Flying with sea kayaks

We’re going to spend 3 weeks in Alaska in July (decided on PWS). The cost of renting kayaks for that long is very high and I investigated flying the kayaks to Anchorage, and it turns out to be under $250 each way (DHL), 2 day delivery. That’s about 1/2 the price of a 3 week rental and more important to us, guaranteed comfort in your own kayak. I’m not sure how we’ll get them from Anchorage to the put in yet.

Even with visions of forklift prongs spearing my boat, it’s might tempting to go this route. Has anyone flown with kayaks (not folding or 3 pc)?

Any opinions on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of this idea?



What material?
In what material are your boats made?

I’ve shipped a lot of boats by way of common courier. 1 out of 10 are damaged beyond repair and these are plastic boats. If it is a composite boat, I would forget it. It will be smashed beyond recognition. It would be a horrible way to start a trip.

On a brighter note, if you want full value for a boat you are trying to sell, insure it well and ship it across the country.

curious about packaging/labeling
and what year this happened. In 9/01 the regs changed. Was it before or after that?

When you say 1:10 were damaged, did you actually send that many kayaks or is this an educated guess?

Can you supply a few more details?



I sent kayaks overseas and back
In 1999 I send 4 fiberglass kayaks with me to Okinawa. One was destroyed ( sent with a friend and not crated). I sent over a few plastic boats without incident. My kayak made it back without incident.


– Last Updated: Apr-08-07 9:56 AM EST –

Once you get there, you will need a vehicle with roof rack to get around. I've been thinking the same and have come to a conclusion. If I don't drive, I would buy two foldable ones to fly with.

Not crated?
Was it just wrapped in plastic? Cardboard?

We both have glass boats, BTW.


Tried folders
I just don’t like the way they handle. My mind’s not completely closed to them but spending my only vacation time every year in a kayak I don’t enjoy paddling just doesn’t make sense.

Thanks for the link, though.


Buy plastics now.

– Last Updated: Apr-08-07 10:03 AM EST –

Buy inexpensive new or used plastics now, outfit so they fit you and paddling partner nicely, and paddle for fun, and perhaps buy slightly shorter than your 'glass boats (something useable and seaworthy but not necessarily ultralong), and then fly them to Alaska, Lyngo.

Best investment you could make for this and other trips. Pnet classifieds and eBay are flush with plastic yaks for the summer/spring right now.


the problem is
we live in NYC and it costs $800 year to store one kayak, so that won’t work out too well.

Lots to think about. I expect some long, deep conversations with DHL in the next few weeks.


just curious as to whether you asked the airline if they could take the boat for some fee?

Piece of cake
This not necessarily a question of flying with kayaks. You can ship any kayaks any time by a number of freight companies to a terminal near the airport. It takes only a few days to get there and I bet it will be cheaper than $250 each way. In your case, you deliver the boats to a company’s termianl near JFK. You pick them up any time after the arrival of the boats (they will call you). Make sure you pack well. They usually ask you to bubble wrap AND shrink wrap. I like to tie ropes in two places near the center so that it is easier for them to lift by hand without using the forklift. Foam blocks with straps on a rental SUV will get you to the put ins.

not since 9/11
I did ask. Even though they will take our kayaks on a regularly scheduled flight, a box of that size must be delivered to the airport terminal by a known shipper.


great advice
about the ropes to let the fork lift pick up from the top, thanks for that!!


You lve in NYC? Storage issue?
I agree with the above posters re: folders now. If you don’t like the feel, I bet you can get used to it for travels an storage. Let us know what uyou choose, Lyngo, but based on my research into shipping, when you call DHL you will be flored at the price… I am guessing $400 per trip, or $800 per kayak roundtrip. Plus no easy trqansport when youget to Alaska, as noted intelligently by another paddler above, and you will find that either the $800/year storage (bet you could use the space to store other things too if its in your condo), is best bet. I sure would like you to follow up to see what coms of all this.

