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How to Build a Kayak Rack for an RV: 2 Easy Methods

Written by Philip Lopez / Fact checked by Paul Lemaire

how to build a kayak rack for an rv

Imagine spending a day kayaking before returning to the campsite. That will be perfect, except you need to have a good rack for carrying the canoe.

Buying customized kayak carriers for campers may cost hundreds of dollars, so you need to budget and learn how to build a kayak rack for an RV yourself.

You can build one at the back, close to the bumper, or on the roof. This setup is very secure, though you need to shell out a few dollars. If you want a cheaper method, try the pool noodles, which we only recommend as a temporary solution.

Learn the items you’ll need and the steps to follow in our RV Kayak Rack DIY guide below.

Table of Contents

Method 1: Vertical Kayak Rack for RV


Because of their length, 5th-wheel kayak rack plans prefer a vertical storage method. This DIY vertical kayak rack stays at the bumper area, where height is ample.

What To Prepare

  • 60 x 24 inches hitch cargo carrier
  • Bed extender, 350-lb rated
  • 2-inch dual hitch extension receiver
  • 3 hitch tightener stabilizers for 1.25-2 inch hitches
  • 4 short metal bars
  • Pins and hooks
  • Foam pool noodles
  • Pulley and strap
  • Welding machine
  • Recessed blade carburetor

Step 1: Install The Dual Hitch

The first thing to do when making an RV bumper kayak rack is to install the dual hitch extension receiver to connect other accessories. This part will create a nice gap between the cargo carrier and the bed extender.

  • In a drop position, insert the dual hitch to your RV’s hitch receiver tube opening located at the bumper area.
  • Put a pin and hook to secure the hitch connection.
  • Weld The Bars

The bed extender typically works to transport long items, but for this DIY kayak rack for camper, it will serve as solid support for the kayak’s upper portion.

  • Weld four bars onto a straight horizontal bar to create a simple kayak and bike rack for RV.
  • Ensure that the bar spacing fits the width of your kayak and bike.
  • Hang a pulley on the bar to take some of the weight from a heavy boat.
  • Attach a strap on the farthest end of the bar to wrap around the kayak during transport.
  • Fit The Bed Extender

Now that you have welded the bars, you can properly attach the bed extender to build a vertical kayak rack.

  • Let the bed extender stand on the back of your RV to store boats vertically.
  • Insert the bed extender into the hitch in reverse. The attachment bar goes to the top part of the hitch.
  • Drill a hole to secure the connection with a pin or weld it for better security.
  • Add stabilizers on the hitch joints to prevent the setup from wobbling.
  • Attach The Cargo Carrier

To complete the setup, attach the cargo carrier or the rack that will secure the lower portion of the kayak during travel.

  • Put the left and right frames of the cargo carrier together. Secure with the bolts and nuts that came with the carrier’s package.
  • Tighten the hardware with a recessed blade carburetor.
  • Slide the main arm and the angled shank onto the basket carrier. Put bolts, nuts, and pins into place, then tighten.
  • Align the holes of the angled shank and the hitch’s lower receiver. Secure with pins to install the basket firmly.

Watch a simple assembly of the cargo basket carrier in this video. Rear Cargo Basket Carrier on Hitch Receiver Installation Guide by LT Sport TR-505

  • Make Extra Cushions

RV travel can be rough, so you want your kayaks well-cushioned during a trip.

  • Cut square holes at the bottom of the meshed metal grating where you store the kayak. The holes will offer a secure fit for the lower tip of the boat while driving.
  • Insert foam pool noodles on the cutout’s inner sides to prevent scratching the kayak’s shiny nose.
  • To protect the kayak’s upper portion, consider adding some foam pool noodles on the upper bars.

Method 2: RV Roof Kayak Rack


You can store your kayak on the RV roof if you don’t want to cover your license plate or obstruct your rear camera. An RV roof mounted kayak carrier is suitable for motorhomes with limited height.

What To Prepare

  • Large pool noodles or foam block carriers
  • 2 ratchet strap downs
  • Cutter or sharp knife

Step 1: Prepare The Pool Noodles

Prepare at least two large pool noodles to work as a cheap makeshift kayak rack on your RV roof.

Make sure they’re strong enough to handle the weight of your boat. If you don’t want the pool noodles to stand out much, match the color to your canoe or the camper.

If the pool noodles seem longer than desired, cut them as necessary. The width and length shouldn’t be longer than your RV’s roof.

Step 2: Secure The Pool Noodles And Kayak

Place the cut pool noodles like a rack on your RV roof. Do this on a normal day without any strong winds, or they’ll get blown away.

It would help if you had pool noodles on all of the RV’s critical parts — the back, front, and middle.

Once the noodles are in place, put the kayak on top of them. You may ask someone to help you with this task.

Finally, secure the kayak with ratchet straps.


At this point, I hope you know how to build a kayak rack for an RV. A kayak rack on the back of the camper works better than the pool noodle solution because it’s more solid and secure. However, the pool noodle will take less time to set up.

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