How to Transport a Kayak [Simple Guide]

If you are a kayaking enthusiast, then you must know that you will need to move your kayak from many places to the other. You will always need to move your kayak from its storage place to your car and then from your car to the water back to the car again and finally to where you are storing it again. Moving your kayak from one place to the other is an easy thing to do if you know how.

So what are the best ways of moving and transporting your kayak and how to do them?

Throughout this article, we will do our best to answer these questions, so that you know how to move your kayak from one place to another.

Three Steps of Transporting Your Kayak

There are three main steps to transport your kayak, and we will explain each one of them separately. The three steps are:

  • Carry your kayak
  • Put your kayak on top your vehicle or car
  • Tie-down your kayak

1. Carry Your Kayak

This is the first step as first of all you have to carry your kayak in order to go put it on top of your car. This step is divided into two parts carrying your kayak solo or with someone else.


  1. Depending on which arm you want to use to carry the kayak, you need to stand on the opposite side. This means that if you want to carry your kayak using your right arm, then you need to stand on your kayak’s right side and vice versa.
  2. Face the kayak.
  3. Squat down, grab the cockpit’s edge with both hands, and pull the kayak’s edge up onto your thighs.
  4. Reach across the kayak with your arm and hold the kayak’s inside through the cockpit’s underside.
  5. While standing up, lift the kayak onto your shoulder.
  6. Rest the cockpit’s rim on your shoulder, and balance the kayak on your shoulder.

Two People

This step is concerned with two people carrying the same kayak. It is extremely easy to do, as all you have to do is:

  1. One person lifts the kayak from the front using the grab handle.
  2. The second lifts the kayak from the back using the other grab handle.


Lift with your knees: Bend your knees and keep your back straight when lifting the kayak up.

A Cart: if you can find a cart that you can load your kayak into, it will definitely save you a lot of effort.

2. Put Your Kayak on Top Your Vehicle or Car

Before we explain the steps of putting your kayak on top of your car, there are some essential tools that you will definitely need. These tools are:

  • Car Crossbars: These are crossbars that run all the way on your car’s roof. Most crossbars get attached to the factory-installed bars on your car’s roof. However, it would be best to consult your car’s user manual before installing anything.
  • Kayak Rack or Padding: These are kayak rack systems that become attached to the car’s crossbar and hold the kayak in. The best types or the J-shaped or the V-shaped.
  • Cam Straps: To secure your kayak down, and you will need two straps that are 12 feet long.
  • Bow and Stern Lines: This depends on the length of your boat and vehicle, if you have a typical kayak, then you will only need two ropes, one for the bow and one for the stern. Your best choice is to use a water-resistant, non-stretch line as they vibrate less.

This step is also divided into two parts. Either getting your kayak on top of your car solo or with other people.


If you are doing this alone, then it might be hard to do as you need to be powerful and tall to do this. As you will have to lift your kayak above your car to put it on the crossbars, which requires both height and strength.

So we will now tell you some alternatives that will make this step easier. They are:

  • Use a Blanket: This is the easiest solution. All you have to do is place a blanket or large towel on the top rear of your car, then put your kayak on top of the blanket. Finally, pick up the kayak’s stern and start pushing it upwards and forward.
  • Use a Lift System: These are expensive rack systems, they may be pricey, but they are very effective. They slide from your car’s top down to its side to make lifting your kayak a lot easier. Once you lift the boat up, you can also lift the rack system on top of your car.

Lifting Your Kayak On Top Of Your Car With Help

To lift your kayak up, you must first be sure that you have properly installed the car crossbars along with kayak’s rack or padding and that the lines are ready and good to go. This is very simple as all you have to do is:

  1. Have one person stand at the car’s front and one at the end with the kayak between them.
  2. Each one of them must carry the end of the kayak in front of him using the grab handles, so they become parallel to the car.
  3. Lift the kayak overhead using the hull, not the grab handles, and finally, while the boat is overhead, place it gently on the rack.

3. Tie Down Your Kayak

This may be the most important step of them all. As if you do not properly tie down your kayak, it might become loose and fall from your car. The best way of securing your kayak would be to use cam straps and then secure your kayak’s bow and stern. You have to:

  1. Make sure your kayak is placed correctly and is parallel to your car.
  2. Place one cam strap and put the buckle on the kayak’s side above and to the crossbar’s side.
  3. Toss the strap’s other end over your kayak.
  4. Go to the other side, loop strap’s end under the crossbar, and throw it over your kayak again.
  5. Go to the first side and loop the strap’s end under the crossbar, then up into the cam buckle and clinch it down.
  6. Repeat with the other cam buckle and crossbar.
  7. Make sure that the two straps are tight but not too much to avoid damaging the kayak’s hull.
  8. Tie any loose ends of strap under the cam buckles and any remaining slack to the crossbars to prevent it from flying around while driving.
  9. Make sure that both sides of the kayak are secure, and you’re ready to tie the bow and stern.
  10. Hook the line’s end with the ratchet to your kayak’s front grab handle.
  11. Attach the other end to another secure end.
  12. Pull the free end down to tighten the line.
  13. Tie the loose end of the line below the ratchet.
  14. Repeat with the stern line.

Final Thoughts

Finally, it is safe that transporting your kayak is relatively easy, especially if you have someone else to help as you will become much more efficient with help. All you have to do is to lift your kayak on top of your car and then secure it and tie it down using clamps.

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