How to Carry a Kayak by Yourself?

How to Carry a Kayak by Yourself?Carrying a kayak by yourself can be a challenging task, but with the right techniques and safety tips, you can achieve an effortless haul. Whether you’re planning a solo kayaking adventure or simply need to transport your kayak from storage to the water, efficient carrying techniques are essential. In this article, we will explore the best practices for solo kayakers, including gear options and proper lifting techniques to ensure a smooth and safe journey.

Plan Before You Lift and Carry Your Kayak

Before you embark on your solo kayaking adventure, it’s crucial to have a well-thought-out plan in place. This plan should encompass the entire process, from lifting the kayak out of storage to safely securing it back in storage after your trip. By planning ahead, you’ll ensure a smoother and more efficient experience.

First, consider the specific locations where you’ll need to lift and carry your kayak. Evaluate the distance you’ll need to cover and the terrain you’ll encounter along the way. This will help you determine the best techniques and equipment to use for each stage of the journey.

Start by lifting the kayak from storage and transporting it to your vehicle. Identify the safest and most convenient route to minimize the risk of collisions or accidents. Once at your vehicle, carefully load the kayak, taking into account its weight and dimensions.

When it comes time to carry the kayak from your vehicle to the water, again assess the terrain and any potential obstacles. Plan your path accordingly to avoid any unnecessary difficulties or hazards. Finally, after your kayaking adventure, make sure you have a plan in place for safely returning the kayak to storage, keeping in mind the weight and fatigue you may experience at the end of your trip.

Table: Plan Before You Lift and Carry Your Kayak

Lift and Carry Locations Considerations
Storage to Vehicle – Evaluate distance and terrain
– Choose the safest route
– Consider kayak dimensions and weight
Vehicle to Water – Assess terrain and potential obstacles
– Plan path accordingly
– Ensure secure transport
Water to Vehicle – Evaluate fatigue levels
– Safely maneuver kayak
Load kayak onto vehicle
Vehicle to Storage – Plan for safe return to storage
– Consider weight and fatigue
– Store kayak properly

Choose the Right Gear to Help You Lift and Carry

When it comes to lifting and carrying a kayak, having the right gear can make all the difference. Whether you’re carrying a sit-on-top kayak or a hardshell kayak, there are various options available that can make the task easier and more comfortable.

Kayak Carry Straps

Kayak carry straps are a popular choice for lifting and carrying sit-on-top kayaks. These straps are designed to go over your shoulders and provide a secure and comfortable grip on the kayak. They distribute the weight evenly, allowing you to carry the kayak with less strain on your body. Kayak carry straps are adjustable, so you can find the perfect fit for your body size and kayak.

Kayak Grab Handle

A kayak grab handle is another useful gear option for lifting and carrying kayaks. These handles are typically located on the sides of the kayak and provide a solid grip and leverage for dragging the kayak when necessary. They are especially helpful when maneuvering the kayak over rough or uneven terrain.

Kayak Yoke

If you’re planning on portaging your kayak, a kayak yoke is an essential gear to have. A kayak yoke is a padded bar that can be attached to the cockpit of the kayak. It allows you to carry the kayak on your shoulders, distributing the weight evenly and providing a more comfortable carrying experience. A kayak yoke is particularly beneficial when you need to navigate over longer distances or challenging terrain.

Kayak Cart

For smooth terrains between your vehicle and the water, a kayak cart can be a convenient option. A kayak cart consists of two wheels and a frame that you can attach to the bottom of your kayak. It allows you to effortlessly roll the kayak from one location to another, eliminating the need to lift and carry the kayak over longer distances.

Roof Rack

If you’re planning to transport your kayak on the roof of your vehicle, having a reliable roof rack is essential. A roof rack provides a secure and stable platform for your kayak, ensuring that it stays in place during transportation. There are different types of roof racks available, such as J-bars, saddles, or stackers, depending on your vehicle and personal preference.

By choosing the right gear for your specific needs and preferences, you can make the process of lifting and carrying your kayak much more manageable. Whether it’s kayak carry straps, grab handles, a kayak yoke, a kayak cart, or a roof rack, investing in quality gear can enhance your solo kayaking experience and make it more enjoyable.

How to Lift Any Kayak by Yourself

Proper lifting technique is essential when carrying a kayak by yourself, whether it’s a hardshell kayak or a sit-on-top kayak. By following the correct lifting method, you can avoid back injuries and safely transport your kayak.

