Kayak Transport: How To Transport A Kayak

How To Transport A Kayak (Updated)

How To Transport A Kayak (Updated)

Abigail Scott

Abigail Scott
Mother, Professional Kayaker, and Software Engineer

Updated on 12/6/2022

It is a challenge to transport a kayak, but owning such a vessel is an essential part. The best methods for transporting kayaks and securing kayaks to a vehicle are always sought after by paddlers. This article answers some of the most critical questions regarding kayak transportation.

A roof rack and a kayak rack attachment are best when transporting a kayak, such as a J-rack. The frame will hold the kayak securely during transport. If you plan to mount the kayak in the rear or front of your vehicle, you should use ropes or straps to secure it.

When it comes to kaya transport, it can be frustrating and frightening at times, but it can be handled with the proper techniques, methods, and equipment. Let's look at how to transport a kayak safely with a regular vehicle and equipment.

How To Put A Kayak On A Car

Kayaking is an activity that requires kayaks to be secured to the roof of a car for transportation. You can transport your boat on top of a car if you don't have a truck or trailer. Using a kayak on a car roof, what's the best way to do it?

A kayak can be mounted on top of a car using a roof rack that includes both crossbars and side rails, J-racks, roof saddles, roof pads, stacker racks, or simply with some thick foam pieces and appropriate straps.

The transportation of kayaks or kayaks in multiples is always a challenge. Because kayaks are designed for the water, not for a hard, flat roof of a car, they can be difficult to load onto the top of a vehicle.

Transporting a boat on the roof of a car is not as difficult as it seems if you have the proper equipment and travel systems.

Kayaks can be mounted on the roof of a car in various ways, depending on the type of kayak you own, the kind of car you're putting it on, and any roof racks installed on the vehicle.

Kayaks are typically easier to load on a car if two people are. To transport the kayak, you simply lift it onto the vehicle and tie it down securely.

A kayak's size and length can make the process more difficult when you don't have an extra pair of hands. For example, it is best to balance one end of the kaya on the car, either side or back, and then push it up onto the boat's roof.

Once the kayak is on the car, you will need to turn it until it is parallel to the roof to push it up. Tie the kayak securely to the vehicle once it is in the car to prevent the boat from sliding off.

It is possible to attach a kaya to the roof of a car or any other vehicle in several ways. Here are a few tips and techniques that make the process easier for loading a kayak, or multiple kayaks, onto a car or into a truck, securing kayaks for transport, and loading kayaks into a vehicle.

Related How to secure kayak to roof rack

Kayak Transport

The process of transporting a kayak is not overly challenging; however, you must load your boat onto your car in the correct manner to keep it safe while in transit. You will acquire the knowledge necessary to:

  • When transporting a kayak with two persons, each person should grip a grab handle while the other person raises it. If you are paddling the kayak by yourself, you can carry it on your shoulder.
  • Having a friend assist you loading a kayak onto a vehicle is the simplest method available. You will move the boat onto the rack by picking it up at either end and placing it there. If you're performing by yourself, there are a few different possibilities based on your rack system.
  • When it comes to securing a kayak, the use of cam straps is the method that is both the easiest and the quickest.

How To Transport A Kayak Without A Roof Racks

Finding the best way to transport a kayak can be challenging without using roof racks. The following tips will help you transport a kayak without a roof rack, whether renting a kayak and a car or having to borrow a car without roof racks.

Using thick foam or sponge pieces or pads, ropes, ratchet straps or cam straps, and some type of mat or blanket will help secure your kayak without roof racks.

This method of transporting a kayak requires at least two foam or sponge pads. Put two foam pads on the roof of the vehicle you intend to use. When the places are tall enough, the bottom of the kayak should not contact the top.

Directly above the front and rear windscreens, place the foam pads at the rear and front edges of the car's roof. Because these are the best locations, the top supports in the vehicle will provide the most support beneath the boat.

After sliding the vessel onto the car's roof, the next step is to secure it. The kayak can easily be slid if the vehicle is protected with a rug or blanket.

