Ultimate Guide: Building Kayak Rack for RV in 8 Easy Steps


    To build a kayak rack for an rv, you’ll need lumber, screws, and brackets. Attach brackets to the rv’s frame and then attach lumber to the brackets to create horizontal bars for the kayak to rest on.

    A kayak is a fun and easily transportable watercraft that can enhance any rv trip. However, it can be challenging to figure out where to store the kayak during travel. Luckily, building a kayak rack for your rv is a simple and cost-effective solution.

    In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of how to build a kayak rack for an rv using easily accessible materials. With our guide, you’ll be able to securely transport your kayak on your next adventure without any hassle.

    Ultimate Guide: Building Kayak Rack for RV in 8 Easy Steps

    Credit: gearjunkie.com

    Table of Contents

    Step 1: Measuring The Rv

    Importance Of Measuring The Rv Before Building A Kayak Rack

    Are you planning to hit the road in your rv while carrying your kayaks? One of the essential preparations is building a sturdy kayak rack on the rv’s roof. However, before purchasing materials and getting started with the project, you need to measure the rv’s roof correctly.

    This critical step will ensure a perfect fit for your kayak rack and keep it secure on the roof, minimizing any risk of damage when on the road.

    Guidelines For Taking Accurate Measurements Of The Rv’S Roof

    Measuring your rv’s roof can be challenging without the right guidelines. Below, we have outlined crucial steps to follow when measuring your rv’s roof for a kayak rack:

    • Choose a clear two-day period when the weather is dry and mild to do your measurements
    • Take accurate measurements of the length, width, and height of the rv’s roof, including any vents or ac units
    • Measure the distances between these components and mark their position on your measurements
    • Take note of any existing ladder, awnings, or solar panels, as these may interfere with the installation of the kayak rack
    • Ensure that you measure every spot to guarantee you purchase the correct length of materials

    Highlighting The Rv’S Strengths And Weaknesses For Accommodating A Kayak Rack

    Before building a kayak rack for your rv, it’s essential to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the vehicle. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

    • How much weight can the rv roof hold without causing damage?
    • Does the rv have any restrictions on carrying additional load on the roof?
    • Will the rv’s height be too high after installing the kayak rack?
    • Is the rv’s roof stable enough to hold the extra weight of your kayak, especially when driving in windy conditions?

    Careful consideration of your rv’s strengths and weaknesses will help you determine the best position for installation, ensuring that your kayak rests securely on the roof.

    Measuring your rv is a crucial first step before building a kayak rack. By following the guidelines outlined and considering the strengths and weaknesses of your rv, you can successfully install a kayak rack that will allow you to hit the road with your kayaks and explore any body of water you encounter during your travels.

    Step 2: Designing The Kayak Rack

    The Various Types Of Kayak Racks And Their Designs

    When it comes to designing a kayak rack for an rv, it’s essential to choose the right type of rack, depending on your needs and preferences. There are various designs available, such as j-hook, foam blocks, saddle-style, and vertical. Let’s take a closer look at each of them:

    • J-hook racks: These racks secure the kayak with two arms that hook onto the kayak’s sides. They are best suited for lighter kayaks and are easy to install. However, they can be challenging to position correctly, and the kayak may shift during transportation.
    • Foam block racks: These racks are inexpensive and lightweight, making them an excellent choice for casual kayakers. Foam blocks are placed on the rv roof or hitch and hold the kayak in place. However, foam blocks can deteriorate over time, and they may not be the best choice for long hauls.
    • Saddle-style racks: These racks hold the kayak by cradling the hull of the kayak. They’re ideal for heavy kayaks and long hauls, as they can keep the kayak in a stable position. However, they can be difficult to maneuver the kayak into the saddle-style holders.
    • Vertical racks: These racks hold the kayak by its nose, with the bottom facing outward. This style is excellent for saving space and won’t affect the rv’s gas mileage as much as other designs. However, it requires more care when loading and unloading the kayak, and it may not be suitable for longer kayaks.

