Proven Kayak Hauling Systems

Help your customers figure out the best kayak hauling system based on their needs, plans and what’s available from manufacturers.

Proven Kayak Hauling Systems

Racks are available for a wide variety of vehicles and situations, such as truck campers. (Photos in this article courtesy of Yakima.)

The 40-something couple who left your shop with an Old Town Topwater 120 kayak and a Starboard Starshot Tikhine Go SUP will have a great time on the water with their new tools.

Once, that is, they get to the water.

The often overlooked lynchpin to an enjoyable on-the-water paddlesport outing is getting your gear from the garage to the lake and back home again.

Yakima, the Oregon-based company that sprang to prominence during 1984 Olympics as the official rack supplier for the 7-Eleven Cycling Team (and their nine medals), understands that retailers who want to keep customers coming back must help them make this chore — and it is a chore — as painless as possible.

Selling Mundane Gear

When the mundane matters of how best to haul boats and gear is attended to, everyone — manufacturers, retailers and customers — benefit, says Garrett Barnum, director of category management for Yakima.

Retailers, he says, should start by keeping their customers informed as to product availability, what these products can do and how much easier they can make their paddling life. Rack and transport accessories should be part of the paddle sports business growth curve.

“We have definitely seen growth in paddle sports, including the combination of fishing with paddle sports like kayak and stand-up paddle boarding,” said Barnum. “Fishing and paddle sports are increasing in popularity, and we feel like so many people aren’t even aware that there are products like ours that help them transport their gear and enable them to get out on the water more often.”

In-store expertise is also critical.

“Local retailers are so important to our business because of the expertise they bring to the complicated experience of buying racks for your car,” Barnum added. “When retailers have trained and knowledgeable employees the consumers can trust that they will get the right products.”

Retailers who do not offer rack installation should consider including this service, Barnum advises. There are dual reasons.

“It’s a big value for customers to know that they can safely transport their big, bulky watercraft on top of their vehicle in a safe way,” he noted. “Retailers can also get additional revenue when they are trained to offer installation services for their customers.”

Yakima isn’t the only company that offers equipment designed and engineered for hauling kayaks, canoes, SUPs, fishing rods, paddles and related gear. But they have been attentive to market trends, including the growth of specialty paddle sport areas and responded with recent rollouts including the TopWater (fishing rod box), ReelDeal (fishing rod mount), BigCatch (kayak fishing boat paddles), TopGrip (paddle holder) and EasyRider (trailer).

Much of the company’s most recent product development was fueled by the soaring popularity in kayak fishing and feedback from fishermen.

“We heard very clearly from kayak anglers that they needed racks to help them carry their heavier fishing kayaks, which can weigh up to 150 pounds,” said Barnum. “That led to the development of the BigCatch kayak saddles and the EasyRider trailer.”

The company soon learned what retailers have been hearing from fishermen since they first walked through the door: the paddle sport fishing market loops in more than boats and paddles.

“As we got deeper into the needs of fishermen, we realized that there were no good products to easily and securely transport fishing rods.” Barnum said. “The new Yakima fishing collection has given us the chance to apply our expertise in gear protection, organization, and security to helping people safely transport all types of fishing rods on their vehicle and trailers.”

Yakima’s Double Haul rooftop fly rod carrier can handle rods and reels when anglers don’t  need a kayak or canoe for the trip.
Yakima’s Double Haul rooftop fly rod carrier can handle rods and reels when anglers don’t need a kayak or canoe for the trip.

Kayak Hauling

Not every paddler is a fisherman, but every paddler has the same transport needs. Enter the EasyRider trailer.

Introduced in 2019, the EasyRider can be seen as something of a bellwether product for answering paddle demographics as much solving gear hauling needs. Pickup trucks, which come with gear haul space, were once the vehicle of choice among the paddling crowd. But an ever-growing number of paddlers are now urban professionals wheeling smaller, urban-friendly SUVs. Sport utilities are popular across rural America, too. This trend is likely to continue. The designers at Yakima clearly had these vehicles (and urban customers) in mind with the EasyRider, which weighs 175 pounds, will haul 500 pounds, features a foldable tongue, can be rolled like a handcart to be readily stored in apartment garage and carries a MSRP of $2,999. It will also double as a general use utility trailer, which is another retail selling point.

Barnum says the EasyRider is Yakima’s “most relevant” new product for paddle sport users.

The Yakima EasyRider is a two-level support trailer capable of handling 500 pounds.
The Yakima EasyRider is a two-level support trailer capable of handling 500 pounds.

“This lightweight, two-level trailer was primarily designed for transporting paddle sport equipment to the water,” he said. “It’s designed with efficiency in mind, making it easy to carry multiple kayaks, paddleboards, or canoes on the upper and lower levels. The two levels can also be used in a multi-sport adventure, carrying your watercraft on the lower level, and using the upper level for bikes, a roof top tent, or cargo boxes full of other fun outdoor gear. It’s light enough to be pulled by almost any vehicle, including small SUVs, and can be moved around by hand to store it in tight spaces.”

These specialty tools for securing and hauling boats and gear are, strictly speaking, accessories. Any paddle craft that a customer can slide in the water can be securely bound to the roof of a Ford, Toyota or Subaru with blocks of foam and nylon rope. Mechanized tools do make the job easier, simpler and safer.

Barnum encourages retailers to at least make customers aware that these tools are available.

“Racks can be a complicated and overwhelming process for many people, and we try to simplify the decision-making process by supporting world class marketing and training materials that take the guesswork out of it,” concluded Barnum. “We have now been building racks for 40 years, making it easier to get out and enjoy the outdoors.”

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