You just found the new love of your life. This is one graceful, beauty. In your search, you knew your partners size and weight were going to be important factors in your relationship. This had to be an ideal match, so both of you could work in perfect harmony. Now that you are together, it is important to accessorize your “better half”. Ensuring all of the proper accoutrements are in place is only half the battle. It is time for you to figure out how to transport this “precious cargo” to and from your favorite locations.
Knowing how to transport your kayak is a very important factor to be considered in the buying process. Length, width, height, and weight must be considered. If you own a small car, is it practical and/or safe to put a 14' kayak on top off it? The weight of a kayak can be very deceiving, a 70 pound kayak may be the most awkward 70 pounds you have ever encountered, primarily due to size and length. Knowing your physical strengths and limitations is of the utmost importance.
There are many different accessories on the market to assist in transporting kayaks. The most basic are foam pads used on the top of vehicles while running the tie down straps through the windows. The “naked” tie down is not ideal. Most car roofs are not made to withstand large amounts of weight and this can cause major damage to your vehicle.
Roof rack systems are the most prevalent and come in many different forms. If your car does not come with a factory roof rails, there are racks that attach between the rain gutter and door jams. The shortfall of this rack system is that the racks are not the most stable and can come loose. If your vehicle comes with roof rails and no cross bars, aftermarket towers (connectors between cross bars and roof rails) and cross bars can be attached to the roof rails. Simple pads wrapped around the cross bars will sufficiently tie down a kayak. Always remember to tie down the bow and stern of your vessel and use a long load marker.
Cradling systems are very secure, in addition, rollers can be purchased to slide the kayak on the cradles with ease. J Bars are another option, they secure kayaks on their sides. If you plan to carry three or four kayaks on a roof rack, stackers can be used to attach to the cross bars to secure the load. Lifting kayaks on top of your vehicle can cause damage, always carry a small rug (rubber on one side) to place on the top rear of your car or SUV to prevent scratches. If you can not lift a kayak to put it on top of your vehicle, there are lift assist racks that are available. They are costly, but can mean the difference of being able to kayak or not.
Trucks are probably the easiest and most cost efficient way to transport kayaks. If you have a hitch, a T-bar or T-bone is ideal. It hooks into the female receptacle of the hitch and extends from the bed into a T shape. You just slide the kayak onto the bar and push it into the bed of the truck and secure it. Lumber/ladder racks are also used to transport vessels. This is just an elevated rack system on the bed and on the cab. This system can be difficult to use due to its height.
Trailers are ideal if you have multiple kayaks to transport. Keep in mind, a trailer will cost as much or more than a kayak. If you have minimal storage for a trailer, you can get them with swinging tongues or completely collapsible. Many trailers come with extra storage space.
When purchasing your new “pride and joy” keep in mind how you will transport your “baby”. Make room in your budget and buy wisely. Know your physical limitations and what system will work best for you. Stay safe transporting your kayak and let the adventure begin.
Photo Credit: Alex Lewis, Jaymes Phosy, John Shimburski
Published in Southern Kayak Fishing Magazine Mar/Apr 2017 edition