How to Build a Kayak Rack for an RV?

Outdoor activities are always full of fun and adventure. People who love off-roading and Overlanding tend to keep their RVs upgraded and well-equipped, to enjoy their trips to the fullest.

Kayaking is one such fun activity and once out in the beautiful landscapes, Kayakers and water sports enthusiasts tend to make the most of the opportunities, especially a river or a stream nearby.

It is all claps and laughs until you realize, you got to carry those Kayaks with you as well. The question arises, how would you load and transport your kayaks with all that extra RV gear? How would you secure them? and do all RVs come equipped with an RV storage or a rack?

Although you could tow your kayaks on a trailer, that limits your options with extra weight and terrain-related issues. Another great option is to build a kayak rack for your RV. It might seem like a stretch but it’s no rocket science and with proper tools and measurements, you can easily upgrade your RV or motorhome to carry your Kayaks. In this comprehensive guide, we will help you plan and build a kayak rack for your RV, like a professional.

Building a Kayak Rack for an RV

Before you pick up those tools and start banging nails with a hammer, you need to sort out a few important things. This includes the type and location of the RV rack, the number of RVs you’d be carrying, and choosing the right material. So let’s get straight to it.

Check Your RV’s Compatibility
Before starting this project, you must check if your RV is compatible with modifications and can carry the extra load. You’d be adding the weight of the kayaks, as well as the rack and securing material to your recreational vehicle.

You can either explore your RV’s owner’s manual or get in touch with the manufacturer for clarity on this matter. For your understanding, a kayak can weigh anywhere between 100-130 lbs, and a rack, 20-30 lbs.
Decide How Many Kayaks Would You Carry
It would be a disaster if you build a single kayak rack and on a fine day, your friend decides to accompany you on your trip. The rack would be a fixed accessory and once built, cannot be easily modified.

Anyhow, it is imperative to build a two-kayak rack for your RV, and even if you’ve one kayak to bring, you can leave the extra space for another day. It’s better to have it and not use it than need it and not have it.
Choose the Location for the Rack
You can either install the kayak rack on your RV’s roof or the rear side. The location is very important as the material of choice and ease of loading/unloading depends on it.
The better location is the rear end of your RV, as it is easier to reinforce that area and build a kayak rack there. You could also use the ladder to secure the kayaks once loaded and it’s easier to unload from the rear as well.

In contrast, a roof rack is difficult to build and makes it cumbersome to load/unload the kayaks. Additionally, it takes up almost all of the space on the roof, so positioning your solar panels on top could become a problem.
Pick the Most Durable Material
PVC – is the most commonly used material and has tons of applications in construction. It is durable, lightweight, and can easily be modified to adapt to any surface and designed in any shape you want. If damaged, it can be easily replaced, and being a cheap material doesn’t even break your bank.

Metal – Another sensible choice for building a kayak rack for RV. It is rigid, strong, and lightweight, and you can easily weld it or secure a panel to your RV with screws and bolts. It is long-lasting and one of the most durable materials that you could choose.

Wood – Another great option but it is expensive and cannot be easily repaired or molded in different shapes. It is rigid and durable but at the same time, a bit heavy as well.

The best option is to use a combination of metal and PVC. This combo offers strength, the flexibility of construction, easy repairs, and economical prices.
Take the Measurements
Using a measurement tape, take all the measurements precisely. You don’t want your rack to come out short to fit the kayak, or too long that it’s poking from the sides, creating a hazard.

The areas to measure are the rear bumper’s width, the height of the kayaks when lodged, and the dimensions of the supporting platform.
Build the Kayak Rack
This is the main part, and you must be vigilant during this time.

1. Reinforce your RV’s rear bumper by adding a bumper sleeve and hooks on its sides. This will help strengthen the platform and carry the weight of the kayaks.

2. Build the platform using PVC pipes, steel angle iron, and a wooden frame. The best idea is to use bolts and screws, and join the frames together according to the measurements. Make sure the length is accurate, and the width is not more than 2’. You either plan to install the kayaks together on one side or place them side by side.

Whatever you plan, make sure you add two receptacles to securely load the kayaks by letting their one end slide fit into the receptacle.

3. Add padding on the edges and on the surface of the racks to avoid scratching and other damages.
Securing the Kayaks (Use the Ladder)
You cannot just leave the kayaks after loading them at the rear of your RV. Make sure you have a securing mechanism in place to avoid them falling off and hurting others on the road.

The best way is to design a platform that lets you load the kayaks together, in front of the ladder, and you can use elastic wires and hooks to secure the kayaks to your RV’s ladder on the back. This excludes the requirement of any extra gear and saves up extra space on the side for other items, like a bicycle.


With the flexibility of PVC, the strength of metal, and durability of the wood, a hybrid of all three materials would be the best for an RV kayak rack. All three materials could be used to build different parts of the rack and construct something rigid, durable, and lightweight.

In contrast to the roof-mounted rack, the rear-mounted kayak rack is much better. It is easier to design and install, it can be easily repaired and modified if needed, it is easier to load/unload kayaks on the rear than the roof of an RV, and it doesn’t take up any space that you could use for your portable solar panels or rooftop tents.


RVing doesn’t need to be boring or bland. When going all-out for fun activities, you ought to be able to make the most of it and use your machines wisely. Kayaking is fun, and so should its transport. We have explained in detail what you need to do to build a kayak rack for your RV, and how to utilize the space and available equipment.

Think wisely, and make a smart-looking, utilitarian kayak rack for an RV using our detailed guide.

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Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by travel. I inherited this passion from my parents. Since my college years and to this day, I have had a passion for traveling in a motorhome. I am here to share my experiences with you.

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