Step by Step Guide to Tie Down a Kayak in a Truck Bed

how to tie down a kayak in a truck bed

Kayaking can be one of the most enjoyable activities once you know how to get it to the shore effortlessly.

Unlike a pontoon or a sailboat, paddlers do not prefer to keep their kayaks in the dock’s storage station.

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Docks are pricey, and also most of them are not open 24×7.

Ordinarily, kayaks are transported to the shore by strapping them on the back of a truck. This post is intended to help you tie down a kayak in a truck bed.

How to Tie Down a Kayak in a Truck Bed

Step 1:

Before you load the kayak on a truck bed, you must clean it thoroughly. Do not leave any gadgets or equipment on board. If the bottom is equipped with a Kevlar coating, remove it temporarily.

Step 2:

Replace the kevlar coating with a rubber mat (minimum one-inch thickness). The rubber will absorb shocks from the road bumps and potholes. The rubber mat also protects the truck from salt water dripping from the kayak, after use.

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Step 3:

Further, ensure that you have all the equipment needed to strap the kayak onto the truck bed. You will need straps, buckles, and a waterproof cover.

Step 4:

You have arranged the truck bed, and the next step is to load the kayak. Bring the kayak close to the tailgate. Make sure that the kayak is equipped with a trolley. Next, you can lift the kayak by yourself or ask a friend/family member to help you out. Place the kayak in the truck bed along with the trolley.

Step 5:

You must also know that it is natural for a kayak to overhang. Since you are placing it horizontally, the stern portion will extend outwards. If you wish to secure the kayak by pulling the tailgate up, lift the stern and put it on the tailgate. This may appear awkward, but you can prevent other vehicles from hitting the kayak.

How to Tie Down a Kayak in a Truck Bed Step 6:

Next, you can prevent the kayak from sliding down the tailgate by strapping it well on the bow and the midsection. It is always beneficial to have anchor points installed on the truck bed.

Tie the kayak both horizontally and vertically (wrapping up the stern). That’s it! You have secured the kayak on a truck bed.

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Suggested Read:

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Note: Read our fishing kayak reviews if you ever plan to buy a new one. 

Things You Need to Keep in Mind When Tying Down a Kayak on a Truck Bed

1. Take the Truck Bed Height Into Account Before Loading the Kayak and Equipment

The bed height in most US-made trucks is around 20-inches. Apart from a thick rubber mat, you don’t need any other safety equipment on board.

Also, a 20-inch tall truck bed can accommodate other fishing equipment such as a fish holder, backpack, bait, a trash bucket, and a fish finder device. Make sure you do not overload a truck bed shorter than 20-inches.

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2. Look for Inbuilt Anchor Points

Truck manufacturers such as Toyota and Ford provide inbuilt anchor points at strategic locations on the truck bed. Namely, Toyota Tacoma and Ford F-Series models are equipped with this feature.

Some trucks also have anchor points on the railing, each capable of bearing about 200 pounds. For heavier tandem kayak, I would suggest relying on D-rings (shown in the image below) located on the four corners of the truck bed.

D Ring Cargo Tie Down
Source: Wikimedia

3. Be Cautious When Loading More Than One Kayak on the Truck Bed

It is not uncommon for kayakers to paddle with their partners or friends in a separate kayak. A Tacoma or Ford F-Series truck can easily accommodate two kayaks. Although, do not rest both kayaks on their hull.

Place one kayak on the hull and another on the cockpit’s side rim (also known as sideloading). It would also help if you tied down both kayaks with a single strap, so the structure remains stable during the ride.

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4. Make Sure You Don’t Lose Rearward Visibility

A large, vertically loaded kayak can block your rearward visibility from the driver’s seat. Before loading a kayak on the truck bed, sit in the driver’s seat, and have a good look at the rearview mirror. Find the right spot to place the kayak.

Furthermore, you also want to ensure that there is enough open space behind your truck’s backglass. The backglass is crucial when moving the truck in the reverse direction.

5. Use a Bed Extender for Short Bed Trucks

A Toyota Tacoma is also available with a short bed. With the tailgate pushed down, the length of a short bed Tacoma is approximately 6 feet.

It is not possible to horizontally load a single person kayak on such a short bed. This is where a T-bone bed extender comes into the picture.

It appears similar to the one shown in the image above. To load a kayak on a short bed, attach the bed extender to the tow hitch.

The bed extended remains secure with a screw and safety pin. Now pull the tailgate down and load the kayak horizontally.

How Tie Down a Kayak in a Truck Bed Summary

In a truck with a full-sized bed, you shouldn’t have any problems loading a 14-feet long (single person) kayak.

If you drive at high speed and are bothered by the vessel’s safety, add foam blocks at places where there is a possibility of friction.

Tie Down a Kayak in a Truck Bed – Final Words

When tying down the kayak, you want to make sure that the straps fit snug but are not too tight.

Give some room for the kayak to move smoothly on top of a foam block when the truck hit a road bump or a pothole.

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