You’ve done your homework and made your final choice. You’re a few hundred dollars poorer, but you now have an awesome new kayak. You’ve selected your new craft based on hundreds of reviews and plenty of comparison shopping.
You made sure to get a model that includes the slate of features you wanted, and you even tried out a few used kayaks at your local pond. You made a perfect choice.
But now, standing beside your brand-spanking new kayak, you’re faced with another problem: you must get this big thing home. What on earth do you do?
You have three options depending on the type of car you drive, the size of the kayak and your preferences.
Truck Bed Solutions
Truck drivers have a variety of ways to cart their kayak back and forth the water. But most options fall into one of the two categories: using the bed or using an aftermarket rack to help stabilize the kayak.
If your truck has a long bed and your kayak is on the shorter side, you may be able to just rest it on the bed with the tailgate closed. You’ll still want to secure it with straps or tie-down cords to keep it safely contained.
This is the preferred method for traveling. It does not only keep your kayak shielded from road debris, but you’ll also enjoy better aerodynamics than if you place a big kayak on top of your vehicle.
If your kayak does not fit with the tail gate up, you can just allow it to rest flat with the gate open. The back will surely extend beyond the end of the gate, so be sure to attach a red flag to it for safety. Make sure to strap it down at the bow and stern, and use a third strap connected to the handle as a fail-safe.
There are aftermarket racks designed to support the back end of your kayak and can be added to most pickup trucks. These work in different ways.
Some are designed to support the back end of the kayak, while its front portion rides on the roof of the cab. Others extend several feet behind the truck and support the back end of the kayak at the level of the truck bed.
Riding on Top
If you drive a car or SUV, you can attach your kayak on top of the vehicle. Some vehicles come pre-equipped with luggage racks that work well for supporting a kayak. Simply use straps or tie-downs to secure it to the rack and you are ready to go.
For cars that lack roof racks, you can choose from these two options: a soft car top rack or a hard car top rack.
Soft racks are essentially two cylindrical pads attached to long straps. The straps can be connected through the open car doors to keep them securely in place, and then straps can be run over the kayak in the same manner to keep it in place.
Hard roof racks feature metal or plastic hardware and offer more security and protection than soft racks. However, they are more expensive than soft racks and they are slightly more difficult to install.
No matter which style you use, be sure that the rack is attached securely to the car and that your kayak is also attached securely to the rack (or directly to the car).
If you cannot carry your kayak on top of your vehicle, you need to purchase a trailer of some type. You can hook the trailer up to your tow hitch, place the kayak on top of the trailer and head to the water.
Because trailers sit much lower to the ground than your car’s roof, they make loading and unloading much easier. Some trailers may even give you the option to back down into the water and launch your kayak as you would a full-sized boat.
Based on Experience
Most kayakers use trailers that are specifically designed to carry kayaks of a given size, but others have had success by retrofitting basic trailers with supports that will hold a kayak securely.
If well-constructed, these custom-built trailer attachments will definitely work. But always err on the side of caution – losing a kayak while driving down the interstate at 70 miles per hour will ruin your day.
Keep in Mind
If you use a trailer to carry your kayak, be sure that it is securely connected to your vehicle and any applicable safety lights – including brake lights, turn signals and reverse lights – are in good condition.
And if you plan to leave your kayak strapped to your car or trailer unattended, you have to consider purchasing a locking chain to keep thieves from stealing it.