How to Make Loading a Kayak Easier

How to Make Loading a Kayak Easier
Loading a kayak onto the top of a car takes a good amount of strength and effort---especially when you're alone. It's even harder to load a kayak onto a truck or SUV. Loading a boat can even cause injury. Luckily, knowing a few tricks or adding accessories to your roof rack makes loading a kayak easier and saves your strength for the water. The accessories start at around $80. The tricks are free.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Roof rack
  • Load-assist roller
  • Rack extension bar
Step 1
Get a second person to help you lift one end of the kayak onto the roof rack. The other end rests on the ground. Once one end is on the rack, your helper holds his end of the kayak in place.
Step 2
Lift the other end of the boat onto the roof rack. By loading a kayak one end at a time, you cut the weight of each lift in half.
Step 3
Install a rear load-assist roller to your roof rack. Both Yakima's ShowBoat and Thule's Slipstream rack accessories incorporate rollers. Follow the accessory's directions for installation.
Step 4
Lift one end of the kayak onto the rear load-assist roller and roll the boat onto the rack. This method makes loading a kayak easier, because you only have to lift one end at a time.
Step 5
Add an extension bar to your rack. Yakima's BoatLoader and Thule's Outrigger act as an extension bar that slides away when not in use. Use the extension bar to hold one end of the kayak while you lift the other onto the rack.

Tips & Warnings

For the easiest loading experience, buy a Thule Hullavator. The entire rack slides off the car so you can load the kayak near the ground. Once it's loaded, gas struts assist in getting the kayak to the top of the car.
Malone Racks makes a side-mount kayak loader similar to but less expensive than Thule's Hullavator. Instead of a gas-powered assist, the paddler uses a locking ratchet system to load the kayak onto the vehicle.
Before driving away, always secure the kayak to the rack and to the front and back of your car with bow and stern tie-downs.

Article Written By Bryan Hansel

Bryan Hansel is a freelance photographer and kayaking guide who began writing in 1993. His outdoors articles appear on various websites. Hansel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religion from the University of Iowa.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.