I’m thinking of getting a Co-Motion by Emotion. It is 12’ and says it weighs about 59 lbs. I’m concerned about being able to get this thing up on a roof rack. Any advice out there about this model in particular and/or any thoughts on handling a tandem kayak in general? I like the idea of the 2-seater sit-on-top models. None seem to be any smaller or lighter that I’ve looked at.
Can be done by one
My wife is fairly petite so to protect her back I handle our 72 lb, 13.5 foot tandem myself. I'm a little less then average height and weight (5'8" 160 lbs).
The key is to only lift half at a time so you'll need to come up with a strategy that accomplishes that. Most rack makers have some kind of gadget to assist in the effort (pull out bar, roller wheels, lowering arms etc). I am able to carry our boat around for short distances by resting the weight on my shoulder.
We have a pickup truck so I rest the front of the boat on the tailgate, go to the back of boat and slide it up by walking forward. I have a Thule water slide mat that I lay over the tailgate edge. The boat slides up enough that I can get it level by stepping on the bumper step and pushing it into the saddles. I can then go to the side of the truck to make the final adjustments. I also have a small 2-step aluminum ladder which helps reach some of the tie down points that are hard to reach.
lifting a tandem kayak yourself
Thanks for the reply. We have a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and so I was planning on using something like the Yakima Bow-Down racks (sort of like a Thule J-hook I guess). And so, with that, I'm not sure that it would be possible to lift only one section at a time. Guess I'll have to look at one of the Emotion Tandems and see how heavy it actually is.
Another idea I towed with is one of these Sea Eagle inflatables. Somehow just doesn't seem like a 'real' kayak though....
If you are getting Yakima cross bars check into their "boat loader" thing. A bar that extends out so you can rest kayak against it and lift half the weight into J cradles.
They also have rollers that might help too - rest front of kayak on the rollers and then walk the kayak up to roof but I think that works better with saddles in front. I was surprised how easy a boat slides into the saddles even without the rollers. I have the Yakima Mako saddles.
yakima boat loader
I can see where this would be useful. I actually wasn’t planning on getting the yakima cross bars though…being that the Jeep has the existing factory cross bars - I was just planning on attaching the J-hooks to those. Isn’t it still possible to lift half the kayak at a time right onto the hooks? Thanks so much…I’m learning as I go here.
I don't have any experience with J hook racks, maybe others who do can comment on a few 1 person lifting techniques.
Also try Google search on "how to lift kayak on car". I've seen some interesting videos in the past on home made devices and techniques. I remember seeing a video of a home made suction thing that attached to hood or windshield (yikes) with PVC pipe guides to slide kayak up.
One cheap solution in that space might be the Thule water slide mat. If you can get kayak nose up on some part of the Jeep the mat will provide a slippery surface to walk it up into J hooks.
Here's another page of lift assist gadgets for all rack makers.