How To Make a Kayak Trailer For UNDER $600 (Comprehensive Guide) | Kayaks Hub

Building a kayak trailer for your kayak may be a satisfying and cost-effective project if you are an angler or a paddler who wishes to transport the kayak to different water bodies. It is more efficient than by transporting a kayak on two cars or adjusting hardly within a car.

However, this guide will walk you through the process in a step by step manner to ensure that you have all the details that you need to make a kayak trailer that is both strong and functional as well as elegant.


Here is the detailed video on how to make a kayak trailer:

How To Make a Kayak Trailer



Installing the tongue

Firstly, one should assess the state of the current trailer tongue (if you a renovating old one) before proceeding with the installation of the hitch. If it has been welded many times, like most of the trailers that are on the road today, you will see that it looks like it has been elongated and reshaped in several areas. This can be detrimental to the overall quality of the trailer.

This is done in an effort to cut of the old tongue which has been proven to be a major source of the problem.

With a bandsaw or a similar cutting instrument, remove the old tongue from the flooring. Ensure that you have cut it well back to the firm area of the trailer frame. This will give a good platform for fixing the new tongue onto it.

Select a new tongue that is compatible with the trailer in question. For instance, a Curt extension of 4 feet can be useful. This extension is generally two and a half inches and can easily be inserted into a two inch square tube. This makes it possible to have a reinforced connection between the two.

Installing the Trailer Tongue

Choose the appropriate trailer jack, for instance, 1000 pound capacity swing up trailer jack from Harbor Freight. These jacks are useful when you are trying to move your trailer around when it is not tied to the car.

The trailer jack must be placed at the front end of the trailer tongue. Ensure that it swings up and locks when not in use to avoid any accidents that may occur. This feature is very important for storage as well as towing.

If you want something easier to handle, consider switching to a QuickPin no-latch trailer coupler. It is a type of coupler that employs a pin and this makes it easier to couple and uncouple your trailer to and from the hitch ball without having to pull latches.

The hitch should be mounted at the end of the trailer tongue. Make sure that it is properly attached and placed at the right position where the tow ball is found on your car. A hitch ball of two inches is generally ideal for most kayak trailers.

Wiring and Electrical Components

A round to flat trailer plug 7-way to 4-way flat adaptor with 18 inches flexible cable is useful. This adapter is useful in accommodating different towing vehicles.

Make sure the wiring is placed within the trailer frame to avoid exposure to the weather and any other harm. To avoid having the wires loose, use clips or zip ties to fix them in place so that they do not hang loosely.

Connect the plug on the end of the wiring harness. Make sure it is plugged in properly and check the lights to be sure everything is functioning as it should.

Securing the Trailer

Make sure that safety chains are properly connected to the trailer tongue. These chains are essential as a secondary safety mechanism between your trailer and towing vehicle in case the hitch is compromised.

A Trailer Coupler Lock is a device that is installed on the coupler of the trailer in order to increase its security.

The right-angle trailer coupler lock is even more secure than the previous one and should be installed. This lock will help to ensure that your trailer cannot be detached when it is parked somewhere.

One might also want to consider installing a trailer tongue lift handle such as the Attwood 11130-7. This handle also facilitates in lifting and maneuvering the trailer when it is not attached to the hitch.

Adding the Trailer Coupler

Choose the coupler that is compatible with the hitch ball size you intend to use. The majority of kayak trailers employ a 2 inch hitch ball which offers a solid coupling. In case you find the coupler of your trailer old or not compatible with your hitch, then you need to get a new coupler.

If the coupler is worn out, you should uninstall it and then place the new coupler in the correct position on the tongue of the trailer. Bolt it down and make sure that the structure is firmly anchored.

A QuickPin coupler can make hitching and unhitching your trailer easier than using a standard coupler. This type of coupler does not have a latch, but you just have to insert a pin through the two so that the two parts can connect. This mechanism helps to ensure that the coupler fits well onto the hitch ball and can be unlatched whenever required.

Developing the Kayak Support System

Your kayak support system should be one that will effectively support the kayak and prevent it from moving around when you are transporting the kayak. This often entails erecting cross members or supports that are shaped to mimic the form of your kayak. The frame should be made using materials such as galvanized steel or aluminum to ensure that it is strong enough to withstand the pressure exerted.

Bolt the support bars to the trailer frame in the correct positions so that they are parallel to each other. If you are not familiar with welding, you may have to consult someone or else go for a bolt-on solution. Ensure that the welds are done properly and without any rough surfaces that may harm your kayak.

Quick Tip

If you can’t weld the kayak trailer yourself, you can hire a welder as well.

Place foam or some type of padding on the support bars to minimize the potential for scratching or damaging your kayak. You can also use foam or rubber padding, which you can attach using glue or zip ties. This cushioning will also assist in stabilizing the kayak during transportation and also in preventing any damages on the kayak.

When using a trailer, ensure that you fit retractable ratchet straps to hold the kayak in place. Secure the straps to the trailer frame of the trailer on the side that will support the kayak securely. Ensure that the straps can pass over the kayak and fasten well on the side of the trailer opposite to where it is currently.

Mounting THE FENDERS and wheels

Fenders and wheels are important parts of any vehicle and mounting them requires following the standard procedures.

