How to Carry a Kayak by Yourself? – A Practical Guide

How to Carry a Kayak by Yourself

After a busy hectic week, I decided to go out kayaking towards some peaceful spot to do some picnic and rest. A solo outing sounds very calming when you are exhausted from your daily routine.

Finding a kayak and deciding the best spot is a hard task but after reading out some articles I did it. Now, the next uphill battle for me was to carry a kayak to my kayaking spot.

To enjoy kayaking alone I decided to do this struggle by myself and it was not that easy for me.  But when it comes to your turn you will not be alone in this task because here I am sharing my practical guide for readers’ assistance.

You will find a lot of helpful stuff here, let’s begin!

Why Do You Need to Carry Kayaks?

You may face various challenging situations when kayaking but the hardest assessment is to carry out your boat to the water. But transporting a 10 to 18 feet kayak is the biggest challenge. You need to do this task just right because there is no chance of a mistake. If you will not do it right it will create problems for you and other people on the road.

The serious issue is the unpacking and repacking at the kayaking portage. The thing in favor is that you don’t need to stick on shore when the weather is harsh. Packing and unpacking gear at each spot is also a problem.

I recommend you to carry it on the top of some transport with complete care handling service to avoid any damages.

How to Carry a Kayak by Yourself?

When carrying a kayak, first you need to kneel down and then get to the closest point to lift you and grab it from the side of the cockpit. Put it on your lap and rotate it to the opposite side to lift it on your shoulder. When you are done lifting the kayak on your shoulder, you can easily take it to the water but don’t hit anything or any person when you are going to the lake.

That’s not all! Some more practical ways that will help you to easily carry a kayak by yourself.

If you feel like you cannot take it solo go ahead with the trolley option. I recommend you use a Rhino rack Side Loader. It will help you to carry your kayak hull down. This will also help to prevent the scratches on deck. And if you have a plastic kayak in small size you can simply drag it from your car to water.

Kayak Cart is another wise option when you are having a kayak made of fiberglass material because you cannot drag it as it ruins its hull by putting holes in its bottom. And it is heavy enough that you cannot lift it to your shoulder.

So, the kayak cart or one-person kayak loader is a good option as the weight distributes on its wheels and you can easily carry it over long distances by yourself.

Another choice is using a Keel. You can only drag your kayak on grass and sand but it can tear off the keel. You cannot apply this trick everywhere as it can do a lot of damage to the keel. But the plus point is that the keel is replaceable with a new one.

How to Carry a Kayak in a Car by Yourself?

In this section, I will guide you about carrying a Kayak in your car safely. I carried my kayak with the help of another person. It helps a lot but if you are alone you have to do it on your own.

You can rear-load a kayak on your car by putting a soft towel on the car. By standing near the rear of the car and directing the nose of the kayak on to header behind the first rack. Putting a towel will prevent scratching of paint. it is an easier way for single and two-person too.

Try to get a good inflatable kayak as they are much easier to transport. A Rhino T-bar Load is another good option.

Also Read: Kayak Hull Types – A Complete Guide

How to Carry a Sit-on-Top Kayak by Yourself?

Some kinds of Sit on top kayaks are not designed to carry goods in a there must be numerous semi-loose gears. Yoke pads or Clamp yokes are also very helpful to carry your sit-in kayak. It just takes a little time but it is a feasible solution. You need to fix it in advance and then it could best help you carry your SOT by yourself.

Let me share another solution in this regard, you can just simply take a long and strong strap, connect it to the middle pillar and make a giant loop. Now hook it around that pillar. Take a clip and apply it over the attachment end. Now put your head through it and get the strap on your shoulders. Make sure to select a long-length strap you will be stunned by seeing the weight distribution and easy carrying in this way.

Here I am going to share some important rules with you. Read them carefully they will surely help you in some way.

Tips and Rules for Carrying a Kayak in the USA

Whenever you try to carry your kayak in a car.Must keep these points in your mind.

You can carry any length of kayak on your car but it should not exceed 2 or 3 feet after the bumper of the car. It is dangerous for not only you but also for others. Anything like this must be marked with a bold red flag.

If you are taking your kayak in dark times like in the evening, at dawn, or at night time, must make use of some blinking red lights on your kayak to make them visible from even too far.

Must carry your kayak over j racks or some other kind of racks that will keep the roof safe as well as for road safety. If you are traveling at speeds up to 80km/hr. never forget to install j racks in advance. These j racks can be tied to the car and at the front and back end of the kayak. You can twist it in a v shape to stop the kayak from sliding when the car is moving. You can make use of straps too.

When carrying a kayak in your vehicle you can also use a set of 4 cradles that are designed in curves to be attached to a rack. For good end ties wobble your kayak in this set.

You must have some gadgets or accessories to fix the kayak on the vehicle. If you can easily manage j racks or some kind of saddles set then it’s very well for your road and car safety.

But if you somehow cannot manage these things you can go for other options like the Malone lift system, rollers, or Thule system, etc.


As a result, we just concluded that carrying a kayak is not a big deal but carrying it with care and safety matters a lot. You should have an excess of knowledge of using various techniques when transporting a kayak to a lake by yourself. Two people can easily do this job but if you are going to lift it on your shoulders, take the right angles to keep your back safe. All the methods, tips, and techniques are discussed in detail.

If you made it alone, give a pat on your back. Happy Kayaking! 

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