Help with Transporting Kayak

Hi - I have a 2011 Nissan Xterra ProX (factory crossbars). I am new to kaykaing (well owning one that I need to transport) and I transport my kayak (10’ sit in) on the roof. But I only had it secured with bungee cords. Two around the sides of the kayak and one at the bow and stern. Oh and I have a pool noodle but and put over each crossbar. I do not feel safe transporting it this way. The kayak sways way too much and I’m afraid it is going to go flying off. And if a semi passes me, geez that wind drag scares me! So I need to find another option.

So I have two options I came up with so I need your recommendation :slight_smile:

I am the first to admit the I am not a strong girl by any means. If I am meeting a group to kayak it is easy to get the kayak onto the roof so I have someone to help me lift it. But if I go alone (which I do at least half the time) it is a pain in the butt to get my kayak on the roof. I can’t lift my kayak over my head. So seriously what I do is throw a moving blanket up on the back of the Xterra. I then have a step stool (that I have to take with to the lake) and I set the tip of the kayak on the back of the Xterra, then grap the back and go up the step stool and just push the kayak onto the roof. Same procedure getting it down. Yes I do realize I look like a fool doing this at the lake but I have no other way to get it on my roof! And, maybe as I kayak more I will built more upper body strength :slight_smile:

Ok so for my options, I don’t feel safe taking the kayak anyplace just bungeeing it on again. And, yes I did see the Thule Hullavator which appears kinda cool, but I am not spending $550+ for this!

  1. do I keep transporting it onto the roof and just buy a roof system. I have looked at both Yakima and Thule and I think I’d go with a Thule system because if I wasn’t taking the Xterra I’d take a Kia Sorento and the same system fits both factory crossbars, where Yakima’s won’t fit the Sorento. So what I found from Thule is either the 835 Hullaport Pro or the 830 Stacker. I realize the stacker could fit multiple kayaks. But for just one kayak which do you recommend? The stacker is about $40 less. Or do I just forgo the roof system and get the ratchet straps and strap the kayak to the cross bars that way? If so does anyone have a picture on how you’d do it? Because I would still think you’d have that big open area on each side of the kayak (centered on the roof) so you’d still have it shifting from side to side.

  2. do I just put the kayak inside the Xterra? If I fold down the passenger seat I am still unable to close the back. The kayak sticks out about 4" so I’d just bungee the back. Even though the inside of the Xterra is not “luxurious” I am still not sure I am keen on having a dirty kayak on the inside. As it would be hanging over the center console, etc.

    Any help would be appreciated. I can’t be the only chic with no strength that wants to kayak on her own. Thank you so much in advance!

On the roof

– Last Updated: Jun-21-12 10:49 PM EST –

Actually, you already figured out the way to load and unload. Moving blanket is just about how most of us load our kayak on the roof!

As for security, it'll go a long way if you buy a pair of straps with cam buckles to replace your bungee!!! Bungee stretches, which is extra challenge you don't need. A strap with cam buckles will hold the boat down nice and secure. Add a pair of bow and stern line (ropes not bungee), your boat aren't going anywhere but on the car!

Xterra 2001 Solar Yellow Here

All you really need to do is buy two 12’ long 1 inch straps from NRS catalog, you can tie down the boat securely, you can run a bow line to the front bumper and tie it down if you are worried but with a 10 ft boat I have never had an issue on an exterra. I use yakima rack but the factory rack will hold a 10 ft kayak, separate the racks so they are as far apart as you can get them.

Put a towel on the back of the X, lift the bow onto the towel then lift the stern and push it up onto your pool noodles. It will work fine.

The yakima or thule racks will also work fine, but you can do without

Maybe foam block carriers
Foam block kayak carrier saddles, which you put over your roof bars, might help keep your kayak centered and more stable and also allow you to ratchet down harder on the straps. Different blocks have different hole shapes for different shape roof bars, but here’s an example:

Definitely ditch the bungees in favor of straps. Much stronger and safer.

Join the step stool brigade. I’ve been canoeing out of a full size van for most of the last 25 years, and I’ve had to carry step stools all that time.

About loading, on some vehicles you can get the boat up on the bars from the side, and then pivot it 90 degrees when it’s up there. This risks the boat falling off, however, if you lose your grip or otherwise goof up the process. Otherwise, sliding it up from the back on a prayer rug is acceptable.

Definitely straps and lines
Ack! NEVER use bungees to transport a kayak. Bad karma all around. Get a set of the sturdy long wide straps with the friction buckles: NRS, Thule and (if you ever get to the nearest store in Skokie, IL) L.L. Bean have them. And always at least put a bumper line on the bow, and preferably the stern as well. Most paddling outfitters sell the lines with the locking ratchet and metal hooks, which I find much quicker than just using rope.

I’m a 62 year old 5’5" woman, and I load kayaks weighing up to 60 lbs on a Hyundai Santa Fe. I agree it is not fun, but it is doable with practice. Actually longer boats are easier than shorter ones, I find, since you can angle one end up farther at an angle and then walk the other end up from the side. Your technique from the back is probably the best option for a shortie like you have. I don’t think J-racks or stackers are that useful for short boats being loaded on tall cars by short people – I have a 9’ whitewater boat and find I cannot get enough of one end angled up into one of the j-racks to be able to leverage the other end. I load that boat the same way you do yours.

In time, loading will get easier. It is not so much that we get stronger (though that sometimes happens) but more that we become familiar with the balance points of the boat and learn to use what strength we have more efficiently.

Wow, thank you everyone for your input. I feel better knowing that I am at least figuring out how to get the kayak on the vehicle properly. And, thank you for saving me probably $150 on a rack. I am going after work to find the straps recommended.

Can’t wait to try the setup tomorrow. In WI, you nee to take advantage of every nice day as 3 months from now, it’ll be too cold to go.

Making me nervous

I agree with what others have said in ditching the bungees and finding a more secure way to transport. Cheapest route would be foam blocks, straps around the kayak, and bow and sterns lines to the front and back. If not a good way place to tie down on the bow line on front bumper or don’t want ropes rubbing on hood look for some “hood straps” such as these. This was the first one I came across when Googled, but know you can find them even cheaper.

Even better search craigslist or other places for used carrier system. If money wasn’t an option I would go with the Hullaport system as well. Another option would be Thule 887XT Slipstream. It has a roller on the back so you could ditch blanket and easily slide onto roof. This is expensive as well, but if you could find a used one should be able to get a deal.

Slide technique
Good advice from others on getting better straps. The slide it up technique is fine, I load a 75 lb tandem on top of my pickup by just sliding it over tailgate onto roof. Thule makes a small sliding mat if you want to get fancy or just a towel or bath mat will do. On step stool that works or get a small 2 step aluminum ladder. I keep a 2 step ladder in truck when I go kayaking.