How to best haul a kayak on a prius

I need to know the best way to haul a kayak on a Prius. I have a 14’ kayak. I am a 5’ female. What accessories (type of bars, and other hardware), and techniques would be best (from the front, side, or back of the car, etc?)


I have a Yaris, pretty close
I have a four door Yaris, I use Yakima Q-Towers and I utilize the front tow hook which is located with the spare tire and screws into a hole located in the front bumper. You remove a plastic “plug” and it screws right in (for a front tie down). For the rear tie down I use the frames tie downs for shipping the car. They look like tabs hanging from the bottom of the car just in front of the rear bumper.

Prius Racks
I think Yakima makes a rack to fit it. The best rig I saw on Prius was a friend’s car with two J Cradles. I think they were Malone Cradles on a Yakima Rack.

Another way to go is to install a stacker set on the cross pars and pad the racks all the way across the car so you just set as many boats as you need to carry on their sides on the racks. My rig has this and I have been liking it for all size boats except for very wide canoes.

Marco Kayak Safdles
Attach these to either Thule/Yakima. Allow for the slide 'em up approach from the back. Broad and supportive saddles that are about 1/3 $ less than Thule or Yakima options. Byo straps and tie downs. You will likely want to use a thick fuzzy rubber backed bath may to protect the trunk for the rear slide approach. This also gives you a nice comfy platform to stand in while changing out of your wet water shoes. Marco also makes the saddles to attach to factory racks.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

In agree with Marchall
Get some kind of slide the kayak up from the back. Or a Thule Hullavator. There is a women I sometimes go kayaking with that has the hullavator on here Prius car, so I know they make it for the Prius…

Here is a youtube video of it in action.(not on a Prius)

DONT get just J-bars as they require you to pick the kayak up over head.

I have a prius - std model
and I am trying to sort out what to do. I have used a pick up truck for paddling for years and I have a great rack that enable me to load my canoes and kayaks with ease but lifting only one end at a time. But, I am selling my truck. I had a Yakima rack on an old prius for a while with the Q clip system and cradles but it was very hard to take the rack on and off and I dented the roof pretty bad so I am reluctant to go that route with my new prius. I am thinking hard about whether to buy a new truck (lots of reasons to do that) or whether to buy a light trailer that will enable me to haul my kayaks and canoes without having the lift them over my head. Still thinking on it.

RPg use an Outrigger
Especially useful with the canoe. The outrigger is an extension bar that slides into the load bar. Extend it out, lift the bow of the canoe to set that half on the Outrigger, pick up the stern of the canoe and move it over onto the bars. Pull downward on the stern to lift the bow off the Outrigger and pivot it over onto the bars. Strap down and stow the Outrigger inside the load bar so you don’t clean pedestrians off the sidewalk. Works with kayaks too but a bit more of a dance due to the spindle shape of the boat.

See you in the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

I’ve carried 2 kayaks on a Prius
I had a 2004 and currently have a 2009 Prius standard; we got Thule racks that have rubber adapters that fit into the “rail” on top of the car, and clips that grip underneath the roof line between the door and the roof. It is a solid set up. We have two sets of Thule j-racks that cradle the kayak, and the roofline seems to be short enough that my 5’1" wife can load and unlead the boats.

I believe Yakima also has a system that fits the car.

A roller system that loads from the rear could be tough since the back of the car is a good distance from the rear rack bar. If you need a load-assist attachment for the racks, go for something that loads from the side.

Length is no issue if you tie down the front and back…and the Prius has good tie down points beneath both the front and rear bumpers on each side. I’ve carried an 18’ long canoe at highway speeds with zero issues, although a good cross-wind with that load on that car could create some white-knuckle moments.


18 footer used to make it to-fro ponds

– Last Updated: Oct-02-13 6:38 PM EST –

in the 1960s. Took some josseling around from the woods roads, but once on highway..crosswinds would occasionally cause the heavy drag of the 18' cedar/canvas tandem to roam a little but the oldschool technique of slowing down always works.... Have those midship, gunwale ties include the inside thwart-to-rack as is a PITA but secures both fore/aft and lateral slippage at same time...and the added bow/stern-to-corners fixes everything...but re-check if you come from a rough road...tightening up things beforehand can eliminate a problem on the interstate when you're catching chaotic windflow from trucks...

light weight trailer works well
I bought a used, light weight boat trailer and did some modifications to carry 2 kayaks. Pulls well with my 2010 Prius and the lift height is very low.

Tow hook
"I utilize the front tow hook which is located with the spare tire and screws into a hole located in the front bumper."

…or get an aftermarket racing tow hook for each end: “No, I’m not a ricer, that’s for my kayak tie-down”. I love it! :^D

Recently paddled the Cass River with
our ladies group and the gal with the Prius changed from standard “J” racks to a Hullavator. She loves it as it’s much easier for one who is pushing 70. After 12 years of kayaking, using saddles, then J racks, she went an easier way.

Put the prius in a Sequoia and put the yak on top of the Sequoia.

Only space for the Mini
Inside of a Land Cruiser. Helps cancel any gas efficiency in the family.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

From yakima site

could trade it in on a Volvo wagon…great haulers!

Kayaks on Prius
I have a 2008 Prius and have transported everything from 11’ rec boats and paddleboards to 17’ sea kayaks and a 23’ rowing shell. I can load all of these by myself on the car, i am 5’7" 120 lbs. cannot lift any boat over my head unassisted. Both Thule and Yakima make off the shelf racks to fit the car. I have a pair of Saris racks that I love but they are no longer made. Functionally they are the same as Thule or Yakima.

Since I carry a variety of boats I have foam blocks and bar pads and a Thule stacker. I have a bath mat for the back of the trunk, place the front of the boat on the mat and slide on. Thule glide and set or Yakima Hully Rollers and Mako saddles would work well if you’re typically transporting the same boat. The car has four tie down points underneath, one at each corner, easy to use now and stern lines.

Please post here or pm me if you have any other questions or would like to see some pics. I have used this car/rack setup for 5.5 years including 3 trips up and down the us east coast with no problems. I also worked at a large kayak shop for 3 years so have put dozens of boats on cars (including many Priuses) as well as installing both Thule and Yakima racks.

Kayaks on a Prius
I used Thule racks with tie downs under the hood. I found a couple of bolts under the hood, then used some loops of webbing. This is what it looked like. The Prius and kayaks did numerous trip form Maine to Florida without a problem.

I pull a converted single jet ski trailer with my Lexus CT200h that has the 1.8 Prius engine. It is small, lightweight, holds 3 kayaks and only cost $100 on craiglist! I spent more for the hitch, adaptor and registration! The car pulls it with no problem for my local boating trips.