How to Put Kayak On Roof Rack By Yourself – A Kayak Concluded Guide


Many people who get into the sport are concerned about lifting, carrying, and loading kayaks onto their cars. You may be excited to start your kayaking adventures. However, it is essential to plan how to transport your kayak safely from your garage to the water. It can be challenging to mount a kayak on your vehicle’s roof rack, especially if there is no one else. There are ways to get your kayak onto a roof rack without damaging your car, hurting your back, or dropping it. You can make solo loading a little easier, and it is pretty simple.

How to put the kayak on the roof rack by yourself

You know what it is like to accidentally drive off with your coffee up on the roof of your car and end up ruining a perfect morning. The same applies to kayaks that are not adequately secured on the roof rack. You run the risk of them flying onto the highway. This could prove fatal as it can cause severe damage to the kayak and pose a threat to road safety. It is essential to secure the kayak to your roof by using a robust and tight-fitting strap. It’s a good idea to check the owner’s manual before loading your kayak onto your car. This will ensure that the roof can handle the kayak’s weight. You will also need a kayak carrier, bow straps, and tie-down straps.

Readout more: How to transport a kayak without rack

Choose the right gear 

It may seem simple to load your kayak onto your car’s roof. However, it cannot be easy to do it correctly. To avoid damage to expensive gear, it is crucial to get this right. This is possible by understanding what equipment you will need to secure your kayak to your roof rack. It might seem tedious to gather the right gear, but it is essential for long-term success. The weight and size requirements of your kayak will help you choose the best kayak carrier. If you still don’t have a kayak roof rack, you should read about the foldable models.

You will need many conveniences to ensure the safety of the kayak and roof rack when transporting multiple kayaks. Some kayaks can be too large to carry with a roof rack. There are many options available for taking your kayaks, including different types and styles. If you don’t use your watercraft as frequently, a foam block carrier is an option. It is more cost-effective and leaves more space on your roof for your kayak.

Load your kayak 

The kayak carrier and roof rack can be pre-installed, making it easy to load on the car. It is essential not to rush, as it could lead to property damage. You can use a block of foam or a blanket to cushion the kayak if you intend on placing it directly on the roof rack. If you are doing this solo, it is good to start at the rear of the car by placing the kayak on the rear roof rack. Then slide the kayak forward. A roof rack makes it easier to load your kayak when you have the kayak facing down.

This gives you more room for strapping. Place the kayak cockpit in front of you. Lift the kayak gently onto the roof. To ensure a uniform distribution of the hull’s weight and for effortless handling of the craft, it would be a good idea to place your shoulder close to the cockpit’s edge. To ensure safe loading, you should position yourself on the backside first. If you have additional gear or a kayak, you can place them side-by-side on the roof. Otherwise, the kayak will be put in the center of the car roof.

Attach your kayak to the crossbars 

Your tie-down strap can be tied under the crossbar at the side. Then, attach the straps to the opposite side of the car. Place the non-buckle end on the passenger’s side and throw it to the opposite side. For extra firmness, ensure that the strap’s ends run under the crossbar. Then secure the strap with the buckle. Secure any extra straps that may be left behind, so it doesn’t move in the wind while you’re driving. To avoid tipping forward or backward, the kayak must be balanced on the crossbars.

It should also be straight in line with the car. It is possible to cause uneven pressure on one side of your craft, which can be dangerous. You can adjust the straps to make things easier by positioning them before the time is set for loading the kayak onto the roof rack. To avoid damaging or bending the kayak’s frame, make sure the straps are properly secured. Click here to read how to tie down a kayak.

Strapping down the bow and stern 

Once the craft is secured on the roof rack, attach the back and front of the kayak. This means you will need a bow-stern strap set. The bow and stern straps run from front to rear, keeping the craft stable and from falling off the car’s back during transport. Although different vehicles may have other connections, most vehicles come with built-in attachments points at the rear and front of the car. These spots might not be available on your car, so you may need to purchase tie-down loops for your trunk and hood. Next, place the bow end of the kayak on the bar at the rear roof. Make sure they are securely and safely positioned. You can then move on to the stern of the hull. Next, carefully lift the kayak’s tern and slide it forward to secure it to the vehicle’s roof rack.

Tidying up 

This is the final step in putting your kayak on a roof rack, but it’s an important one. Tidying up does not necessarily refer to clearing out the space around you. It also means making sure that everything is safe and ready for transport. To avoid road safety hazards, ensure that your end straps are securely fastened. You should also ensure that the buckles at the ends of your strap do not scratch or damage your car’s doors. For safety reasons, the crossbars on the kayak rack must be securely fitted.

You should consider the size and type of car that you purchase if you’re serious about paddling. It will be crucial in transporting your kayak from one place to another. Canoe and kayak roof racks can fit into almost any car, truck, SUV, or vehicle, but some manufacturers do not allow them. You can refer to the instruction manual included with your car or the manufacturer’s manual if you have questions about whether you should use your vehicle for this purpose.

How to load a kayak on j rack 

Once your rack is secured, it’s now time to load your kayaks. Although the loading process for kayaks is different depending on vehicle and rack type, we will give you some helpful tips for loading kayaks onto a J rack.

Learn more: How to carry a kayak

Set up your kayak on the ground 

This is an easy step that many kayakers overlook. It is best to place the kayak on the ground first before loading it onto the roof rack. You can then lift the kayak straight up onto your car by flipping it. It also decreases the chance of the kayak falling or losing grip. This can lead to injury or damage to the kayak. The best way to place a kayak on the ground when loading it onto a J-rack is to face it.

Loading from the side 

You will need to lift the kayak and turn it towards you as you load it from the side. This can be difficult depending on how big your kayak is, especially for smaller paddlers. It is easier to load kayaks onto a J-rack from the side if you have a partner. Position yourself at the bow and stern of the kayak to get started. To place the gunwale on your J rack, coordinate the lifting of the kayak by rotating it less than 90°. It may be helpful to let the taller person set the kayak in the channel of your J racks if they are both taller than you. The taller person can prop one end up to swing the other kayak over to assist in setting it on the J rack.

Loading from the rear 

Solo paddlers will find it easiest to load kayaks onto a J-rack from the rear. If your kayak is too long, then it’s an excellent alternative to loading from the sides. You will also need to place the kayak face-up on the ground to use this technique. Place the bow of your kayak directly behind your vehicle’s bumper and put a pad or pads underneath your kayak’s stern. As you raise the bow of your kayak, it will be protected from any damage. You will need to move your kayak forward after you have the bow raised high enough. It is a brilliant idea to place the pad about two to three feet in front of the kayak’s stern. This technique requires that your kayak’s bow is correctly secured in the channel of the J racks.

Securing your kayaks 

After your kayak has been placed in the channels of your J-rack, you will need to secure it before you drive off. This is a common area where novice kayakers make mistakes that can lead to severe consequences. You will need to have a set of reliable straps. Two straps are sufficient to carry one kayak. However, if you want to transport two kayaks, you will need two belts. Your vehicle’s side is the best place to attach your kayaks to J racks. You can also set the straps before you load your kayaks. Wrap the strap around your J rack’s taller side. The straps around your rear J racks should be positioned towards the vehicle’s back and vice versa for those around the front J racks.


Once you have put the kayak on the roof rack yourself, get out your map and plan where you want to paddle next. Roof racks, as we said earlier, are an affordable and straightforward option for kayak transport. If you attach it to the vehicle’s top, there’s always a chance that something will move while you drive. It’s a good idea to pull over and check your straps every few minutes.

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