Loading Kayak on Van

I just got a van and the load bars don’t go far enough to the rear of the vehicle to keep my kayak from scraping the hatch when I load it. I am used to loading the boat by lifting the bow onto the rear bar & then sliding it forward. I am considering getting longer bars so I can load my boat from the side, or glueing/taping carpet on the rear hatch so I can still slide the kayak up from the rear. Any other suggestions?

Towel/handicapped bar
Perhaps you can obtain a handrail that goes in bathrooms for the handicapped. They already have a flange with holes for bolts and are chrome. Put it on the back of your van and slide your boat over. Shouldn’t be expensive or complex and they are quite sturdy.

I use all cotton bath mats from target
on the edge of my station wagon, and on my hully rollers. I like em! Two layers. whether folded or I use two mats, is enough to pad any reasonable pressure points.

I have same problem and was
thinking of using a shower mat (one with the suction cups on the bottom) and hot gluing an old towel to the top. The shower mat won’t slide off even when overhanging the rear window. They come long enough to cover the van from the window to almost the rails. I just need to get a glue gun to attach the towel so it won’t blow away.

Maybe we can combine ideas and
glue a bath mat. A towel might not offer enough padding for a lightly laid up race boat or lightly laid up North american boat. (I believe Pam races) Not all North american boats are laid up lightly but some are.

I solved the problem
by buying a wagon-much lower to the ground and it has enough space to sleep 2 however I’m a tent camper anyway.

Slick System
This is a system that I’ve seen a paddler who uses a wheelchair put to use. It is called a Talon by EZ Loader. It is a sliding rack arrangement that slides to the side of the vehicle and then lowers the entire rack to door handle height and has gas assited shocks to give a 15lb. boost on the lift back onto the car. Might be a bit overkill for what you’re looking to do. Costs about $400, but it is really smooth and slick at the end of a long day paddling.

See you on the water,



Sounds good
have to look to see if there is a patent on something like that,eh.

I had the same problem
My inexpensive solution was to glue some rubberized,non-skid backing to a carpet square. Many carpet stores give their samples away. Ask for the discountinued samples. It provides enough padding for me to slide my kayak on to my rollerbar rack. It also comes in handy when I place it under my car to attach the stern & bow tie downs. The great thing about this economical device is when I forget to take it off the roof and drive away, I can always make another for a few pennies.

Lori F.

I’m told if the rubber faces your car
that it can hurt the finish with long term use. Thats why I go all cotton, but whatever works.

The $4.99 solution
I got a rubber backed mat at a local closeout/odd lot place. I imagine walmart or other bargain retailer would have similar carpets. It is about 2’x3’. I toss it onto the roof, with part hanging over the back. The rubber backing keeps it from slipping and it has worked fine. The only problem I had was last weekend when my inattentiveness, fatigue, and rotator cuff conspired together to have me drop the front of the kayak to the pavement.

Bathroom rug.
Rubber on bottom for bathroom non-slip also holds the rug in place on your paint. Slap it up there, slide the boat on or off. Roll up small rug and stow in van.

Yakima Boat Loader / Rubbermaid Step
Don’t know if this will work with your current setup, and may not be the cheapest option. Perhaps you can modify… For those unfamiliar with this great invention, the Boatloader is a bar that is installed inside a crossbar. You can pull it out for loading and unloading. It has a rubber handle that prevents the boat from sliding off when rested on the bar. Here’s how I cartop my kayak and it is easy and quick even after a full day on the water and with a 48 lb. boat:

  1. Position boat parallel to vehicle. Lift rear of kayak onto Rubbermaid folding plastic stepladder. (The width is just right to prevent the kayak from sliding further aft, and the height is ideal for aiding you in putting the front onto the boatloader bar. It doesn’t scratch poly boats, doesn’t rust, and is lightweight. Always have it in the trunk when paddling. Two can make a good portable kayak stand. Price: ca. $17 ea. at Home Depot.)

  2. Lift front of kayak around and then onto boatloader bar. I throw a chamois towel over the bar beforehand to prevent scratches. (You may want a loader bar on the rear crossbar from what you describe. Use the stepladder to hold the front then.)

  3. Lift kayak rear off stepladder then onto rear rack bar and then position kayak.

  4. Reverse for unloading.

I don’t know if this will help but…
Oak Orchard Canoe and Kayak in Waterport, New York has a new loading device for vans. It’s a roller (big) with an indentation in the middle for the hull and it’s mounted on a flat piece of metal that’s covered with some kind of coating.(so it won’t scratch) You drop the metal piece into the crack of the van back hatch, use the roller to help you get your kayak into/onto your rack, and then pull out the roller. I thought it was pretty neat!

not the cheapest fix but…
I bought a rollerloader for my SUV Wagon and I love it. I just lean the front of the boat against it and pick it up from the rear, and walk it up. My back aint what it used to be, so I find ways to give it some help when ever I can.

Roller loaders are not cheap and in my mind are over priced for what they are, perhaps someone has pictures for building one from PVC pipe or similar materials.

As far as they go some straps will do just as good as the suction cups for holding the thing in place. When I park my car to paddle, I take mine off and stash it in the trunk cause folks might steal such a pricy convenience as a roller loader.

More on ezload
This year at Canoecopia [paddlesport show in Madison, Wisc. ] I bought a ezloader it’s the cat’s meow . Check out their site www.ezload.net Think this willsolve your problem. And it does only retail for about $400 but you’ll have some extras . But check with me before you order and maybe I can save you a few bucks.

Scratches on van hatch
Some ICF paddlers have tape which they place on their kayaks where the paddle might hit the deck, does anyone know where to get such tape and would it work to stick on my van hatch to prevent scratching the paint finish?