by Kevin

November 22, 2021

How to Transport a Kayak

Is it already time to go kayaking, but you’re not sure how to transport your kayak? Don’t fret; transporting your kayak is not entirely complicated. This multi-step guide will walk you through how to transport a kayak and the dos and don’ts when going about it. 

Kayaking is an excellent way to explore the world and bond with nature. One trip can give you a whole different view of the universe. Nevertheless, many people have a hard time carrying the boat to the trip. Moving your kayak effectively and safely is a vital skill that all paddlers need to learn, though it might be a little intimidating for beginners. 

Kayaks have different shapes and sizes, with the modest ones measuring more than 2m lengthwise. There are various factors to weigh in as you prepare to transport your kayak, including the gear you’ll require, how to prepare your car correctly, and so on.

But where do you begin? Continue reading to find out.

  1. First, you should carry your kayak. With assistance from a friend, you can both grip the handle and lift. Though, if you’re alone, you can place the kayak on your shoulder. 
  2. Next, place it in your car. The simplest way for you is to lift it with your friend. However, if you’re by yourself, there are a few options contingent on your rack system. 
  3. Lastly, tie it down. The easiest and swiftest way to do this is to use cam straps. 

How to Carry Your Kayak? 

Additional Tips on How to Transport a Kayak

Carrying a kayak with a friend 

With some assistance, carrying your kayak will be easy:

  • You both grab different ends of the kayak by the handle. 
  • Pick it up. Instead of having one of you backpedal, you can both face the side you’re going. What’s more, this way, you can even carry two kayaks. 

Carrying the boat alone 

If you’re by yourself, you can still carry your boat, provided it’s not too heavy or oversized:

  • Stand on your boat’s left side and face it.
  • Squat and hold the cockpit’s edge that’s near you with your hands. Then, pull the boat’s edge up to your knees. 
  • Grip the boat’s interior using your right hand by the cockpit’s underside. Now, stand up as you pick up your kayak using your right shoulder. 
  • Make sure the cockpit’s rim is resting on your shoulder for balance, as this will ensure the boat doesn’t fall over backward or forward. 

All the same, if you’d like to carry it using your left arm, begin on the boat’s right side, and with your right arm, follow the steps above. 

Additional Tips for Hauling Your Kayak 

How to Properly Tie Down Your Kayak

Shield your back

Bend your knees and always keep your back straight when lifting your boat.

Wear PFD

This is if you’re hauling your kayak alone. This is because it offers additional paddling on your shoulders for the boat to sit on. 

Consider using a cart 

If you’re transporting your kayak alone, carrying it by hand might be too challenging. Consider using a cart with wheels. 

Placing the Kayak on Your Car 

Typically, a kayak is positioned with the open side facing down. This is because this placement reduces the chances of deformation and hinders rainwater from filling the interior. 

The most suitable way to haul a kayak is to utilize kayak racks with curled cradles. This secures and shields your kayak adequately. However, if you don’t have a kayak-specific rack, you can carry it with curled foam blocks, but ensure the open side is facing upwards. 

If you have a whitewater kayak, rooftop kayak racks or typical kayak racks are ideal for transporting them. Nonetheless, this depends on the rack; your kayak could have the cockpit facing upwards, on the side, or even downwards. 

Be extra cautious if you have a plastic kayak as they dent easily. Also, cover them, especially if the boat has the cockpit on its right side up. If it’s raining, make sure to seal the cockpit using the cockpit cover to prevent distortion. Also, you can stop and check the kayak frequently when on the move and, if necessary, pump it out. 

Even the smallest amounts of water in your boat can significantly strain the racks and straps as you speed up, turn, or brake. 

How to Properly Tie Down Your Kayak

Placing the Kayak on Your Car 

Now that you’re placed your boat on your vehicle, it’s time to tie it down. Using cam straps is the easiest way to do this. It doesn’t require tying distinct knots; you only have to pass the straps via the buckles and tighten them. 

