Easy Kayak Transport Ideas

When you start kayaking, one of the first challenges you will face is transporting your kayak. Even if you have a kayak delivered to your home, you’ll still need a dependable and secure way to transport it each time you go paddling.

A select few may be lucky enough to live right next to a river, lake, or ocean. However, most of us are stuck figuring out how to transport a kayak from our home to a kayaking destination.

Transporting an unsecured kayak can result in serious damage to your vehicle, your kayak, or other vehicle drivers on the road. So, it is important to consider which method is best for you beforehand. This article here covers various kayak transportation options.

Best Ways to Transport a Kayak in 2023

1. How to transport a kayak in a car?

There are two main options to transport a kayak in a car: With or without a roof rack. But many are unsure whether they can transport a kayak with a roof rack.

You might wonder whether it is possible to transport a kayak on a roof rack? Yes, by using a roof rack you can absolutely transport your kayak on the roof of your car. If your car’s roof rack is attached properly, it’ll definitely hold the weight of your kayak.

A. With roof rack

Many vehicles come with an installed roof rack but don’t worry, even if you don’t have one you can attach a removable roof rack. But there are a few steps that you need to take to properly install your rack.

The type of roof racks available is - Side racks and crossbars, only side rails, and removable roof racks.

Siderails are two metal bars that run along each side of your car’s roof. But in some vehicles, there will be several crossbars that will be covering the width.

Other than roof racks and side rails, you need additional attachments to your roof to transport the kayak.

  • Saddles: Saddles are preferred by most kayakers. It is a small, cushioned platform that connects to the roof rack. The kayak is placed on the saddle and is held in place with the help of an attachment. A pair of saddles are placed beneath the bow and the stern, but you can also use a single pair beneath the middle.
  • J-cradles: The kayak is placed on the side when using a J-cradle. It may seem strange, but it helps in keeping plastic kayaks from going out of shape. Another benefit of using J-cradle is that you can easily transport two kayaks side-by-side.
  • Stacker: You can transport more than one kayak with the help of a stacker. Similar to J-cradles, they are placed on the sides. If you are planning to transport multiple kayaks at the same time, a stacker is the best option.
  • Foam pads: Foam pads are a temporary solution for those who do not want to invest much in the roof rack system. It adds extra padding to existing roof rails to protect your boat from any kind of damage.

B. Without roof rack

If you don’t have a roof rack for transport, then an inflatable kayak is the best option. It's also an excellent choice for beginners because it is easier to store. Inflatable kayaks fit easily into one bag which makes transportation extremely easy. There are other options available such as pool needles and cam buckle to secure a kayak on your car without a roof rack.

  • Pool needles and cam buckle: They are soft polyurethane tube that comes with a hole in the middle. Ensure the poll needles you choose is thick, heavy-duty, and large enough to cover the width of your vehicle. Depending on the size of your vehicle, you can place the pool needles every three feet. You should have one in the center and one in the front and the back. Once you’ve set them in place, link one set of cam buckles (long hard-wearing nylon used to tie around objects) through the hole in the center of the pool needles and then through the inside of your car, through the open doors before securing them. Then you can easily lift your kayak and place it on the top of the pool needle.

2. How to transport a kayak in a truck?

There are different methods to transport a kayak in a truck.

Truck bed:

This is a great option for you if you don’t want to purchase extra equipment for your truck. This method is easy, quick, and convenient. You may need a bed liner to protect both your kayak and your vehicle.

Bed extender:

Sometimes your truck bed might not be big enough to carry your kayak. A truck bed extender is a simple piece of equipment that attaches your tow bar and adds 2 feet of pickup to your pickup truck. With this option, you’ll be able to attach an oversized kayak to your short truck bed easily.

Truck bed rack:

If you don’t mind adjusting your truck bed, a truck bed rack might be a good option. Load the kayak hull-side down, center it on the rack, secure it to the bars, and add the bow and stern lines if possible. One of the advantages of this method is, that you can still store other gears needed for the kayaking trip in the truck bed.

Truck utility rack:

A truck utility rack is one of the best options for transporting your kayak, especially if you have to transport two kayaks. It’s mainly a roof rack and a truck combined into a single system. It connects the truck bed in the same way that the truck rack does, but it has a lot more space and anchor points for tying down kayaks.

3. How to transport a kayak on a bicycle?

No matter the type of bike you’re using, you can transport a kayak through a bike trailer. All you need to do is to attach your kayak to the trailer and carry it to your desired location.

Other alternative methods include portage carts which help you to load your kayak on the cart and carry the kayak on your bike. You can also carry your kayak using two bars. To tow your kayak, you can attach a tow bar to your bike. These two bars will assist you in dragging your kayak to your destination.

How to Tie Down a Kayak?

Cam straps are one of the easiest ways to tie down your kayak securely to your vehicle. Cam straps eliminate the need for specific knots and are simple to use. The key is to tighten the straps on either side of the boat’s widest point to prevent any forward or backward movement. You can pull your cam straps as hard as you want on plastic boats. When working with fiberglass boats, you must be gentle, not tight.

How to Carry a Kayak?

If you have a smaller kayak, you can carry it on your own. Follow the steps down to take the kayak off the ground and onto your shoulder.

  • Begin by placing the kayak on the ground in front of you. The bow or front of the kayak should point in the direction you want to travel. You should be standing right next to the cockpit.
  • Squat down by bending your knees.
  • Take hold of the side of the cockpit closest to you.
  • Keep your knees bent as you slide the kayak onto your thighs.
  • Make your way to the opposite side of the cockpit.
  • As you stand up lift the kayak.
  • Rotate the kayak so that it rests on your shoulder.
  • Allow the rim to rest against your shoulder.

If you have a longer boat, you may need a fellow kayaker to help in carrying the kayak. One holds the end of the bow while the other holds the end of the stern. Both should walk in the same direction and should not backpedal.


1. How far can a Kayak stick out of a truck or car?

It depends on the state you’re living in. But the basic guideline is a kayak should not extend more than 3 feet in front and 4 feet in the back.

2. Should I get a bed extender for my kayak?

No that depends on the length of the kayak to the length of your truck bed. The benefit of the extender is it distributes the hull evenly by reducing the chance of falling out because of uneven weight distribution.

3. How to carry a kayak in a short-bed truck?

Don’t worry. If your kayak bed truck is small then you can get a truck bed extender that allows you to carry any oversized kayak.


Now you know the importance of transporting the kayak and how you can do it with the methods that are available. Transporting a kayak can be as exhausting as paddling. But you know what? Practice makes perfect

You can try lifting, loading, and securing the kayak in your backyard. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts don’t go as planned. You’ll be able to do it in no time.

Hope this article is helpful to you. Do share it with your friends or fellow kayakers who might benefit from this. Drop your questions if you have any and we will get back to you soon!

Disclaimer - The images inside the article were collected from the internet. We do not own any of them.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: