How to Safely Transport Fishing Kayaks: A Guide to Doing It Right


So, you just bought a fishing kayak! Congratulations on your purchase!

Before you get excited using the kayak on your next fishing trip, there’s one thing you need to know first. Learn how to safely transport fishing kayaks, and that is exactly what we’ll let you know in this short guide.

Moving a fishing kayak around can be a disaster when you do not do it right. Aside from damaging the kayak, it can also be unsafe not just for you but also for other people on the road.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Safely Transport Fishing Kayaks

There are multiple ways by which you can transport your kayak, and here, we’ll give you simple steps on how to do this.

Tying Your Kayak on a Roof Rack

This is the most common way of transporting a fishing kayak. The assumption is that there is already an installed roof rack in your car. If that’s the case, then here are the simple steps you need to follow.

  • Start by installing padding on your rack. Padding blocks will help preventing damage during transport on both your car’s roof and your fishing kayak. You can buy padding wraps with Velcro straps if you are looking for an easy way to secure the padding.
  • Prepare the straps that you will use for securing your fishing kayak on the roof. There are straps that are specifically designed for tying kayaks in roofs. They often have cam buckles, which will make it easy to tighten or loosen the strap depending on what you require.
  • Look for bow and stern lines. They will be useful for securing the bow and stern of the kayak. This will prevent the kayak from being accidentally lifted or detached from the roof when you are driving.
  • Now, lift the kayak on the roof. This is one thing that you should never do alone. Ask a buddy for a hand, and make sure that you are holding it on both ends. The bow should be at the front and the stern needs to be up. You should also lift it with the right side up.
  • As you arrange the kayak in the roof rack, make sure that it is at the center. Move it back and forth until you find the center. This will help in evenly distributing the weight of the kayak.
  • Strap the kayak. This is one thing that you need to do several times to be sure that the kayak is secure. Tighten the strap using the cam buckle system. Make sure that it isn’t too loose or too tight.

Using a Kayak Trailer

If your car does not have a roof rack or if you are transporting multiple kayaks at once, using a kayak trailer can offer the perfect solution. They are small and lightweight, which also means that they can be towed by almost any car.

  • The first thing you need to do is to connect the trailer at the rear of your car. The directions on how to do this will vary depending on the design of the trailer. 
  • Your car needs to have a hitch, which will connect to the trailer. For most kayaks, a 2-inch hitch will be more than enough.
  • Once you have attached the trailer, now is the time to load the kayak. Ask for a helping hand, especially if the kayak is heavy. If you are worried that the surface of the kayak will be scratched or damaged, it is also a good idea to add padding.

Getting Your Kayak in the Water

Once you arrive at the fishing destination, unload the kayak. Release the straps and ask a friend for a helping hand. It is now time to get the kayak in the water. Don’t just put it on the ground and pull as this can damage the kayak. Here’s what you should do instead.

  • If the kayak is short and lightweight, the easiest thing to do is to lift it on your shoulder and walk all the way to the water.
  • If you will be transporting multiple kayaks and if they are heavy, it will be good to have a kayak cart. This way, you can also easily transport anything else from your car that you need for kayaking.
  • You can also ask help from a friend, which is often the most practical way of carrying a kayak and getting it in the water. One should be holding the bow while the other one should be holding the stern. Lift both sides at the same time and make your way to the water.

Pro Tips

Aside from following the steps mentioned above, here are other things that will help you safely transport your fishing kayak.

  • Know the laws. Many countries or states have their respective laws about safe transportation of kayaks. For instance, in some places, no part of the kayak should be protruding.
  • Drive slowly. Even if you are excited to get to your fishing destination, go slow. The faster you drive, the higher is the chance that the kayak will detach from the roof.
  • Before heading out, it is crucial that you perform a quick safety check. One of the most important is to check the tension of the straps. The movement of the boat during transportation can make the strap loosen over time, so make sure to keep it tight and use a cam lock to secure the position.
  • During the trip, make it a habit to stop frequently to check the condition of the kayak and the strap. See to it that they stay secure. At one point, you might have to redo the straps to make sure that the kayak stays safe on the roof.
  • Invest in a lift system if you know that you will be loading the kayak on the roof by yourself. This is typically a mechanism that slides from the side of your car.
  • Make sure that you lock the straps after tying a kayak. This is also why we recommend buying locking cam straps. The latter can be unlocked only with the use of a key. This is effective in securing the kayak while also providing you with peace of mind. You can leave the kayak on the roof of your car without worrying that it will be stolen.


At this point, we hope that you are able to learn a thing or two about how to safely transport fishing kayaks. Whether it is on a roof rack or a trailer, pay attention to how it is properly done to keep the kayak secure and avoid compromising safety.

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