    The Pros And Cons Of Each Design Type

    Each type of kayak rack has its advantages and disadvantages that you’ll want to know before making a final decision. Here, we’ll look at what each type provides so that you can determine what best suits your needs.

    J-Hook Racks

    • Pros: Easy to install, great for lighter kayaks, affordable.
    • Cons: Can be challenging to position correctly, kayak may shift during transportation.

    Foam Block Racks

    • Pros: Inexpensive, lightweight, easy to install.
    • Cons: Foam blocks can wear out over time, not suitable for long hauls.

    Saddle-Style Racks

    • Pros: Great for heavy kayaks and long hauls, very stable.
    • Cons: Difficult to maneuver the kayak into the saddle-style holders.

    Vertical Racks

    • Pros: Space-saving, won’t affect gas mileage as much as other designs.
    • Cons: More care needed when loading and unloading kayaks, not suitable for longer kayaks.

    Key Features To Consider While Designing A Kayak Rack For An Rv

    When designing your kayak rack for an rv, you’ll want to keep in mind some essential features that will improve user experience and safety. Here are the key factors to consider:

    • Load capacity: Ensure that the rack can support the weight of your kayak(s) and that the rv’s weight limit is not exceeded.
    • Method of attachment: Consider the method of attachment (roof or hitch) and ensure that it is compatible with your rv.
    • Durability: Look for racks made from quality materials that can withstand challenging weather conditions and frequent use.
    • Ease of use: Choose a design that is easy to install and does not require any complicated maneuvers to load or unload the kayak(s).
    • Safety features: Select racks that offer additional safety features, such as locks or tie-downs to keep the kayak(s) secure while on the road.

    By keeping these key features in mind, you can design a kayak rack that provides a secure and safe way to transport your kayaks on your rv adventures.


    Step 3: Gathering The Necessary Materials

    A List Of Essential Materials That Will Be Needed To Build A Kayak Rack

    When you are building a kayak rack for an rv, it is important to gather the necessary materials before you begin. Here is a list of essential materials you will need for this project:

    • Pvc pipes
    • Pvc pipe connectors
    • U-bolts
    • Tie-down straps
    • Jigsaw or handsaw
    • Measuring tape
    • Marker
    • Drill
    • Screws

    Tips For Selecting The Appropriate Materials For Better Durability

    Choosing the right materials is critical if you want your kayak rack to be durable and long-lasting. Here are some tips for selecting the appropriate materials:

    • Pvc pipes are lightweight, durable, and resistant to corrosion, making them an excellent material choice for this project.
    • Use pvc pipe connectors to join the pipes together. This will help ensure that the rack is sturdy and stable.
    • U-bolts are necessary for securing the rack to the rv’s ladder or bumper. You should choose u-bolts that are made of stainless steel for maximum durability.
    • Tie-down straps will help you secure the kayaks to the rack. Make sure you choose straps that are strong and durable.
    • When selecting a jigsaw or handsaw, choose one with a sharp blade that can easily cut through pvc pipes.

    The Benefits Of Using Specific Materials To Build A Kayak Rack

    Using specific materials to build a kayak rack has several benefits. Here are some advantages of using certain materials:

    • Pvc pipes are lightweight and easy to handle, making them the ideal choice for a diy project.
    • Pvc pipe connectors are designed specifically for joining pipes together, which makes it easy to assemble the rack.
    • U-bolts made of stainless steel are resistant to rust and corrosion and can withstand extreme weather conditions.
    • Tie-down straps with durable materials ensure that the kayak remains stable during transportation.
    • A jigsaw or handsaw with a sharp blade can help create clean cuts on the pvc pipes, which makes assembly easier.

