Gear,  Kayaking,  Tips & Tricks

Harbor Freight Kayak Trailer

We recently purchased Two ocean tandem Kayaks. We are having a blast getting out and exploring California’s waterways. The kayaks are big and fit our whole family. The Kayaks are about 15 feet long and weigh 74 pounds a piece. They fit on the roof of the Jeep but they take a while to load and unload. We recently did about 7 miles of ocean kayaking and when we got back we started to hoist the kayaks up on the roof. Christy and I both looked at each other and said we should get a kayak trailer! So we did, sort of…

The kayak trailers that are out there can be pretty expensive. We decided to purchase a trailer and build it ourselves. We started with a base trailer from Harbor Freight Tools. These trailers are lightweight, sturdy, and with a little modification, fit our needs perfectly. I already had a truck bed tool box so that helped on the cost. Take a look below to get all the details on how we built our trailer.

The Trailer

We started with a folding utility trailer for the base. This trailer is cheap and pretty easy to build. I recommend having two people to complete the build! Start to finish, we were able to complete the trailer in about five hours. The instructions are sub-par but the images are very clear. There are some great YouTube videos out there with some helpful tips and tricks. The trailer comes with everything you need to make a functioning 4×8 utility trailer. If you spend a few extra bucks you will have a great trailer that will last for many years.

Basic Harbor Freight Trailer

The trailer is designed to be folding, this is great if you are looking for something that can pack away when you are not using it. We decided to add some extra strength, and not have it fold. We are planning in using the trailer to store the kayaks and for our use, it wont need to fold.

The paint is an enamel coating and if it gets scratched will increase the potential to rust. From everything I have read the trailer will need a good coat of paint down the road. If you live in a climate where rust is more common you may want to paint it right after assembly. We are planning on welding the seams and adding some other mounts down the road so we will paint later. We are planning on coating the trailer in a bed liner material to block rust and make it black!

The trailer tracks well when you add some weight. Right now we have two 75 pound kayaks opposite a tool box with all of our gear weighing roughly the same. We have had no tracking issues and its weight makes it seem like its hardly there. This trailer can easily be towed behind most vehicles.

Mounts And Storage

Right now we have two 15’ kayaks that hold all of us. Eventually we will probably move to individual kayaks which will require some different mounting solutions. However, right now we have rooftop kayak mounts connected directly to the trailer frame. The only thing we had to do was purchase some slightly longer carriage bolts. And it worked perfectly. After a full day of kayaking, lifting kayaks onto the trailer is a hell of a lot easier than trying to get them on the roof!

We mounted an old truck bed tool box that we already had across from the kayaks. The keys had long ago been lost so we cut out the old handle/lock and riveted in a new one. After fabricating a new bracket, to make the lock work, we were in business! The box is the perfect size and holds our seats, dry boxes, life jackets, paddles, and more!

Additional Parts

We purchased a few additional parts to make the trailer experience better. We purchased a spare tire which run about $35 before the 20% harbor freight coupon. Instead of purchasing the spare tire mount we simply purchased some long carriage bolts and bolted the spare to the trailer frame with some locking wing nuts.

We also added a rotating jack with a wheel so the trailer can be easily maneuvered around the driveway/garage, without having to lift it while moving around.

We purchased a 15’ security cable that weaves through the trailer frame and secures the kayaks to the trailer. If someone really wanted to take the boats they old but it would require time, tools, and a bit of work.

We use ratcheting straps that were also purchased from harbor freight! There are always good deals on these and they function just as well as this from other hardware stores.

The Price

The trailer we purchased normally retails for $349 here in California. I was able to purchase it on sale for $269. Harbor freight will put these on deep discount a few times per year. If you need the trailer, and it is not on sale, you can always use the trusty 20% discount!

The tool box is something we already had so that did not cost us anything. I would recommend checking out local swap meets, yard sales, and Craigslist. There are bound to be some great deals out there.

The spare tire was $35, the jack was about $30, and the assorted hardware (including the lock, cable, straps, bolts, etc…) ran about $100.

So all in all for $400-$600 you can have yourself a well-equipped trailer that will hold your boats and your gear! If you have any questions please let us know! Comment below and let us know what you think.


  • Kaci Jenkins

    This is the easiest build out I’ve found for this purpose! Are the kayak j hooks connected just like they would be on your cars cross bars? Just longer screws? Great job!

    • Erik Meyer

      Hello! Thanks for the comment! You are correct we just installed the kayak mounts right to the trailer frame! Super easy! The trailer did not take too long to build with 2 people and the mounts are pretty affordable. It’s a great way to transport the kayaks!

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