  • Ensure your boat is positioned fore and aft between your vehicle and the crossbars and that it’s sitting parallel against your car. 
  • With a cam strap, place the buckle to rest on one side of your kayak several inches above and on the crossbar’s side. Throw the strap’s free end over your boat. 
  • Move to the other side of the car, take the free end of the strap and tie it beneath the crossbar and then throw it across your kayak once more. Ensure the strip is on the interior of where the vehicle and crossbar are connected. This hinders the strip from sliding from the crossbar’s end. 
  • Go back to the vehicle’s other side, tie the strap beneath the crossbar on the buckle, and fasten it. What’s more, ensure the belt passes through the interior of where the vehicle and crossbar attach. 
  • Do this with the other strip as well. 
  • Cinch down both straps until they’re secure but not too tight. If they’re too tight, they can distort the plastic structure and break the fiberglass. 
  • Double-check the knots, tighten the loose ones, tie the strap’s loose ends underneath the cam buckles, and fasten the remaining slack on the crossbars. This is because it hinders the slack from fretting as you drive. 
  • Hold one end of the kayak and try to shake it to ensure it is properly tied down. 

Additionally, it is advised that you fasten the kayak’s bow and stern to your car, specifically if it’s windy or you’re driving on the freeway. Heightening the bow and stern lines is the best way to do this. 

Here’s how to create heightening bow and stern lines 

  • Secure one end of the line with a ratchet to a stable place at the front of your boat, like the handle. 
  • Secure the ratchet’s other end to a safe place in your car. In case your vehicle has no secure position, like a toe hook, you can utilize a hood loop strip to come up with one. Do not fasten the tie-down straps to the plastic areas of your vehicle. 
  • Pull down the free end of the line to tie it until it’s tight enough, though not too tight. Fasten the loose end underneath the ratchet. 
  • Lastly, follow these same steps with the stern. 

Additional Tips on How to Transport a Kayak

How to Carry Your Kayak

Simplicity is the way to go

Applying complex knots and strips might sound like a good idea, but making simple knots is typically a better and faster way to tie down your kayak. However, this does not mean that you can’t achieve your objectives with fancy knots and wrapping strips. 

Utilize a ladder 

If you have a tall car and are short, always carry a compact ladder in your vehicle. It will come in handy in making the process easier, especially when trying to reach the strips. 

Incorporate a twist 

Integrating a simple twist in the wrapping strips can be handy in hindering pesky strap vibration when on the road. 

Locking cam straps 

It would help if you considered purchasing lockable cam straps which need a key to open. Locking cam straps will make it easier for you to leave your vehicle for a short emergency, like going to the shop to buy something, without wondering whether the kayak will fall off. 

Additional Tips for Hauling Your Kayak 

Use a rope 

At times, you might want to go kayaking, but you don’t have a heightening bow and stern lines, and cam straps. This is where a rope comes in handy. Make sure it is water-resistant and stretch-resistant. Also, you should know how to fasten a trucker’s hitch to allow you to tighten the lines correctly. 

Check your boat frequently

While you might have checked your boat before driving off, it would be best if you stopped and rechecked it after every 15 to 20 minutes of driving. Once you’ve pulled over, shake your kayak from one end to ensure it is secure and all kayak parts are still there. Oftentimes, the strips loosen up when you’re driving. 

Final Thoughts on How to Transport a Kayak 

Well, there you have it, how to properly and securely transport a kayak. Honestly, if you’ve made it this far, you understand the essence of learning how to transport your kayak adequately. All the same, if you can’t yet securely tie down your kayak, you’ll need to postpone your plans to explore the world through kayaking. 

Hauling, particularly, carrying your kayak can be very challenging, almost as demanding as paddling, though with constant practice, it is doable. 

If you want to practice, look for a somewhat spacious area like your driveway and try to carry, load, and fasten your boat. While your first few attempts might be tricky or unsuccessful, don’t give up. Eventually, you’ll do it right.

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About the author 


Kevin loves bouldering. Mainly because he can practice it alone without considering other people. Although he rediscovered this hobby in the last three years, the boulders turned out to be his most visited landmarks.

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