Kayak Hauling and Storage...

Let’s talk logisitcs. I’m 5’2". I drive a Kia Soul… it’s small, but tall. I’ve got a J-rack set for my crossbars, and I can’t get my damn boats on the racks alone because I’m too short. I’m going to practice with a folding step stool over the weekend. I really want to be able to pull this off solo. Any tips?

Also… storage. I’ve got a pulley system that I’m going to install on my garage ceiling. Should I add a beach towel or anything as padding between the nylon straps and the boat hull?

Lose the Jbars and get stackers. Then you can just slide the boat up on its hull, then use a stepladder on the side of the car to flip the boat onto its side and tie down. Or saddles and rollers, no flip needed. I use swimming noodles on the hanging ropes, but if you have straps no need.

A folding step stool will help a lot but it’s still not easy. I had J bars for a while and even though I’m 6’0" it was still a bit of a struggle . My wife being barely 5’0" means she can’t help much at all. There is a knack to it and practice will help.

As Celia says, the straps - as long as they’re not very narrow - will be fine. I have boats on 2" straps on a trestle I built from 2x4’s and 4 casters. I can move it around and it fits in between two smaller cars (a Miata and an old MG). My Santa Fe has two Thule Hullavators on its roof. They are expensive, make loading very simple, and mean that the SUV is far too tall to ever go into a normal garage.

I’m a fan of using a loading method that involves sliding the boat up onto the roof, so that the only high lifting you do involves a small fraction of the boat’s weight after it has been pushed partway up there. That may not be a good option with J-racks, but it does work if you have a helper, so that may be something to keep in mind when you do have help, because even with two-person loading, the avoidance of lifting the full weight of the boat up high is a good thing.

As to the use of step stools, I can see their usefulness for installing tie-downs, but as an aid in lifting the boat higher it seems like a bad accident waiting to happen. One simple method that would be much more stable and safer would be to set four 5-gallon pails on the ground supporting a square piece of thin plywood (don’t use thicker plywood than you have to, just to keep things light). This would make a nice platform to stand on and it wouldn’t take up much space in your car. The square of plywood can sit flat on the floor in the back end of a hatchback, but if you don’t have a hatchback, cut the plywood in half for easier storage. Also, four buckets nested together will hardly take up any more space than the smallest sized stepstool.

Do you have hollow cross-bars?
If so, slide a strong pole into the front cross-bar, leaving about 2-3’ of bar exposed. Wrap this in a towel or pool noodle.
Lay your boat on the ground parallel to the car.
Lift the front end and place it On the extended bar.
Carefully lift the rear end and using the extended bar as an ‘extra hand’, place the rear end into the j-rack.
Once the rear of the kayak is securely set into the rear j-rack, move the front end of the kayak and place it off the extended bar and onto the j-rack.
Strap it down.
Yes, you can use a step-stool to do this.

Here is a vid with the basic method as a basic guide. The important part starts around 40 seconds in.
Modify this vid to your system and save the money.
I use a piece of tent-pole with #4 rebar inside and a n old pool noodle.
Me ex-gf uses a #5 rebar wrapped in a towel.

Agree with guideboat guy - do NOT stand on a stepladder or a stool to slide the boat up onto the roof. Agree it sounded like I meant that, but it was just that I usj

Celia, actually, with the stepstool comment I was responding to the OP. Your use of a stepstool for handling the boat once it’s already on the roof was clear enough to me, but of course it can’t hurt that you made it even more clear.

Excellent info. Thank you. I like the side loading option a lot. Step stool plan has been officially scrapped.