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How To Carry A Kayak

Learning how to carry a kayak is vital for anyone searching to take to the seas with a paddle and it is always helpful to find a technique that works for you.

A lot of kayaks are a lot longer and a lot heavier than you may first think, so using the correct technique is so important to stay safe and avoid injury.

From diving in and trying to lift at an incorrect angle, you could hurt your back and over time, you’re going to have serious back problems.

Touring, sea and recreational kayaks are often too heavy for just one person to carry especially when loaded with gear, and even when empty, it is recommended that two people should carry them.

We’ve written this article to tell you tips and tricks on how to make your life easier when carrying a kayak and how you might go about carrying one when you’re on a solo trip. Let’s jump right in.

How To Carry A Kayak

Ways To Carry And Transport The Kayak

Before we go through the instructions on how to lift and carry the kayak when you arrive at your destination, you might be wondering how you carry or transport your kayak to that destination in the first place. Here are our top suggestions:

Purchase An Inflatable Kayak

These types of kayaks are much more budget-friendly and will not cost you as much as shell versions. Moreover, you will be able to transfer it without using any specialist equipment. The kayak can deflate and roll up small enough to fit into storage and carry under the seat in your car on a road trip.

Use A Trailer

If you do opt for the shell version, you can use a trailer to carry the kayak. It’s a great technique if you do not want to make too many modifications to your vehicle or add a roof rack. If you do use a trailer, you need to consider whether your vehicle will include a hitch.

If it does, you may want to try another method. You also need to know just how much weight your vehicle can pull. Moreover, a trailer is great not just for kayaks but also for transporting bicycles, paddleboards, or other toys you might want to take adventuring. 

Use A Foam Car Carrier

If you think transporting the kayak on the roof might work well for you, but you lack rails or crossbars, a foam car top carrier might be your best alternative.

The carrier has two foam cubes which are fastened using straps running in the front and rear and through the inside of your car. You pop the kayak on top of these blocks and fasten them with rope or straps.

Use An Inflatable Roof Rack

An inflatable roof rack can provide you with the benefits of installing crossbars but without the price or fuss of having to get side rails pre-installed.

They are not designed to be kept on the vehicle when not in use and therefore are great for people who hate the appearance of crossbars, but like how they operate.

Carrying The Kayak On A Solo Trip

Carrying The Kayak On A Solo Trip

Although it is always recommended that at least two people should carry a kayak, this is not always possible and when the time comes, you need to know how to execute the task safely. Follow our step-by-step instructions below to find out how:

Prepare To Lift

Ensure you are on ground level and place the kayak with the bow in the direction you are travelling. Stand by the side and face the cockpit.

Lift Using Your Knees

When you have positioned yourself correctly, you should bend your knees and take hold of the inner edge of the cockpit using both hands.

You should be careful with this and focus on lifting your knees instead of your back. Lean backwards and pull up the kayak on your thighs. The cockpit should be facing away from you.

Flip Over The Kayak

When the kayak is resting on your thighs, you should let go with one of your hands and grasp the other side of the cockpit with the hand, using it to pull the kayak across your thighs.

Once you have the kayak braced across your thighs, you should reach with your second hand and turn your body toward the direction you instead to travel. Pull the kayak up and place it on your shoulder using the arm inside the cockpit to keep the kayak steady.

This part can be tricky, especially if it is your first time, but as long as you keep practising and take it slow and steady, you should be just fine. 

Carrying The Kayak with Two People

Carrying The Kayak with Two People

Preparing The Lift

Ensure you are on level ground and place the kayak with the bow facing in the direction you are travelling in. Get one person to stand at the stern and the other person at the bow, on either side of the kayak. 

Communicate With Eachother

Have one person grasp and carry the handle or the toggle and when given the signal, lift the kayak. To minimize the risk of injury, keep communicating with each other through the process and lift the knees, not your back. Avoid lifting the kayak above the waist.

Lifting To Shoulders

If you are moving your kayak a short distance, such as from your car, and to the water, you do not need to carry it above waist level. However, if you are moving through close terrain or over a long distance, lift the kayak onto the shoulders when given the signal. 

Final Thoughts

We hope after reading this article you know how to carry your kayak both on your own and with a partner, and how to carry and transport it from one location to the other.

Remember, when lifting by yourself, really focus on lifting that heavyweight with your knees to avoid back injuries and if possible, always get someone to help you.

Moreover, when loaded with weight, carrying the kayak might be easiest with three or four people. However, whichever way you choose to lift and carry your kayak, choose a technique that works for you, go slowly and steadily, and happy kayaking!

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

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