Transporting a Kayak

  1. Intro to Kayak Fishing
  2. Choosing a Kayak
  3. Outfitting Your Kayak
  4. Transporting a Kayak
  5. Kayak Storage
  6. Going Fishing

One very nice thing about kayaks is that they are very easy to transport and can be put into the water almost anywhere. That said, 50 or 60 pounds is still a fair amount of weight and a 14 foot kayak does tend to be a little bulky and difficult to manage. With the right equipment and techniques however, you can easily get your kayak from place to place and into the water.

Getting to and from the water

Unless you are fortunate enough to live on the water you will have to put your kayak in or on some type of vehicle to get it to the launch point. There is a way to get a kayak in or on almost any car or truck.

If you have a pickup then you’re in great shape. With a long bed just dump your kayak in back, lash it down and you’re ready to go. If your bed isn’t at least half the length of the kayak plus a foot or so, you will want to get a bed extender. A bed extender is a metal rack that fits into a receiver hitch mounted on the back of your truck. It will give you a few feet of extra length which should be all you need.

If you don’t have a truck then you can either pull your kayak on a trailer or put it on top of your car. Trailers work fine but can be expensive and take up a lot of space. Most people choose to car top. If you have a factory rack with crossbars that run from one side to the other you are in great shape. Just put on some rack pads, throw your kayak on top and lash it down. Thule and Yakima racks are a great option if they will attach easily to your car. Many car manufacturers sell racks and adapters specifically for theirs car. You should be able to find information on the manufacturer's website.

Car topping your kayak

If you’ve got someone to help you put your kayak on top of the car then you’re in great shape. You each just take an end, walk the kayak over the vehicle and set it down.

There is an art to putting a kayak on top of a car, particularly an SUV, by yourself. If done right you should never have to pick up more than half the kayak. The first thing you will need is a rubber-backed rug (like a bathroom mat). Lay the mat rubber-side-down on the back of the roof of your vehicle, draping down over the window. You may need two for a car – one for the roof and one to go over the back of the trunk. Place your kayak behind your vehicle with the front third of the kayak angling up to one side of the car. Pick up the front of the boat (the part that is beside your car), move it over your car and lay it on the rug on the back of your car. Make sure the boat is balanced so it will not slip over to either side. Go to the end of the boat that is still resting on the ground, pick it up, and slide your kayak up and onto the rack. Again, be careful that the kayak doesn’t slip to one side or the other.

The next step is to secure your boat. Some kayaks will ride fine right-side-up. Others need to be flipped over to be stable. Once your kayak is on the rack straight and evenly balanced front to back, lash it down with tie down straps and also with a bow and stern line if you will be traveling far. Do not overtighten the straps as too much pressure can deform the hull. If you do overtighten, don't worry too much. The hull should come back into shape after a couple hours in the sun. If you can rock the car by moving the end of the kayak side to side, and there is very little or no slippage, then the straps are probably tight enough. Rack pads will help to secure your kayak to the rack as they will mold to the shape of the kayak and help absorb some of the shock of a bumpy road or quick turns that can cause a kayak to slip. It is a good idea to secure your boat with bow and stern lines attached to the frame of your vehicle, especially if you will be travelling far or at interstate speeds.

From the car to the water and back again

Once you get to the water you can take your kayak off your vehicle in pretty much the same way you put it on. Get as close to the water as you can so you don’t have to move it far across land. A plastic kayak can be easily dragged across grass and sand without harming the hull. If you will be going far or across pavement you may want to get a kayak cart. A kayak cart is just a set of wheels that lashes to one end of the kayak. You can then pick up the other end and wheel it wherever you want to go.

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