Can You Put Kayaks on Top of a Pop Up Camper?


A major part of camping is enjoying the great outdoors. Popup campers are an inexpensive way to get into RV’ing. But while I know the walls are mesh, I wasn’t sure about the top. For instance, can you put kayaks on top of a pop up camper?

I did some research, and here’s what I found out:

Kayaks can go on top of a pop up camper since the roof of a popup camper can support at least 300 pounds, and most kayaks weigh anywhere from 25-120 lbs each. You can also add a roof rack to your pop up camper.

You can also use pool noodles to carry kayaks on top of your camper too if you don’t want to add a roof rack and don’t want the kayaks to damage the roof of the pop-up camper.

However, you cannot carry anything inside of your pop-up camper as there is no extra space when it’s folded up. But that’s not all there is to know about kayaking and camping with a pop-up camper.

So in this article, we’ll look at how many kayaks you can carry, the different weight capacities of different pop-up campers, and whether or not they typically have tie downs, or other places to secure rope or bungee cords.

Just keep reading to learn more!

How much does a kayak weigh?

Kayaks can weigh anywhere from 20 pounds to over 100 pounds. The average recreational weight for a single kayak is 35 pounds. If you want to use it for fishing, it’s going to weigh closer to 120 lbs, and tandem kayaks can weigh as much as 225 lbs.

So they come in a variety of weights for different activities.

The weight of your kayak depends on what you want to use it for, what it’s constructed from, and how many people you want to ride in it.

If you are a single rider, you need to be able to carry and launch your kayak.

On average, a single rider kayak weighs about 35 pounds. But they can weigh anywhere from 26 pounds to 45 pounds. For tandem riders, kayaks are obviously going to be heavy. But since you’ll, hopefully, have help carrying it, that’s okay! Tandem kayaks weigh an average of 65 pounds.

But they can weigh anywhere from 50 pounds up to 75 pounds.

Fishing kayaks also come in single or tandem models and are much more feature-rich than regular kayaks. They are also a lot heavier than regular recreational kayaks.

Tandem models can get up to 225 pounds. Made from plastic pellets and molding them in the shape of a kayak, Rotomolded kayaks are the heaviest kayaks. They are also the cheapest.

Thermoform kayaks are molded as two separate pieces and then sandwiched together. They are medium-weight and very durable.

Fiberglass and wood kayaks are the most expensive to build.

Fiberglass is the lightest and is very smooth and fast in the water. Wood kayaks can get heavy but are beautiful. They are the preferred material of the kayaking purist. They are also expensive and easily damaged.

There are also inflatable kayaks.

They are more likely to get damaged and are not always the lightest option. They weigh anywhere from 18 pounds to 52 pounds, so you are really just saving space more than weight.

How much weight can you put on top of a pop up camper?

Pop up campers can hold about 300 pounds on the roof. And some models can hold even more weight than that. Consult your owner’s manual to be certain.

Pop up campers are small but mighty.

For a mid-range pop up camper, a good rule of thumb is 300 pounds when it’s closed and about 120 pounds when it’s popped up. So it’s generally a good idea to remove strapped-on items once you arrive at your campsite.

Items are also harder to remove if you wait until they are popped up.

Putting things like beach cruisers, kids’ bikes, and mountain bikes on top should not stress the limit of the roof.

If you have a nicer camper, you may be able to put up to 500 pounds on top of it. But if you are adding in a kayak, you probably need to be a little more careful. If you’re putting bicycles up there, you may also want to consider covering bike handles and seats.

Because – bug guts.

You should check your owner’s manual for more accurate numbers. If the axle weight isn’t enough, you can upgrade your axles.

But even if your axle can handle more weight, the camper itself may not be able to hold more.

Do pop up campers have roof rails or places to attach tie downs?

Pop up campers do not usually have roof rails or places to attach tie-downs. But you can add an aftermarket roof rack.

CLICK HERE to see a well-rated pop-up camper roof rack on Amazon.

In doing my research for this article, I couldn’t find any pop up campers that came standard with roof rails or tie downs. Although they may come as options when purchasing.

You can purchase a roof rack separately, but to transport kayaks, it’s more cost-efficient to make one out of pool noodles.

To do this, you can place the pool noodles right on top of the camper.

Lay your kayaks on the noodles and strap everything down to the frame. Put rags between any areas that you don’t want to get damaged, like between the straps and points where they may rub on the camper.

CLICK HERE to get an excellent set of rachet tie-downs on Amazon that you can attach right to the camper frame.

Can you put a roof rack on a pop up camper?

You can put a roof rack on top of your camper, but you need to be sure not to overload it. Make sure to check the capacity of your axle if you want to put more than 300 pounds on your camper.

CLICK HERE to see a well-rated pop-up camper roof rack on Amazon.

You can even purchase separate bike racks and kayak cradles for mounting your gear.

However, installing a roof rack will take a certain amount of skill. The whole configuration will be permanent, so you want to make sure this is something you want to keep.

It may even require drilling holes and attaching screws through the roof of the camper.

So if you are not handy with measurements and power tools, you should consider hiring a professional. Or at least asking a professional to assist.

Roof racks come in different types – with fixed crossbars or adjustable crossbars. Adjustable bars mean that it will fit various roof widths. So if you want to move it from your camper to your car or SUV, you can.

There are limitations for the carrying capacity of roof racks, and you need to be mindful of the maximum load your camper can handle.

Can you store kayaks inside a pop up camper while driving?

You cannot put kayaks or anything inside a pop up camper while it’s folded up. Everything gets compressed when it’s closed leaving very little room for anything else.

Pop up campers are meant to travel as compact boxes.

This means that the camper folds into itself, and all of its amenities are stored inside while it’s folded up. So beds, countertops, even the walls are all stored inside of the camper. This leaves zero room for extra stuff.

Speaking of beds, those RV beds can be somewhat uncomfortable for sleeping. Of course, if you have a higher-end camper, the more comfortable your camper bed will be.

If you find that your bed is uncomfortable, adding a foam mattress topper can improve the comfort.

I get into mattress comfort options in this recent article. I even share the 1 trick I used to make my bed several times more comfortable with 1 simple trick that was really inexpensive.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Did I cover everything you wanted to know about putting kayaks on top of a pop up camper?

Pop up campers are small, lightweight towable campers that can carry a good amount of weight on top.

You won’t carry a large boat, but you will be able to carry a couple of kayaks and maybe even a bike or two.

You can put a roof rack on top of your pop up camper, but you need to be careful not to overload it. Be sure to spread out the weight evenly, too.

So get out there and enjoy your kayaking or camping trip!


Photo which requires attribution:

Pop Up camper 3 by JBLM MWR is licensed under CC2.0

Cassandra & Jeff Campbell

Cassandra and Jeff Campbell travel on and off with their 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. They write extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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