailer or fifth wheel is equipped with the right hitch to allow for easy installation. 

Strength of the Rack

The construction of the rack is fundamental. Make sure you do not ignore this step. 

Your rack should have a heavy metal tubing construction. The strength of metal will avoid easy bending of the rack under a considerable weight or heavy load.

Of course, the more heavy-duty the construction, the more the rack weighs. Always ensure that your vehicle roof can support the weight of the rack and the kayaks.

Easy Loading and Unloading Options

Your rack should have easy loading and unloading options. Why is it important? 

You may be loading and unloading your kayak several times during your trip, especially if you often go on camping trips and road trips! If your rack does not allow easy loading and unloading, it will be problematic.

Trying to load kayaks on the roof of a fifth wheel can be complicated and, in some cases, even painful if you’re dealing with heavy boats. 

If you choose a rack that makes it difficult for you to load your kayak, either your kayak or your travel trailer could get damaged during the process. So, make sure you check the loading and unloading features before you purchase racks. 

Carry Multiple Kayaks or Other Items

You will also want to think about the capacity of the rack. There are multiple racks available on the market that have ample room for different items. 

Some racks have room for up to four kayaks! Some carriers are also equipped to carry your luggage or other items.

Investing in a rack to transport kayaks on your travel trailer or fifth wheel is not an easy task. So, you must ensure you invest in a good one. 

Analyze the space and capacity your rack will provide. Most people want to look for a rack that can accommodate kayaks and carry other additional items.

Material of the Rack

Do not forget to check the material of the mounting system. Mounting racks come in stainless steel and other materials.

Stainless steel is often the best option because it lasts longer than other materials. It stands up to wear and tear and it is usually rust-resistant. 

Above are all the things you should think about before you go shopping for kayak racks. There are many ways to carry a kayak, but choosing the wrong product for your circumstances can result in damage to your kayak or travel trailer. 

Considering these points is the first step in successfully carrying your kayaks on your next adventure into the great outdoors.

Can you put kayaks on top of an RV?

Yes, many travel trailers come equipped to accommodate roof-mounted items and carriers. How many kayaks you can carry on top of your travel trailer or fifth wheel will depend on the weight capacity of the roof of your RV. 

To carry kayaks on the roof of your RV, you will need either a roof rack or roof rails. If you use roof rails, you can put luggage and other items up there along with your kayak. 

The hardest part of using roof rails for kayaks is just getting the kayaks up onto the roof. If you have lightweight kayaks and a helper or two to help you get the kayaks up there, these rails can be a great choice for kayak transportation. 


Being able to carry your kayak on your RV provides you with a beautiful and fun experience. We hope this explanation of all the possible ways to take a kayak on your RV has given you some ideas about how you can transport your kayaks on your next adventure.

The process is trouble-free if you choose wisely. Analyze your RV thoroughly to determine how much space you have. 

If you have plenty of space, select a ladder rack or kayak trailer. In the case of more than one kayak to carry or oversized luggage, choose roof mounts or a simple kayak rack. 

If you are short of space, inflatable kayaks are best for you. 

Carrying a kayak on an RV might cost you a bit. But, it is merely a one-time investment. 

Once you have purchased the most suitable rack for your RV, you don’t need to buy a new one for years.