How to Build a Kayak Rack for an RV

Nothing really says adventures like kayaking and camping. Kayaks can be a great way to make your camping trip memorable and exciting. But as a newbie to RVing, you might be curious about how to build a kayak rack for an RV.

It is possible to build a kayak rack for your RV, but you will have to make sure that your RV can take on the additional weight. Also, considering your kayak will be on the RV’s exterior, it must be properly secured, so there isn’t any risk of damage while the RV is on the move.

Before we get into the exact details of how to build a kayak rack for an RV, let’s first discuss how to carry a kayak on an RV.

How to Build a Kayak Rack for an RV

Placing Your Kayak on the RV

For the most part, kayaks aren’t very heavy. They can weigh anything from 20 lbs to 100 lbs on average. A fishing kayak is one of the heaviest types, topping out at over 120 lbs.

There are various techniques to place your kayak on the RV, and the method you use will depend on the weight of your kayak. The most popular way to do this is to strap the kayak onto the ladder located behind the RV, using a roof rack, or getting a kayak trailer to go behind your RV camper.

The most effective way to easily carry your kayak on your RV camper is to use a rack. There are racks specially created to hold a kayak in position on the RV. But to use an RV kayak rack, your RV needs to have a hitch. If your RV does not come with a hitch, you will have to install one.

You could also choose to place your kayak on the roof of your RV by going with a roof-mounted rack. One of the advantages of getting your rack mounted onto the RV roof is that it provides you with additional space to store other essentials, such as dry bags, life jackets, paddles, and a camping hammock, like this one from Wise Owl Outfitters.

Your RV roof rack must be carefully fastened. This ensures that it remains in position even when traveling at high speeds.

Another way you could carry your kayak is on the back of your RV. This can be done by simply strapping it to the ladder rack that is typically located at the back of the RV. Doing this is perhaps one of the simplest options when it comes to carrying a kayak on an RV.

To do this, you can use cords or straps to hook the kayak onto the ladder rack. This option doesn’t require you to create knots on the ropes. This makes it easier for you to take the kayak off the ladder rack when necessary.

Here’s one thing you should always remember when carrying your kayak on an RV: make sure your ratchet strap is taut. The ratchet strap will prevent the kayak from suddenly slipping off the ladder and falling off when you are on the move.

The straps can also be used as a barrier between the RV and the kayak. This will prevent possible scratches to your RV.

However, using this method means that you can only have only one kayak on your RV and cannot travel with multiple kayaks. Additionally, the RV will need a ladder at the back, or else this method won’t work out well.

This kayak carrying method is recommended only if you have a Class C or Class B motorhome RV. The technique can also be adapted for towable RVs.

How to Build a Kayak Rack for an RV
Source: Pexels

How to Build a Kayak Rack for an RV: Detailed DIY Steps

Now, let’s talk about the steps to build a DIY kayak rack for an RV, starting with all the things you will need:

  • 2 pieces of 4 x 4 lumber at 48.5 inches long
  • 4 pieces of 4 x 4 lumber at 16 inches long
  • 8 pieces of 2 x 6 lumber at 40 inches long
  • 4 pieces of 4 x 4 lumber at 27 inches long
  • 2 pieces of 4 x 4 lumber at 72 inches long
  • 2 pieces of 4 x 4 lumber at 38 inches long
  • 4 pieces of 2 x 6 lumber at 43.5 inches long
  • 6 pieces of 4 x 4 lumber at 8 inches long
  • 6 pieces of 2 x 6 lumber at 8 inches long
  • 100 pieces of 2.5 screws
  • 12 pieces of 7-inch carriage bolts

With everything you need in place, here’s what to do:

  1. Start by building the kayak rack frames. Cut the components from the 4 x 4 lumber. Drill pocket holes at one end of the horizontal support. The edges should be aligned to ensure the corners are square. Once the edges are aligned, insert the 2.5-inch screws to stabilize the supports.
  2. Next, use the 2 x 6 lumber as the base. Attach them to the frames by drilling pilot holes, after which you should insert the 7-inch carriage bolts.
  3. Now, attach the supports to the vertical posts. The best way to do this is to clamp them into place and then drill pilot holes. Insert the 7-inch carriage bolts into the newly drilled holes to lock them in tightly.
  4. Next in line is creating the braces. For this, use the 4 x 4 lumber. Create angle cuts using a miter saw. When they are all set, fit the braces into the frame of the kayak rack. Drill holes and place 2.5-inch screws into place to secure them.
  5. Use the 4 x 4 lumber for horizontal supports. To do this, you need to drill holes in both ends of the supports and secure them to the entire frame using 2.5-inch screws. Now make 45-degree cuts to the ends of the diagonal braces. Drilled holes and fit them with 2.5-inch screws to ensure they are tightly locked into place.


The process of building an RV kayak rack is actually quite simple, so long as you consider various factors, such as the size of the kayak(s) you intend to carry, the size of your RV and RV roof, and where you intend to place the kayak in your RV. Once you have those all checked, simply follow the steps in this guide, and you should be able to have some kayaking fun while camping.

If you simply don’t have the room or the means to use any of our methods above, consider traveling with an inflatable kayak instead. These can be stored flat until they are ready to use.

An inflatable kayak is also good if you need to travel with multiple kayaks and you are short on space. You can also consider a kayak trailer or another kayak carrier if traveling with multiple kayaks as well.

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