Looking for suggestions for transporting an insanely long canoe

I apologize if this has been posted already but my search came up empty.
I have an early 1950-60’s, 17’ Grumman square back canoe that weighs approximately 100 lbs and I am looking for an affordable and or easy way to transport it. We have an Acura MDX with a tow hitch and a factory roof rack.
I was thinking about using the 4 Rola kayak holders we own, putting two on either side of the rack and turning them inward instead of outward and seeing if it would fit in between but it’s heavy for my wife to lift up and she’s really not cool with the idea since the overhang is so long. I was also thinking about a harbor freight trailer but it seems like over kill. Are there any roller kits that would work for such a heavy load?
Are there any other options I should consider?

Thanking you in advance.

Well as someone packing an 18 foot kayak, several 17’s and a 15 foot canoe, that doesn’t sound so long! lol But setting aside the how to secure it part of the question, if it’s to heavy to get up there a trailer is a decent idea. I doubt the tongue to center of the trailer with a harbor freight would get you the 10 - 12 feet you want to center the boat and leave room to turn the trailer though. Craigslist is your friend.

Here is a 34 foot long voyageur canoe being transported on a GMC Yukon, for the Yukon River 1000 mile canoe race at a hotel parking lot in Fairbanks, AK.

And a 28 foot voyageur that has been driven in this manner no less than six times from NY State to the Yukon and back.

Closer to home, a different 34 foot woodstrip voyageur has made many trips to Adirondack regional races.

The same woodstrip voyageur being transported a little more locally on foot:

A 23 foot C4 on the way from NY to the Yukon (and back):


I carry a 16.5’ old town that weighs 85 lbs on the roof of my flex every weekend. Two round cross bars, Yakima mounts and two straps.

Don’t over think it

Wife used to have a Ford Escort. I’m pretty sure it was smaller than your vehilce. We used to carry 2 canoes up to 16 feet in length on it without issue. The Escort was followed by 2 Ford Escapes. I think the Escape is similiar to your vehicle’s length. The Escapes both carried 2 canoes up to 16 foot in length on varied trips.
Each of the vehicles mentioned had 2 Yakima bars, and 4 gutter or roof mounts. We tied each canoe to those racks with 2 NRS straps, and secured the the bow & stern with rope attached to the bow of each canoe, and to the front and rear of each vehicle. Never any major issues. See photos for methods/mounts used


IMG_3749 JoAnne's shuttle runner Escape

As has already been lavishly illustrated, car topping your canoe shouldn’t really be a problem. Lifting it might be, depending on your condition. Use bow and stern tie downs with your center cam straps. Standard stuff.
But since it hasn’t yet been mentioned and it is a square stern we’re talking about… might you be thinking about using an outboard motor with it? You might not want to risk stinking up you car interior hauling a motor and gas tank in a nice car. That would be a case where the utility trailer would have some advantage, I’d think. If you’re thinking of doing a lot of camping out of it, being able to load up your whole outfit and just store it all packed up in a trailer and ready to go might have some “appealance”, too. If those things are a consideration a utility trailer might not be overkill. Just a thought.

Whatever you choose, don’t forget to hang a red flag on the rear if it hangs out more than three feet. (Which is pretty likely…) I’ve encountered troopers who take offense at the absence of attendance to that detail. Also, a red bicycle light is supposed to be used at night, at least in some states.

You canoe people be crazy! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Seriously nice work! :metal:

Lifting 100 lbs seems to risky to me so I’d go with a cheap trailer. The Harbor Freight trailers just bolt together so you could probably assemble one with the axle moved back a little further if needed. Northern Tool also has cheap trailers with a larger selection, including aluminum trailers. Or, watch for a small boat trailer on Craig’s List. FYI - I use a trailer for my 55 lb kayak so I am biased toward the trailer option.

use bow and stern lines


Using a little 8’ trailer for a long canoe is going to leave a lot hanging off the back, plus many put in (at least around me, don’t allow trailers… Car top only). Might not be a problem for you, just something to be aware of

A trailer. I have a wood and canvas Guide 18 thaqt weighs close to 90 pounds. maybe 100 when it is wet. A trailer makes moving it easy.

There are rack add-ons that are specific for canoes that hold a canoe securely when carried upside down. These types will make it a lot easier to load over the side with two people than saddles or especially j-bars. The example in the link is by Yakima, but many other rack manufacturers offer them. We use Thule’s. However, I think that the question here is more how to easily solo load a 100 lb. boat. For car topping, there are a number of load assist options like extendable rack bars . Again there are various options from different manufacturers. Some are designed to make solo rear loading easier.

A trailer might be the easiest of all in terms of loading the boat, but there are disadvantages in terms of learning to drive with it, maintenance, electrical hookup, parking, licensing, inspections, storage, insurance, tolls, trailer fees at some ramps, etc.

one person can and has loaded the long voyageur canoes shown in my photos above. One end at a time up it goes on the rear most support, and then slides on the rack to center.

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I use the keel over brackets on my flex and like them a lot. With a heavy boat, like my old town, I lock one side down and keep the other side loose. I get the boat on top, then position the lose side brackets. Saves me from having to place the boat exactly the same every time

Yeah, hitch mounted T rack might be the way to go. This one is cheaper than Yak, adjustable but you’d need to check if the height works on your car. https://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/magellan-outdoors-extended-hitch-carrier

That would let you carry the canoe upside down - get the nose of the canoe up on it without endangering the car, then pick the rear up off the ground and slide it forward without the bow hitting the roof.

That’s totally illegal. Your overhang is governed by you wheelbase.

Not true in most cases. Overhang laws vary state by state and in many, you just need to flag at a certain length

Do you have a source reference for the illegal act of carrying a long canoe just with a flag? Many thousands of miles, dozens and dozens of trips, local and distant (7 times NY-to-Yukon and return on different routes) and not one law enforcement official in any state or province ever said anything.

I regularly put a 20’6" canoe on my Mitsubishi Mirage with no problems. I put a flag on the back, as per local law. Of course bow and stern ties are very important.

Not here. Michigan law says if it hangs farther than 4 feet you need a red light on it, otherwise a red flag at least 1 foot square fully visible to someone behind you. Home depot has a roll of red plastic at the exit door specifically for doing this.

Just focus on making sure the boat is secure, and take care parking and backing up.