One of the great hurdles to the aspiring kayaker is how to travel with a kayak. The logistics of kayaking can be a bit of a puzzle in general. What is the best way to travel with one?
If you are bombing around in a sedan you might be thinking that your only option is a blow-up kayak, at best. You will be surprised by our exploration of kayak transportation ideas.
Ways to Transport a Kayak with a Car
For the car driver the transport of a kayak can seem like something that is so out of the realm of possibility that they may not even consider it as an option. If you are such a person you are going to be delighted to find that you can do a whole lot more with your car than you think.
Transporting a kayak with a car is very feasible and people do it all the time! There are three ways that you can make this happen. We are going to look at each of these and hopefully you see one that lines up with your needs and capabilities.
With a Roof Rack
You have likely seen cars with roof racks. These are often installed so they can increase the storage capacity of the vehicle by adding something like a roof top cargo box. These boxes are very effective and attach to these roof racks.
However, you can use these roof racks and a ratchet strap to secure your kayak on the roof of your car. Be sure that you flip the kayak upside down on the rack. This is the safer way to transport the kayak on your car. You could place some towels or cloths under the kayak to keep the metal roof racks from scratching up your kayak.
An even better method is to invest in a couple kayak rooftop carriers that are compatible with your roof rack. These affix to the roof rack and allow you to nestle the kayak into the rack. These carriers look like a U where one side is shorter than the other.
If you have roof racks you should give these a try.
Without a Roof Rack
If your car does not have a roof rack than you are going to have to get a little more creative. You will not be able to invest in some kayak roof top carriers because they cannot anchor to your bare roof. So to deal with this problem you have to use another means of affixing the kayak to the roof of your vehicle.
Rope or ratchet straps could be a great way to tie down your kayak. This strap or cordage will be run through your open windows in order to keep the kayak tightly in place. You should cover the roof of your car with some kind of protection as the kayak will be pressed tightly against the car and it could damage the paint or finish.
A folded sheet or blanket is a great way to protect your roof from the effects of carrying a kayak without a roof rack.
Another effective kayak transport idea is to utilize inflatable pads that can be fitted to your roof to protect it from storing a kayak without a roof rack. These blow up and create that space between the roof and the kayak. These also protect against the kayak slipping which can be an issue with certain kinds of blankets.
No matter which option you choose, we hope it is clear that there are a number of kayak transport ideas for cars that will get you on the water in a hurry.
Ways to Transport a Kayak with a Truck
Probably the best vehicle for traveling kayakers is a truck. Many people are going to just toss the kayak in the back of the truck bed and hit the road but that is not the only way that they can be transported.
If you have a long kayak and a short truck bed you might need something other than just your bed to transport the kayak. There are two types of truck bed extenders depending on how much space you need. You can open your tailgate and attach a bed extender that looks more like a gate that sits on the open tailgate.
If you need even more length, there are extended truck bed supports that attach to your trailer hitch. They look like a little goal post of the back end of your truck. This is perfect for transporting a kayak.
Pickup Truck Rack
Some truck drivers use the bed of their truck for work and other permanent storage uses. There is a wide range of racks that you can install on your pickup to increase storage capacity. From simple racks that attach to one side of your truck bed to intricate cages that are capable of storing everything from ladders to an entire landscaping business!
These racks are great for your kayak.
How Far can a Kayak Stick Out of a Truck?
If you are wondering how far the kayak can stick out of your truck bed without support, that is a good thing to consider. If your kayak is sticking out more than three feet you will need to tie that kayak down or else, you are asking for a problem.
Ways to Transport a Kayak with an SUV
The modern SUV is going to already be outfitted with rails or a luggage rack of some kind. These can be used in the same way you would use them on a sedan. Depending on the type of rack you have on your SUV you might be able to attach kayak rooftop carriers. With these you could even carry two kayaks!
The average SUV is well outfitted for transporting a kayak.
