How Do You Put a Kayak on a Roof Rack?

Putting a kayak on a roof rack can seem like a daunting task, but with the right technique and equipment, it can be done easily and safely. In this tutorial, we will cover the proper steps to follow when putting your kayak on a roof rack.

Step 1: Choose the Right Roof Rack

Before you even begin loading your kayak, it is important to choose the right type of roof rack for your vehicle. There are two main types of roof racks – those that attach to factory-installed rails and those that do not.

If your vehicle has factory-installed rails, you will need a roof rack that is designed to attach to them. If your vehicle does not have rails, you will need a roof rack that attaches directly to the car’s roof.

Tip: It is important to choose a roof rack that is compatible with your vehicle’s make and model. Be sure to check with the manufacturer or retailer before purchasing.

Step 2: Prepare Your Kayak

Before loading your kayak onto the roof rack, you need to prepare it for transport. Start by removing any loose items from inside the kayak, such as paddles or life jackets. Next, make sure that all straps and buckles are tightened securely.

Tip: It is important to ensure that your kayak is clean and dry before loading it onto the roof rack. This will prevent dirt and debris from getting on your car’s roof or scratching your kayak.

Step 3: Position Your Kayak

Positioning your kayak on the roof rack can be tricky, but with some patience and practice, it can be done easily. Start by placing one end of the kayak on the back of the car’s roof rack. Then lift up the other end of the kayak and carefully slide it onto the front of the car’s roof rack.

Tip: It is important to position your kayak so that it is centered on the roof rack. This will help to distribute the weight evenly and prevent damage to your car or kayak.

Step 4: Secure Your Kayak

Once your kayak is positioned on the roof rack, it’s time to secure it in place. Begin by wrapping a strap around the kayak and through the roof rack’s bars. Tighten the strap until it is snug but not too tight.

Next, repeat this process with another strap on the opposite side of the kayak, making sure that both straps are tightened evenly.

Finally, attach a third strap or tie-down to the front and back of the kayak, securing it to the car’s bumper or tow hooks.

Tip: It is important to check that all straps are tight before hitting the road. You should also periodically check them during your trip to ensure that they remain secure.


Putting a kayak on a roof rack may seem intimidating at first, but with these simple steps, you can do it safely and with ease. Remember to choose the right type of roof rack for your vehicle, prepare your kayak for transport, position it carefully on the roof rack, and secure it in place with straps or tie-downs. With these tips in mind, you’ll be hitting the water in no time!

Additional Tips:

  • Practice loading and unloading your kayak before taking it out on a trip.
  • If you are traveling long distances, consider using additional padding or foam blocks between your kayak and roof rack for added protection.
  • Always obey traffic laws and drive cautiously when transporting a kayak on your roof.
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Emma Gibson