Loading/Unloading by yourself

I have a 4 dr Jeep Wrangler and I’m looking at getting a Perception tandem kayak. I have a 12 year old son, so I will have to load and unload it by myself. Is that manageable? Anyone else in this situation?

Thanks in advance

No need for difficulty
This topic has come up a lot. Here’s one of many threads where it’s been discussed.


ist your back
There’s an excellent example of a 12’ car with 22’ tandem ski in there with front to back rails…



place hull on carboard so the hull slides easy

get a Wal library step ladder

place bow on outrigger…mine are 2x4 on Quick n Easy rain gutter mounts

move to stern

lift stern onto roof.

See stretching Exercises for loosening back muscle before

It just takes planning and practice. I’m an average sized older woman and I have regularly loaded kayaks and canoes weighing over 70 pounds myself on vehicles as tall as yours onto regular cross bars with no fancy mechanical aids.

Load from the back by picking up the bow and lifting it up to rest on the rear of the vehicle. If you are concerned about the finish, put a scrap of carpet, bath rug or piece of yoga mat up there to rest it on. Then walk to the stern of the kayak and lift it up and walk it forward onto the rack. You can also buy a two wheeled cart that helps haul it to the put in that can be mounted on the back of the car to act as a rolling aid for loading. That would be a smart buy to help the two of you in moving it around.


I made myself a version of this roll assister below from nested PVC pipe and a couple of the suction cup body work thingies from Harbor Freight tools, but this one is cheap and should work as well.


OP, I’m guessing that boat is a heavy

– Last Updated: Aug-02-15 2:08 PM EST –

beast, so be very careful. You can easily injure yourself and/or damage your car.
Cardinal rule: if you start to lose it, turn loose
and get out of the way.A bounce won't hurt the boat.My brother uses a piece of plywood he mounted my old Hully Rollers on. It is padded on the car side so it can be laid on the roof. He sets the bow on it and shoves the boat up in the way already mentioned.

plywood ramp !
add a rope loop going to the opposite side…

or plywood peg plugs or L pluggable brackets on your side…

where’s your Bro put the plywood ?

Tools I use

– Last Updated: Aug-02-15 10:15 PM EST –

I am 5 ft 3.5 inches tall, weigh about 130 lb depending on my diligence at the gym. I am closer to 64 yrs than 63 yrs old. Two days ago I loaded two 16 ft approx length fiberglass sea kayaks onto the roof of leave my Subaru (pre-2010 Outback) myself to leave a vacation rental. I have Thule cross bars and and old style stackers, but saddles would work as well or better in terms of ease.

I have a larger, canoe type cart to get the boats moved to or from the ground in back of the car. I use an Amagansett Roller Loader to get each boat from the top of the car down to where I can balance it on the canoe cart. I have a folding one step stool to give me better reach to balance the boats against the stackers and the straps done.

If you add this all up, the cost of these pieces may be about the same as the cost of your boat.
But -
You may or may not need a third party cross bar based on the fact that you only have one boat - the factory cross bars may be OK with the weight.
You may be able to skip stackers or saddles and just get cheapo foam blocks to fit over the cross bars.

You will need straps and a way to help give yourself mechanical assistance to slide the boat up and down if you have to do it solo. You probably will also want a cart if that is the case.

In sum, the answer is yes. Getting there may require a couple of tools.

Another option
Several of the older, smaller men and women in my paddling group have switched to lite canoes for just your issue. Some weight as little as 12# , and if you get a pacboat type, you can stay with a dobble paddle and sit on the bottom just lie a kayak.


Best I’ve found:
To put on van:


And to tie down:


The fancy pads are nice, but pool noodles may do the job.

Good luck.

An alternate suggestion
Since you have not bought the boat yet you might want to consider lighter and more portable options, like a Pakboat Puffin Saranac. This is a hybrid folding-inflatable kayak that can be used as a tandem or a solo by rearranging the seats, can also be used either with the deck on as a kayak or open like a canoe. It is super light at 29 lbs, can be easily set up in less than half an hour and also roof-racked while set up. Cost is comparable to that of a hard shell and it has the added bonus that you can pack it in its duffel bag and take it on a plane with you anywhere in the world, or store it in a closet. I’ve been using folding kayaks for 13 years and they really eliminate much of the handling hassles of heavy plastic boats while giving you the functionality of conventional kayaks. Far more versatile craft.