Ways to Transport a Kayak with a Trailer
Another great kayak transport idea is to invest in a kayak trailer. The Kayak trailer is just like a smaller version of a boat trailer. Depending on the type and size of your kayak you might even be able to use a boat trailer.
These trailers are lightweight and can be towed by most vehicles. Of course, you will need to install a trailer hitch which does not come standard on all vehicles.
Ways to Transport a Kayak with a Kayak Cart
Kayak transport ideas should not be limited to only vehicles. If you are not backing your kayak into a boat landing, then you are going to have to traverse some land between the car and the water.
One of the best ways to deal with this problem is to invest in a kayak cart. These are designed to hold your kayak at one end, on two wheels, while you walk it from the front end.
The average kayak cart is going to feature foam wrapped placement points for your kayak to sit and two wheels that allow you to walk the kayak with ease.
You should choose a cart based on the type of terrain you have to deal with. Some feature small inflatable wheels, others have larger rugged wheels and there is even a model with completely plastic wheels. Each of these will perform differently on different terrain.
If you have a straight shot over grassy even terrain, then you can basically choose any cart you like. If you are facing rocky or wooded terrain you might need to consider a model more suited for that.
Ways to Transport a Kayak by Hand
If your budget is tight or if you are a simpler person you might find that transporting that kayak by hand is going to do you best. Of course, the overwhelming benefit to having a kayak transported by hand is that it costs you nothing but the muscle work.
There are two ways to carry a kayak effectively and transport it by hand. The first is a two person method that puts one person at the back of the kayak and one at the front. You hold the kayak at each end and make your way to the water’s edge. This is the easiest method if you have multiple people and multiple kayaks in your group.
If you are on a solo adventure you can still carry most kayaks by hand. The key is to get your shoulder inside the cockpit and lay the kayak on your shoulder while bracing it with your body and holding it in place with your hands.
This is a remarkably simple but effective means of transporting kayak by hand.
Ways to Transport a Kayak with a Bike
Biking has become a very popular, zero emissions mode of transportation that many people have taken to. Of course, the bike presents a bunch of limitations from a storage capacity standpoint. Is that something that will affect the average kayaker?
Did you know that they make kayak bike trailers? Oh yea! Kayak trailers that are adapted to affix to your back bike wheel and give you the option of taking your kayak with you down to the river on two wheels.
Now, that is something very interesting to consider. These trailers are strong and lightweight so they will both take the punishment of moving from street to grass on a bike before getting to the landing.
We have even seen bikers remove the first wheel of the bike and place the bike itself on the kayak so it can be transported around the lake with them. Effectively swapping water and land transportation methods but making them all inclusive.
There is also a product on the market called the Dumb Stick. Yes, it is called the Dumb Stick. The Dumb Stick works in tandem with a kayak cart and your stick and bike effective carry the burden of the kayak in the front while the kayak cart carries it in the back. This is another great option for the average kayaker who is looking to maximize that solo trip but still have the ability to transport the kayak.
You know, there is one benefit that traveling via bike has that no other system offers. It is the ability to put in and takeout anywhere and have your transportation method with you! If the bike rides with you that means you take out wherever and whenever you like so long as you can make the ride back home!
Kayak transportation ideas are varied. For a long time, it seemed like you could only use a kayak if someone on the water was renting them or if you had a truck and a truck bed large enough to house one.
Because of the radical popularity of the kayak the market has exploded with ways to carry them to and from. You have options to carry them on the road and even over land.
There are truly no limitations if you really want to take a kayak to the water. If you had the voracity you could just drag that thing to the water’s edge by hand!
However, a kayak cart would at least make a solo journey, on foot, work in your favor. Of course, something like the Dumb Stick or a bike trailer gives you more options if you are not driving trucks or SUVs.
If you are lucky enough to be the proud owner of a truck then it is our opinion that you should maximize your capacity to carry kayaks. As life goes on you might find that you aren’t carrying a single kayak anymore. Maybe you find yourself with an entire family that likes to paddle around the water together.