How Do You Transport a Kayak With a Car?

Transporting a kayak with a car can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before. However, with the right equipment and knowledge, it can be a straightforward process. In this article, we will guide you through the steps of safely transporting your kayak using your car.

Equipment Needed:

Before you start, make sure you have the following equipment:

  • Roof rack or kayak carrier: A roof rack or kayak carrier is essential for securing your kayak to the top of your car. Make sure it is compatible with your vehicle and can support the weight of your kayak.
  • Cam straps or ratchet straps: These straps will be used to secure your kayak to the roof rack or carrier.

    Make sure they are in good condition and have a sufficient weight rating.

  • Bow and stern lines: Bow and stern lines are used to secure the front and back of your kayak to the car’s bumper or tow hooks. These lines help prevent any forward or backward movement during transportation.
  • Foam blocks or cradles (optional): Foam blocks or cradles can provide extra stability and protection for your kayak if you don’t have a roof rack or carrier.

Step-by-Step Guide:

Step 1: Prepare Your Car

Ensure that your car is clean and free from any dirt, debris, or sharp objects that could potentially damage your kayak during transportation. Also, check if the roof rack or carrier is securely attached to your vehicle.

Step 2: Position Your Kayak

Carefully lift and position your kayak on top of the roof rack or carrier. Make sure the kayak is centered and positioned parallel to your vehicle.

Step 3: Secure the Kayak

Use cam straps or ratchet straps to secure your kayak to the roof rack or carrier. Start by attaching one strap around the front of your kayak and another around the back, ensuring they are tight but not overly tightened. Repeat this process with additional straps as needed, evenly spaced along the length of your kayak.

Step 4: Attach Bow and Stern Lines

Attach bow and stern lines to the front and back of your kayak, securing them to the car’s bumper or tow hooks. These lines will add extra security and prevent any forward or backward movement during transit.

Step 5: Test for Stability

Gently shake your kayak to check if it is securely fastened. If there is any noticeable movement, readjust the straps and lines until it is stable.

Step 6: Double-Check Everything

Before hitting the road, double-check that all straps, lines, and attachments are secured properly. It’s better to be safe than sorry!


  • Drive cautiously: Be mindful of your speed and braking when driving with a kayak on top of your car. Sudden movements can affect stability.
  • Check regulations: Familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding overhang limits when transporting a kayak on top of a car.
  • Avoid highways (if possible): If you have an alternative route with lower speeds and less traffic, consider taking it to reduce stress on your kayak and car.

By following these steps and taking the necessary precautions, you can transport your kayak safely and securely using your car. Remember to always prioritize safety and regularly check your kayak during long journeys. Now, get out there and enjoy your kayaking adventures!

Photo of author

Daniel Bennet