You sound very serious about using your own yak, as if you are ging on a 3 week expedition paddle. Otherwise, very few would go to this trouble and these potential hazards (i.e. damage to $3000 kayaks) for a few day paddles,

Thanks for your tip on my golf carrier for me folder. :slight_smile:

DHL gave me the price
Of $217 one way (I rounded up to $250). The cost of renting a kayak is ~$300/week and we are going for a 3 week trip. It’s not just the money, but last year in BC my partner had a kayak he was really miserably uncomfortable in and the idea of having our own boats is very appealing.


Wow, that is significantly lower than

– Last Updated: Apr-08-07 12:08 PM EST –

...the over $400 they quoted me one way for a kayak from Texas to Illinois, about 900 miles. And that was a 60 lb plastic yak with 10 lbs of packing for 70# total. I did, just for what it's worth, get an erroneous quote from DHL first and on theri website... the first quote got was something like $275, but when I gave them very exact info, length, width, they said, "oh, no wait, hat would be $400 and we reserve the right to charge you more (or less) when we see the item packed.

Here;s an alternative, Lyngo.

I know the feeling about yor own stuff rather than rentals, that I can well relate to.

Sounds like if travel is in your plans for the future, you must consider another kayak(s) for travel, and if it's a one time deal, just pay the $300 (each) and bang up the rental kayak rather than your own. It's likely only one tenth the price of yours new, and if there is any damage, you will not only not be able to use yours (if damaged on the way out) but will pay more than that for a NYC repair. I cannot see a compisite kayak makiung it well uder those conditions (excpet maybe as a three piece. Maybe).

PS Whe I go on DHL websote and try shipping from IL here to Alaska Anchorage, and put in the proper dimensions of 170 inches (that is the number most people, inclding the DHL staff put in wrong), 14 inch high, 60 lbs, and 22 inches wide, they say:
The package dimensions exceed the maximum size limit for domestic DHL Express or Ground service. Please contact customer service for assistance.

I think they may have misquoted you Lyngo, which would make the entire thinga moot point Honestly, I hope you are right abou the cosy, and I know you caled them, but you migh call again and make sure they put in 170 inches (if your kayak is less than 17 feet, that is), and see what bthey come up with. I went through the same false hope with the kayak I was bying from Texas, a Prijon Catalina, and their error was only picked up when spoke with an intelligent opertaor who basially said it was, in the end, not shippable I think now, and this was abot 8 months ago they woud not even ship it; but maybe indeed it was something like $450. Maybe I am wrong. I hope I am wrong. Let me know, because I may be travelling to Alaska with wife in 2009 for a conference. Thanks


– Last Updated: Apr-08-07 12:23 PM EST –

Take a look at this link:

Tom Pogson owns Alaska Kayak School. He's a great guy! Take a look at the high quality boats he has for rent (he's even got NDKs!). Rentals are $300-$325 a week, but he's willing to talk group rate for rentals over 2 weeks. As you can see, he's very strict on who he rents to, so you really have to know your shit (for lack of a better phrase). ;)

Let's say for random sake, he gives you a fee of $700 for 3 weeks per boat. That's a lot less hassle than shipping two boats all the way across the country and then to Alaska and all the way back home with the risk of damage, in my opinion. He has a $250 delivery/pick up fee to Whittier. Very much worth it considering your rental car is going to be sitting in a parking lot for 3 weeks and believe me, the city of Whittier is going to screw you on parking fees!

Take a look here as well:

Maybe you can get a good deal from either one since you're renting for so long. Both companies are located in Whittier and you can walk your boats to the ramp. If you rent localy, you can take the Alaska RR train from the airport to Whittier and back...and no vehicle rental fees!

Anyway, just some ideas. All you damn SOBs that are talking about Alaska trips, you're making me home sick...knock it off!! ;)

Sorry Paddle-Pirate
I sent Lyn some links to possible stuff too. I think taking the train from Anchorage to Whittier is the way to go.

That way no rental car, no storage fees, and no trying to find one to haul kayaks.

Hope you can get back up here sometime…


Shipping cost
Make sure we are talking about the same thing. Door-to-door and terminal-to-terminal are very different in price. Check prices from Watkins and Forward Air. They are cheaper. But you are right, price at the show up is always higher than the quote for some reason.

Have you tried
A Khatsalano, Whisper Fujita or Cooper? At $800/yr to store you should consider a folder or 3 piece.