Heavy and often unwieldy, kayaks can be difficult to carry. Ideally, two people should be involved when lifting and moving a kayak. A single person should carry a kayak only when necessary. Kayaks aren’t cheap, and neither are doctor bills. Lifting and moving a kayak properly prevents damage both to the vessel and to those moving it.
Lighten the Kayak
Empty the kayak of all loose items, including any water. To drain the kayak, simply roll it over. If necessary, use a bilge pump to remove water trapped inside the bulkhead or far toward the back or front of the hull. Emptying the kayak of excess weight makes it easier to lift. In addition to that, it prevents dirty water from sloshing around and making a mess.
Prepare the Muscles
Before carrying a kayak, stretch the muscles of your arms, back and thighs. Preparing your body ahead of time helps prevent pulled muscles when lifting and moving the kayak. Moreover, be sure to warm up before stretching. Muscles are more pliable when they’re warm.
When lifting the kayak, keep your back straight and your knees bent. As much as possible, use your leg muscles to lift. If lifting the kayak with a second person, use the toggle straps at the ends of the boat to raise and carry the kayak. Furthermore, be sure to hold the kayak close to your body to maintain control and avoid dropping it.
When lifting and moving kayak over a short distance, position one person on one side of the vessel and the second person on the opposite side. Each person, facing forward, grabs a toggle strap at the end of the kayak and proceeds in step toward the destination. The person in front calls out any obstacles or holes in the path ahead. What is more, take extra care when moving a kayak over uneven surfaces or around corners.
For longer journeys overland, such as portaging, carry the kayak overhead. This position lessens strain on the arm and shoulder muscles. Standing on the same side of the kayak, each person grabs a toggle strap and simultaneously lifts the boat to waist level. When both parties are ready, hoist the hull portion of the kayak onto your shoulders.
To carry a kayak alone, first roll the kayak on its side so that the cockpit is facing away. Grasping the upper edge of the cockpit, raise the kayak to thigh level. Use the right hand to grasp the lower end of the cockpit. Using your thighs as leverage, rotate the lower end of the kayak until you are facing the cockpit. Turn and lift the kayak onto your shoulder.