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How to Build a Kayak Rack for an RV in 2022 – Easy DIY Guide

Knowing how to build a kayak rack for an RV could be one worthy of exploring. Kayak racks are essential parts of organizing kayaks.

Whether built to store the kayak in a garage or storehouse or just made to be used in conveying the kayaks from their stores to places where they will be used as a waterside, they are just too important to be ignored as kayaking is concerned.

Everybody who wishes to build a kayak rack can do it. It is possible. You don’t necessarily need a background in science to craft one. And that is why we are here to show you just how to build a kayak for your recreational need.


Difference between aftermarket kayak racks and DIY kayak racks

However, we try to make perfect kayak racks; the aftermarket kayak racks still differ from the DIY. This is not to say those crafted or designed in a DIY style are of less quality. Some top-notch DIY kayak racks have just the same quality, if not more than the aftermarket racks.

Kayak racks are a necessary feature that can be fixed on a wall or just arranged on the floor in the garage. They can also be attached to a vehicle to attach the kayak and move them from a store to where they will be used for recreational purposes.

Kayak racks can either be manufactured from a factory where they are sent to the market for sale or designed and constructed by individuals who have the knowledge and tools for a DIY project. The differences between an aftermarket kayak rack and a DIY kayak rack are;

  1. While DIY is planned and designed by any individual with the tools and knowledge, the aftermarket kayak racks are manufactured from factories where more organized production occurs.
  2. After markets are intended to be sold for revenue, but DIY is mainly done out of fun, but sometimes individuals may choose to sell their craft.
  3. The aftermarket kayak racks are more precise, while DIY mostly comes through trial and error.
  4. Aftermarket kayak racks have a more fixed price in their products which may cause the prices to be more stable and often less expensive. But, DIY may have varying costs, and individuals may spend more or less producing it which could be more expensive.
  5. The Aftermarket kayak rack has a more presentable finish than the DIY rack.
  6. DIY kayak racks may not be subjected to necessary quality control tests, unlike their aftermarket counterparts.
  7. Composite materials are primarily used in the DIY kayak racks, while improved materials are used for the aftermarket types.

Types of kayak racks for an RV

There are essentially four types of kayak racks for an RV. The racks are so categorized depending on the purpose intended.

The purpose of one who wishes to convey multiple kayaks is different from another whose aim is to transport a single kayak. Also, the need for one whose car’s roof has side rails is quite different from another without it.

Based on these needs, kayak racks are designed to satisfy those purposes. And the four types of kayak racks are;

01. Saddle

this type of rack is ideal for carrying one kayak at a time. But multiple saddles can be combined to carry two kayaks. They are designed to let kayaks fit in with their hubs facing downwards.

The saddles don’t mostly come with a strap or hooks to hold firm kayaks to a position. But their design allows them to hold a kayak within its curves securely.

They can be fitted on vehicles with railings at their rooftops and are best to convey kayaks for short distances on smooth roads.

02. Stackers

just as the name goes, it can stack multiple kayaks at a time. For those who wish to convey kayaks as many as three and above, stackers are best suited for that.

They come with straps to hold firm one kayak to the mount attached to the rails. Stackers can either be mounted on a vehicle’s railing on the rooftop or on the back of the car.

Many kayaks can be conveyed safely without fear of falling off the straps. They are best suited to carry kayaks for long distances, and rough roads cannot be much of a problem.

Stackers also come with pads to absorb shocks from bump impacts. 

03. Temporary pads

these racks are designed to fit kayaks on vehicles without rooftops. They are made so that they can be easily and quickly detached when not in use and attached when the need arises.

04. J-cradles

are engineered like a clamp, only that the hooks are different from those of proper clamps. They are positioned at angles to fit kayaks on the J-cradles as they sit in the slightly curved J-shape.

After they are well fitted in it, straps or hooks hold them firm from shaking off and falling while being transported. This type of rack can also convey multiple kayaks for long distances.

