How To Transport A Kayak On A Small Car​

Transport a Kayak on a Small Car

If you are the type of kayaker who can’t resist the practicality and gas mileage of an efficient, small car, you are not alone. But this does pose a few logistical issues when transporting your kayak. Relying on family or friends with trailers or trucks will quickly get old, so you need to redefine the limits of your small car to accommodate your kayak.

Luckily, there are rack manufacturers that have created smaller roof racks to counteract this exact problem. But what if you do not want to permanently install a roof rack to your vehicle or do not want to spend the money? We will take a look at that too. Before starting though, there are a couple of things to consider.

Things To Keep In Mind

The rack that you use must not extend past your side view mirror. While in most states the bar can extend 6 inches past the mirror, it is best to stay within the normal bounds of your vehicle.

If you have a kayak that is 14 feet or longer, you need at least 24 inches between the roof rack bars. If you are unable to get this distance with a homemade rack (below), you may need to opt for a rack that has arms that extend from the fixed position.

Look at the design of your kayak and your car’s roof. Some kayaks have seats with backs that protrude, which may knock the roof of your car if it is rounded.

Transporting your kayak

How To Transport A Kayak On A Small Car

You will need two pool noodles, 2 square metal poles the width of your car, and several ratchet or cam straps. Thread the straps through the pool noodles followed by the metal poles. Make sure the straps are even and that the entire pole is covered by the pool noodle where it touches your car. Next, secure the poles to your vehicle around 2 to 3 feet apart (as wide as is possible on your vehicle). With your car doors open, bring each side of the strap together and fasten them firmly.

Once the noodles have been secured, put your kayak on top of the noodles. Ensure that you turn the kayak upside down if possible. Check that the middle of your kayak is in the middle of the two noodle bars. Now that your kayak is in position, secure them to your vehicle by passing ratchet straps over the kayak in the same place as the noodles are. Join the straps and tighten them until they are snug but not too tight. Pull the kayak from side to side to make sure it does not move too much.

Make sure that you twist each strap before you join them to prevent any screeching when you are driving. The last thing to do is secure your stern and bow so that your kayak can’t move forward or backward – you don’t want it to fly off the roof when you take off or brake at a traffic light.

Using a ratchet strap, thread it through the grab handle at the stern of your kayak and secure it to the tow point at the back of your car. Repeat the process for the stern, fastening it to the front tow point. Make sure that you do not make the straps overly tight, but secure. Move the kayak back and forth to ensure there is very little movement.

If you are transporting your kayak on your small car using a bought roof rack, the process is much the same as above. The most important thing to check is that the straps are secured on the inside of the crossbar so that the strap does not slide off the end when you are driving.

TIP: If you are driving a distance from where you placed your kayak on the roof of your car, it is best to check the straps after 15 minutes of driving as they can come loose with movement. If you are driving for a few hours, check the straps every 30 to 45 minutes.

Just because you have chosen to drive a small car doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the independence that comes with transporting your own kayak. By following the above steps, you can safely and simply secure and transport your kayak on a small car.

Plus, if you choose to make your own roof rack, you can install it and remove it when needed, and it costs much less than a manufactured roof rack. Happy paddling