Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by Afsar

Transporting a kayak can be a challenging task, especially for beginners. However, whether you’re planning a short trip to a local lake or a long-distance adventure, transporting your kayak safely is a critical step. Not only does appropriate transportation safeguard the integrity of your kayak, but it also ensures the safety of other motorists. This article aims to guide you through the process, from preparation to the actual transportation, to ensure a hassle-free journey.

Know Your Kayak

Understanding the specifics of your kayak is the first critical step in its transportation. The size and weight of your kayak determine the nature of transportation and the type of vehicle and equipment needed for the task.

a. Size: Kayaks come in various lengths, from compact 10-foot models to larger 14-foot touring kayaks and even longer. The length of your kayak directly impacts its maneuverability during transportation. Shorter kayaks can often fit on a standard car roof rack or even inside some larger vehicles. In contrast, longer kayaks might be too cumbersome for a car’s roof and may require a special kayak trailer or a pickup truck for transport.

b. Weight: The weight of your kayak influences the method of loading and unloading it. Lightweight kayaks can often be lifted onto a car roof by one or two people, whereas heavier kayaks might require special lifting aids or multiple people to load and unload safely.

Gather the Right Equipment:

The equipment you need to transport your kayak depends on the kayak’s size and weight and the type of vehicle you’re using. Here is an elaboration on the commonly used equipment:

Roof Racks: These are the preferred choice for transporting kayaks because they’re versatile and can handle kayaks of various sizes. Roof racks attach to the top of your vehicle, providing a secure and steady platform to hold your kayak. Some are simple bars that go across the roof, while others have special attachments designed to hold a kayak in place.

Foam Blocks: Foam blocks can provide a temporary solution for those without a roof rack. They offer a cushioned surface to protect both your vehicle’s roof and the kayak from scratches and dents. It’s worth noting, however, that foam blocks may not provide the same level of security as a dedicated roof rack, especially for longer trips or when driving at higher speeds.

Tie-Down Straps: These straps are necessary to secure the kayak to the roof rack or foam blocks. They need to be sturdy and reliable. Depending on the size and shape of your kayak, you may need different types or lengths of straps.

Bow and Stern Lines: These lines attach to the front and back of your kayak and then to your vehicle, providing an extra layer of security. They help to ensure the kayak cannot slide off either end of the car during transportation, particularly in the event of sudden stops or accelerations.

Remember, the right equipment will depend on your specific situation and the kayak you are transporting. Always ensure the equipment you choose is sturdy, secure, and provides the best support for your kayak. With proper preparation and the right tools, you can make the transportation process as seamless as possible.

The Transportation Process

Lift the Kayak onto the Vehicle: The first step in transportation is to get the kayak onto your vehicle. This task is a two-person job to ensure safety and prevent any potential injury or vehicle damage. Position one person at each end of the kayak. Both individuals should lift the kayak by bending their knees and keeping their backs straight to avoid any injury. Slowly raise the kayak above your head and gently place it onto the roof rack or foam blocks, ensuring it’s centered on your vehicle.

Position the Kayak: Once the kayak is on top of the vehicle, the next step is correctly positioning it. The orientation of your kayak on the rack largely depends on the type of kayak and rack system you have:

  • Upside Down: Often, it’s best to transport sea kayaks upside down to prevent wind lift as the hull is more streamlined. It can also help prevent distortion in plastic kayaks during hot weather.
  • On its Side: For kayaks with a flat hull, transporting them on their side is usually the preferred option. This position reduces wind resistance during transportation.
  • Right-side-up: If the hull of your kayak is rounded or the roof rack cradles are designed for it, the kayak can be placed right-side-up.

Secure the Kayak: Securing the kayak involves using straps and lines to ensure it remains stationary during transit. Start by draping the straps over the kayak and around the roof rack bars, then fasten them. Be careful to make the straps tight enough to secure the kayak firmly but not so tight as to deform it. Attach bow and stern lines next, linking the front and back of your kayak to your vehicle. This prevents the kayak from sliding off during the journey and provides additional security.

Double Check Everything: It’s crucial to double-check your setup once the kayak is secured. Inspect the straps and lines thoroughly to confirm they are tightly fastened and secure. Shake the kayak gently to see if it moves or if there’s any slack in the straps. If there’s movement, further tighten the straps and recheck. Remember, the safety of your kayak and others on the road hinges on your kayak being well-secured. Always better to check one more time than to face mishaps later.

Using a Trailer

Trailers can offer an effective solution for transporting larger or multiple kayaks. They can handle more weight and length than a vehicle’s roof rack, simplifying transportation.

Position a trailer correctly and simply slide your kayak onto it, using the trailer’s built-in rollers and supports if available. This sliding method can be more accessible than lifting a kayak onto a roof, making it a preferred option for those who might struggle with heavy lifting or have physical limitations.

Once your kayak is on the trailer, secure it in place using heavy-duty tie-down straps. It’s recommended to secure both the body of the kayak and its bow and stern to ensure stability during the journey.

Pulling a trailer involves unique driving skills, including wider turns, longer stopping distances, and reverse parking. Before you set off, it’s essential to feel comfortable with the added length and weight of the trailer on your vehicle.

After the Move:

Reversing the loading process is necessary once you arrive at your destination. Executing this step with the same level of care and caution is important to ensure the safety of you, others, and your kayak.

Start by slowly unstrapping the kayak, maintaining control over the straps to prevent the kayak from suddenly shifting or falling. Always keep a steady hand on the kayak while releasing the straps.

Once all straps and lines are detached, it’s time to lift the kayak off your vehicle or trailer. As with the loading process, this should ideally be a two-person job. Each person should be at opposite ends of the kayak, lifting and moving in unison to prevent tipping or damage to the kayak. Lower the kayak carefully to the ground, ensuring it is placed in a secure location where it won’t roll or slide.

Remember, the aim is to maintain the condition of your kayak and ensure safety throughout the transportation process. Through careful planning, cautious execution, and correct equipment, you can make kayak transportation an easy and stress-free experience.

Moving a kayak around is kind of like a mini adventure before the real one! Yeah, it requires some planning and a bit of elbow grease. Knowing your kayak’s ins and outs helps you pick the best way to lug it around. Depending on your kayak, you could use a roof rack, foam blocks, or even a trailer.

Make sure your kayak is secure before you hit the road – we don’t want any unexpected kayak escapees, right? Plus, it’s not just about you; we gotta keep everyone else on the road safe too.

When you reach your destination, go easy when unloading your kayak. We want it ready for loads more fun, not nursing a bump or scratch! It may seem a bit tricky at first, but trust me; you’ll get the hang of it over time.

And remember, the whole point is to get from your garage to the water without any hiccups, so you can spend more time doing what you love – kayaking. Just imagine gliding through the water, soaking in the beauty around you. That’s what it’s all about, after all!