Looking for one of the best ways to explore the great outdoors? You need to get on the water.
Getting a kayak or a canoe will allow you to explore places you would have never expected to on foot. Whether cruising your local waterways with a fresh perspective or planning a cross-country paddling adventure, canoes make for enjoyable and memorable journeys and provide numerous health benefits.
But if you are in the market for a canoe, you’re probably wondering how to transport them. After all, they aren’t exactly compact.
You’ll need to pick up a hitch canoe rack to make it simple and safe to transport your canoe to the lake or river. But unlike bike racks or ski racks, you’ll need to be very selective about the canoe rack you choose.
Keep reading to discover why a hitch canoe rack is the best option, and how to choose the perfect one for your car and canoe.
What Is a Hitch Canoe Rack?
Canoes are much longer than kayaks. More often than not, canoes can be longer than your entire vehicle. This makes safely transporting them an art and a science.
When transporting kayaks and canoes, you’ll need to use your car’s roof rack. However, because canoes usually extend further than the length of the roof, an additional rack is often needed to support the weight of a canoe.
Since the roof of your car often isn’t long enough to provide enough support for the canoe, the use of a hitch rack is highly recommended.
The canoe rack will mount on the hitch and provide a crossbar to support one end of the canoe. This allows you to evenly balance the weight and length of the canoe properly, so it isn’t overextended over the front of your vehicle.
Top-Rated Hitch Canoe Racks on Amazon
Most Important Factors When Choosing a Trailer Hitch Mount for Canoes
There are many different types and styles of hitch canoe racks. Here are the most important factors to consider when shopping around.
First and foremost, consider the hitch size. A 2-inch hitch is the most common. So if that’s what you need, then you’re in luck, as you’ll have the most options.
But if you have a smaller or larger hitch, you’ll still be available to find a canoe rack that fits, you’ll just have fewer options.
Different racks can support a different amount of weight. When shopping for both a canoe and a rack, make sure you know how much your ideal canoe weighs before buying a rack. If you already have a canoe, consult your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to determine the approximate weight.
Lighter-weight racks can have a max weight capacity as low as 165 lbs, while stronger racks can bear upwards of 400 lbs or more.
When choosing a weight rating, consider any other possible uses for your rack. You might save money by buying the rack rated at 165 lbs for your canoe, but if you plan to use the rack to support heavier loads, you should buy the stronger rack the first time.
It’s also important to know how much weight your vehicle is designed to carry. You’ll have to factor in the weight of the canoe as well as the weight of your rack to ensure you don’t overload your vehicle.
Canoe hitch racks come with crossbars that support the canoe. Some racks have a fixed crossbar length.
Shorter crossbars will be around 48 inches. Longer bars can be up to 68 inches.
You can also choose a rack with an adjustable-length crossbar. You can find racks that can adjust from 48 inches to 68 inches or smaller racks that adjust from 28 inches to 48 inches.
Those hoping to transport multiple canoes will want a wider crossbar. If you only ever plan on transporting a single canoe, a shorter bar may save you money.
The height of the rack that you need is determined by your vehicle, not by the canoe itself. Taller vehicles, such as pickup trucks or SUVs are going to need a rack that can equal the height of your vehicle’s roof. When driving short vehicles, such as sedans or crossovers, a shorter rack is all that is needed.
Most hitch racks are going to be adjustable so that they fit with a wide range of vehicles. However, it’s important to know the distance from your vehicle’s roof to the hitch mount. Some racks intended for taller vehicles may not have a minimum height low enough to accommodate sedans.
Distance from Hitch
Some hitch racks only allow for a few inches between the center of the hitch mount to the vertical bar. This means that these racks will extend upwards directly behind your truck or truck bed.
This works for those who are supporting the canoe with the roof of their vehicle.
However, some users prefer racks that extend multiple feet from the hitch. This would allow you to store long items in the bed of the truck, using the rack as additional support behind the truck bed.
Consider how you plan to transport your canoe and any other large items. If you mainly want to use the rack to provide additional support to cargo on the roof, then no additional distance is needed from the hitch.
But if you drive a truck and want the ability to let long objects extend out of your truck bed, choose a rack that allows for this functionality. Some are adjustable and include optional extension bars, allowing you to customize the distance from the hitch.
Ease of Storage
Unfortunately, you’re not going to be using your canoe all the time. This means you also won’t need the rack on your vehicle at all times. In fact, when not in use, the rack can get in the way.
If you plan on installing and removing the rack frequently, look for a rack that folds up flat, allowing for easy storage. Those that fold into small, flat packages can be easily stored behind the seat of your car or in the trunk, ready to use whenever you need it.
But if you only plan to use the rack occasionally, this may be less of a concern.
The Right Rack Will Make Adventuring More Enjoyable
For the outdoor enthusiast, nothing beats the adventure afforded by canoes. To be able to explore by water is true freedom.
Getting a canoe is absolutely worth it. Just make sure you get a hitch canoe rack that makes moving and using your canoe as easy and seamless as possible.
And if you don’t yet have a rack for your canoe, don’t let it stop you from getting on the water. Check out how to tie a canoe to the roof without a rack.