How To Put a Kayak on Roof Rack by Yourself

Many people who enjoy sports tend to be busy lifting, transporting, and loading kayaks in their cars. As eager as you are to start the kayaking adventure, you need to understand how to put the kayak on the roof rack safely, even when alone.

If you’ve ever put a wardrobe on the roof of a car and accidentally drove away without falling, you can attest to the disaster that can be there. In the same case, there can be a risk if you carelessly handle the kayak when putting it on the roof rake by yourself. If this happens, it can be tragic because it can damage the kayak and jeopardize road safety.

how to put a kayak on the roof rack

It is recommended to ensure that the kayak is securely strapped to the roof rack and tightened to keep it in place. Before you put it on a roof rack, it is good to consult the roof rack manual to make sure the roof supports the kayak’s weight capacity. You will also need to tie-down straps, kayak carrier, tow loop for anchoring, bow straps, and the optional loading aid. Here is how to put a kayak on the roof rack by yourself.

  1. Choose the right gear

Irrespective of how easy it seems to put a kayak on the roof rack, it can sometimes take a sometimes to get the right gear. It is crucial to do this correctly to avoid damaging the expensive equipment. This is done by knowing what you require and using it to strap your kayak to the roof rack securely. For some people, assembling the right gear may appear obvious, but in the long run, it is essential.

Depending on the size and weight of the kayak, you can choose a suitable carrier. When transporting multiple kayaks, many gears are needed to guarantee the safety of the roof rack and the kayak. However, there are types of kayaks, which are bulky and it can be challenging to carry to any of the roof racks. Typically, you will get different types and styles of carriers and even options if you do not have the roof racks. If you don’t stop the kayak frequently, you can also use an inexpensive foam rack that provides more roof space for the kayak.

put a kayak on the roof rack

  1. Load the kayak

The kayak is easy to load into the car as long as the roof rack and the kayak carrier are pre-installed. It is important not to rush as it can be very costly in terms of property damage. If you’re planning to place the kayak directly on a roof rack, use additional padding in the block form or a rolled-up blanket. Now that you are doing this by yourself, it is a good idea to start from the back of the car, place the kayak on a rear roof rack, and slide it gently forward.

To load the kayak on the roof rack is much easier when facing down as it provides more strapping space. With the cockpit facing forward, carefully lift a kayak onto the roof because when a kayak face down, it will allow additional space for strapping. It is good to put the shoulder close to the edge of the cockpit so that the weight of the hill is evenly distributed to allow you to carry the kayak easily.

To ensure safe loading, place your vehicle in the rear. If you have extra gear or other kayaks that you want to put on the roof, put them next to each other; otherwise, the kayak can be in the middle of the roof.

  1. Strapping the kayak to the crossbar

Take the tie-down strap and tie it sideways under the crossbars, then throw the straps to the other side of the car across. On the passenger side, throw the free end of a belt on the other side of a vehicle. Make sure the strap’s end passes under the other side of a crossbar to increase firmness. After that, put the end of a strap through the buckle to save it from damaging the watercraft.

kayak on the roof rack

If other straps are hanging around, tie them up so they won’t be swayed by the wind when you are on the way. The kayak must be balanced well on the crossbar to prevent it from toppling forward or backward, and it must be straight and aligned with the car. If you don’t balance it well, it can cause uneven pressure on the other side of the kayak during the voyage, which is dangerous.

If you want to make it even easier, you can put the straps on before loading the kayak in a roof rack in time. When putting the straps, make sure they are well tight and not flex to avoid bending and ruining the kayak’s body.

  1. Strap down the stern and bow

Once you’ve made sure the kayak is securely on a roof rack from every side, you can continue to strap down the front and back. This needs you to have astern and bow strap ready. A set of stern and bow straps go front to back and prevent the kayak from falling and slipping off the rear of a car during transport. Different vehicles have various connection spots, though most have attachment points built into the back and front.

If the car is not equipped with these spots, you may need to purchase a tie-down loop for the trunk and hood. Then put the bow end of the kayak on a rear roof and make sure they are firmly in place. You can then move to the stern of the frame. Next, carefully lift the stern side of the kayak and then slide it frontward until it is attached to the vehicle’s roof rack.

  1. Tidying up

This is actually the last step you need to follow to put a kayak on the roof rack by yourself, which is very important. Tidying up does not necessarily mean cleaning up the surrounding space and making sure everything is safe and set for transportation. Ensure the end straps are securely fastened to prevent swaying and flipping in the wind while driving, as this will affect road safety.

how to put kayaks on the roof rack

Also, make sure the buckles at the ends of the straps do not damage or scratch the car door. The rack crossbars need to be tight for safety, so be sure to check them for your protection. If you’re a professional paddler, you should consider the size and type of car you are buying, as it is advantageous when hauling a kayak in and out of the water.

The roof racks for canoes and kayaks can be installed on almost all types of SUVs, cars, or trucks, but some manufacturers do not want them. If you have some questions on whether the vehicle will be used or not for this work, you can refer to the instruction manual or the manufacturer’s manual that comes with the car or the roof rack.


Putting a kayak on the roof rack by yourself can be challenging, particularly when you do not have the correct information. Regardless of the physique, you can put it by yourself without damaging the car, dropping the kayak, or injuring your back. Kayaking is not the most challenging thing if you want to put it on the roof rack by yourself; follow the above steps.


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