How To Transport A Kayak On A Small Car?|Know The How To’s|

how to transport a kayak on a small car

Last updated on October 14, 2022

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Okay, so you have a new kayak. But does your car have a roof rack? The car roof rack is convenient because it allows you to transport your kayak without damage. Car roof racks don’t come free, and only a few models have it by default. That said, discovering that your car doesn’t have a roof rack might discourage you from heading out and kayak.

Still, you can transport a kayak without a car roof rack. There are different ways to this if you’re crafty enough. This will be the point of our discussion today. I’ll hash about how to transport a kayak on a small car, what are the materials that you need, and more.

Is It Safe To Transport Kayak Without Roof Rack?

Transporting a kayak from place to place is safe, so long as you do it right. Conventional roof racks provide for the transportation of things without damage due to shakes, wobbling, or dropping. For transporting kayak safely without a car roof rack, you just have to emulate the conditions that a conventional roof rack gives.

  1. you have to maximize stability for transporting a kayak without a roof rack. Look for a transportation method that won’t allow the kayak to wobble as you hit the roads. I’ll discuss this later on. For now, remember that you can transport kayak without a roof rack so long as the method that you employ holds it in place.
  2. You have to think about your car too. Transporting a kayak without roof rack is okay, so long as it doesn’t dent the roof or any part of your vehicle. That said, you need to think about alternative ways of transporting a kayak without a roof rack that doesn’t only protect your kayak, but the car too.

Damages of Wrongfully Transporting A Kayak Without Roof Rack

Here are the possible damages that can happen if you transport a kayak without a car roof rack the wrong way:

  • dented kayak hull
  • dented car roof
  • the dropping of kayak while traveling
  • road accidents
  • kayak deformation

What Are The Alternatives If You Don’t Have A Car Roof Rack?

Not having a car roof rack isn’t a big problem if you know alternatives. You may opt to do these things if you can’t afford a car roof rack for the meantime.

Make A DIY Roof Rack

Why not try making a DIY roof rack? A DIY roof rack is a simpler version of a car roof rack. This is usually made out of wood and very malleable metal. Making your very own car roof rack is a lot cheaper than buying one. However, you should know that a DIY roof rack doesn’t last for long. It only lasts for 2-3 months, and you’ll have to get a conventional roof rack eventually.

Here’s a how-to video for making a homemade roof rack.

A Trolley Isn’t Bad

A kayak trolley might be cheaper than a car roof rack; also, it works best if you don’t like your car having a roof rack. I recommend that you go for a kayak trolley that has large wheels. Kayak trolley with large wheels won’t be bothered by the bumps on the roads and will zoom with ease as your car pulls it.

How To Transport A Kayak On A Small Car In An Instant?

A DIY car roof rack and kayak trolley are good. However, they’re not good options if you want to load a kayak on the car roof immediately. You have to make a makeshift car roof rack for transporting a kayak in an instant. Here are some of the materials that you need for this.

Pool Noodles

Pool noodles are plastic or polyethylene tubes that are light yet sturdy. You can buy three or five pieces of pool noodles to make a platform on your car’s roof that will act as a makeshift car roof rack. Pool noodles are available on sports stores or hardware stores. I recommend that you opt to buy pool noodles that are thick, soft yet sturdy, and lengthy.

The average price of pool noodles starts at $12.

Wood Planks

Wood planks are an alternative to pool noodles. You can also use this to make a makeshift car roof rack. Go for wood planks if you don’t want to spend money on pool noodles. Aside from wood planks, large and thick wood sticks will do. Only use wood planks or wood sticks that are in good condition.

Large Rubber Pad or Used Foam

A rubber pad and used foam are alternatives to pool noodles. You can use a rubber pad or used foam to cover your car roof rack. The rubber pad or used foam will act as a flexible platform that will protect the car’s roof and the kayak from denting.

Cam Buckle, Ratchet Straps, or Rope

You need these things to secure the kayak. I recommend that you use cam buckle or ratchet straps because they’re easy to use. All you have to do is put them around an object and latch their end to a lock. Using a rope isn’t bad. However, you’ll have to do a lot of knots to secure the kayak in place.

Now that you know the things that you need. Proceed, and I’ll teach you how to transport kayak without a roof rack.

Step 1: Prepare The Makeshift Car Roof Rack

You should place the pool noodles on the car’s roof rack at an equal distance from one another. Their ends should be in the direction of the car window and not toward the windshield. Don’t allow their ends to protrude because they might scratch the sides of other vehicles. By the way, these instructions also apply if you decide to use wood planks or sticks.

For the foam and rubber pad, cut them according to the size of your car’s roof. Don’t forget to put holes on the sides so that they won’t catch the wind and be blown away. It’s best if you put two layers of rubber pad or foam. Two coats will provide a platform that’s very soft and shake-free for your kayak.

Step 2: Load Your Kayak

After you’ve prepared the makeshift car roof rack, it’s time to load the kayak. You should get a ladder first for you to reach the roof of the car with ease. If the kayak is light, all you have to do is lift it, get on the ladder, and place the kayak on the makeshift car roof rack.

You might have to use a long slab of wood if the kayak is heavy. The long piece of wood will act as a bridge that will allow you to put the kayak on the makeshift roof rack without lifting. You can also use a portable pulley. However, setting it up might take time.

Step 3: Secure Your Kayak

Open the rear doors of your car first. After this, put the cam buckle, ratchet, or rope around the kayak then pass it under through the car’s windows. Remember that the cam buckle, ratchet, or rope must not be very tight. Too much tightness might damage your kayak. Securing is done best if the cam buckle holds your kayaks middle portion, stern, and bow. Securing the middle part, stern, and bow is good because it prevents the kayak from sliding or wobbling whenever you suddenly brake.


Transporting a kayak in a small car without a roof rack is possible. Follow the steps that I taught here to do this. Also, you may employ the alternatives that I talked about. Still, the best way to transport your kayak safely is through a conventional roof rack. That said, get a car roof rack as soon as you get a kayak.

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