How To Transport A Kayak On A Small Car? Two Methods - 2022 - Kayakpapa (2023)

by Kayaking Expert

If you’re like most kayakers, you probably use your car to transport your kayak to and from the water. This can be a challenge when it comes time to take your kayaks to the water. But with a little creativity, you can transport your kayaks safely and easily in a small car.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to transport a kayak on a small car safely and easily.

Table of Contents

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How To Transport A Kayak On A Small Car?

You’ll need to purchase some basic equipment. The two most important pieces of equipment will be kayak straps and bow/stern tie-downs. While it may seem like overkill to buy these types of accessories, if you plan on transporting your kayak more than once or twice a year, they are extremely helpful. Not only do they provide a secure solution to tie down your kayak, but they also prevent any possible scratching of the surface.

Measure The Height, Width, And Length Of Your Kayak

Figure out the size you need. The best way to figure this out is by looking at other kayak roof racks online and comparing their dimensions to the size of your kayak. Once you know the size, then go around to different websites and read reviews on them. The one with the most positive reviews is the best option.

Try to buy one that has adjustable straps so it can be used for all types/sizes of kayaks. Although it’s possible to buy car racks that fit your specific model of car, they can be expensive and you’ll have to spend more time finding the one that fits your car.

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Two Methods To Transport A Kayak On A Vehicle’s Roof

  • The ‘traditional’ way, which uses a combination of straps and bow/stern tie-downs or loading bars,
  • A new way that uses custom-made roof racks.

Method 1:

Strap Your Kayak To The Top Of Your Car Using Straps And Bow/Stern Tie-Downs Or Loading Bars:

First of all, it is crucial to use bow & stern tie-downs so that your kayak can’t rotate during transit. So what is bow & stern tie-downs? Bow & stern tie-downs are essentially straps that go under the cockpit area of your kayak to prevent it from rotating in the event of an accident.

To transport a kayak on top of a car, you’ll need:

2 bow & stern tie-downs,

4 roof rack straps or 4 ratchet straps with hooks.

Once you’ve gathered all of your equipment/supplies, here’s how to properly strap down a kayak on top of your car:

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  1. Take 2 bow & stern tie-downs and attach them to your car’s roof rack or loading bars, making sure that the hooks are facing downward so they don’t scratch up your paint job! Hook them onto both sides of the bars tightly.
  2. Now take another two bow & stern tie-downs and attach them to the opposite ends of the bars. Hook them on tightly, facing downward to prevent any damage to your car’s paint.
  3. Next, take your kayak and put it on top of your car. Make sure that both sides are standing up straight with their cockpit area facing outwards so you can attach bow & stern tie-downs easily.
  4. Now you’re ready to attach bow & stern tie-downs. Face the cockpit of your kayak towards the front of your car, and put one bow & stern tie-down on each side of the cockpit area pointing downward to prevent any damage to your car’s paint.
  5. Next, tighten down both sides so that your kayak is secured to the bars.
  6. Attach your roof rack straps or ratchet straps with hooks onto both sides of the bars tightly, making sure that it’s tight enough so that no movement can occur.
  7. Finally, attach your ratchet straps with hooks on both sides of the bars tightly, making sure that no movement can occur.
  8. 8. If you’re done, your kayak should now be strapped down safely to the roof of your car.

Method 2

Custom Mounted Kayak Roof Racks – The ‘New’ Way To Transport Your Kayaks On Top Of A Vehicle:

This is the new way to transport kayaks on top of a vehicle. It uses custom-made roof racks that fit your car’s specific shape, allowing you to put straps onto the rack instead of your car. The advantage of this method is that you can put many different kayaks on the roof racks without damaging your car’s paint.

The following are what you’ll need to make custom mounted racks for your car: metal L-bars, rope/rope hooks (used to tie-down straps), and wood pieces (to secure the L-bars to your car).

The advantage of the custom mounted kayak roof racks is that you can put many different types/sizes of kayaks on top of your car without damaging your car’s paint. Also, more than one person can easily use the roof rack at the same time by simply securing their own kayak onto it.

Tips For Driving With A Kayak On Top Of Your Car:

In order to drive safely with a kayak strapped onto your car, here are some tips/reminders you should keep in mind:

  • Make sure that your windshield wipers are working properly. If they’re not, then you need to replace them as soon as possible. If it rains while you’re driving with a kayak on top of your car, it will get wet and potentially damage your paint job.
  • Make sure that your brake lights are working properly. If they’re not, then you need to replace them as soon as possible. When driving at night with a kayak on top of your car, the drivers behind you should be able to see your brake lights if they’re working. If they don’t, you might cause an accident.
  • Don’t drive with your kayak on top of your car if it’s super windy. The wind could make the kayak flip over and damage your paint job on the road.
  • When turning corners on a street/highway, slow down first before making any turns. The kayak could fly off and hit other cars if you make a turn too fast.
  • If your car is low to the ground, then make sure that it doesn’t bottom out when driving over speedbumps/potholes, etc.
  • If it does bottom out, this will potentially damage your kayak and also damage other parts of your car.
  • If it’s raining, then drive slowly and carefully. This will prevent any possible damage from occurring to your kayak or car by water splashing up onto it.


I hope this article has helped you in transporting your kayak on top of a car safely and securely. Always remember that safety is number one, so make sure you do all the necessary precautions.

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Q1. How do I tie down my kayak securely?

Secure your kayak on top of your car so that it can’t move around too much.

Q2. How do I prevent my kayak from falling off while driving?

Put some tension on your ratchet straps so that they won’t come loose and cause your kayak to fall off.

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Q3. How can I transport my large kayak?

You’ll need to buy a rack that can fit large kayaks. Make sure that your rack is strong enough to carry your kayak safely.


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