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How To Build A Kayak Rack For An RV

Bikes and kayaks mounted to rear of RV - how to build a kayak rack for an RV
Learn how to build a kayak rack for an RV. Photo: RV Kayak Racks

Build A DIY RV Kayak Rack

Kayaking and camping go together like campfires and marshmallows. Coming back to your campsite for a fire after a day of kayaking is the perfect way to end the day.

One issue many people have is packing everything they want to bring in the RV. Kayaks don’t fold up or come apart for easy storage, so having an RV kayak rack is key.

There are many options to choose from if buying new; however, why not build your own?

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With some basic DIY skills and time, you can build a custom rack for your kayak. Let’s take a more in-depth look at how to build a kayak rack for an RV.

PVC Piping

Your chosen materials should be strong enough to support your kayak, easy to work with, and of course, affordable.

PVC piping is a great material for projects like this. It is strong, easy to cut, available in many sizes, and can be shaped easily with the array of fittings available. Another great thing about PVC is it is cheap.

PVC is easy to work with and can be completely dry-fitted before final assembly and gluing. If there is an incorrect cut, it can be pieced back together with joints easily. It is generally white in color, and although it can be painted, PVC will scratch easily if not finished properly.

Kind of like Legos for adults, PVC can be shaped into pretty much any design you like. Attaching it to your RV will depend on what is available for mounting. PVC racks can be mounted on the roof fairly easily, but they may be tricky to mount vertically on the rear of your RV.

There are tons of DIY PVC projects online for inspiration. Here is one for a double kayak roof rack that is DIY-friendly.

PVC piping kayak rack with two kayaks on roof of vehicle - how to build a kayak rack for an RV


Wood is the builder’s material of choice. Wood, like PVC, can be shaped into pretty much anything. Constructing a kayak rack from wood arguably takes more know-how than PVC and will probably require more tools and fastening hardware.

Along with the great smell from cutting and sanding, wood is strong and durable when finished correctly. If you’re choosing wood, it is important to use a species that is going to hold up outdoors and be easy to work with. You don’t want to be building your kayak rack from a rock-hard Brazilian Ebony as a first-time DIY project.

The issue with using wood is mounting it to your RV. If there is an existing roof rack, it will be easier, but fixing it directly to the roof or back of your RV will be tricky. It’s not impossible but probably not the best choice in this case.

Wooden kayak rack mounted to roof of vehicle - how to build a kayak rack for an RV

Modified cargo racks

Since RVs are tall, having anything on the roof is not as easy to access. It also adds to an already high clearance for driving.

For these reasons, mounting your kayak to the rear of your RV might make the most sense. Mounting kayaks vertically to the rear of your RV requires a strong rack. Metals are the most logical material to use for this system.

Since welding and metal fabrication are not practical for the average person, utilizing fold-down or hitch-mounted cargo trays is a smart option.

Here’s how to build a kayak rack for an RV using metal without welding

These trays are generally used for bikes, additional coolers, generators, etc. They can, however, be modified to hold your kayak.

The bottoms of these racks are usually meshed metal grating. By cutting square holes in the mesh, it provides a secure fit for one end of the kayak. This cutout will need to be protected with foam or something non-damaging to prevent the kayak from contacting the metal edges.

There are different options for securing the upper portion of your kayak. By combining a hitch-mounted truck bed extender, you have a solid kayak rack with easy access! The key to this setup is the double hitch receiver. It allows for two accessories to be mounted to the vehicle hitch at the same time.

The truck bed extender (generally used to provide a roof height bar at the rear of the truck bed for transporting long items) will provide solid support and securing for the upper portion of the kayak. The metal bar should also be covered with foam to protect your kayak. Foam pool noodles work great for this!

Use your ladder for support

A second option is to locate the cutouts in the cargo rack in line with your RV roof ladder. The ladder is a secure spot to strap kayaks too. The downfall here is when the kayaks are in place, you won’t be able to access your roof. A single ratchet strap should be all that is needed to secure the kayak so removal is very quick and easy.

Custom fitted kayak racks can be pricey so DIY racks are very common. There are lots of creative ideas online on how to build a kayak rack for an RV, and many can be very easily duplicated.

Now you know how to build a kayak rack for an RV. Nobody should have to choose between an RVing trip or a kayaking trip when you can easily have both!

RVers looking for valuable how-to information have learned to go to the experts. Forums such as and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.

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