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How To Transport A Kayak Without A Roof Rack

How To Transport A Kayak Without A Roof Rack

Kayaks are ideal for enjoying some quiet time amidst nature, in a lake or river. They are best for unwinding or stress-busting too. You can engage in kayaking in a group when you are in that mood. In any case, taking your kayak to the desired water body can be a bit hard sometimes. Not everyone is blessed enough to stay near a river or stream! What do you do when you want to take the kayak to a lake that is several miles away and your SUV does not have a roof rack? Well, there are workarounds to overcome the transport issue. You can take the kayak to your preferred lake or river or even seashore without installing a roof rack atop the car. Check out this article to know how to transport your kayak on a car without a roof rack

Reasons You May Not Want To Use A Roof Rack

There are many reasons for which people do not want to set up roof rails on top of their vehicles for transporting kayaks and other cargo.

  • The first reason you may want to evade installing a car roof rack is the cost. It may cost you up to $1000 though cheaper options are out there. Finding the suitable side rail model for your car may be tedious as well.
  • There are people who dislike setting up roof rails atop their cars simply because they do not like the look with the rails installed. The rooftop mounting options that do not change the look of their vehicles permanently seem more desirable to them.

Ways To Transport Your Kayak Without A Roof Rack

Using An Inflatable Kayak

This is possibly the easiest option. The inflatable kayaks tend to be more wallet-friendly than their hard-shell counterparts, as it is. These kayaks can be rolled up and then you can pack them inside the trunk of the vehicle, easily. Besides, it is also easy to store the kayak when you do not want to use it for a long time. The only issue is these kayaks may develop punctures over extended use.

Using Inflatable Roof Rack

This is as good as having to install crossbars atop the car roof but you do not have to empty your wallet! The Inflatable Roof Racks are good enough to hold regular kayaks and they have holding straps. Just make sure not to inflate it excessively. When you do not use it, just deflate and store somewhere else.

Using A Trailer

Well, using a trailer to transport your kayak is not a cheap option. However, it is something you can do when you do not want to set up a roof rail atop the car. Besides, a trailer can be fitted to multiple vehicles, as per your need and convenience. When you use a trailer, you do not have to install a roof rack atop all the vehicles! If the trailer is big, it can accommodate a few more items than the kayak. You may, for example, pack in angling gears if you want to indulge in river kayaking and angling.

Using A Foam Car Top Carrier

This is another convenient option worth considering when you do not have a roof rack on top of the car and want to transport kayaks. Two foam blocks have to be set up atop the car roof using ratchet straps that are fastened inside the car. Then you can put the kayak on the foam and secure them using ropes and straps. However, keep in mind the ropes may produce annoying noise as you drive the car- especially at high speed.

Factors To Analyze Before Picking A Method

Before you pick an alternative to setting up roof rails for kayak transport, analyze a few factors carefully.


Consider how much you want to spend on transporting your kayak to a destination. You have to think of related expenses too. In remote kayaking places, you may have to rent a few gears and buy food and beverages, etc. If you have a deep wallet, kayak trailers are the best option.

Ease Of Driving

If you are planning to indulge in kayaking at a faraway place and the trip may take several hours, ease of driving should be taken into account! Putting a kayak on top of the car creates some amount of wind resistance. This is largely eliminated if you use a kayak trailer and hook it to the car.

Ease Of Usage

If you want to minimize the hassles involved in carrying kayaks to places, nothing beats the inflatable kayaks. They are easy to pack and set up. Even the kayak trailers are easy to use. All you have to do is packing the kayak well into the trailer and connecting the trailer to the car. Securing kayaks atop the car roof takes some time and so does unpacking.

Number Of Kayaks

For transporting just one kayak, any of the options will be fine. However, for carrying more than one kayak, trailers are the right choice.

Handy Tips To Use When Tying Kayaks On Car Roof

  • If you are using foam car top blocks to transport your kayak, ensure the foam blocks are fastened well to the car roof first. Or else, the kayaks will not stay fixed.
  • You can use regular ropes to fasten the kayak with the foam block. However, a better option is using the Ratchet straps. These are made up of hard nylon and last for a long time. A couple of Ratchet straps will be good for securing a kayak on the car roof.
  • When you put the kayak on top of the vehicle, turn it down so that the hull faces the sky. Secure the kayaks at both ends. Securing the kayaks is necessary but do not put too much force as doing so can damage the hull.

Final Words

Now that you know various alternatives to setting up a roof rail on the car to transport kayaks, pick one that meets your needs the best. However, ensure you buy quality materials for the purpose.

Last modified: September 24, 2020