Transporting Your Kayak

by Maisie

In this article, you will learn how to safely and effectively load a kayak onto your vehicle for transport. This is important to know how to do because if your kayak is not properly secured, it could shift during transit and become damaged or cause an accident.

  • Carry a kayak: With two people, each person seizes a handle and pulls upward. If you’re kayaking solo, you can place the kayak atop your shoulder.
  • Put a kayak on a vehicle: If you have a friend to help, that’s the easiest way to get your boat onto the rack. You and your friend can simply pick up the boat by each end and place it on the rack. If you’re trying to do it solo, there are a couple of options depending on your rack system.
  • Tie down a kayak: Cam straps are the simplest and fastest way to secure your boat. They’re easy to use and can be adjusted quickly to get a tight fit. Plus, they won’t damage your boat like some other methods can.

How to Carry a Kayak

Carrying a kayak with two person is easy:

  1. Each person should grab an end of the boat by the grab handle at the bow or stern. This will help you keep the boat steady and avoid tipping.
  2. If you want to move forward, both you and your team need to be working together. Having one person trying to move the boat while the other is pedaling backward won’t get you very far.
  3. You can carry two boats by holding a grab handle from each boat in each hand.

Unless your kayak is large and heavy, you can probably still carry it solo. Here’s how to carry a kayak by yourself:

  1. Face the boat while standing on the left side of your kayak.
  2. Squat down and grab the edge of the cockpit that’s closest to you with both hands and pull the boat up onto your thighs so the edge is level with your waist.
  3. Reach across the boat with your right arm and grab hold of the inside of the boat by the underside of the cockpit.
  4. Lift the kayak onto your right shoulder as you stand up.
  5. Place the rim of the cockpit on your shoulder and secure a balanced position, so the boat tips neither forward nor backward.

Tips for Carrying a Kayak

Protect your back: When reaching down to pick up your kayak, be sure to bend your knees and keep your back straight. This will help you avoid injury and make it easier to lift the kayak.

Wear your PFD: If you’re carrying your kayak by yourself, you can add padding to your shoulder for the kayak to rest on. This will help distribute the weight more evenly and make it easier for you to carry the kayak.

Use a cart: If you find it difficult to carry your kayak by hand, consider using a kayak cart with wheels to make the task easier.

How to Put a Kayak on a Vehicle

Only a few items are required before placing a kayak on top of your vehicle:

  • Crossbars: Crossbars are installed on the roof of your vehicle in order to provide support for attaching various types of rooftop cargo carriers. Most crossbars attach to factory-installed bars that run from the front to the back of your car, but this depends on your vehicle type. 
  • Rack/padding: The most secure kayak rack for car systems are the ones that attach to the crossbars and cradle the boat in either J- or V-shaped forms.
  • Cam straps: cam straps are one of the quickest and most secure ways to hold your kayak down. You’ll need at least two straps that are 12 feet long, or longer if necessary.

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