    Selecting the right materials is essential when building a kayak rack for an rv. Choosing the right materials will ensure that the rack is sturdy, durable and lasts for years to come. With these tips in mind, you can build a kayak rack that meets your needs and helps you safely transport your kayaks on your next rv adventure.

    Step 4: Cutting And Preparing The Rack Components

    Strategies For Measuring And Cutting The Materials For The Rack

    Before cutting any material, select the right tools such as a handsaw, drill, and measuring tape. It is crucial to measure and cut the materials accurately as it affects the stability of the rack. Here are some strategies for measuring and cutting the components for the kayak rack:

    • Measure the distance between the crossbars of the rv’s roof to determine the right length for the kayak rack’s crossbars
    • Cut the crossbars according to the measurement using a handsaw or circular saw
    • Measure the length and width of the supports and cut them accordingly to ensure they fit the crossbars’ size
    • Use a drill to make holes in the supports for installing bolts
    • Always double-check the measurements before cutting any materials to avoid cutting wrong sizes

    Preparing And Shaping The Various Components Of The Kayak Rack, Such As Crossbars And Supports

    Now that the cutting process is done, it’s time to prepare and shape the kayak rack components. Here are some tips for preparing and shaping the kayak rack components:

    • Use sandpaper to smoothen the edges of the crossbars and supports after cutting
    • Create a beveled edge on the crossbars to ensure that the kayaks remain stable while on transit
    • Cut the supports at a 45-degree angle to match the beveled edge of the crossbars
    • If you prefer, you can paint the components to match your rv’s color scheme or leave them as they are to maintain the rustic feel
    • Make sure that the components are well-shaped and even to ensure that the rack is stable and secure

    Remember, every component of the kayak rack is essential for the rack’s stability, so it’s crucial to take your time and ensure each component’s precision and uniformity.

    As you proceed to assemble the components, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Dakota racks provide high-quality kayak racks, specifically designed for rvs. Don’t hesitate to consult the manufacturer’s suggestions if you purchased a kayak rack from them, always stay safe and have a fulfilling kayaking experience.

    Step 5: Assembling The Rack

    Now that we have all the materials ready, let’s assemble the kayak rack. Follow these easy steps to set up your own rack:

    Step-By-Step Instructions On How To Assemble The Kayak Rack:

    • Start by attaching the crossbars to the rv using u-bolts and nuts. Make sure to securely tighten them with a wrench.
    • Next, attach the vertical supports to the crossbars, using the same u-bolts and nuts. Ensure that they are straight and evenly spaced.
    • Once the vertical supports are attached, add the horizontal supports. These will be used to hold the kayaks in position. Attach them to the vertical supports using bolts and washers. Again, make sure that they are straight and evenly spaced.
    • Finally, attach the j-hooks to the horizontal supports. These hooks are used to hold the kayaks in place. Attach them using bolts and washers, and ensure that they are evenly spaced.

    The Perfect Order Of Assembly, Including How To Attach Crossbars And Supports:

    To assemble the kayak rack, follow this order:

    • Attach the crossbars to the rv using u-bolts and nuts.
    • Attach the vertical supports to the crossbars, using the same u-bolts and nuts.
    • Add the horizontal supports to the vertical supports, using bolts and washers.
    • Attach the j-hooks to the horizontal supports using bolts and washers.

    When attaching the crossbars and supports, make sure they are straight and evenly spaced. And when adding the j-hooks, ensure that they are evenly spaced as well.

    Keyword Insertion: ‘Easy Steps’

    In just a few easy steps, you can assemble your own kayak rack for your rv. Simply attach the crossbars and supports, add the horizontal supports, and attach the j-hooks. Make sure everything is straight and evenly spaced and your kayak rack will be ready in no time!

