How to transport kayak?

-- Last Updated: Jun-03-15 9:31 PM EST --

I'm a total noob in need of advice on how to securely transport my Sun Dolohin Aruba 10 kayak on my 2008 Santa Fe with factory installed rack and cross bars. Do I need any additional supports like the J racks I hear about, or will my roof rack suffice? If I use just the roof rack, does the yak go right side up or down? I've also read to get Thule cam straps, but what size and how many? Sorry for all the questions but I have a trip planned early next month with a 3+ hour drive and I want to be sure my kayak doesn't go airborn! Thanks in advance for any and all help!

Say what?
It’s a three hour drive to your pool?

Okay, I’m sorry; I couldn’t resist.

It can lay directly on the crossbars. Try it first upside down (hull up). That is usually the most secure way UNLESS you find that parts of it hit the roof (depending on how high the crossbars are.) Center the cockpit rim (coaming) between the crossbars. Get two 10’ or 12’ Thule straps (NRS and the L. L. Bean straps are also fine). You can always wrap the excess strap around the rack and tie it off. Also get a hank of heavy braided nylon rope (clothesline weight) or the pre-made rigging lines with metal hooks on them for tying off the bow and stern to the bumpers.

After you have laid the boat on the roof with the bow to the front, loop one strap around the crossbar on one side of the boat and toss both ends over the top of the boat hull. Walk around to the other side of the car and grab the two ends. Tug the loose end (no buckle) until the buckle end is short enough to be about 6 to 8" above the crossbar. Pass just the loose end under the crossbar and bring it up to the buckle and thread it through. Tighten the buckle and then tie off the excess strap end around the rack so it doesn’t flap.

Repeat the process at the other crossbar with the second strap. Once the straps are snug, tie or hook the bumper lines to the strap handles on the end of the kayak and then hook or tie them to the bumper. If your Santa Fe is like the one I used to have, it will have metal loops or holes under the bumpers you can tie to. Some people prefer to use cam straps for the bumper ties too. If you want to do that be sure to measure the length first and get a pair long enough – twice that length plus at least 6" extra to go all the way around and back. ONe advantage of using the straps here too is that you can snug up the buckles faster than tying knots in rope.

Youtube can be useful…
There are plenty of videos on youtube that show how to cartop a kayak. I found them very helpful, learning how the straps should go. We put some inexpensive j-racks on our factory rails on my Chevy SUV. They work great with ratchet type straps and a bow and stern line for each boat. I also bring along a small step-ladder because I am short and that helps a lot! At first I was using an overturned five-gallon bucket, but that was pretty shaky, though it worked in a pinch, and took up less room in the car.

I might only add to get some cheap foam blocks from REI or NRS and place them on the rack for the boat to rest on.

Thank you!!
Thanks so much for the help! Step stool will definitely be on the list to pack and I’ll be sure to check out some YouTube videos as well. Glad to hear I might be able to use just the rack with some pads. Thanks again!!

no ratchet straps
Ratchet straps are a bad idea for kayak hauling. They can put too much pressure on the plastic and can deform it on a hot day. Stick with cam buckle straps.

That is another thing you need to be aware of with plastic boats. They soften with heat and if you leave them stored on the roof rack for a long time or sitting flat the hull will deform. When storing the boat in your garage or anywhere it will get hot, lay it on its side or hang it from straps or rope run through chunks of foam pool noodle. Resting it on the side on a couple of old tires works well too. You can also use the hollow pool noodles to cushion the roof rack bars by slicing halfway through with a serrated steak knife so you can slip it over the bar.

If you have to leave it outside for many days, cover it. Sunlight eventually makes the plastic brittle. You can spray it with Scotch 303 UV protectant to help preserve it.

Pad the bars
Foam blocks made to carry kayaks are a good idea. It will make the boat more stable on the cross bars. If you don;t want to do that, then some other type of padding will help. Large pool noodles cut length wise, or pipe insulation that can fit around the bars will do. For the strap size err on the big side. Excess cane be tied up, but if it’s too short your stuck.

Good advice
All good advice - thanks! We will store the kayak in our garage on it’s side. Haven’t decided if we’ll buy the hooks for this or what, but our garage doesn’t get overly hot - not even in summer.

I got my hubby out on the yak the other day and he really liked it - looks like a 2nd one is in our future. Besides, all our kids are in their 20’s so I’m sure they’ll be wanting to borrow them too.

Great idea with the pool noodles :slight_smile: