Kayaking alone can be an excellent way to get out into nature to unwind and reflect. Once you're out on the water, kayaking is easy. However, getting to and from the bank and lifting your kayak down to the water can be a hassle when you don't have someone to help you.
So, how can you carry your kayak by yourself and make it easier to get down to the water when you're on your own?
In this article, we'll be looking at a few ways to make loading and unloading your kayak easier. We'll also be looking at how you can make carrying your kayak from your car down to the bank quicker, easier, and less strenuous.
How Can You Transport Your Kayak Easier? — Loading & Unloading Your Kayak
Getting your kayak and all your kit loaded onto your car can be enough to put you off going out for a paddle. Sometimes, this part of the process is more strenuous than the act of kayaking itself. There are a few ways to make this easier though.
Making the process of loading and unloading your kayak onto your car easier will give you more motivation to go out kayaking. If you can cut your loading times down and make it less strenuous, you'll be keener to head out more regularly.
How to Make Loading Your Kayak Easier:
By far, the easiest way to load your kayak is if you own a van or a vehicle long enough that you can store it inside. The closer to the ground your load space, the easier it'll be to load up your kayak. However, most of us will likely need to load the kayak onto the roof of our vehicles.
The easiest way to load your kayak onto the roof of your car is to slide it up from the rear. If you haven't purchased a set of roof bars yet, I'd recommend buying a set with an overhanging roller bar. This allows you to place the bow of the kayak on the bar and push it up from the bottom.
If you don't have a roof rack with an overhanging roller bar, you can get a similar result with a large towel.
Place a folded towel over the rear of your car and gently Place the bow of your kayak on the towel with the stern resting on the ground. From here, you can lift the stern and push the boat up and onto your roof. This is far easier and far less straining than lifting the kayak on to the roof from the sides of the vehicle.
How to Make Unloading Your Kayak Easier:
As with loading, you should unload your kayak from the rear of the vehicle. Once you've removed the straps from the kayak, simply place a towel (or utilise the roller bar if you have one) and pull the boat off from the stern.
You want to be gentle while doing this. Take it slowly and brace yourself when you get past the balance point in the centre of the boat. Once you have the stern on the ground and the bow resting on the roof, you can get the cockpit on your shoulder to carry it to the water. Or, you can lift the bow and place the kayak gently on the ground.
Getting Your Kayak From the Car to the Water
There are several ways you can make getting your kayak from the car to the water easier.
The easiest way to "carry your kayak by yourself" is to not carry it at all…
This sounds crazy but yes, the easiest way to transport your kayak to the water from your parking spot is to pull it. A kayak trolley is the way to do this.
Folding kayak trolleys provide you with a way to pull your kayak on wheels down to the bank. They feature two wheels, a small folding frame, and a couple of straps.
The frame is strapped close to the rear of the kayak so the weight is supported on two pneumatic tyres. This allows you to hold the kayak from the handle at the hull and tow it down to the water. Once you're at the water's edge, you simply remove the trolley, fold it up, and store it inside the kayak or strap it on top of the shell.
Trolleys make life so much easier for the solo kayaker. This ingenious bit of kit allows you to load up your kayak before leaving your car, meaning fewer trips back and forth.
You can get all your kit loaded into the ports and your dry bags and get everything strapped on and ready to go. Once you're beside the water, you simply remove the trolley and you're ready to start paddling.
Without a trolley, you'd likely have to carry the kayak down to the water's edge and return to your vehicle for all your kit (if you're going out for a long day or tour). One trip is always better than two, and it makes the hassle of getting to the bank much easier.
Having a kayak trolley will make the task of getting to the water much simpler, and hopefully, it'll make you want to get out paddling more often.
So, what if you can't use a kayak trolley?
In most cases, the route from the car park to the water is doable with a kayak trolley. However, in some places, especially the more wild waters, the trails are too rough to warrant a trolley.
We recommend finding places that have decent paths for you to use, but if this just isn't possible you'll have to carry your yak…
How to Carry Your Kayak on Your Own
In some cases, you'll have no choice but to carry your kayak on your own. This can be a weighty task that can seem more hassle than it's worth at times.
Remember, it's not a race and you don't have to do the whole leg in one go. You can divide the trip into two or three sections and take rests along the way. This will save your energy for the thing that matters — the kayaking!
So what’s the easiest way to carry your kayak?
Carrying a Sit-in Kayak
If you’re carrying a standard sit-in kayak for freshwater these are the steps you should take:
Step 1: Place your kayak on the ground with the cockpit facing up. Point the bow in the direction you want to carry it.
Step 2: Crouch down, ensuring you bend your knees and not your back, and grab the side of the cockpit that’s closest to you.
Step 3: Now lift the kayak up with your legs and rest the base of the vessel on your thighs.
Step 4: Reach to the opposite side of the kayak and grab the lip of the cockpit.
Step 5: Lift the kayak and rotate it up onto your shoulder. Your shoulder should sit comfortably under the lip of the cockpit with your hand beside supporting it.
Step 6: Get Walking! Once you’re at the water, repeat the steps in reverse to place the kayak on the ground, making sure you bend your knees and keep your back straight.
Carrying a Sit-on Kayak
Carrying a sit-on kayak is a little different from carrying a sit-in kayak. You don’t have a cockpit to use as leverage or assistance for carrying the vessel on your shoulder.
These are the steps you should take when carrying a sit-on kayak:
Step 1: Place the kayak on the floor with the seat facing up and the bow pointed in the direction of travel.
Step 2: Lift the side of the kayak up that’s closest to you with the seat side facing away from your body.
Step 3: Rest the underside of your kayak against one of your legs and face in the direction you’ll be walking in. You should be standing at the centre of the kayak.
Step 4: Now bend with your knees and grab the handle (grab point) in the centre of the seating area. Most sit-on kayaks will have either a handle or a moulded grab point that’s placed in the central balanced point of the kayak.
Step 5: Straighten your legs and lift the kayak. The kayak should be perfectly balanced under one arm at the side of your body.
Step 6: Get Walking! Once you’re at the water's edge, bend your knees and place the kayak down base-first.