Canoe Transportation Using a Pick-Up Truck

February 19th, 2015


Hello everyone! Summer’s long gone, but spring-like winter days — we’ve had so many this winter! — make me think of paddling! And seeing this today was just the inspiration I needed to get back to blogging!


What a great solution to that problem many of us have had of trying to transport a canoe using a pick-up truck! It is up to 4′ wide, which is MORE than wide enough for any canoe, especially considering that they taper at the ends. And it even comes with its own long-load flag! 🙂 Here’s the link for more info: Canadian Tire – Extend-a-Truck

I think we can all agree, this is not the best way (below)! 🙂


I mean, it works, but we can do better, eh? 🙂

Any do-it-yourselfers out there? Here are a few ideas that work just as well and you’ll have the pleasure of knowing you made it yourself.

Bridgman's canoe rack
Made from PVC

wooden canoe rack
Made from wood. It’s difficult to see how it attaches to the truck…

Metal canoe rack
Made from metal!

LilBlue's kayak rack
A great idea — more sreamlined — for kayaks (or a very short canoe)

Now, to be fair, you can transport a canoe directly on the roof of a truck, sans rack, if you strap it down right. Start by putting foam blocks (such as these) or a pool noodle (or a piece of a pool noodle) on the roof, to protect the paint. Lift the canoe up there — two relatively tall, strong people can hoist it from one side, or start at the back and “slide” the canoe up. Once it’s up there, adjust the position of the foam if necessary, and then start strapping. Run one near the front of the cab, and one near the back. This will work the best if you have a crew/super crew/extended cab. Then, add one or two straps from the nose of the canoe to an anchor point below the front bumper, and the other end to an anchor point below the back bumper (see photo below to see what an anchor point looks like) or inside the box (if your canoe is short)!
anchor point

On our Nissan Pathfinder, we strap the canoe directly to the roof racks, which are *perfect* for this. That’s why we bought the Pathfinder! A lot of SUV’s have the racks running from the windshield to the back window, which is the exact WRONG orientation for transporting a canoe. If you are buying a new vehicle, look for racks that run from the passenger to driver’s side — perpendicular to the direction of travel. 🙂

The best way to attach canoe to the roof

This is how we do it! We run the straps from one side to the other, over the canoe, and we usually use some very nice NRS straps that use a sort of buckle instead of a ratchet — this prevents the ratchet from bumping against the canoe during transport. One our canoe trailer, we use ratchet straps. 🙂