Secure the kayak to the vehicle using your ratchet straps, cam straps, and sturdy ropes once the boat is safely on top of the foam pads. Using the car's interior, tie the kayak to the roof by looping straps around the kayak and the roof. To ensure extra stability, tie the kayak's bow to the towing eye at the front of the car with a rope.

How To Attach A Kayak To A Roof Rack

The best way to transport kayaks in a car is to secure the kayak to the roof rack. Following the proper steps will make attacking the kayak much more accessible.

Following these simple steps will allow you to attach a kayak to a standard roof rack system:

The first step is to load the kayak onto the car.

As you lift the kayak onto the roof, wedging it between the top and the roof rack rail will allow you to load it. 

Lean the boat against the car, then lift the kayak onto the car's roof by moving to the back. Ensure the kayak is centered on the racks and the stern faces the car's rear.

The second step is to secure the kayak to the roof rack.

Use ratchet straps, cam straps, or ropes to secure the kayak to the roof rack system. Throw the belt or rope over to the other side of the kayak by sliding it under the front cross beam of the rack. 

In this way, the rope can pass over the boat while forming a look around the rack. The strap should now be looped around the other side of the ship and secured to the frame, and do the same thing at the stern.

The third step involves tying the kayak to the towing eyes.

Tying the boat to the vehicle's front and rear towing eyes further secure the kayak. Tie the front and back of the kayak securely to the car towing eyes using the handles on the boat or a rope with S-hooks. If you brake or accelerate suddenly, the kayak won't slide off.

How To Load A Kayak On A J-Rack By Yourself

A roof rack with J-racks allows you to transport a kayak safely and store two kayaks simultaneously on the same shelf.

Securing a kayak to a J-rack is similar to using a roof rack. Place the kayak on its side in the J-rack and ensure that it is centered.

Secure the kayak to the rack by running cam straps, ratchet straps, or rope through the top hoop of one of the J-racks, crossing both ends of the belt or rope over the kayak, and securing the strap or string to the roof rack after passing it through the opposite hoop on the J-rack.

Repetition of this process will help maintain the kayak's lateral stability. Attach an S-hook or a tight knot to each vehicle's towing eyes to secure the kayak further.

Attach the other end of each rope or strap to the bow and stern of the kayak, respectively, and secure tightly.

Using a J-rack to hold your kayak in place will prevent it from moving, and ropes or straps that are tightly secured will ensure that your kayak will not shift during transport.

Loading A Kayak By Yourself

Certain people have the strength and height to hoist a kayak onto their car by themselves, but if you are not one of those people, the following are some guidelines for loading a kayak by yourself:

  • Use a lift system. There are kayak racks with built-in lift systems that make it easier to load the kayak. Most of the time, they slide down from the roof of your car to the side, making it easier to move your kayak up and down. When the boat is properly loaded and secured, you will raise the rack system to its highest position on top of your car. These racks come at a high cost, but they do their job well.
  • Get rolling wheels: a second possible alternative is to utilize a rack designed with rolling wheels built in. These make it possible for you to easily place the bow of the boat into the cradle of the rear rack, pick up the stern end of the kayak and roll it forward into the cradle of the front frame. These can be purchased for a lower price than racks that have lift systems integrated into them.
  • Use a towel or a blanket: If you are looking for a low-tech and low-cost solution, consider placing a towel or a blanket on top of the back of your vehicle and then setting the boat's bow on top of the towel or the mantle. Take hold of the boat's stern, then use your momentum to haul it up onto the rack from the stern.

Loading Multiple Kayaks

Transporting more than one kayak on top of your car is feasible if there is sufficient room for them. (Important: Make sure you have good straps.) The following are some suggestions for transporting multiple boats:

  • Install a second rack: Depending on the width of your boats and your crossbars, you may be able to transport a double kayak in the same manner as the first one if you install a second rack on the crossbars. This, however, will be determined by the fact that you have already transported the first kayak.
  • Utilize stacker bars if you attempt to stack two, three, or even more boats on top of one another. Stacker bars could be the solution to your problem. Because of this, you can store the boats more compactly by turning them on their sides. Stacker bars are most commonly employed with whitewater kayaks that are lighter and shorter in length. However, these bars can also be utilized for leisure and touring boats.