    Step 6: Installation Of The Rack On The Rv

    How To Install The Completed Kayak Rack On The Rv Safely

    Now that you’ve built your kayak rack, it’s time to install it on your rv. Here are some guidelines for installing the rack safely:

    • Check the weight limit of your rv’s roof before installing the kayak rack. Make sure that the weight of the kayak and the kayak rack does not exceed the weight limit of your rv roof.
    • Use a ladder to climb onto the roof of your rv. Make sure the ladder is secure on the ground and against the rv before climbing.
    • Position the kayak rack where you want it on the roof of the rv. Make sure that it is centered and level.
    • Use bolts and screws to secure the kayak rack to the rv roof. Make sure that they are tight and secure.
    • Test the kayak rack by shaking it and applying pressure to make sure it is secure and won’t come loose during travel.
    • Once the kayak rack is installed, use tie-down straps to secure your kayaks to the rack. Make sure the straps are tight and secure.

    The Best Installation Locations For The Kayak Rack

    Choosing the right location to install your kayak rack is crucial. Here are some factors to consider:

    • Check the weight limit of your rv’s roof before installing the kayak rack. Make sure that the weight of the kayak and the kayak rack does not exceed the weight limit of your rv roof.
    • Choose a location on the roof that is strong enough to support the weight of the kayak rack and kayaks while also being centered and level.
    • Avoid installing the kayak rack near any air conditioner units or vents that may need to be serviced.
    • Consider the height of your rv when choosing the installation location to ensure you can easily load and unload your kayaks.
    • If possible, choose a location near the back of your rv to minimize wind resistance while driving.

    Following these guidelines will ensure that your kayak rack is installed safely, securely, and in the optimal location on your rv. With your kayak rack properly installed, you’ll be ready to hit the road and explore all the best kayaking spots.

    Step 7: Testing The Rack’S Strength

    Building your own kayak rack for an rv is a rewarding experience, but it’s important to take the time to ensure that the final product can safely support your kayak’s weight. In this step, we’ll discuss the significance of testing the rack’s strength and provide some tips for properly testing its weight limits.

    The Importance Of Testing The Strength Of The Kayak Rack Before Use

    Before you hit the road with your kayak in tow, it’s crucial to put your rack through some rigorous testing. Here are the reasons why:

    • Safety: Ensuring that your kayak rack can hold the weight of your boat without any issues is essential to prevent any damage or accidents while you’re on the road.
    • Peace of mind: Conducting your own strength tests provides reassurance that your kayak is secure in transit. This peace of mind can allow you to enjoy your journeys without any stress or anxiety.
    • Longevity: The majority of the time, a well-made kayak rack will be with you through several years of travel. Testing your kayak rack’s strength before use can help guarantee that your rack will last and stay reliable.

    Tips For Testing The Weight Limits Of The Kayak Rack

    Here are some tips and techniques for testing the weight limit of your kayak rack:

    • Use weights: Weights are ideal for testing your rack’s strength. You can attach them to the rack to simulate the weight of a kayak and make sure the rack won’t buckle or collapse under the weight.
    • Start small: Begin with a small amount of weight and gradually increase it until you reach the maximum carrying capacity of the kayak rack. This will allow you to identify the rack’s breaking point and any potential weaknesses in the structure.
    • Inspect frequently: Regularly observe your rack before, during, and after testing. Look for any signs of wear and tear or bulges that might indicate the rack’s structure is weakening.
    • Don’t neglect the mounting: Pay particular attention to the mounting components of your kayak rack, ensuring they’re firmly attached and able to withstand the weight of the kayak.
    • Repeat the process: You’ll need to repeat the testing process after making any modifications or alterations to your kayak rack. As a result, you can confirm the new and improved rack’s strength and reliability.

    It’s critical to test the strength of your kayak rack before embarking on any road trips with your kayak. By following these guidelines, you can verify that your rack can safely handle the weight of your kayak during transport, giving you peace of mind while on the road.

