How to Load a Sea Kayak: Get Ready for an Adventure!


The waves, wind, paddler height and weight – all these must be considered when you’re thinking about loading a sea kayak for an expedition. Those and of course a quick check of the weather forecast. Loading a sea kayak can be quite tricky and unfortunately, basic courses wouldn’t show you what you need to properly do it.

Lucky for you, we have here in this post everything that you need to know about how to load a sea kayak. Generally, the heaviest items go as low as possible while the lighter ones should be on the higher end of the kayak. These things, including some tips, will be discussed in detail in this article so be sure to read until the end so learn more about it. Now, let’s begin the discussions.

How to Load a Sea Kayak

The goal is to have your kayak trimmed and equally balanced before and after. With this, you might need to look at the kayak’s side view while it’s empty, floating in the water. Keep in mind that the loaded kayak will still look the same as the empty one but it will be sitting a little lower, mainly because of the added weight.

Another thing you must be aware of is that if you put too much weight forward will only make your kayak too immersed on the bow rather than the stern. The kayak tends to turn into the wind’s direction when this happens. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing and in fact, this could also be an advantage, especially if you’re paddling upwind. However, keep in mind that this might also make your kayak a little bit more difficult and challenging to maneuver and control.

Meanwhile, too much weight backward may only cause your kayak to turn downwind. This is a clear advantage if you’re paddling downwind. However, this again might cause you a problem with controlling the kayak.

A trimmed kayak would be best for all-around performance. While this may be the case, you must still be vigilant in case the weather changes, in which you may have to go the other way and turn around. When getting close to land, you still have the option to stop and reload your kayak. However, doing so might just be impossible if you’re doing an open crossing.

Not only would you want your kayak trimmed on the forward and backward portion but you would also want it trimmed on the sides. If you’re carrying heavy gear on one side, the boat will naturally lean on that side. This, again, might cause some control issues because the kayak will inevitably carve turns in the opposite direction.

With this, you might want to load the heavier items low and along the kayak’s keel – close to the cockpit. In addition, you would also want to wedge your gear into place so that they don’t shift from one side to another when there’s an apparent wave action or when the kayak in preparation for a turn or while you’re bracing into a wave.

Different Ways of How to Load a Sea Kayak

Loading a sea kayak is not such a terrible task to do but it’s very important that you know how to properly load it onto your vehicle to make sure that it’s secure even when you’re on the road.

Carrying a Sea Kayak

Carrying a kayak with two people is very simple. Each person only needs to grab an end of the kayak by its handle found at either the stern or bow. Then, both persons need to lift the kayak. Instead of one person having to backpedal, both persons can freely face the same direction when transporting the kayak. In fact, carrying two boats at once can be done just by taking a handle from each kayak in each hand.

On the other hand, carrying a kayak alone is still very doable – unless your kayak is very heavy. All you need to do is to stand on the kayak’s left side while facing it. Then, squat down and take ahold of the cockpit’s edge that’s closest to you. After, pull the kayak’s edge up to your thighs.

Try reaching across the boat using your right arm and then grab the kayak’s inside by the cockpit’s underside. As you begin to stand up, try lifting the kayak to your right shoulder. Finally, the cockpit’s rim should rest on your shoulder. It is also very important to note that finding a balanced position is essential so that your kayak would not tip forward or backward.

Putting a Sea Kayak on a Vehicle

Before attempting to put your kayak on the top portion of your car, be sure to have the following: crossbars, rack or padding, cam straps, and bow and stern lines. Using the crossbars and the padding already installed and the straps and lines ready to be used, you can quickly place your sea kayak on the top of your car.

If you’re by yourself, it might be beneficial for you to use a lift system, getting some rolling wheels, or using a towel or a blanket. When loading more than one sea kayaks, you might want to consider adding a second rack. You may also opt to use stacker bars to keep your boats secure.

Tying Down a Sea Kayak

When tying down your sea kayak, it’s very important to keep everything simple. You may use fancy knots and straps, which may seem cool, but what’s important is to try to do it as quickly as possible and using the most secure ones. It may also be a big help if you use a ladder, especially if you’re short and you have a tall vehicle. This wouldn’t take so much space, as you can keep this small stepladder in the back, allowing you to use it for reaching the straps, which makes the whole process a lot easier.


We’re now at the end of the post and we hope that you have learned a lot about how to load a sea kayak. While these are all very easy to do, what’s important is that you need to check how everything is every 15 minutes of driving. You might need to pull over at the side of the road to keep track of everything. You may also need to give your kayak a quick and forceful tug just to make sure that it’s still secure at the top of your vehicle. Hopefully, you get to put this new learning to the test when you set out on your next sea kayaking adventure.

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