How To Strap Two Kayaks To A Roof Rack

One kayak is already a challenge to carry on a roof rack, but moving two kayaks at once is often unavoidable. A roof rack can transport two kayaks quite quickly, and let's see how it's done.

When you have two kayaks to strap onto a roof rack, you usually have the other paddler to help you. Thanks to this, we can drastically reduce the time it takes to complete this process.

A kayak stacker or J-rack attachment for roof racks is the best option for transporting two kayaks simultaneously. Two kayaks on a roof rack are dangerous without these attachments.

Load a kayak onto the car's roof and assess how much space it has. Two kayaks can be stacked in some vehicles, but others must be placed on their sides, while others must be secured flat on one side and the other. 

Kayaks will fit securely on their sides if the roof rack comes with J-racks or a stacker. Secure both kayaks to their respective frames and the towing eyes of the car with their separate ropes.

The kayaks must be secured individually to the rack if these rack attachments are not available. Using the methods above, bar the first kayak onto the roof rack after assessing the open space. One kayak should be placed flat and one on its side. 

As soon as the first kayak is mounted, preferably flat on the roof rack, the second can be mounted on its side, securing both kayaks to the roof rack. With ropes or straps, attach the flat kayak to the roof rack as a stabilizer for the side-mounted kayak.

Once the kayak is secure, tie the kayaks together using ropes at their respective handles or eyelets. Always tie both kayaks to anchor points at the front and rear of the car or vehicle once they have been secured to prevent them from sliding off the roof. The best option is to use towing eyes.

How To Load A Kayak In A Truck

Transporting a kayak safely involves loading it into the bed of a truck. The procedure, however, involves several critical aspects that must be kept in mind.

It is only possible to load a kayak into a truck without additional racks or bed extenders if the truck's bed is long enough to accommodate it. Truck beds can be fitted with shorted kayaks by lifting the tailgate and tightly securing the truck bed's anchor points.

A truck bed extender designed explicitly for kayak transportation is available if the kayak is too long for this method. These racks and extenders mount to the vehicle's underside and provide a platform on which the kayak can be mounted flat without being raised.

Either way, tying the kayak down with straps and ropes is accessible after it has been loaded into the truck, whether the kayak is inside the bed, on the tailgate, or an extender. Make sure the kayak can't shift or slide while being transported.

How To Lock A Kayak To A Roof Rack

When a kayak is locked onto a roof rack, it is essential to prevent theft during a rest stop and add an extra layer of security to the fastenings.

Rope, chain, and bicycle locks can secure a kayak to roof racks, but a chain and an anti-pick lock is the best option. 

Place the chain through a body hole in the kayak, such as a handle, and loop the other end through a vital roof rack section.

Keeping your kayak secure while away is as simple as locking the chain with an anti-pick lock.

Are Our Bow And Stern Tie-Downs Necessary For Kayaks?

Securing the kayak in two directions is essential when tying it to roof racks or mounting systems.

When transporting them, securing kayaks to their stern and bow is essential. When ropes and regular straps work and specialized tie-downs, they are not necessary.

Kayaks may be held securely by attaching ropes or straps to the front and back ends of the roof racks or towing eyes at the front and back of the vehicle.

To prevent the kayak from breaking, permanently attach ropes or straps to secure solid mounting pins on the bow and stern of the boat.


The responsibility of transporting a kayak is part of owning one. Getting a boat on the water is necessary for anyone who enjoys boating.

Kayaks should be secured to a truck or car with a roof rack system to ensure they are transported safely and not damaged in transit. If you book your kayak correctly to your vehicle, regardless of how you mount it, you should arrive safely without causing any damage to it.

Frequently Asked Questions