buying car for kayak

i have two kayaks and a very little used canoe.i’m considering buying used toyota- camry ,highlander or honda accord. i’m open for other quality vehicles. i 'm looking for easy loading and unloading of kayaks.i once hurt back years ago - not kayaking - but want to make loading as easy as possible. i have racks. the question i have is what best vehicle for loading and unloading kayaks?

The one with the lowest roofline


– Last Updated: Mar-31-07 11:49 AM EST –

one of these.

WIDE crossbar spread{42"},fold flat seats,under floor storage,gear holders,and the thing I like best,the side opening door. You can get your gear out with boats on top. A little higher then an Outback,but still reachable without a ladder. I have an 05 Outback, only 30" crossbar spread,but still a good boat hauler{Lower, but can't open rear hatch with boats on}. The RAV is far more more interior volume,and actually gets gets better gas milage then the Outback 2.5L 4 cyl, with my 269 hp V-6. Both good cars.

Happy Paddling billinpa

i’d get a 2001 corolla. Because. A) 2001 is cosmetically nicer looking than the previous years(that are basically identical except for the looks of the front) and B) roof looks pretty accepting to racks. and C) it’s about as low as you’re gonna get.

Subaru Forrester
This car is a great boat for throwing in stuff and has a reasonbly low roof…ease for that aging back (I hearya!)…


If your back is really dicey
you might consider a small trailer. Some are listed in the buying guide here on p-net. I think they all use regular Thule/Yakima fittings.

Volvo wagon
I carry 3 kayaks with J-racks easily, and if you treat them well they will run into the 100s of 1000s of miles.


Buick Roadmaster wagon
5liter V8. People get out of the way when you’re loaded down.

94’ 940 Wagon
treats me well and only cost 5k, runs good, holds a lot of gear and people, and I got 6 boats on the roof once

Subaru Forester
I love mine for 2 kayaks, I am only 5’0 tall and I can load fairly easily, plus it is AWD so you can get to harder places to reach a little easier.

Outback/Legacy Wagon
The most common choice among paddlers I know is a Subaru Lagacy or Outback wagon. We just got one a few months ago and are very impressed. Slightly bigger than a Forester with slightly lower roof.

Our other car is a 2003 Sable wagon (our third such) which is great for hauling boats and gear.


– Last Updated: Apr-11-07 8:07 AM EST –

and a low roofline. The goal is to get a spot where you can rest the boat either on the rack itself or on a wheeled support hanging off the end as close to you as possible. Then all you have to do is lift the bow and slide the boat from there, with the wheels or rack taking most of the weight.

But to answer your original question
Of the three vehicles the Highlander gets my vote for “Most Rackable Vehicle”. Very long rails allow great crossbar spread.

As for the height of the roof, I believe that the greatest stress to your back is in the initial lift from the ground to waist level. After that, it is a question of upper body strength and balance. Using an extension bar (either Thule or Yakima) makes life simpler. and a Thule Hullavator makes loading a snap.


2007 camry
I have a camry hybrid and have a rack system with no problems. Plus, it’s a sharp looking car!

Colony Park
1988-91 Mercury Colony Park wagon. Luxury wagon that gets 20 plus MPG highway, high teens around town. Examples with plenty of life left in them can be found for under $2500.

Toyota Tacoma or older Toyota pickup
with a shell. I got a 1990 for 3K 3.5 years ago. I put another 80K on it and only needed to replace the starter. Got a shell with bars anda carpet kit for another $400 and go the perfect kayak vehicle.

wagon or small pickup
Sounds like you want a wagon for ease of loading. But if you’re looking at trucks, the 1st gen nissan are rock solid and while I love toyotas, have at least an equal rep for durability and longevity.

any car or small station wagon
As another poster said, the lower the roof line, the better. Otherwise, choose a car you like, and it will be fine for your kayaks. I used to have a subaru impreza wagon, which worked fine, and now I have a prius, which also works fine, and my husband’s tiny ford focus works fine too. Hully rollers are annoying, but they do help load kayaks without straining your back. Super light kayaks help even more (when I went from a 56 lb kayak to a 31 lb betsie bay valkyrie, my back was grateful).

I agree. Once you get it up
to a certain height, it ceases to be a back issue and becomes more upper body. I have lower back problems and this is where it starts to get easier for me.

I have a Toyota Tundra, which LOOKS like a pretty tall vehicle and difficult to load boats on, but isn’t, really. I load by hoisting the boat onto the edges of the bed. Then i get into the bed and lift it onto the roof. There’s an extra “step” in there, but I’m really only lifting the boat about 4 feet each time (not many car roofs are only 4 feet from the ground). I have running boards on the sides which makes it easy to reach when tying down. My boats weigh about 55 and 75 pounds, respectively, so they aren’t exactly light, but this system makes it easy. I think you could do it with any truck, especially a lower one, like a 2WD Tacoma.

Did you consider a cargo van or trailer