How To Transport A Kayak Without A Roof Rack

April 23, 2018

transport a kayak without roof rack

Hurrah! You just bought a kayak. You’re ready for an exciting water adventure beyond the clearwater kayak trail. But wait… how would you transport a kayak if you don’t own a roof rack? Don’t fret! In this article, we’re going to explore some of the many options for transporting your fishing kayak from point A to B. 

Transporting kayaks can be a challenge for first-time kayakers. Most opt for pricy roof racks for their vehicles but the thing is not all cars can utilize the bars and clips of a roof rack. If you’re leaving tomorrow, there’s also no more time to go find a roof rack at the supply store. The following are versatile and cheaper options for transporting a kayak. 

Basically, there are two main ways to transport a kayak without a roof rack:

  1. Using Straps and Foam and loading it to your vehicle - The foam is to prevent your kayak from scraping your car’s paint while the straps hold your kayak to your vehicle to prevent it from falling while driving.
  2. Carrying Kayak - If you’re going to camp somewhere that’s only a walking distance, two people can carry a kayak easily with the use of front and rear clutches. A single person can also carry a kayak by propping the inside part of the kayak on his shoulder. 

List of Needed Equipment:

There are many fancy gears and attachments you can buy online to help you strap your kayak. Here are some of the basic ones that will get the job done:

  • Pool noodles - You can use pool noodles instead of foams. 
  • Ratchet Strap or Bungee Cord - Use this to keep the foam in its proper place. 
  • Crossbars - Depending on your vehicle type, crossbars often run across the roof of your vehicle. They are used to secure your kayak on top of your car. 
  • Rack/padding - kayak rack systems that are used to cradle the boat in secure forms. 
  • Cam straps - used to quickly secure your kayak on its straps.
  • Bow and stern lines - Opt for non-stretch, water-resistant ropes that will make the process quick and easy.

How To Strap Your Kayak To Your Vehicle’s Roof?

This is a step-by-step guide to help you strap your kayak to your vehicle’s roof without using a roof rack.

  1. The first thing you’ve to do is lay the cushion to prevent your kayak from scratching your car. Place the foam or pool noodles on top of your vehicle. Put one in the front, middle, and one in the rear end. Make sure you’re choosing heavy duty pool noodles. You don’t want them to compress and scratch your vehicle. 
  2. Are your pool noodles too long? It’s also important to pay attention to size. Some pool noodles are longer than your car. In these cases, you can simply cut them with scissors or a knife according to your desired size.
  3. Load the kayak gently on top of your vehicle. If you have a bigger and taller vehicle, lifting a heavy kayak can be difficult. For this process, you will need help from a friend or two. While both of you are placing the kayak, one has to make sure the kayak stays on top of the foam pieces without them slipping off. 
  4. It’s also more practical and safe to place the kayak upside down. Remember you would be driving against the wind and if the kayak is right side up, the wind will most likely lift the kayak off your vehicle.
  5. Secure the kayak with straps. If you’re short, use a step to reach the top of your car and tie the kayak. Make sure that the front and back doors of your car are open while strapping the kayak.
  6. Make sure the straps are positioned over the hull and through your car’s doors. Then tighten them but be careful not to overtighten them so that your kayak won't be deformed. 
  7. Use simple but effective knots on your straps when securing your fishing kayak. For best results, you should have either a ratchet or spring-loaded strap place.
  8. Twist your cam strap to prevent it from making annoying vibrating sounds caused by the wind while driving. You can also buy locking cam straps which can only be unfastened with a key so that you can go buy stuff and leave your car with peace of mind.

Important Tips:

  • Check your kayak after 15 minutes of driving. Driving can loosen up your kayak so don’t forget to give it a tightening and a tug to make sure it’s secure. Keep safety in mind at all times!
  • Always use a cockpit cover whilst driving your kayak
  • Inspect all your straps and tie down gears for disrepair. You can create the best knot but if your gear is worn or near breakage, you’ll still suffer the consequences. 
  • Make sure nothing is hanging off the deck that could dent and damage your car roof.
  • When in doubt, always search for information or ask an expert.  

Final Thoughts:

Safe and responsible upkeep of your kayak and paddling equipment will assure longer life and better performance. Serious paddlers know this and put it in mind whenever they purchase a vehicle. I hope this article has given you valuable insights on how to transport a kayak without a roof rack. The next time you’re going kayaking, remember the points above to have a pleasant kayak transporting experience.

About the author 

Richard Dravick  -  I created this site to help people who like myself enjoy kayaking and fishing. Kayaking allows you enjoy all the great themes of nature that are around us everywhere and combining this with fishing can create some of the most memorable times in life.
Please let me know if you have enjoyed these reviews and if you have thoughts on what you would like to see for future reviews so that I can keep the content fresh.

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