Kayak lift for garage?

We’re moving up in the world: on Thurs my wife and I are closing on a new home where we’ll finally have a two car garage :slight_smile:

I’d like some sort of lift to lift our two yaks off the roof rack and store them up at the garage ceiling. Like this:


Being fairly handy, plus strapped for cash due to buying a new house, I’d like to make something like this myself. Anyone done this? Any suggestions?

I made one
There are a couple pics here:


FYI, if you have a long URL like the one in your original post, you might consider using http://www.tinyurl.com/ (free and simple) to shrink it to a manageable size; otherwise people may need to scroll way off to the side to read the thread.


– Last Updated: Aug-12-08 10:12 PM EST –

I went with the Harken Hoist, and I think it was absolutely the right decision. It's beautifully crafted with some semi-fancy-ish pulley system by a company that makes sailboat rigging for those huge race boats. It reduces the weight to 30%, and pulling on 17# is a lot easier than 50#. The only issue could be if you need to raise/lower it by farther than the distance from the wall you will anchor it to in line with the kayak (if that makes no sense, go to:


Mines the 7807, and I love it! It's also a little cheaper...

OH, and the most important part is it automatically locks into place if you let go of the rope. You can't drop the kayak, you have to lower it down. Pretty fancy.

Try this
I have two of these, you can’t beat the price, but you have to be a member.


Also shop around, I have seen these in Lowes, HD, and other places in the 25-40 $ range.

Lift Capacity
Nice price, but beware that it’s only rated for 50 lbs, which is less than many commercial kayaks weigh.

I got mine from Northern Hardware.

– Last Updated: Aug-13-08 1:16 PM EST –


Spend the 50 bucks
Keep in mind that you will be buying the parts at retail, while the hoist manufacturer is getting them at quantity wholesale.

By the time you add up parts, gas to get the parts and your time, I don’t think you could build one significantly cheaper. And if your DIY karma is like mine, you WILL make more than one parts run!

How does about $20 sound?
In our 2 car garage, I first built a pulley-and-rope system to lift the boats up to the ceiling, suspended on 1-1/2 inch wide belts with clips on them for easy release. That costed about $50.

Soon however I figured that I never really lift with it. So I returned almost all hardware to the store (all pulleys and clps) and left just two eye-hooks screwed in the ceiling for each kayak.

This setup costs about $4 for the four hooks that screw-up in the ceiling beams, about $2 for the two S-hooks and may be $15 or so for the four loops of suspension belt.

I kept the belts (no clips). One end of the belt is tied to the eye-hook, the other has an S-hook, which I just reach-up and attach to the same eye-hook in the ceiling with the kayak suspended in the belt. Imagine two of these sets - one in the front, one in the rear, approx 1/3 of the kayak length from the bow and stern.

This works almost perfect for me but I have a sedan with Yakima rack and cradles - I just drive under the hook/belt system, come out of the car, lift the front of the kayak and suspend it on the belt (only about 10" lift is needed) while the rear of the boat still rests on the car’s cradles, then lift the other end and suspend on the belt.

I think if you can drive-in with the kayak on top of your vehicle, something simple as this is all you need. I am tall so I can reach the garage ceiling and need no steps or pulleys to do that.

The only improvement I’m thinking of is to suspend the loops from rails instead from fixed hooks. This would allow me to slide the two kayaks (that currently hang over each car in the garage) left or right, so that I can choose which one to load on my car. As it is now, I have take both cars out, then drive my car under the kayak that I want to take out and lower it on the car rack.

Or I can position the boats together over one car only so that if I go forward my side-mounted saddles come under the left boat. And if I pull backwards, the saddles come under the right boat -;). If I want both boats at the same time, I use Yakima stackers and put the second boat sideways, but then I can’t drive in the garage with it - about 5-10" too tall this way…

u can do it
2 singles, a tandem, a pair or hockey nets and a foosball table. i did it myself and yes it took multiple trips to the hardware store as i tried to find more stuff to store this way. The heavier items required multiple double pulleys. It works great but i/m pretty sure i didnt save too much over the setup pictured here.

suspension system
four eye bolts per kayak and some old roof tie down hardware, some new webbing, and your set. Cheap! A short length on the buckle, and a long free end and you’re there. Set the kayak on saw horses, run the free end beneath the kayak under each bulkhead, up through the buckle, and hoist 'er up! four kayaks cost me nine bucks.

eye bolts system
question for the eye bolt jury riggers… what happens when the rope slips through your fingers?

harbor freight
Harbor freight has lift for $5. I picked up two a few weeks back.

Made my own
* 1/4" rope (whatever is on sale)

  • Steel pulley’s (bought a box full at a garage sale)
  • Left over plastic boat dock cleats from an old floating dock.
  • Some 4 foot long by 2" wide tie down straps from local farm supply place (can’t recall price, but they were cheap)
  • Some creativity

    Put 3 boats in the air this way. Probably don’t have $30.00 in all three setups.

In my case …
… as I mentioned, I support the one end of the boat with one hand and just hook the S-hook in the eyehook above me. The other end of the boat is either still on the car rack saddles or already suspended about 10 inches above them. In my case, there is no way the rope would slip, and … actually there is no rope - only the suspension belt.

For a true “lift” where you pull up one end of a rope to lift the boat it is a very good idea to have a ratchet.

kayak hoist
I have 4 of these and they work very well, My only suggestion is to replace the rope with a better grade 1/4" rope, the one supplied is not the best and good rope is not expensive.

I got a pair of Harken hoists for our two yaks, they are very nice but a bit pricey.

Harken has a pdf of the scematic with instuctions on their web site. With a little imagination you could print that out and head down to West Marine and come up with something pretty similar for a little bit less cash.

I like the eye hook idea!
I think that with some good rope you could have a cheap lift system without all the pulleyes and gadgets.

I made one
I made a wooden rack cantilever against the wall for one light kayak that is easy for me to lift over my head, and for another one, I screwed in two eye-bolts on the bottoms of the arms of the rack, and used cam buckle cargo straps, with s-hooks through sewn loops in the ends to attach to the eye bolts. I can now put my heavier yak on the ground, with the straps underneath it, and hoist it up safely and easily. Instead of attaching under a rack, you could attach the eye bolts to ceiling beams in your garage. The hardware probably cost me around $20.

I went for the Battleship design
With a tendency to overbuild - I think I spent about $300 to hang 4 kayaks. I believe the pulleys are all rated for at least 200 lbs apiece. For each kayak: 2 double pulleys on the ceiling above the bow and stern, plus another where the wall meets the ceiling for bringing the two pull ropes down vertically along the wall. Two more double-pulleys at the kayak itself, connecting to thick leather straps (with D-rings on the ends) which cradle each kayak near the front and rear hatches. Large cleats on the wall for tying off the ropes. 3/4 in plywood pieces attached to all wall & ceiling items, to allow for screwing into multiple studs. It works well.

Go with the system…
It will be cheaper, and better in the long run. I made my own, and it cost more than buying one similar, (although not the same) in a box. Note the brake that won’t let the kayak fall unexpectedly.