How to Transport A Kayak

How to Transport A Kayak – Get to the Water Fast and Safe

Transporting a kayak is a critical thing to think about before you purchase your boat, and perhaps even your car! While it is possible to transport any kayak on virtually any vehicle, a few rack systems are going to prove to be better choices than other ones, and there’s the rare occasion in which a rack of any kind isn’t possible on a certain vehicle. Studying all aspects of transportation is a crucial step if you are in the market for a new kayak. All throughout this post we will link to a variety of products that we have found helpful and refer to parts within the post for relevant details.

How to Transport A Kayak – Get to the Water Fast and Safe

Pickup Truck

The easiest mode of transportation is just tossing your kayak in the back of your pickup truck and securing it with a few tie downs. Just leave the tailgate down and permit the kayak to stick out the truck’s back, with a red flag on its end. There are products in the market like the Extend-A-Truck that will slide into the hitch receiver and act as an additional support out the back of your truck.

How to Transport A Kayak - Get to the Water Fast and Safe - Darby Industries 944 Extend-A-Truck

If you own a pickup truck that has a hitch receiver, we suggest using the product to transport the kayak. It is easiest to unload and load your kayak, it is one of the safest methods of securing a kayak to a car, and it is extremely economical compared to a roof rack system. The majority of trucks, which include all Chevrolets are going to have tie down loops low upon the bed walls.

If the trucks tie down loops are mid-way or located at the upper part of your bed walls you will have to either put in aftermarket loops lower upon the walls or locate a way to correctly secure it around your bumper, or additional bed part. The extend-a-truck has tie down loops; therefore, that isn’t an issue, yet you will have to address the opposite part of the kayak. While securing that part of a kayak, run the strap through the stern (or bow) handle of the kayak in order to prevent sliding.

How to Transport A Kayak - Get to the Water Fast and Safe

Also, the EXTEND A TRUCK is able to swap ends so that rather than extending outward, it’ll extend vertically, behind its tailgate. If you add in a single cross bar over the truck’s cab you then can transport your kayak above the truck and leave the bed open for storage. It’s an excellent choice for lengthier trips, as well as weekend getaways as you have to have the bed space for additional storage.

We have seen some folks leave the tailgate up then butt one end of a kayak against the tailgate with a kayak extending forward at an angle over the truck’s cab. It isn’t advisable because the wind actually catches the kayak within this position and if even the smallest thing goes awry with a tie down or rope it might cause an accident. And not to mention, the additional height it’ll add to your car, significantly restricting the choice of drive-thru restaurants that are available and additional likewise catastrophic inconveniences. More compact kayaks such as a mini-x sometimes can be transported inside the truck’s bed with the tailgate up, yet make certain to butt the end of your kayak against the forward side of the bed of the truck then rest the opposite part of the kayak on top of the closed tailgate. Then, the wind force will push your kayak into the bed rather than out of it. Of course, always utilize at least 2 tie downs for even the briefest of trips.

Lumber racks are an excellent choice, yet there sometimes can be an issue because the forward most cross bar typically comes almost to the windshield as the rear bar is toward the tailgate, with a 3rd somewhere around the cab’s back, creating an extremely long span between the rear and front, particularly if the kayak is under 13’. If the saddle system may be connected with the two rear bars, it’s the best way to do it. If not, you would want to place the kayak on upside down since it’s resting upon straight crossbars and what winds up happening is your kayak is going to contact the rear and front bar without coming into contact with the middle bar. They’re so far apart that it isn’t the most secure method of attaching the kayak; therefore, make certain that you utilize a strap on all 3 bars.

How to Transport A Kayak - Get to the Water Fast and Safe - Thule Xsporter PRO

It’s also possible to locate telescoping systems such as the Xsporter which essentially is a telescoping lumber rack that does not have the front portion; therefore, it is just a crossbar close to the tailgate and crossbar at the bed’s front in which the bed meets the cab. When not being used it may be folded down so as not to add additional height to the truck and assist with loading. Also, it has load stops that assist in guiding the kayak onto a rack.

4 Door Vehicles

Almost any 4-door vehicle may use a removable Soft Rack System. It essentially is a set of 2 foam tubes that have 2 straps that run through the center of every tube. To attach it to your car, open all of the doors and set 1 tube on the roof toward the windshield and 1 toward the window’s rear. Run a strap through its doors then cinch tight. Set your kayak upside down upon the tubes and utilize the rest of the straps to secure the kayak to every tube. Always secure the stern and bow to the bumpers as you are using this kind of rack because there seems to be a ton of flex without them. The system is extremely easy, requires no permanent installation and is highly economical. For brief trips to a launch site it is an excellent choice, yet for lengthier road trips a hard mounted, more secure system is suggested. Just do not forget to first open the doors, or it might negatively affect the operation of your car.

