A back-friendly way of transporting a canoe/kayak?

I own a tandem and a wee lassie canoe, the latter of which weighs 20 lbs. As a result of a bad back, I’ve only used the lassie in recent years since I don’t need to put myself in the hospital by twisting myself around to load the heavy tandem on the top of the sedan. I’d love to get an Eddyline Caribbean 14, which is an SOT of 50 lbs. However, there are two aspects of car topping that are potentially problematic. The first, which might be OK, would be lifting the front end of the craft all the way from the ground. The second, and far more problematic aspect would be moving the kayak off center while transferring it from being held by me to resting on the car top. In case this isn’t clear, what I mean is that I can pick the kayak up. At this point, the center line of the kayak will be in the same plane as my center line. I then have to move my center line out of plane in relation to the center line of the kayak when loading it.

As for the first issue (picking it up) this might not actually be a problem. I might only be picking up 20 lbs or so worth of mass. If this is a problem, one solution would be to have an extension on the rope, so that I don’t have to squat all the way to the ground to pick it up. The problem here is that I can’t lift the craft over my head. Really though, this probably won’t be an issue. I’ll assume that I can lift up the front of a 50 lb craft.

The second issue is the real problem. I’ve looked at various roof-loading systems, and none seem to address this problem. It seems ridiculous to have to buy a trailer just to move a kayak, but maybe this is the way to go. Any ideas?

I just bought another canoe off of a gentleman who had it on his vehicle with a Fulton hitch mounted loader. It was a pretty neat set up, and he said it made it much, much easier to load and unload the canoe by himself. I’ve never used one so i can’t vouch for it, but he loved it. Might be worth checking out!

Thanks for the suggestion, it looks promising.

Have you considered a Thule Hullavator? The lift assist handles 40# and I believe it can handle kayaks up to 36" wide. You would have to lift it high enough to move it to the cradles, but if you set the kayak on portable stands next to your car, you won’t have to deadlift the kayak from the ground. Less expensive than a good trailer and very easy on the back.

Amagasett Roller Loader. But admittedly it is easier if a boat has perimeter rigging, the boat you are speaking of may not.

A trailer would be easiest.

I have the same back problem. I have a great rack system on my truck, but it is way up there.
I also have an old boat trailer converted to carry kayaks and canoes but I hate the thought of dragging it around. I’m working on getting over my trailer phobia.

Trailers can be handy, except when it comes to parking. Not a problem if you use boat launch sites which have designed parking for vehicles with boat trailers (and there’s empty spots), but a different story when your launch site is a small area with limited parking.

I have always used a trailer for my boats; not because I can’t lift them, but because I don’t want to deal with having that mess on top of my vehicles. On a trailer, the tie-down is much simpler, loading and unloading is a snap and parking is seldom and issue, because the trailer can be disconnected and parked along side if there are no long parking spots… There is the security thing with a trailer. I lock the trailer up with a big heavy chain through a wheel and a lock on the hitch when it is disconnected from my truck. Further–one should also pick launch spots where there is plenty of people around. It’s not fun to go paddling and have to worry about your vehicle"s security.

One thing I believe is kind of important when using a trailer, is to have the boats on bunks that are high enough so the boat is about windshield level for most cars. That shouldn’t need an explanation. And don’t forget a red flag if the boat is longer than the trailer.

I carry my 14’ boats in the pick up bed with an extender and red flag. I am amazed at people who get so close that I can’t see the hood of their car.

@string said:
I carry my 14’ boats in the pick up bed with an extender and red flag. I am amazed at people who get so close that I can’t see the hood of their car.

Really makes me wonder how many brain cells people have killed off. When I am behind an object being carried on a roof or in an open truck bed or on a trailer, I stay well behind till I have a better idea of how well the owner secured the load. If I have the slightest doubt, either pass that vehicle or lag even farther behind.

I try not to be behind rooftopped boats of any kind. At least with bikes, various parts such as wheels or handlebars show indications of less-than-secure mounting. With boats, they just start sliding…

Purchase waterfront property.

@Sparky961 said:
Purchase waterfront property.


  • I paddle roughly 365 days a year (well, missed a couple of weeks last year).
  • I choose between 8 kayaks to use on any given day

While you may think ‘riverfront property’ is expensive, not necessarily.
My ‘set’ of kayaks worth is more than I paid for the condo I purchased.
(the kayaks live downstairs, I live upstairs)

Flood plains are always an inexpensive option… :wink:

I’ve considered this myself (well, not a flood plain) but I’d get bored of the area too quickly. I like exploring new places and there seem to be a finite number of times I can paddle the same place before I move on.

What’s your budget? Can your car tow a trailer? +1 on that suggestion, as long as the tow rating is a few hundred pounds you can tow a kayak/canoe trailer. You can park it by hand but you need to take some security measures if you disconnect the trailer. Lock for the fork/ball joint as well as chain and lock for the wheels are a good idea. Don’t forget to order a spare.

Try giving Trailex a call:

@Sparky961 said:
Purchase waterfront property.

I also second this; it’s our situation!

Well I know many folks in the same situation. The two best options are a Thule Hullavator $700 or a Yakima trailer starting at $2500. Nether are cheap.
However I know many people with a Hullavator and they all say the same thing (why didn’t I do this sooner) !

A trailer is the way to go if you have the room and capability to tow. They need not be too expensive if you have some basic tools/skills. I converted an old small sailboat trailer. I can easily carry 4 boats, installed a large toolbox to store all of the gear, added a folding tongue when I extended it, etc. I absolutely love it and tow it with my Sonata.

Let’s see if I can get pics to post. Here’s a picture from last year with 4 boats on the trailer, and one from Sunday with 2 boats. If you look you can see the toolbox mounted between the 2 kayaks on the bottom (that’s why I used J-Cradles on the bottom; to keep the overall width the same as the car).

I have a canoe trailer. Useless for North Maine Woods trips. If you pick the wrong road ( none are labeled, all are dirt and all change with logging operations) you are toast when the road is either blocked with boulders or degenerates into brush… Backing up a mile is not fun and there are never turnarounds… There are ditches on both sides of the track

Plus when we go camping with our trailer we cannot tow another trailer. The boats do go on the roof, End Loading is much easier than side loading. We use the Yakima Hand rollers to help shove forward.

If any of this is relevant to you , rethink trailer. Also in some areas ( I am thinking Florida) trailer parking is more costly than vehicle parking. The trouble with trailers is the trip preplanning… ( same as with a RV trailer)

Purchase waterfront property… no… Not unless you have the means to pay three times the taxes of the other side of the road. We have acreage that is waterview. . None is waterfront but we share a waterfront non buildable lot with 16 others and thats where the boats stay and play when the water is soft.

I have a MO Family Four trailer… Not quite as fancy as the Long Ranger as it has a plywood open box but the same general construction… I could never afford the Long Ranger… I got my trailer some 20 years ago… it is still robust. $5700 um no. But it would outlive any of us