This quick and easy DIY kayak rack can be done in under two hours and for less than $35! Easy to make, it’s the perfect outdoor storage for your kayaks!
I’m currently spending the month up with my dad at his cabin in Western Wisconsin. For the most part, I work on my things and he works on his things and we come together for meals in between. It’s a nice way to spend time together without spending too much time together!
But then the other day at lunch, he mentioned wanting to build an outdoor kayak rack to get the kayaks out of the garage. And I thought, “huh, that would be a useful thing to show people.”
So I asked if I could film and photo the project, and post it here on the blog. He agreed, and so here we are! I offered to help build the kayak rack too, but he didn’t jump on that, and so I participated primarily as the photographer.
Since most of the projects I post here are things I built/made myself, I have to admit to feeling a little guilty that this one wasn’t all me. But, I did learn something: It is way, way easier to be the photographer than it is to be the one doing the project.
Planning and Ideas
The general plan was to connect two t-posts together with 2x4s, repeat for second pair, then drive each pair of t-posts into the ground. The kayaks would rest on the 2x4s. That looks something like this:
This design isn’t rocket science, and you can use on any size kayak you’d like. But there’s one rule to make sure it works correctly:
The distance between the two connected t-posts must be larger than the width of the kayak.
That way, no matter what, you’ll be able to slide the kayak into place.
My dad had some other vision of angling the lower kayak into place. Guess what? It didn’t work. We had to go back and change a few things, which was fine, but it’s always better if the project works the first time.
Make sure the space between the t-posts is larger than the width of your kayak, and the design will always work.
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- (4) 6′ T-Posts – We had these already, but I’ve linked to some just in case you’re not sure what they are or where to find them. I’ll also note that if you have more than two kayaks, you could purchase longer t-posts to make sure they all fit.
- (8) U-Bolts – These attach the 2x4s to the t-posts. The ones sized at 5/16″ x 1 3/4″ x 4 1/4″ were the perfect size for my t-posts, but you might want to measure to confirm they work for you.
- Scrap 2x4s
- (Optional) Padlock and Chain – Our kayak rack is out by the street, so we decided to lock the kayaks to the rack so they don’t wander off. If you’re placing your kayak rack in a safer location, this might be less of an issue.
(Totally Unnecessary) Step 1:
We started by marking and cutting off the tabs where each of the two by fours would rest.
This was done with an angle grinder, and sent perfectly normal but a little bit scary sparks everywhere. Check out the Youtube video if you’d like to see it done.
Turns out, though, it was entirely unnecessary. Later, we found out the u-bolt alone created a snug enough hold to keep the 2×4 in place.
While cutting off a tab provides some extra security by allowing the 2×4 to lie flat against the t-post and rest its weight on the tab below it, it’s not actually necessary for a functioning kayak rack.
If you’re good with an angle grinder, feel free to perform this step for extra security and peace of mind. Otherwise, move right along.
Step 2: Cut 2x4s to Size
As I mentioned above, make sure you’re 2x4s are cut such that they allow the entire width of the kayak to pass between the t-posts. We cut them to be 31 3/4″ inches long, which was too short. Don’t follow our lead here.
When you’re determining the length of the 2x4s, remember that you’ll need some extra space on either end for the u-bolts and t-posts. The 2x4s should be noticeably longer than the width of the kayaks.
Step 3: Attach 2x4s to T-Posts
Drill two holes into the ends of each 2×4 for your u-bolts to go through. Note that u-bolts are not like screws – the holes you drill should be slightly larger than the bolt so that the bolt comfortably slides through.
Place the t-post between the bolt and 2×4. Then slide the bolt into place and secure with the nuts and plate. At this point, we screwed this hand-tight only, and waited to tighten further until the rack was actually in the ground.
Repeat for all eight connections.
Step 4: Hammer T-Posts into Ground
Place one pair of t-posts in their final position, and push them far enough into the ground for them to temporarily hold steady. Then grab a sledgehammer and pound the two t-posts into the ground.
Repeat for the second t-post.
For aesthetics, you can check and make sure all the 2x4s are level, but for the most part it doesn’t actually affect the performance of the kayak rack.
Add your kayaks and you’re done!
How long does the DIY Kayak Rack take to build?
We spent less than two hours on it, and that was with some extra work because we didn’t leave enough space between the connected t-posts.
I have more than two kayaks to store. Can I still use this plan?
Yes. They sell longer t-posts that will allow you to store, at minimum, a third kayak. I’m not going to make any promises about storing 4 kayaks using this method, but it could work and would be worth looking into.
Is this easy to use? Or is it hard to get the kayaks on and off the rack?
Kayaks are still big and bulky, but both levels are low enough that it’s pretty easy for one person working alone to slide the kayaks into place.
One of the reasons we designed it this way was because our storage method last summer was difficult to use, and we wanted something that was easier.
I love being organized! Do you have any other storage or organization projects I can build?
So glad you asked! This DIY wood wall organizer is super cute and easy to make!
My laundry room pegboard wall is also a major win, especially if your laundry room routinely makes you sad.
We had almost everything on-hand (aka, found in my great aunt’s garage,) so we only spent $10 on this project for the u-bolts.
If you had none of the supplies and purchased everything from scratch, the cost would approximately break down as follows:
Thirty-five dollars for an 2 hour DIY kayak rack isn’t bad at all, especially since a quick Amazon search priced them at $150 and up. I’ll take it!
My aunt was really worried this was going to be an eyesore in the yard of our cabin, but I really don’t think it looks too bad.
The kayaks draw the eye more than the rack itself. Plus, it gets the kayaks out of the garage and into an easy-to-use home.
I’m a big fan, especially at a $35, less than 2-hour price point! If you like it too, be sure to save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again later!