How to Transport a Kayak

A kayaking trip often requires carrying the kayak to and from the body of water. It also may involve transporting the kayak longer distances by car. The following techniques will help keep the kayaker safe from injury and the kayak free from damage.

Carrying a Kayak

Those new to kayaking should begin by carrying the vessel using two people positioned at the grabs at each end. This is also the usual method for carrying a heavier boat.

Lighter boats can be hoisted to the shoulder or back for short distances. To carry a sit-in kayak, lift the boat to the thighs with the cockpit facing outward. Grabbing the far edge of the cockpit, use the leg to kick the kayak up and place it onto the shoulder. Be sure to remember to make wide turns when carrying a kayak alone.

If traveling alone, trolleys that fit into the scupper holes are a convenient way to to maneuver the kayak to its location.

Transporting a Kayak

The key in transporting kayaks longer distances by car is to avoid damage to the boat and to other property. Kayaks are best transported on their side, strapped firmly to sturdy bars.

Roof racks are used to carry kayaks on top of the car. A good quality roof rack is essential. Thule and Yakima are two manufacturers that specialize in roof racks and make attachments specific to kayaking. Having the proper equipment makes loading and tying the kayaks safer and easier.

Roof racks should have strong bars that are securely attached to the car. The roof rack should be properly padded and straps made from webbing with metal buckles should be used. If transporting one kayak, place it flat on the roof rack with the cockpit facing downward. When carrying more than one kayak, it is wise to invest in a good quality roof rack with upright bars so the kayaks can be loaded up on their sides.

Loading a Kayak

Kayak rollers make loading a boat to the top of the car easier. Carry the kayak to the back of the car. Lift one end of the kayak and rest it upon the rollers. Then move the other end and slide the vessel forward until it is evenly centered.

The kayak should be strapped down in two places. It is best to strap on either side of the center (widest point of the kayak) to avoid the kayak becoming loose during transport. Be sure the straps are fitted securely. As an added measure of protection, a bowline and stern line can be tied to the front and back of the car. Because straps and knots can loosen over time, it is advised to check them at regular intervals if making a long distance transport.

Kayaks should not be left on the racks longer than necessary. Being tied to the roof rack or left in the sun for long periods of time can cause deformities such as warping or dents.

Most serious damage takes place during transportation. Following these simple suggestions will help prolong the life of the kayak and keep it free from damage.