    Step 8: Maintaining The Kayak Rack

    Guidelines For Maintaining The Kayak Rack After Installation

    Once your kayak rack is properly installed, it is important to keep it maintained to ensure its longevity and safety. Follow these guidelines for maintaining the kayak rack after installation:

    • Periodically inspect the rack for any signs of damage or wear and tear. If you notice any issues, address them immediately.
    • Tighten the bolts and screws regularly to ensure they stay secure.
    • Lubricate any moving parts to prevent rust and corrosion.
    • Clean the rack regularly to remove any dirt, grime, or salt buildup that can cause damage over time.
    • During the off-season, store the kayak rack indoors or use a cover to protect it from the elements.
    • Avoid overloading the rack beyond its weight capacity, as this can cause damage or even lead to a dangerous situation while on the road.
    • If you are using bungee cords or other types of tie-downs, make sure they are in good condition and replace them if necessary.
    • Be careful when loading and unloading your kayak to avoid hitting the rack with the kayak or any other objects.
    • Take the time to read the owner’s manual for specific maintenance instructions and tips.
    • If you are unsure about anything related to the maintenance of the kayak rack, consult with a professional who can help.

    Simple And Useful Ways To Keep The Rack Clean And Durable

    By following these simple tips, you can keep your kayak rack clean and durable for years to come:

    • Use a soft sponge or cloth to wipe down the rack regularly, especially if you are near saltwater or in a dusty environment.
    • Use a mild soap and water to clean the rack if needed.
    • Avoid using abrasive cleaners or brushes, as these can scratch and damage the rack.
    • Dry the rack thoroughly after cleaning, to prevent rust and corrosion.
    • Use a wax or protective coating to help protect the rack from uv rays and other environmental factors.
    • Store the rack out of direct sunlight when not in use, to prevent fading and other damage.
    • Consider investing in a cover for the kayak rack, which can provide an extra layer of protection from the elements.
    • Follow the weight capacity guidelines for the rack, to prevent damage or dangerous situations.
    • Be mindful of how you load and unload your kayak, to avoid hitting the rack with the kayak or any other objects.
    • If you notice any signs of damage or wear and tear, address them immediately to prevent further damage.

    Frequently Asked Questions For How To Build A Kayak Rack For An Rv

    What Materials Do I Need To Build A Kayak Rack For My Rv?

    You will need pvc pipes, connectors, bolts, screws, drill, saw, measuring tape, and foam padding to build a kayak rack for an rv.

    How Do I Secure The Kayak To The Rack While Driving?

    Use ratchet straps or bungee cords to secure the kayak to the rack. Make sure the kayak is centered and evenly distributed on the rack before strapping.

    Can I Modify This Kayak Rack Design To Fit Other Types Of Rvs?

    Yes, you can modify the design to fit other types of rvs. Make sure to measure the height and width of your rv and adjust the pvc pipe length accordingly.

    Is This Kayak Rack Design Suitable For Long Trips?

    Yes, this kayak rack design is suitable for long trips. However, it’s important to check the straps periodically during the trip to ensure they are secure and tight.

    Can I Build This Kayak Rack Without Prior Diy Experience?

    Yes, you can build this kayak rack without prior diy experience. The design is relatively simple, and the materials and tools required are easy to find and use.

    What Is The Weight Limit Of The Kayak Rack?

    The weight limit of the kayak rack depends on the thickness of the pvc pipes used. Thicker pipes can support heavier kayaks, while thinner pipes are suitable for lighter kayaks. Be sure to check the weight capacity of the pvc pipes before purchasing.


    To sum it up, building a kayak rack for your rv is an easy and affordable way to transport your kayaks safely without having to worry about damaging your rv or the kayaks. With a few simple tools and materials, you can customize a kayak rack that suits your needs and fits onto your rv perfectly.

    The key is to plan ahead, take accurate measurements, and make sure that everything is secured properly. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can be confident that your kayaking adventures will be hassle-free and enjoyable.

    So why not give it a try? You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to build a kayak rack for your rv and how much more you can enjoy the outdoors when you have your kayaks with you!


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