Make your own DIY Tandem Kayak rack for only $30

Make A DIY Tandem Kayak Rack

After purchasing kayaks for several hundred dollars a piece, you probably don’t want to spend another couple hundred on a tandem kayak rack to hold both. If you have an existing roof rack, you have an advantage of being able to hold at least one kayak, but most vehicles won’t hold two kayaks without some sort of aftermarket kayak rack. You could purchase a tandem Yakima or Thule kayak rack for a very hefty price tag, or you could build your own DIY Tandem Kayak roof rack, and it’ll only cost you about $30.

What you’ll need is:

  • 3/4″ EMT or Metal Conduit
  • 4 1/4″ J Hooks (which can be purchased at Lowe’s on the fence hardware aisle)
  • 1/4″ drill bit
  • Punch
  • 4 PVC Caps

If you want to paint the rack black to match your ride, you’ll also need:

  • Self-etching primer (so the other paint will stick well)
  • Black Spray Paint (any brand will do, but Krylon Fusion seems to stick well to anything, including the PVC caps)

First, you’ll need to measure the bottom of your kayaks to see how much length you need to hold them both flat (to reduce wind resistance) and then cut the EMT to fit. Next you’ll need to lay your EMT on the roof rack and mark it with a permanent marker for where you should drill your holes.

Next, you’ll need to punch the mark with a punch so the drill bit will have something to catch on. You can try to do it without the punch,but you won’t be successful. So, just buy a punch for a few bucks.

Then drill your holes and put your j-bolts through and hook onto the existing roof rack for a preliminary fit. You will have too long of a bolt and have to cut it down, so mark your bolts about an 1/8″ past the nuts you used to secure them while you have it on the vehicle. Instead of taking the bolts off and cutting them in a vise, just use a hack saw and cut them off on top of the car. (Don’t scratch the car with the saw). If you don’t have the nuts on the bolts when you do this, it will be very hard to start the nuts onto the bolt. When you remove the nuts it will recreate any thread you may have damaged or at least make it easier in the long run when putting the rack on and off the car.

Now, take it all apart and primer everything you’ve got. You may also want to wipe it all down with mineral spirits before primering to remove any oils from your hands. Then, apply several coats of black spray paint to all of it. For additional protection you may also apply several coats of clear gloss spray paint. Do not apply matte clear coat onto glossy paint, or it will grey the paint and look weird, believe me I’ve done that before and had to repaint an entire toolbox.

If you’re feeling really handy, you can also add I-hooks for tie downs and foam pipe insulation to reduce vibrations. Now you’ve got an easily removable DIY Tandem Kayak Rack for your existing luggage rack without spending a fortune. Get on the lake and have some fun.

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