Hardshell Kayak

When lifting a hardshell kayak, start by removing any gear and water from the boat to reduce its weight. Stand on one side of the cockpit, bend your knees, and lift the kayak onto your shoulder. Ensure that the kayak is balanced on your shoulder by adjusting its position if necessary. It’s crucial to maintain a straight back and avoid lifting with your back muscles, as this can lead to strains or injuries. By using your leg muscles and maintaining good posture, you can safely lift and carry a hardshell kayak.

Sit-on-Top Kayak

Lifting a sit-on-top kayak follows a similar technique, but you’ll need to utilize the grab handles or other suitable lifting points instead of the cockpit. Once again, bend your knees and keep your back straight as you lift the kayak. The grab handles provide better grip and leverage, making it easier to lift the kayak onto your shoulder. Remember to distribute the weight evenly and adjust the position as needed for balance. By using the appropriate lifting points and maintaining proper form, you can safely lift and transport a sit-on-top kayak.

Remember, whether you’re lifting a hardshell or sit-on-top kayak, it’s important to avoid straining your back and use your leg muscles for power. Practice the lifting technique before attempting to lift a kayak by yourself to ensure you’re comfortable and confident. By taking the necessary precautions, you can enjoy the freedom of solo kayaking without risking back injuries.

Kayak Type Step-by-Step Lifting Technique
Hardshell Kayak 1. Remove gear and water from the kayak.
2. Stand on one side of the cockpit.
3. Bend your knees and lift the kayak onto your shoulder.
4. Adjust the kayak’s position for balance.
Sit-on-Top Kayak 1. Identify suitable grab handles or lifting points.
2. Bend your knees and lift the kayak using the grab handles.
3. Ensure the kayak is balanced on your shoulder.

How to Put a Kayak on a Vehicle and Tie It Down

When it comes to loading your kayak onto a vehicle, there are a few different methods you can use. If you have a friend to help you, each person can hold a grab handle and lift the kayak onto the vehicle together. This ensures a balanced and controlled lift. However, if you’re flying solo, there are still options available. You can utilize different rack systems such as J-cradles, saddles, or stackers, which can make it easier to load the kayak onto your vehicle by yourself. Another innovative technique is using a lift system or sliding the boat onto a towel or blanket to reduce friction and make it easier to maneuver.

Once you have your kayak on the vehicle, it’s essential to secure it properly for safe transport. The most common method is to use cam straps. These adjustable straps can be quickly and securely fastened around the kayak and the vehicle’s roof rack. Make sure to tighten them enough to eliminate any movement or shifting during transit. Additionally, it’s a good idea to use bow and stern lines for added stability, especially when driving at high speeds or in strong winds. These lines connect the front and back of the kayak to anchor points on the vehicle, preventing any forward or backward sway.

Here is a table summarizing the steps to put a kayak on a vehicle and tie it down:

Steps Details
1. Lift the kayak onto the vehicle – With help: Two people hold grab handles and lift together.
– Solo loading: Utilize rack systems or innovative techniques.
2. Secure the kayak – Use cam straps to fasten the kayak to the roof rack.
– Ensure straps are tight to eliminate movement.
– Consider using bow and stern lines for added stability.

By following these steps and utilizing proper tying techniques, you can ensure your kayak is securely loaded onto your vehicle and ready for a safe journey.


Hauling a kayak by yourself may initially seem challenging, but with the right techniques and precautions, it can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Solo kayaking allows you the freedom to explore at your own pace and connect with nature on a deeper level. By following efficient carrying techniques and considering safety considerations, you can make the process easier and safer.

Proper planning is key to a successful solo kayaking trip. Before you embark on your adventure, carefully plan your route, taking into account the distance, terrain, and any potential obstacles. This will help you determine the best approach to lift and carry your kayak and make the overall experience more efficient.

Investing in the right gear can significantly enhance your carrying experience. Choose gear such as kayak carry straps, grab handles, kayak yokes, kayak carts, and roof racks that suit your specific needs and preferences. These tools can help distribute the weight of the kayak more evenly and provide better grip and stability during lifting and carrying.

Remember to always prioritize your safety when hauling a kayak by yourself. Practice proper lifting techniques to avoid strain or injuries to your back. Take breaks when needed and listen to your body. Additionally, make sure to secure your kayak properly when loading it onto your vehicle using cam straps and bow and stern lines for added stability during transport.

Richard Dodds

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