How to Carry a Kayak?

Determining a suitable transportation method is necessary before choosing a kayaking spot. The same goes for buying a kayak. If you order a too heavy model, you may not handle it alone. Some people fail to transport even after owning a car because the kayak’s weight crosses the vehicle’s capacity. So make sure to get a lightweight unit. Then, select a proper hauling technique. However, most beginners don’t know how to carry a kayak properly. We are covering the most convenient ways here to help them out. Let’s start discussing:

How to Bring Your Boats on the Kayaking Adventure

Carrying alone

If you have to walk a few minutes to reach the destination, there is no need to hire a car. You don’t even need a helping hand for small kayaks. Feel free to carry them on your shoulder instead. First of all, place the watercraft on the ground such that its front is facing your destination’s direction.

Take your position beside the cockpit. Bend the knees slightly, lean forward, and squat down. Avoid bending your back and waist. Put your hands on the nearest cockpit side and grab it tightly. Lift the kayak and slide it onto your lap. Now, lead your hand to the cockpit’s other side and hold it. Lift it slowly while standing up. Flip the kayak and bring it on your shoulder. Set it in a comfortable position so that you won’t get hurt. Wearing a safety jacket or padded PFD will be safer than carrying the kayak on your bare shoulder.

Carrying with a partner

It is suitable for shifting large and heavy kayaks from one place to another. You will need help from a fellow kayaker. Check whether the kayak features handles or not. If not, you can purchase them separately and attach to the bow and stern. Just like the previous method, keep your kayak on the ground.

One of you should stand in front of the front, and the other one will be close to the back. Bend the knees, lift the kayak by holding the handles together, and stand up. Coordination is the key to success here. Both of you have to face and walk in the same direction. Don’t try backpedaling. Maintain proper synchronization throughout the journey.  Do not try it for a long distance.


Although it is not an efficient strategy, many people drag their kayaks in a short distance. All they have to do is grab a handle with one hand, lift the kayak, start walking, and pull it to the kayaking spot. Do not rush because it may cause serious damage to your boat. Only do it occasionally on grass or sand surfaces.

Do not think of dragging in rocky and uneven platforms. Regular dragging may eventually lead to discoloration, scratches, small cracks, and holes. So, it will decrease the kayak’s longevity. A safer solution is attaching transportation wheels to the kayak. You can drag it faster without severe damage. Set the wheel under the stern, lift the bow up by the handle and walk. Do not let the stern touch the ground. Or, you can connect the handle to your bicycle and pedal to reach the desired lake.

Using a kayak trailer

Sometimes, the roof of our cars does not support the boat’s weight or dimension. A quick fix can be using a kayak trailer to wheel one or more kayaks. Most trailers are small and lightweight yet support up to four medium kayaks. Thus, you can bring more crafts, cargo boxes, water, paddle, gear, and essentials for yourself or more persons. They are specially designed for being towed by other transports.

Load everything you need and strap down them correctly. Attach the trailer to the back of your vehicle. As soon as you start driving, the trailer will come along with your vehicle. Note that you may need some skill to complete this task. Many newbies end up flipping the trailer and breaking the kayaking kit.

Using a pickup truck bed

One of the easiest processes of moving kayaks is using pickups. They have a wide bed, which can accommodate multiple kayaks, tools, and other items together. Put the tailgate down first. Clean out all debris, unwanted accessories. Place a thick mat or other padded supports. Be sure to load only short kayaks and skip the longer models if possible. A long sea kayak usually will not fit there.

If you still insist, you won’t be able to close the tailgate. You do not need to secure them for a short ride. Just drive at a slow to moderate speed and keep checking the kayaks constantly. Tying the items with fastening straps or ropes is a must to travel long paths. Position them in suitable places. Lock the bow and stern lines with the truck bed. Use kayak covers to keep the cockpit safe from scratches and road debris. Finally, close the tailgate to prevent accidental falling.

Related: How to Tie Down a Kayak in a Truck Bed

Using car racks

A car roof can hold kayaks as long as their weight stays below the roof’s capacity. We can carry a single kayak or more efficiently. Install a reliable rack system on the top of your vehicle. They ensure easy loading, stability, and better protection. If your car doesn’t feature factory racks, spend some bucks on a basic tower and crossbars.

How to Carry a Kayak?
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You can tie down the kayaks without a roof rack directly on crossbars. Mounting J cradles on them will provide better safety. They are nothing but j-shaped bars that keep the kayaks securely in an angular position. In this way, the car’s roof space will be maximized. Then, place the crafts on them. Two-person loading is more convenient. Both persons grab the boat ends by the handle, lift it and set it on racks from sides. If you are alone, try using additional lift systems or rolling wheels. Slide the boats from the back, not the sides. Tie down all of them with long cam straps, bow, or stern lines. Do not make the grip too loose or too tight.

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