Frustrated! Can't load my kayak.

Surely there are other vertically challenged, petite, single (as in no one around to help me, SUV owners out there who simply can’t load their kayak! I’ve tried everything, including a Thule/Mako rack c/w downrigger, without any success. I don’t want to scratch my vehicle (a Honda SUV), am not strong enough to hoist the kayak by myself, and think the only way I’m going to be able to port my kayak is via single trailer. More money to have a hitch installed, buy the trailer, get a license etc. etc. Any advice on an alternate aproach??

land sharks
I use yakima land shark saddles and lift only one end of the kayak at a time. I lift the front of the kayak up on the back rack. let it rest there and then lift the back of the kayak and slide it forward until it rests in both sets of saddles properly. If the back rack on your SUV is too far forward so that the kayak would slide on the roof before it engages the rack, put a cusion of some sort for it to rest on initially and then grab the back of the kayak and slide it forward. The cusion should keep the kayak from scratching your roof.

I can’t lift much over my head so I finally gave up on rollers, outriggers, etc. and got a Talon EZ Loader sideloader for my Blazer. They’ve sold the patent to Yakima who will be manufacturing it soon. The idea is that the rack slides out, comes down to about chest height. You load the boat and tie it in place on some saddles or whatever and then hydraulic lifters help lift it up back to the roof. Mine works fine. Makes it possible for me to go out alone. I think Thule makes one similar but the reviews sound iffy.


Maybe you’ve tried this. If so ignore the following. I’m 64 and have a bad back but I can get my 55# 15’ canoe on my suv with ease as follows. I got one of those loading bars that slides out of the front crossbar about 3’ Both Thule and Yakima make them. I lift the front end of the boat and but it on the bar. I then left the back end and slide the boat slightly forward on the bar while swinging the rear onto the rack. If you’re short a small collapsable kitchen step stool is a big help. When you install the hull supports on your rack (gunwale supports in my case) offset then to the same side of the car as the extendable loading bar. That way you’re not reaching so much.

I too use the stepstool. It is a wonderful secret to successful loading. For about 15-20 bucks you can get a really nice lightweight folding stool.

Kayak Loading
My wife and I suffered through the same problems when we got our first touring kayaks. I have a Ford Explorer and we used to car top using Thule Hull-A-Ports. I would always have to bring along a 4 foot step ladder to be able to load and tie down our boats. After our first season of this, we both decided it was nonsense and ending up buying a kayak trailer. I can’t stress how much easier things are with that trailer! I would never go back to car-topping.

Don’t get a single yak trailer
I would suggest getting a trailer that can hold 4 kayaks or canoes. Or at least get a trailer that can carry 2 boats.

Roller kayak racks

– Last Updated: Aug-30-05 10:17 AM EST –

I sold a 54 lb. kayak to a 5'6" man who had a roller design kayak rack for an SUV; he lifted just the bow & pushed the kayak up from the stern. Might be expensive but still cheaper than a trailer.
If you SUV has factory racks of some sort "Do it yourself suggestion":4 years ago I made saddles from wood, foam core, & covered the surface with carpet runner from Home Depot for my Tacoma cap (standard racks); instead of rollers, I push the kayak up & it slides well over the carpeted surface. My "poor man's or person's" roller system still works. With 2 straps I can travel 75 mph - I can send pic's and you can modify the design to fit your roof. Very cheap to build $25 plus $12 for straps - you remove the saddles when not in use. If your kayak is plastic (like my Pungo 140), this saddle eliminates oil canning in warmer weather; I carried a 17" + Lincoln Isle au Haute ($2500 fiberglass composite) without a problem. Good luck

Frustrated! Can’t Load - Thanks everyone
Some great ideas - thanx! Many of them I’ve already tried (the step stool, protective carpet/pillow, dealer racks, Thule rack with outrigger etc.), but none of them works for me. The salesman at Thule even admitted that it would be “next to impossible” for me to load - after I’d gone back to seek his advice. I think I’ll have to go the trailer route … Again, thanks for your help, folks.

kayak loading
Have you looked at one of the tbar racks that fit in your 3 pt hitch,cabelas and bass pro sells them.

kayak rollers
Have you try this thing?

You probably could make one out of PVC pipe, pool noodles and lawn mower tires.

Also besides using a rug, I’ve heard of people using a rubbermaid bath mat.

I bought the Roller Loaders. Can’t recommend them enough. Save your back and neck, buy these.

Kayak pads wooden
If you please, send pics of your woodden saddles.

Thank you


To the female intial poster:
At home: use a ceiling pulley for storage, and pull your Honda into the garage and gently settle the kayak down the the ceiling to get it onto your vehicle. Reverse the process when you return home.

At the lake: drive as close to the lake as possible, stand on the SUV roof (the side without the kayak), and lift the kayak and literally throw it out onto the lake, using a long rope to prevent float aways. Like a projectile feline, a plastic yak will almost always land right side up… esp since you will toss it in this manner. Pull it in, get in and paddle. To get it out of the lake, either ask a burly man to help you get it on (the kayak, that is), or simply toss it back onto the SUV with reckless abandon. I am 4 feet 8 inches and 100# and these systems work for me and my Ford Expedition and my humongo plastic kayak.

here’s your solution
So you’ve tried some of these things with still no luck. Then you may come to realize you need either a lighter (as in composite) boat or a SUV with a lower roof line. (as in Subaru) Frankly, you may need both. Have you thought about doing any upper body strength training? Although it won’t make you any taller, it certainly would be beneficial for you to gain more strength. Good luck.

Kayak loading
When I first purchased my 17 ft aluminum canoe my cars roof racks were less than shoulder height and loading was easy, then I moved up and the rack went higher I moved up to a kayak also. My solution after trying many things was to get Yacuma bars and cover them with PVC pipe to act as rollers. I them purchased a bathroom rug to cover the rear of the car and not get it scratched. I position the front od the yak on the carpet with the rear on the ground and then lift the rear and roll it on. Once the yak is on the first roller and past the center it is front heavy and will just lower itself onto the front roller. I used two rollers for the canoe but it can be done with one. Standing on the rear bumber will now allow you to finally position the yak for tie down.

Loading tips…
turn the kayak upside down, with the cockpit facing the ground…with your right hand, reach down to the cartridge belt, obtain a fresh cartridge, and insert it tip first into the cockpit opening…(Groan…!!)

(a little comic relief can make any job easier…he he he).

Kayak Loading/Hoisting issues! AMEN!
SO there ARE OTHERS OUT THERE with the SAME Problems?

I a also short female and kayak frequently as a single - and… yes I have the same portability issues! I have a kayak CRTnow for long hauls, walks but getting it in and out can be quick tricky hence the reason I now have a short, light simple yak! Someday i want to get one that is more serious but weight will be a deciding factor! I must admit that I have met great people though who were always very friendly and helpful but sometimes …THERE IS NO ONE AROUND!


Transport Saddles
I would be interested in receiving a copy of your rack saddle design.

Please email to the above address.



All I made was a pair of saddles to fit the roof racks of my truck cap & basically upholstered/padded them to avoid crushing the hull; I lift the tip of the bow onto the rear saddle, lift the stern grab loop & push the kayak forward & secure it with 4 straps. There is no mechanism nor moving component…Still works in 2007 though the upholstery is getting a bit shabby so maybe I’ll repair it for 2008.