The soft rack has a few drawbacks, as compared with mounted crossbars. It just elevates the kayak perhaps one inch above the roof; therefore, any permanent mounts or rod holders on the kayak might contact or damage the vehicle’s roof. Also, this low clearance won’t permit any type of roof-mounted antennae which can’t completely fold flat or completely be removed. Vehicles that have overly rounded roofs sometimes can be hard for this system because spacing the tubes sufficiently apart could cause the kayak to damage and contact the roof between them. Correct spacing is critical to this system; therefore, be certain your particular cars doors and roof shape will permit the tubes to be mounted about 3’ – 4’ apart.


The majority of SUVs on the streets have some type of luggage rack on their roof, or at least have the side rails as their standard equipment. If your sports utility vehicle has the factory luggage rack installed with its cross bars, it’s generally enough to transport the kayak. Inspect the vehicles rack, particularly if it is an older model to ensure nothing is loose or damaged. It isn’t a bad idea to have the local dealership give it a once over before you load a 70lb. fishing kayak and drive 60 miles. It isn’t uncommon to see a damaged or loose bracket of some type, which easily could lead to failure.

Almost all sports utility vehicle crossbars are a likewise shape, they’re thin and flat and designed of a plastic composite kind of material. A few are rated for higher loads than other ones, yet almost all may support a kayak’s weight. If you are worried about the load rating of your luggage rack, get in touch with your dealer’s service department, research on the internet, or check your owners’ manual.

Some cars, particularly some Nissans have very thick crossbars that won’t permit many add-ons or rack pads. Your choices become more restricted with those crossbars unless Nissan provides its own add-ons, yet there still are available options to securely transport the kayak. Take your car to the local dealer, kayak shop, or rack specialist to see all options.

Aftermarket Racks

Actually there are two main manufacturers of aftermarket roof racks, Yakima and Thule.They’re extremely likewise systems with the most visible difference being the square bars of Thule and the round bars from Yakima. Both businesses provide a broad array of vehicles they will fit and a variety of add-ons for their crossbars which is going to secure anything from snowboards to bikes to luggage cases and kayaks. Both systems are priced similarly and fit a massive array of vehicles. advantage to Thule over Yakima is that the square bars inherently will not spin within the mounts and add-ons will not spin on the bars, whereby that may be a problem on round bars. addition, Thule fits a somewhat broader variety of cars than Yakima.

There are a variety of ways that Thule and additional aftermarket systems are going to attach to a car. Before you dive too far into this section, make certain that whatever system is proper for your car is correctly installed and always double check your rack system in addition to the kayak before you pull out of the driveway. too often, it is a loose bolt which causes accidents instead of an incorrect tie down. Between vibrations on the streets and folks trying to steal a rack, we have heard a variety of cases in which whole rack systems came loose. Make sure you always double-check the roof rack.

There are 2 – 3 individual pieces which have to be considered depending upon your car’s mounting options. The most fundamental is the crossbars themselves. It’s possible to select whatever length you want, none of those systems permit the crossbar to dead end inside the mount. Longer crossbars simply will pass through the mounts and off of the side of the car. Do not go too long because the bars oftentimes mount close to the doors and long bars may cause a hazard for your forehead as you are sitting inside the car. Look up your car on for the suggested length, or break a tape measure out.

The next piece to consider is the mount, or as Thule refers to it a foot pack. There are numerous foot packs made for various options for mounting from sports utility vehicle side rails to camper shells to rain gutters, and all things in between. Even the same car might have several mounting options; therefore, determine which technique is better for your car before you purchase the foot pack.

Many mini-vans and SUVs have side rails on their roof yet might not have the crossbars installed. A factory crossbar sometimes can be bought through a dealerships service department, yet the price might be comparable to aftermarket systems and you’ll get the extra benefit of all of the compatible add-ons aftermarket systems provide, in conjunction with the less flexible metal bars, as compared with the plastic factory racks. In order to add aftermarket crossbars to the current side rails of your mini-van or SUV, you’d utilize a mount like the Thule Crossroad. Metal core rubber straps go underneath the side rail and gets fastened inside the mount using an allen key (which is included) that tightens the strap as its turned until the mount is secured. It’s a simplistic install and provides you all of the advantages over factory racks.

Some SUVs, older vans and even some older vehicles have an outside lip that runs the length of the roofline referred to as a rain gutter. There’s a kind of mount which will clamp right onto the lip referred to as the Gutter Foot Pack. It’s an extremely versatile mount because with an addition of artificial rain gutter it may be utilized on any flat surface like an enclosed trailer, fiberglass camper shell, or RV where additional systems won’t work. Remember, installing an artificial rain gutter is going to require drilling holes in order to install, yet it sometimes is the only choice on these types of vehicles.

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