How to Transport a Kayak

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Kayaking is quickly becoming one of the most popular water sports in the world. With that being said, it can be rather tricky transporting this heavy and bulky boat from one destination to another. This is especially true if you stay inland and have to travel to different water bodies every time you want to set off.

However, if you have the right equipment and some help, transporting a kayak shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. In this article, we will be discussing exactly what you will need in order to get the job done properly and how to load and tie your kayak onto your vehicle. More so, we will mention a few key tips to keep in mind during this entire process.

What You’ll Need

Before you can even begin thinking about transporting your kayak, you will need to ensure that you have the necessary equipment in order. Below, we have made a list of a few essential items that you will need to get the job done correctly.


These will run across the roof of your car. Most crossbars are designed to be attached to pre-installed bars that can be found running from the top to the bottom of the roof – however, this depends on what type of vehicle you have. You can also purchase crossbars that fit into the flatbed of a truck.


You will also need to invest in a specific rack/padding system that attaches to your crossbars. The most suitable options will support your kayak in a J or V shape.

Cam straps

Cam straps should be used to ensure that your kayak does not move around while driving. You should invest in two straps that are at least 12 feet or longer.

Bow and stern lines

You could make use of a water-resistant, non-stretch rope. However, it is essential to note that special ratcheting lines make the job much quicker and easier.

Loading A Kayak Onto The Vehicle

Loading a kayak onto the roof of your car is much easier when you have help. However, it is not impossible to do it on your own. If you do not have company, it may be worthwhile to invest in a lift system, as this will make the job much easier.

On the other hand, if you do have assistance, follow the steps below to get the kayak loaded.

  • Start with two people at each end of the vehicle. Use the carry handles at either end of the kayak and position the boat so that it lies parallel to the car. It is very important that you ensure the bow end of the kayak is towards the front of the vehicle.
  • Grab the boat at each end and carefully lift it overhead. Since the kayak is heavy, make sure that you use your legs to do this instead of your back. This could potentially prevent a number of injuries in the long run.
  • While the boat is overhead, ensure that it is placed directly over the rack on top of the car. Once you have it positioned perfectly, gently place it down to avoid scratching or damaging the roof. It is important to note that the proper position of the boat will be determined by the type of rack on your vehicle.

Tying Down Your Kayak

Next comes tying the kayak down so that it doesn’t move around once you are in motion. This is a very important step, so ensure you follow the steps below.

  • Once you are happy with the position of the kayak, you can take a cam strap and position it so that the buckle rests a few inches above the crossbar.
  • Loop the straps through the crossbar and ensure that they secure around the kayak properly.
  • Repeat this process with the other cam strap on the opposite end of the kayak.

Special Tips To Remember

There are a few extra things that you should always keep in mind when transporting your kayak. They are:

  • Use simple knots to tie down your kayak, as this will make it much easier to release.
  • Make sure that you check your kayak before setting off. Try wiggling it around to ensure that it doesn’t move around too much.
  • Buy locking cam straps in order to add extra security to your kayak.


Transporting your kayak can be a tricky job if done incorrectly. So how to transport a kayak? Well, in order to make the process easier, you will need cam straps, crossbars, racks/padding, and bow and stern lines.

Start by loading the boat onto the roof of your vehicle. This is much easier with help, but using a lift system will make doing it on your own much quicker. You can then tie down the kayak with your cam straps. Make sure that the boat is properly secure in order to prevent it from scratching the roof of the car.

Related: How to Transport a Kayak Without A Roof Rack

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