Homemade rear kayak loader

I’d like to make this loader: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPKIdVZLBH8

My car is a Scion xA with NO spoiler: http://www.cargurus.com/Cars/2006-Scion-xA-Overview-c5822

It’s much smaller than the SUV in the video. I do have a Thule roller but it’s about 18" in from the back of the car with the load bar placed as far back as it will go. (The third window on the Scion is the problem—the rack can only go back as far as the end of the rear door.)


  1. Do you have any suggestions for improving the design in the video? For my purpose it’s unnecessarily large and I’m thinking maybe it doesn’t need to be that complicated?

  2. In all of the videos with this type of rear loader, including the commercial ones, I see people doing a lot of damage to the stern of the kayak on the pavement. Any suggestions for avoiding this? My kayak is 15.5’ long and made of thermoformed plastic.

Another possible design

This one looks much simpler but the bungee cord doesn’t look strong enough to hold it in place, and maybe it needs rollers in place of the pool noodle. I like the way it sits on the rear window


– Last Updated: Apr-04-14 11:16 AM EST –

It seems a lot simpler than this. As far as damage to the stern, the simplest solution is to put something (towel or dollar store serving tray or ???) under it and set the boat down with the stern behind the car but the bow beside the rear wheel. then with the Sherpak (or some home brewed solution) in place, pick up the bow and pivot on the stern (which is sitting on that towel or tray) to set the boat on the Sherpak. Walk back to the stern, pick it up and roll the boat onto the top.


or buy this
I use the fin type on my 2008 Honda Fit Sport which is very similar to your car.


Bath rug
Have you tried the a rubber-backed bath rug trick instead of a roller? Just place the rug over the back and slide the boat up. I’ve used this trick in the past, and it works well. Cleans the bottom of the boat in the process.

How does that work for you?
It looks so low to the roof. How do you avoid hitting the edge of the roof? Any damage to the paint around the hatch crack?

Wrecked my last car that way
I didn’t care because it was an old car. After 5 years of loading like that the edge of the trunk was banged up.

u might want to consider…
.these items to help ya out …


My Honda Fit has the rear spoiler so when putting the bow on the back of the car I have a towel under the fin roller I posted a link too and also trout put a link to it. I live near the place that makes and sells these. Since the slot between the rear hatch and the car is big enough the towel goes into the slot with the fin. The extra tower is over the rear spoiler. I just gently lower the bow onto the towel covering the rear spoiler. Then I pick up the stern of the kayak which lifts the bow off the rear spoiler and on to the roller. Then its just push the kayak on the roller on the V-saddles I have from the same place. The kayak does not touch the spoiler once I pick up the stern of the kayak. I have loaded both short kayaks 14 feet to up to my 17’ 9" kayaks this way. Works quite well. Not a scratch on the real spoiler.

Reply to Question #2

– Last Updated: Apr-05-14 9:13 PM EST –

The earlier answer about using padding is on the right track but it doesn't address what happens when you drag the boat toward the car (the tail of the boat slips off the pad and you are right back to having the same problem for which you want an answer), but thinking ahead solves that part of the problem. There is absolutely NO reason to drag the boat on its tail during loading.

Learn to know how far behind the vehicle the tail of your boat will be touching the ground once the boat is leaned against your loading apparatus. Once you have that part figured out (for my boats, "three steps" behind the rear bumper is a close enough measurement - you don't need to be very accurate with long boats, but you'll need a bit more accuracy for short ones), lay a little piece of padding on the ground at that spot. I usually use the cheap, loaner PFD that's always in my car, but anything will work. That bit of padding is your "target" that marks where the tail goes when you set the boat down, but now you'll need to line up the boat diagonally away from the direction the car is pointed because that bit of padding is less than a boat-length away from the car (THIS is the thing no one wants to do, but not doing it is the very thing that creates the necessity of dragging the boat in the first place - so don't do what everyone else does).

Once you've set the boat on the ground in the proper place so that the tail sits over the bit of padding (and the boat is diagonally offset from the way the car is pointed), all you need to do is pick up the front end and pivot it toward the car and set it down on that rear bar. Bingo, you are done, and the tail of the boat didn't go anywhere at all - hence, no dragging.

Moving blanket
Harbor Freight sells moving blankets. You could cut one in half and use half on the car to slide the kayak up and the other half on the ground to protect the tail.


The woman in the video did a nice job solving her problems. Part of it is the spare tire sticking out on the back of the vehicle. My point is that you may not have to get that complicated.

Good tip
Thank you. I think you’re right—people put the kayak exactly one kayak length behind the car and then find it’s too far back. Placing it diagonally allows you to start closer to the car so you don’t have to walk the kayak forward.

So I made this rear loader:

It works but not spectacularly. The bungee cords don’t hold the loader in place—the weight of the kayak pushes the loader down on the window.

Guess I will try one of the commercial ones next.

How ‘bout…
usin’ a web strap wit a cam buckle or a rope an’ ratchet (not too tight) instead o’ de bungees. Yer shoodn’t git much if any stretchin’ fro’ dat.


OK, I’ll try that
By the way, what do you call the thing that goes under the hood to hold your tie-down strap if you don’t have any anchor point under the bumper?

At the moment I have the strap hooked into a hole in the frame under the hood on the left side. It seems solid but it should be more toward the center so the kayak isn’t pulled to the side. (The kayak is on the left side of the car but still the bow is toward the center.)

This is all a new setup for a new car, harder than my previous car.

run another line to the right
to a similar attachment point on the right side. They are just safety lines.

You run a strap thru the hood bumpers
Or static line from EMS - one of each between the two cars. We just call them loops, I’m not sure they need a name.

They are a fun conversation piece when you take the car in for service.

I don’t understand why the person in the video did not stick a towel or mat or something under the stern of the boat. Not that I think great damage is going to ensue if you just have it sitting there for a moment before lifting and sliding - no earthly need to drag it along the ground as others have said above. But we are dealing mostly with fiberglass boats, and while I have done glass reapit I’d rather limit the opportunities for doing it. I hate the finish sanding part.

Tried it
This contraption just isn’t firm enough, what with the plastic pipes and pool noodles. I declare this experiment a failure.

I have seen people try this
Parts from a kid’s bike and cogs and bars from the hardware store, to emulate an Amagansett Roller Loader. I can’t give you a picture, but I we paddled with a guy who had made one of these up years ago and it seemed to work as well as our brand name Roller Loader.

It could work with the right materials
Plastic pipes + foam + bungee cords = unstable.