Materials needed for the DIY process

Like any other process, you need the necessary tools and materials to help you achieve your purpose to make your kayak racks. The materials/tools you need to build your kayak rack are;

  • Jackknife
  • Block plane
  • Clamp
  • Measuring tool
  • Sandpaper or a sanding block
  • Band Saw or a Table Saw
  • Thin Kerf Hand Saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Marker
  • Adhesives

A DIY guide for how to build a Kayak rack for an RV

To build a kayak is not exactly a straightforward thing as some would think at first, and it would take days and some technical know-how. But the good part is; that we would help remove every obstacle that may slow the process and make it even more simplified.

Before starting to build your first kayak rack, it would be ideal to have a clear thought on the materials to be used in the build-up.

Plastic or wooden materials can be used, but you can go for metal if you have more money because they are more durable. After deciding on what material you would like the racks made and let’s say you’ve chosen a wood material

Getting set

  • Plan out the form of rack you want to build. Be it for wall mount, freestanding, or on a vehicle.
  • Determine the budget to get the material you need, and here, you would need a hardwood, and the size is just according to the dimension of the kayak you wish to mount on it. For a rack that can fit all sizes of kayaks, you need to make it bigger and about 20-30feet in diameter.

Step 1

  • Use a measuring tape to mark out the length of wood
  • Fix to the clamp and hold it tightly
  • Cut off the excess using the saw.

Step 2

  • Trace the pattern on the wood you would like to carve out. It should be an arc shape where the sides of a kayak can rest while supporting it.
  • Gently and patiently curve out the pattern by slowly chipping away pieces of wood using a jigsaw or chisel and a hammer. Or use the tools in combination. 

Step 3

  • After getting the required shape, it is time to smoothen using sandpaper or sand block
  • File it until you obtain a fine finish and your palms can go over it without pieces of wood piercing it.
  • Do the same for one more, or if you wish to have multiple racks of them, you can do just the same for other pairs
  • Bore the tips of the wood to bolts and nuts for attachments to a vehicle’s railings

Step 4

You are done making a rack for an RV using woods.

How to build a kayak rack using PVC piping

Materials and tools

  • PVC primer and cement
  • Gloves
  • Drill bits and drills
  • Hack saw
  • flat work surface
  • 45degree elbows
  • T-joints
  • Bolts and nuts
  • Straps

Step 1

  • Measure and cut the required lengths of PVC pipe you will need
  • Cut out 3feet x2
  • Cut out 2feet x2
  • Cut out another 2feet

Step 2

  • Fix the cut pipes one into another using the 45degrees elbows
  • Fit to form two L-shapes (one facing left and the other right)
  • And the 3 feet should form the L directions to the left and right
  • Joint the middle top of both (s) using the 45degree elbows and the third 2feet
  • Fix one elbow each on the lower end of each L to curve upward. As in to form a “U.”

Step 3 

  • Build a similar pair to be fit on the top and lower end of a vehicle’s railings
  • For a firmer rack, connect the tops of both racks using an extended pipe but instead of a 45degree elbow, use a triple junction tube to hold the racks together.
  • Use the drill and bit to boreholes at the lower “L.”
  • Use bolts and nuts to hold them firmly to the rails.
  • Your rack is set to carry your kayak as you move. But, be sure to use straps to tie the kayaks firmly to the racks, especially when you intend to move on a windy path or bumpy road.

DIY vertical Kayak rack for RV

The rack we built above would allow us to hang our kayak horizontally. Now, let’s see how to build a rack that would allow us to hang kayaks vertically.

Step 1 

  • Cut out an arc wood following the same procedure as above
  • Carve out a pair or two pairs.

Step 2

  • Drill the arc at both ends for bolts and nuts

Step 3 

  • Fix the rails at the back of the vehicle with the arc facing outward. And fix firmly using the bolts and nuts
  • Use elastic straps to hold the kayaks in the arcs as they are positioned vertically.
  • You are done and ready to transport your kayak down the road.

DIY Hitch mount Kayak rack for RV

A hitch mount kayak rack can be more challenging to build than the other we have seen earlier. The following steps will guide you on building a hitch-mount rack; we will be using PVC with a diameter bigger than 1.5m2 for this project.

