Caution Advised When Carrying Boats on Your Camper

John Rooth — 3 August 2016

Travelling around an island with so much glorious coastline, and so many spectacular inland waterways, it's no surprise many campers want to take a boat on the road with them.

When properly loaded and carried, a boat can add heaps of enjoyment to your RV lifestyle, however, it adds significant weight to your rig and should be carefully considered before hitting the road.

John 'Roothy' Rooth, well-known 4WD identity and CW columnist, said a boat is one of the best things to add to your travelling rig, but great care needs to be taken.

"If your rig has been engineered to take it then fine, chances are it'll work and work well," Roothy said. "My biggest fear, though, is the people who figure that as long as they can fit the boat and motor somewhere, they can cart it anywhere! Hmmm...

"I see plenty of small boat motors mounted on A-frames and in the backs of utes but, without some planning, they can be pretty awkward."


One of the most popular places for a boat motor is the A-frame, which is fine as long as you factor  the location and weight of the boat into your overall weight capacity and towing figures.

"You have a severe ball loading issue unless you've engineered things accordingly," Roothy advised. "I saw a chap on the Gibb River Road once with a 15hp motor on special brackets he'd welded to the front of his 'offroad' van which had been 'balanced' by adding a big trunk on the rear bar of the trailer to hold all the camping ancillaries. The boat was on a rack on top of his dual cab but that wasn't the problem, a bent trailer axle was.

"The bent axle was possibly a whole lot better than a cracked chassis but either way, the further you move weight from the centre of a trailer, the more chance you have of disaster."


Other issues arise when heavy boats and motors are carried too high, such as on the roof, creating difficulty getting them on and off their mountings, and potentially overloading the roof's carrying capacity.

Every vehicle roof has a rating determined by the manufacturer, usually somewhere from 50-100kg. The Pajero, for example, has a rating of 60kg so would easily be weighed down by an 80-kg tinny.

Plus, tight cornering and rocky corrugations are liable to 'rock the boat' on the road.



The best boat racks on camper trailers feature hinged frames that swing from points equidistance from the axle and mounted directly on the body of the trailer itself. These will last, with luck, and don't take too much effort to load. 


Roothy's choice for roof racks would be the aluminium ones.

"They save a heap of weight and, if well engineered, can be just as strong," he said. "One of the best ones available in recent years is the FrontRunner system from Africa. You get a lightweight, flat and very stable platform that's super secure - one can only presume Africa's tracks are as bad as ours."


  • Carting a boat on top of a camper trailer works brilliantly as long as the trailer's tough enough to take it. The trick is to make sure it's engineered properly so something built to carry a boat right from the factory will always be the best option.
  • Knocking a few pounds of air out of your tyres when carrying a boat is even more important
  • Traction is everything and taking it easy is the rule. The combined weight of a small tinny and motor is going to be upwards of 150kg - and that's before you count all the fish you just caught!
  • Canoes are often the chosen craft of travellers for a lot of great reasons including ease of loading and the fact that you can paddle places motors aren't allowed.

The bottom line, according to Roothy, is don't be put off carrying a boat on your rig, just make sure you get it right before you leave home!


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