What is the Best Way to Transport Your Kayak?

What is the Best Way to Transport Your Kayak? Kayaks are a lightweight hassle-free way to explore the water. Whether you’re taking to the sea in search of hidden coves, taking to your local lake in search of monster pike, or to a roaring river for some whitewater action, kayaks can get the job done.

Although fairly lightweight and manageable on your own, transporting your kayak can be a hassle if you don’t have the right equipment. It doesn’t matter whether you are round the corner from your local water or 20 miles away, if you don’t have a good way of transporting your kayak, you’ll struggle to get out kayaking as regularly as you’d like.

In this article, we will be looking at a few ways you can transport your kayak by both car and foot. We have a solution for every type of kayaker, every budget, and every situation. Be sure to stick around until the end if you’re tearing your hair out because you can’t find a way to get your kayak from A to B.

Ways You Can Transport Your Kayak with a Vehicle

There are several ways you can transport your kayak with a vehicle. You don’t have to have a truck or a van to carry a kayak, even a humble city car can get the job done. Although the best option — you might not want to fork out on a boat trailer or fancy kayak roof rack. Don’t fear if this is the case, there are some super simple ways to secure a kayak to your car for less than a days’ wage.

Kayak Roof Rack

A Kayak roof rack is one of the best ways to transport your kayak with your car or truck. They aren’t the cheapest option but not the most expensive either. They give you the best stability and security when transporting your kayak. They hold the boat firm on the roof of the car, and they often allow you to lock the kayak to the roof rack for anti-theft purposes.

Having your kayak on a roof rack doesn’t affect the handling of the vehicle and there’s no worries when backing up the car or driving through tight spaces as there is with a boat trailer. As long as you’re able to lift your kayak above your head or have someone that can help you, this is one of the best forms of transportation.

If you struggle lifting your vessel on and off your car, this may not be the best option. However, there are ways you can make this process easier. Some roof racks have a roller bar that hangs over the back of the vehicle that can be used to rest the kayak on so it can be pushed up and over the roof rather than lifted straight on.

Foam Car Top Carrier

If your car lacks side rails or roof rack mounts or you don’t want to install permanent roof bars on your car, a foam top carrier is a great alternative. Foam car top carriers consist of two foam pads and a variety of ratchet straps. The foam pads are placed on the roof and ratchet straps are fed through the inside of your car to secure them.

You can then place your kayak on top of these foam pads and secure it with more ratchet straps or ropes. The foam pads protect your car from getting scratched, spread the weight of your kayak evenly over the roof, and provide some shock absorption when you hit the road.

This transportation system is extremely cost effective, so if you’re on a budget have a look around for these. You can even make your own foam car top carrier with some ratchet straps and pipe lagging or swimming pool foam!

Inflatable Roof Rack

Similar to foam car top carriers, inflatable roof racks offer a way to transport your kayak securely without the need for side rails and roof bars. Inflatable roof racks act as two roof cross bars without any permanent commitments.

Two long air bladders sit each side of a ratchet strap that is fed through the interior of the car to hold each bar in place. The air bladders run the width of the car and can be mounted front and rear of the roof. This provides balanced support over the roof of the car.

Inflatable roof racks provide support, shock absorption and stability. Most inflatable roof racks can support over 150 pounds, so they can easily cope with the weight of your average kayak or canoe. Made from anti-tear heavy duty materials, a high-quality inflatable roof rack shouldn’t puncture. However, you should take extra care when loading and unloading the rack to make sure you don’t damage the material.

Kayak Trailer

Kayak trailers are definitely the most expensive transport option. They are a great option if you need to transport several kayaks or don’t want the hassle of lifting your kayak on and off the roof of your car.

They can also double up as a storage solution that keeps your vessel supported well, secure, and off the ground. Of course, they can be a hassle to tow especially if you’ve never towed before. You’ll also need a place to store the trailer when you’re not using it as well as a place to park it while you’re out on the water kayaking.

How to Transport Your Kayak Without a Car

Realistically you’re not going to transport your kayak by foot if you live miles away from the water. However, if you live relatively close to the water and don’t mind a bit of a workout there’s no need to start up the car.

You may also need to transport your kayak by foot even if you use your car as well. Some great kayaking locations aren’t accessible by car. You may need to park up in a nearby car park and walk a trail or path to the bankside. In these cases, having a way to transport your kayak by foot makes life much easier and less tiring.

Kayak Trolley

If you often head out solo on the water a kayak trolly is the best way to transport your kayak by foot. With a super simple and compact design, the kayak trolly consists of a small frame, strap, and two wheels. It’s attached to the stern of the kayak so the bow can be held to tow the boat along like a wheelbarrow (almost).

Kayak trolleys often fold up so they can be easily stored inside your kayak when you reach the water. They are great to have if you regularly head out touring too. If you need to stop off for the night and have to walk your kayak up the bank quite a way, they are extremely handy. They also provide an easy way to bring your kayak into town if you’re reloading with food on a tour.

Placing a kayak trolly on your boat before heading down to the water allows you to load up with your day pack, fishing kit, or camping gear without having to take multiple trips. You can get your kayak water-ready at home or in the car park and get paddling as soon as you reach the water. These handy contraptions are a must-have for any solo kayaker in our opinion!


If you live relatively close to the water and have a kayaking buddy, you can help each other out. Both your kayaks can be prepared and loaded up at home and carried together to lighten the load and make the journey easier.

One person can walk in front with both kayak’s bow handles in hand. The other can walk behind with both stern handles in hand. It’s surprising how much easier this is to do than simply carrying your kayaks separately. If you’re kayaking in pairs, this is a great technique to get your boats down to the water without breaking your back.

In Your Backpack

The final transport option is the humble backpack…

Wait, how can you fit a kayak in a backpack? Well, you won’t get a hard shell kayak in a backpack, but you can find inflatable kayaks that’ll fold up small and light enough to carry in a small bag.

Of course, this isn’t an option if you already have a hard shell and are looking for a way to transport it. However, if you haven’t yet brought your kayak and have storage and transport issues, inflatable kayaks may be a good answer for you.

You won’t need a roof rack or a trailer to transport an inflatable as they’ll fit into even the smallest city car boot. You don’t even need a car to transport an inflatable kayak. You can carry a compact inflatable kayak on the bus, in a taxi, or on a pannier rack on your bicycle. When it comes to transport and storage versatility, inflatable kayaks are a great option.

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