After you have constructed the frame and done all the wiring that is required, the final step is to fit the fenders and wheels. This part of the build make a kayak trailer both usable and prepared for road usage.

Position the fenders over wheels to ensure that they are properly aligned. They should cover the wheels fully to avoid cases whereby the kayak and other vehicles are damaged by a falling debris. Identify the locations where the fenders are going to be fixed on the trailer frame.

Take an awl and pierce through the marked points on the fenders and also on the frame. Ensure that the holes are in the right position such that the bolts fit properly when tightened.

Fix the fenders on the frame using the right bolts and nuts to ensure that they are firmly in place. Make sure that they are firmly fixed so they do not move around while the vehicle is in motion. However, if you require further stability, you may want to include washers.

To match the trailer’s appearance, paint the fenders. This step also gives an added advantage of preventing rust and wear on the surface of the part.

Installing the Wheels

Choose between having 8 inch wheels or 12 inch wheels depending on your own personal preference as well as the design of the trailer. See to it that the wheels are brand new or in very good condition to prevent further problems in traveling.

Mount the wheels on the axle making sure that they are properly engaged. Tighten the lug nuts to lock the wheels in position. After that, ensure that you tighten all the nuts in a star like pattern to ensure that pressure is evenly distributed.

After the wheels have been mounted, ensure that they are properly aligned. They should be straight to allow for easy movement and without any hindrance. Ensure that you adjust to any alignment before fixing it in place permanently.

Adding Safety and Convenience Features

The addition of safety and convenience aspects to your kayak trailer is important to ensure that there is ease and safety in the transport of the kayak.

Using lights is one of the aspect of safety.

Determine the best places to install the trailer lights. These are usually positioned at the back and the side of the trailer. Ensure that the lights are easily seen by other road users in the night for safety reasons.

Plug the lights into the wiring system that has already been fitted in the building. Connect cables as shown in the wiring diagram to avoid making wrong connections. Tie the wires with clips or ties in order to avoid having them loose and hanging all over the place.

When connected, switch on the lights to check if they are functioning as required. Ensure the brake lights, turn signals and running lights are working properly.

Attaching the Ratchet Straps is the second aspect of safety.

Determine the positions of the eye bolts on the frame of the trailer. These bolts will be used to fasten the ratchet straps. Drill holes for the eye bolts. Tighten the eye bolts properly to withstand the strain and motion of the kayak on the car roof racks.

Fit the ratchet straps over the eye bolts and tie the kayak securely. Tighten the straps to secure the kayak properly but do not over tighten them so as to harm the kayak in the process.

Painting and Finishing Touches

The last process that is usually taken is to paint the trailer and make any adjustments that may be required to make a kayak trailer look good and to have it last long.

Wash the interior and exterior of the trailer to get rid of any dust, oil, or any other particles that may be on the trailer. If the dirt is still persistent, it is recommended to use a degreaser.

It is also important to allow the trailer to dry before painting to avoid the paint from reacting with the moisture.

Scrub the surface of the trailer gently to make sure that the paint will stick to the surface of the trailer. Sweep or vacuum off any debris left behind after sanding and then use a dry cloth to clean off the dust.

Choose a good paint that will suit the metallic surface and has an added feature of preventing rusting of the metal.

It is also recommended that an undercoat be applied before the final coat of paint for better adhesion and durability.

Spread the paint by brushing, rolling, or spraying depending on your preference or the surface type. Make sure to paint the frame, fenders, and any other metal part of the trailer so that they are protected.

In some cases, it is advisable to apply several layers of the material and in this case the subsequent layers should be applied after the previous layer has dried.

After the paint is fully dried, one should check the trailer for any areas that may require re-painting. Finally, you can put any decals or reflective tape you want for better visibility and appearance.

See Also | How to paint a kayak

Testing and adjustments

Following construction, it is essential to calibrate the trailer and fine-tune any issues that may hinder the efficient and safe operation of the trailer.

Before setting off with the kayak, go for a short trial run of the trailer to see how it handles. It is also important to listen and look out for any signs of any abnormality that may be present in the car.

Take the kayak and place it on the trailer then strap it down with the help of the ratchet straps. Have another trial run with the kayak to make sure that nothing shifts around or moves during the trip.

After conducting a couple of test runs, you may need to fine-tune the alignment of the kayak, the tightness of the bolts, and the overall security of the kayak. Check the trailer lights to confirm that all the lights are functioning properly and that the load is evenly distributed.

Conduct a final check on all the trailer to see that all parts are well attached and all functions are in order. Re-check the tire pressure, lights and the strap one final time before the trailer can be considered ready for normal use.

Wrapping up

Making a kayak trailer is super easy and also a budget option for you. Being a budget option, it will take your time and energy as well. But if you don’t want to make a kayak trailer yourself and buy a new kayak trailer, you can buy it on Amazon and eBay as well. Good luck!


  • David Graham

    Meet David Graham, an avid kayaker based in Florida, USA, who has been mastering the art of kayaking since 2013. As a former trainer with three years of experience, David has shaped the skills of numerous kayakers, sharing his passion for the sport. Living in a state known for its diverse waterways, his expertise and commitment to kayaking go beyond personal pursuits, making him a valuable contributor to the local kayaking community.

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