Do I Need a Trailer for a Canoe?

If you’re considering taking your canoe on a road trip, you might be wondering if it’s necessary to invest in a trailer. The answer is: it depends. Let’s take a closer look at the factors that can help you make this decision.

Consider Your Vehicle

Before anything else, consider the vehicle you’ll be using to transport your canoe. If you have a truck with a bed that’s long enough to accommodate your canoe, you may not need a trailer at all. However, if you have an SUV or sedan with no roof rack or bed, then you’ll likely need some kind of trailer.

Roof Rack vs. Trailer

If your vehicle already has a roof rack installed, then transporting your canoe on top of the car is an option. However, keep in mind that it can be difficult to load and unload the canoe from the roof. Additionally, if you plan on bringing other gear with you on your trip, like bikes or kayaks, then a trailer might be more convenient.

Pros of Using a Trailer

  • A trailer can carry not only your canoe but also other gear.
  • You don’t need to worry about lifting heavy canoes onto the roof of your car.
  • If you have more than one canoe or kayak to transport, trailers are usually equipped to handle multiple boats.
  • A trailer will provide more stability during transport than transporting on top of your vehicle.

Cons of Using a Trailer

  • Trailers take up space and can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.
  • A new trailer can be expensive compared to just using roof racks.
  • If not properly secured and balanced, trailers can cause accidents while driving.

Consider Your Destination

Another factor to consider when deciding whether or not to use a trailer is your destination. If you’re going to be paddling in the same location for an extended period, then you may not need a trailer at all. However, if you’re planning on moving around from place to place, then a trailer can be extremely helpful.

Examples of When a Trailer Might Be Needed:

  • You’re planning on going on a multi-day canoeing trip where you’ll be camping at different locations each night.
  • You’re planning on visiting multiple bodies of water in one trip.
  • You’ll be driving through areas with rough terrain that could damage your canoe if it’s not properly secured.


Ultimately, the decision to use a trailer for your canoe comes down to your personal needs and preferences. If you have the right vehicle and don’t plan on traveling too far, or need additional equipment, then roof racks may suffice.

However, if you plan on traveling long distances or will need additional space for gear and multiple boats, investing in a trailer might be the way to go. Regardless of what you choose, ensuring that your canoe is properly secured during transport is crucial for safe travels.

Photo of author

Emma Gibson