Even with the largest RVs, it can be like playing a game of Tetris fitting everything needed for a camping trip: grill, fishing poles, camp chairs, bicycles. And fitting a few kayaks inside? Forget it.
Rod and Dreama Yohn, camping and paddling enthusiasts from Elkhart, were sick of attempting to maneuver their kayaks in their truck bed with all the other camping items.
So, after having a few beers on a camping trip, Rod came up with a solution. He tore off a piece of the Coors Light box and drew up the initial plans for what would become the VertiYak kayak carrier.
“After a few failed attempts with lumber and PVC pipe, the vertical hitch mount kayak rack was born,” Rod said. “During trips with what we now know as the VertiYak, we were often asked where we got it. It became obvious there was a demand.”
The VertiYak is a vertical hitch-mounted kayak carrier that can carry two kayaks or paddleboards up to 12 feet in length, and fits into a standard 2” receiver. The mounting beam can be raised or lowered for ground clearance on the back of SUV’s, Trucks, Larger Vehicles and most any size RV on the market. When not in use, the arms of the VertiYak fold up flush with the vehicle.
With the VertiYak and a couple of ratchet straps, it’s very easy to transport your kayaks wherever you want to go. Because not every hitch is the same, they also offer an anti-rattle device that helps alleviate movement going down the road — even at 60 miles per hour or down gravel roads.
Customer inquiries have come from as far away as Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, but overseas shipping costs are astronomical. VertiYak folds up and ships in a box that can easily be carried by one person.
The VertiYak made it to the second round of Shark Tank recently, and the Yohns were hoping to secure an investment to help with scaling up distribution to international customers and big box stores. Since Shark Tank didn’t work out, the Yohns will continue selling directly to US and Canada customers on their website and working with a handful of RV dealers.
They have a lot of people learning how cool the VertiYak is to keep them busy.
“Some of our customers would tell us they used to wedge their kayaks in their camper
entry door and they’d feel like magicians,” Dreama Yohn said. “A lot of the kayak carriers that are out there on the market, need to go on top of the vehicles. If you’re by yourself, that’s not very easy. But with the VertiYak, I can put kayaks in it by myself. It doesn’t take a very strong person to get it secured.”