kayak on suv

Does anyone know of any tricks to putting a kayak on a suv easier.when your female and short???

Kayaks and SUV
I have a Ford Explorer and used to use it to carry my Necky Zoar Sport and wife’s Perception Airalite 14.5 Carolina. I am 6’ and my wife is 5’9" and it was still a real chore to load and unload the boats. I even carried a small step ladder with us to help. In the end we decided to get a trailer which is so much easier. I would never go back to car-topping on an SUV!

the best thing going
is the Thule Hullivator. A bit spendy, but worth 3 times as much when your really pooped after the long struggle up wind, or against the current.

Kayak on SUV
I use a set of Yakima Makos and Hullyrollers, and put a cheap bathmat (rubber backed so it won’t slip) on the back of the roof. I rest the front of the kayak on the bathmat then pick up the stern and push it on to the rollers.

I second the Mako and rollers
I second the Yakima Mako saddles for the front, and the Hully Rollers for the back.

Works great!

If no Hullivator
(which is going to be added to my life somewhere in the next several years)

Assemble the following objects (some mentioned above):

Rollers for the rear half of the rack, rather than saddles if you have them.

The two wheel device that suctions onto the rear window and clips over the edge of the rear door. You’ll see them in kayak magazines, probably some stores, I can never remember the name.

A kayak cart on which you can balance the rear of the boat while getting it up and down off the roof. The canoe/kayak cart that Sportman’s Guide has is a very capable unit for under $100, but if you need one you can pack in the kayak you’ll have to go to a smaller one.

Either strap-on kneeling pads like for gardeners or carpenters, or a good thick mat. You will use it to put between the rear bottom keel of your boat and the ground, because at some point it’ll be resting on it. If the boat is plastic, you can be a lot less fussy.

A spare line through the nose of the boat and under the rack bars to make sure the whole thing doesn’t go slipping off to the side when you aren’t looking. (Not my idea - thank to a paddler from Florida for this addition.)

To get the boat up, get everything lined up and set up, and the boat lined up with the two wheel thing (which will be at the center of the rear rollers), bring the nose up and get it to the two wheel thing. Push up from there to the rollers, how many back and forth moments to make sure things are still line up will depend on how long and rolly-polly the boat’s hull is.

To get it down, get everything in place including the cart on the ground about where the boat will land on it as it comes off (this takes a little practice), then use all the assistive devices to let it down gradually onto the cart.

And by the way, now you can load much of your stuff into the cockpit and roll the wole mess to the put-in. Saves trips.

I have photos of me doing some of this - just have been too lazy to post them. Will endeavor to do that later this week.

Get a trailer
Can’t beat it for ease of loading.

I’m female and short…
… and I had pretty good success with a Roller Loader. Check it out–


Good luck!!!



I really have to write this to a file
to to target get an all cotton bath mat. the biggest they make. Get a cheap foam pad fron REI wallmart etc.

Set the bathroom mat at the upper back edge of the SUV and if possible over the rear rack bar and the rear saddles.

The foam pad goes on the ground about 10 feet fron the bumper.

Put the boat on the pad then handle the boat from the center so that one end goes onto the back of the suv, (onto the bath mat) and the bottom end is on the foam pad. keep control of hte boat. go the the pad, pick up tnat end asn shove the boat forward onth the rack.

Shelly joynson’s complete book of sea kayaking shows this but she uses her PFD shick is really a silly spendthrift thing to do.

Talon EZ Loader
I’m female, short, and had an abdominal hernia repaired this winter. The hernia was from a variety of factors, definitely partly due to lifting my Pungo 140 up onto the roof of my Chevy Blazer. I’ve tried rollers, smooth saddles, Jhooks, carpet over the rear door, etc etc. It was all a pain. Literally. This spring I bought a Talon EZ Loader and now I’m in yak loading heaven. They recently sold to Yakima and Yakima is supposedly putting it out again this winter. Thule has a similar product. I think it’s called the Hullavator. Good luck!

hully roller difficulties
Loading my 17’, 55 lb. fiberglass looksha IV onto my minivan was pretty much impossible for me. I’m tall for a woman, but middle-aged and still have skinny arms despite years of kayaking! So I bought a 12.5’, 45 lb, rotomolded Riot Stealth, which I can actually muscle onto the roof by myself. But I still have problems. The optimum distance between the hully rollers seems to be different depending on whether I’m just starting to load the boat, or am loaded and ready to tie down. Plus, the stealth tends to roll sideways as I push it across the rollers, as they grip one surface, roll over a chine and then grip the next. I had similar, although not as difficult, problems with the looksha IV. What I ended up doing with that was to have the rollers close together, which allowed me to roll the narrow bow onto the roof without scraping on the crossbars, and then the boat would sit on top of the locked rollers rather than be cradled by them. But the stealth has me stumped. When I bought it, I drove it home sort of cockeyed on the rollers–one of them was barely touching the boat, so I drove backroads, figuring I could get them adjusted once I got home. But so far, nothing I’ve tried has worked. Any suggestions?

thanks to everyone for the info.

Figured it out
I posted earlier about difficulties I was having with my hully rollers and got replies off list from a couple of people with some excellent advice. Here’s what I did to solve the problem:

I spaced the rollers further apart, so that they grip the boat once it’s in place. I put foam pipe insulation on the bar between the rollers: that way, I place the very tip of the boat on the bar, and it slides on that until the wider-spaced rollers are able to grip the sides.

I sprayed some WD-40 on the rollers so the boat slides more easily.

And here’s a trick I learned from seeing it on a car in a parking lot: because the Yakima load bars are round, it’s easy for the rollers and cradles to slip if too much force is applied. This is especially true for me, because I have Thule cradles rather than Mako saddles–although they supposedly work on Yakima bars, they have a tendendy to slip. I wrapped the bars in overlapping spirals of electrical tape, and on the thule cradles, I also wrapped about 2 overlapping loops of about 8 wraps of electrical tape on either side of the center where it rests on the bar. The tape has made it much, much more difficult for the rollers and cradles to slide around the round bars.

A couple people suggested something I was already doing, which was to put an old rubber-backed bath mat on the top of the van to rest the tip of the boat on while I picked up the back end. I also throw an old blanket on the ground so the skeg doesn’t get scratched up.

I can now load my boat on my minivan all by myself. Hurrah!