Step 1

  • cut all required sizes of the PVC

Step 2

  • Use the 45degrees elbow at the corners of each 3feet cut to form an “L.”
  • Form the rack like we did for the PVC rack above and use glue and cement to hold all joints

Step 3

  • Attach the rack to the tow tail at the car’s trunk using a factory hook purchased from hardware or online stores.
  • Your rack is set and ready to carry your kayak as you covey them from the store to a recreation ground and back again to its store.

DIY for a Kayak Rack for a Travel Trailer

The following step should be followed to build a kayak rack for a travel trailer. But, first, you have to determine if you wish the rack to be positioned on the top or at the back of the trailer. Either way, it is possible to carry a kayak on its racks; for a rack at the rear of the trailer, it needs to be a vertical one;

Step 1

  • Cut out woods and carve them and ensure they have a diameter to fit the top and lower ends of the kayak’s hub

Step 2

  • Drill a hole in the cut-out and finely finished woods

Step 3

  • Tighten the finished wood to the railings at the rear of the trailer

Step 4 

But, if the rear of the trailer has no roof and just the trailer head, you will need a pole. The pole would be attached behind the trailer and cradles constructed on it. Temporary mounts are best suited for this kind of vehicle.

  • And fix railings to the head of the trailer, at the top.
  • Use your bolts and nuts to fix the finished woodwork to the railings.
  • Your rack is now ready to carry your kayaks in a horizontal orientation.

DIY Roof Rack for Kayak in RV

All types of racks can go on the roof of a vehicle. With a roof, J-cradles, saddles, and stackers types of racks can all go on it. We have seen the cradles and saddle types of mount.

Now, the steps on how to build a roof rack for a kayak in an RV are as follows;

Step 1

  • cut out woods and make them just like we did previously
  • or you can choose to use the PVC and construct the pattern above

Step 2

  • drill them for bolts spaces

Step 3

  • Attach them to the railing at the roof and tighten the nuts firmly
  • Do the same to all sides, and your roof rack is just ready again to mount kayaks.

Considerations for how to build a kayak rack for an RV

There are several things to consider when embarking on a DIY project for a kayak rack, and they are;

01. Size of the kayak

even though all kayaks may have the same construction pattern, they still vary in their sizes. So, the size of your kayak should be put into consideration when building a rack for it.

02. Space for the construction

before building a kayak rack, you must first map out the workspace. The garage can be an ideal place for construction work.

03. Tools

are essential. You cannot have a good job, and building a rack might become too challenging or impossible without the right tools. So, it would help if you sourced the right tools for the type and form of kayak rack you may choose to build.

04. Budget

this is yet an important consideration. Different kayak racks have various costs, and having the proper budget for a specific project type would help maximize the result.

Minimum cost to build a Kayak Rack for an RV

Kayak racks can cost from $100 to $500 to build and sometimes even more, depending on the type of rack we intend to build and the quality of material to be used. In estimate, the minimum cost to build a kayak rack for an RV is $100.

FAQs about how to build a kayak rack for an RV

01. Can one fabricate a kayak rack out of metal rather than wood or plastic?

It is possible to fabricate kayak racks out of metal, and in a DIY, you need to have to right tools to do it.

02. How long will it take to finish a kayak rack construction?

There is no specificity to time to finish a DIY construction of a Kayak rack for an RV. And time, as they say, is relative. It depends on your dedication, tools, and determination to achieve what you want in a time you set out for yourself. It is possible to achieve it in a day with the right tools.

03. What is the required diameter of the pipe used in constructing the rack in the steps above?

The diameter of the pipes used in constructing the rack above is 1.5m2. But, you can go a notch high if you want more strength for your racks.

04. Can you recommend a video to guide me on building a rack for my kayak?

Please, check the link attached at the end of his article for a link.

05. Is it possible to strap the kayaks to the racks and railings even after holding them with their hooks?

If you are in doubt about the firmness of the hooks, then strap them to ensure that they are well secure and cannot be thrown off by the wind when moving.


Building kayak racks can be fun, and everyone can do it. All you need is the knowledge on how to go about doing it.

An unexplainable feeling often comes with doing things with our own hands and seeing them deliver the purpose for which they are made. With the guides given in this article, you can go on ahead to build your rack and have some fun.

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