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How To Build A Homemade Kayak Launch

Kayaking is a great activity for the whole family to enjoy or anyone who needs some quiet time away from their family. One of the great things about kayaking is being able to put it on top of your car and be on your way to kayak wherever you please, but what if you can’t get the kayak into the water without falling in yourself? 

That’s where the kayak launch comes in, making it much easier to gently put your kayak into the water without causing a scene and embarrassing yourself. 

These handy contraptions can be pretty expensive though and if you are a seasonal Kayaker for example who doesn’t use it enough to warrant splashing the cash on one then have no fear because you can make your own one at home! 

It also works out well if you’re in a rush and don’t have time to order a kayak launch from a manufacturer. 

How To Build A Homemade Kayak Launch

What Is A Kayak Launch? 

There are multiple reasons why a kayak launch is a much-needed device such as the bank of the lake or beach suffering from erosion, making it too unsafe to use. As well as this, launching a kayak from a boat dock is a lot harder than it looks and can end in arguments and wet socks which ruins the kayaking trip before it has even begun. 

Depending on how it is designed, the kayak launch allows you to launch your kayak into the water safely and easily from almost anywhere. 

Some kayak launches are designed to be attached to docks and have an open pocket that you can use to hold your kayak over the top of the water until you want to push it into the water. 

This type of kayak launch is constructed using two plastic railings that have indentations where the kayak paddles are to be rested. Between these railings is where the kayak is pushed in between and allows you to get into it as if it were a car. Once in, you can use the paddles to push yourself off of the launch and into the water. 

These kayak launches are easy to take on and off the dock and are compact enough to store in your garage when not in use.

How Do You Build A Homemade Kayak Launch?

How Do You Build A Homemade Kayak Launch?

This type of kayak launch will not be as sophisticated as the ones that you can attach to your dock, but they will still do the job of allowing you to launch your kayak easily and safely into the water. 

For this ladder-style design of kayak launch you will need to get:

  • Three 2×4 pieces of lumber, two to provide the lengths of the launch and one to provide lateral support
  • Galvanized Piping that is small enough to fit inside PVC piping for the rollers that the kayak will move along
  • Two U-shaped brackets for each roller
  • Fasteners that are rust-resistant so that the U-brackets can be secured to the 2×4 framework 

And that’s it! Now that you have the materials all gathered it’s time to put it all together to make a kayak launch. 

The construction itself doesn’t take long, but the cutting of the wood will take up most of the time which is the first thing that you have to do. Cut both pieces of the wood to make long lengths which will determine how long the launch will be. 

Next, you will cut the 2×4 wood into multiple pieces to make the lateral structure between the two pieces you cut earlier. They should be consistent and slightly longer than the width of the kayak. You should place one at the top, one at the bottom, and fill the rest in with one foot separating them. 

To do this, lay the framework down on a flat surface and begin to put the lateral pieces into position and start by screwing the top and bottom parts onto the long pieces so that it creates a stable structure like a box that will make it easier for you to do the rest. 

After you have done this, it’s time to build the rollers from the galvanized pipe which will provide the base for the rollers and should be cut to the outside length of the framework that you have just made. 

The PVC pipe fits over each piece of galvanized pipe and should be cut to match the width of the inside of the framework. Doing this allows the PVC pipe to spin on top of the galvanized pipe freely, making the kayak roll smoothly down the launch. 

Depending on how long your launch is and how heavy the kayak is will have an impact on how many rollers you will need to add and if the spaces between them are too far apart they won’t be able to evenly distribute the weight of the kayak which will lead to bends and breaks.

It can also lead to too much pressure being put on a single spot of the kayak hull which can crack it, something you should try your best to prevent!

The galvanized pipe is then put into the PVC sleeve, and you should then use the U-brackets to fasten either end of the galvanized pipe to the long sides of the launch framework. Test each roll, making sure that each one rolls freely and if they don’t, you may have to trim the PVC pipe here and there to make adjustments. 

Finally, you can secure everything together with eye bolts at the top end of the launch before putting it to the test and enjoying your new kayak launch!


Not everyone has the money for a kayak launch or even a dock to attach it to so knowing how to make one yourself gives you a lot more freedom of where and how you launch your kayak. It’s easy to do, and you only need a few bits and pieces to put together a kayak launch that you can take with you wherever you go so that kayaking is never out of the question.

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

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