Cars,  Auto Parts

How to Transport Kayaks and Canoes Safely

Kayaking remains one of the best ways to spend free time outdoors with friends and family. Kayaks and canoes give you a closer view of the waters when you are fishing or performing sports activities. However, the biggest challenge is usually transporting the kayak or canoe to the water location. In most cases, you will have to pack and drive with your kayak to the water location. However, we all know how difficult it can be to transport a long 14-foot touring kayak.

Since kayaks and canoes cost a lot, the last thing you want is an accident along the way. Sometimes, even with the best kayak racks for cars, you still need some extra skills to secure your kayak to the car properly. Extra care and caution are required to avoid damage to your car, kayak, and kayak rack. There are handfuls of essentials required before one can load a kayak into a car. This is why we’ve created this post to help you transport your kayak safely.

Three common ways to transport a kayak or canoe

Some of the common ways you can transport your canoe or kayak include:

1.    Car rooftops

This is by far the most dangerous way to transport your kayak but the most common one. Most families own cars, which makes this method the most convenient one. However, transporting your canoe or kayak on cars can be risky. This is the case, especially when you have a small car. You will need a kayak or canoe rack to transport kayaks on your car top safely.

Make sure you choose sturdy and durable racks that will serve you for years. Choose racks that are easy to install and use.

2.    Truck Bed extenders

Well, if you happen to have a truck, then consider getting truck bed extenders. The extenders install on your truck back and allow for easy and safe carrying of kayaks and canoes. You can transport more than one kayak with truck extenders. Make sure you invest in high-quality truck extenders that will serve you for long.

3.    Trailers

Lastly, you can easily transport your kayak or canoe using trailers. Trailers are a bit safe and take away the worry of something hanging from the top of your car. Choose heavy-duty stainless steel trailers for long-lasting durability. The best trailer must be easy to install and load your canoe.

Well, these are the main ways to transport a kayak, but a lot more is needed for safe usage and transportation of a kayak or canoe. In this section, we will look at how you can safely load a kayak into a car roof.


How To Put a Kayak on a Car Roof

Since this is the most common way of transporting a kayak or canoe, you need to know how to apply it safely. There are several things needed before one can load the kayak to a roof. These include:

•    Crossbars: Depending on your car model, crossbars usually run from the front to back on your car top.

•    Kayak rack/padding system: You will need a rack system that easily installs to your car’s cross bars. The racks usually hold the canoe or kayak during transportation. They help protect against scratches to your car and kayak.

•    Straps: Straps help to secure the kayak firmly to your car roof. The straps ensure the kayak does not fall during transportation. In most cases, the road leading to the river or lake will be bumpy hence the need to firmly secure the kayak.

•    Stern lines and bow: Bow and stern lines are also great at firmly securing the canoe. Make sure you choose water-resistant ropes that will last you for long.

Loading the kayak

When it comes to loading the kayak to the roof, you need to do it carefully to avoid unnecessary accidents. Kayak loading can be done individually or with help. Let’s have a look at the two instances below:

Loading with a partner

Have two persons at both ends of the kayak and let them hold the kayak grab handles in a parallel position to your car. Grab the kayak by the hull on both sides and slowly lift using your legs. Set the boat down on the rack gently.

Loading alone

If you have the muscles and strength to lift the kayak by yourself, then you need to follow some simple steps. Loading a kayak by yourself is only recommended when you’re alone. You need a lift system, rolling wheels, and a towel or a blanket.

You can use a lift system to load a kayak to your car back safely. If your kayak rack is integrated with a lift system, then use it to slide the kayak from the back side safely.

The other option is to use rolling wheels by setting the canoe bow into the rear cradle. The stern end of the boat is then picked and rolled into the front cradle.

Lastly, you can use a heavy towel or blanket by setting it on the back or your car. The towel or blanket acts as cushion prevent scratches as you slide the boat.

Tying the kayak


The last thing before you hit the road is safely tying the kayak with straps. One of the easiest ways to strap your kayak or canoe is to use cam straps. Cam straps don’t require any special knots or skills. You simply need to feed them through the buckles and cinch them down. Here are some extra tips for safe tying of your boat:

•    Ensure the kayak is centered between the crossbars and running parallel with your car.

•    Make sure the straps attach to both the kayak and car to prevent any slipping off.

•    Tighten straps to get a snug fit. However, avoid over-tightening, as too much tension can cause damage.

•    Grab either side of the kayak and shake it to ensure it is secured tightly.

• Keep things simple, as fancy knots are usually not the safest.


Once everything is set, you can hit the road and drive carefully. You’re advised to make short stops of 15 minutes to ensure the kayak is still secure. There are instances where straps loosen because of driving.