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Transporting Your Kayak

Updated on July 30, 2019

There are many things to think about as you solve this dilemma. One transportation option is a trailer. While this is probably the easiest solution, it’s not without challenges. After spending a significant amount of money on your kayak, you probably don’t want to invest even more money on a trailer. There is a wide price range for kayaks, with some being affordable, however they aren’t as durable as more pricey ones. Trailers are lower to the ground which makes loading very easy for heavy kayaks as you don't need to lift the kayak as high. If you select a trailer as your transportation solution, you then need to determine where to store it which could range from your garage, to your yard, to a rental solution. Trailers can be purchased from dealers or custom made to fit your needs. Farm Supplement stores etc. also sell trailers as well as Harbor Freight for more inexpensive trailers. Purchasing a used trailer is another option. Other things to think about with trailers include licensing, towing, trailer upkeep, etc.

A more economical solution for transporting your kayak is to bypass the trailer and use your vehicle for transportation. Vehicle transportation ranges from rooftop using a kayak rack or attaching the kayak to the rack, as well as truck beds and truck racks. When I first started kayak fishing, I loaded my kayak on top of a SUV. I transported my first kayak upside down this way. It was easy enough as I would get the nose of the kayak on top of the roof rails and just pick the back of the kayak up and push it on. From there, I would anchor it with straps to the rails. A car or SUV rooftop kayak rack is used similarly. Popular brands are Thule, etc. A pickup equipped with racks is another option for a light kayak. Additionally, kayaks can also slide into bed of truck for easy transportation which is what I currently use.

Another inexpensive transportation option is to slide the kayak into a SUV, securing the kayak inside the SUV with ratchets and closing the hatch. Recently, I was out fishing at my local lake and watched as a lady in a kayak got off the water drug her kayak to her SUV, opened the back and slid the boat right in. I thought to myself, “well I never would have tried that.” You would want to use some type of tarp under the kayak to keep your SUV clean.

Lastly, a pickup truck bed is a great solution for heavy loaded kayaks with a lot of gear on them. A pickup is better suited for transporting this type of set up when not using a trailer. Currently, I drive a truck and load my kayak into the back. I use a bed extension rack to support the weight while traveling. My current kayak is a 2017 Hobie Outback and I have a side imaging graph on it. The transducer sits below the hull and can be damaged if not transported properly. This was the first issue I ran into as I could not just slide it into my truck bed like I've done with my previous kayak because doing that would damage the transducer. To resolve this, I have 2 pieces of 4-inch PVC tube running the length of the bed that allows the shape of my kayak to slide in nicely while protecting my transducer. A wheel system works well when loading a heavy kayak such as this. You simply get your kayak started and push it in. I use a blanket on top of the PVC to protect the kayak body from scratches, etc. I strap my kayak in with multiple straps to ensure it is secure while traveling. One thing to be careful about when using straps is warping your kayak. If you leave your kayak strapped down for long periods of time you can damage the hull. Therefore, it’s good to undo the straps occasionally to let the kayak breath. Since my kayak is long, I also have a flag at the end of the kayak for safety. I have been transporting my kayak for two years in this manner, have had minimal problems and can load my kayak quickly. My kayak takes minimal storage space since I don’t use a trailer. This is also a very economical solution.

There are tons of different types of straps to use and it comes down to personal preference at the end of the day. If you plan on traveling a lot and camp or stay in hotels there are straps that have cables inside the strap. This is pretty neat as it adds a level of security to the setup since in order for someone to come along and try and steal your kayak, they would need something to cut the cables rather than just a knife to cut regular straps.

Properly strapping in a kayak is one of the easiest things to do yet is sometimes overlooked. It might be that people are in a rush when getting off the water or just neglect rigging, I’m not sure. I have seen 2 instances where kayaks were not strapped in properly. One being where an angler was loading his kayak in his truck and he only had one ratchet strap holding his boat in which snapped and there was nothing else holding the boat in. Another instance was when I was on the water and heard a loud noise and saw a truck pulling out of the ramp with 2 kayaks laying on the highway. My guess is they had no straps on the kayaks at all and just threw them in the back of the truck. This was obviously not a good idea.

As you can see, there are multiple options for solving your kayak transportation problem and the good news is most of them are fairly economical. Weight is the most important consideration as well as how well your kayak is secured once you choose an option.

Happy Fishing!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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