-- Last Updated: Oct-10-12 1:11 AM EST --
I'm also a small female and have been sea kayaking the last 10 years, using a trailer for transportation. The only time I use a roof rack is when another person (husband) is going also AND there would be difficulties associated with trailering--a rare occasion. He, too, hates rooftopping.
The trailer's advantages:
1. You can load and unload ANY single kayak by yourself. The price difference between plastic and glass in the same model is enough to buy the trailer. The glass kayak might be 3 or 4 lbs lighter than equivalent plastic model...that's not going to make much difference if you're struggling to rooftop. But the same money spent for a trailer really does make a huge improvement in ease of loading and unloading. If you later buy a composite sea kayak, you can still use the same trailer. It doesn't limit your choices of material at all.
2. You can switch vehicles without having to buy new roofrack equipment. The same trailer can be towed by any vehicle that uses the same trailer ball size as the trailer's coupler. And trailer balls can be unbolted from an existing drawbar or bumper and swapped out for a different size quite cheaply.
3. Gas mileage is likely to be better trailering than rooftopping.
4. You don't risk dropping the boat on your vehicle, and there's less chance of injuring yourself or harming the boat.
5. Depending on the specific trailer, you can carry other gear on it.
6. You don't drip salt water on your vehicle, just on the trailer.
7. You won't smash your kayaks by driving under a low-clearance roof.
1. You need space to store the trailer.
2. Parking can be a problem in some locations.
3. Ferry fares will be high for the extra length of a trailer. (On the other hand, the extra height of rooftopped kayaks might also incur a surcharge.)
4. Toll roads that charge extra for more axles will slam you. (On the other hand, they also slam for the extra height of rooftopped items.)
5. You have to be aware of the extra length, turning space needed, jackknifing clearance, and avoid places where you might drive into a situation that requires backing out a long way.
6. In some states you will have to register the trailer for an additional fee. This fee varies a lot. Our annual fee was only $15 to $18 before the state I used to live in got greedy, last year. Then it jumped to more than $50 a year. Now that I've moved, the fee is low again.
There are probably other pros and cons but I think I've covered the common ones. If you hear that a trailer is too hard-riding for glass kayaks, then either change the springs or get another type of trailer! Any kayak-specific trailer will have very soft springs. And make sure the wheels and tires are rated for highway driving--not all trailers have those.
Touring Kayak Paddles
Heel and Pegpads™
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