Moving 17ft, 50# rotomold kayak up stairs

The outside stairs are a bit steep for a 17 ft kayak to not hit the back end (plus rudder) going up. Both a sling and a cart can make it easier and I will try both methods. The sling may just be a cam strap or SUP strap. The cart is my main question here.

If each step is 7 inches high you want the biggest wheel possible. I am wondering if a 10 inch wheel will do the job?

Inflatable vs solid wheel would work best?

If you have any DIY build links, please share. I would be pulling (50# kayak + cart weight) up stairs at a low angle (2-3 ft off ground). This cart is interesting to me.

Plastic boats are tough. Can you drag it up without damaging either the boat or stairs?

ha…I don’t think so. It would damage the kayak, not the stairs. The stairs are concrete with outer steel rim. I’ll probably just build a cart with HF 10 inch wheels and if that is too hard to pull (to get over each step) then just move up to 14" HD tires, non flat in both cases.

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I’d probably look for some 16” or 20” bicycle wheels. Larger will be easier to go over steps and raise the boat up higher. Used kids bikes to scavenge from should cost roughly a dime a dozen.

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If you get wheels that are too big, it will roll up easier… but it will also roll right back down. So how wide is each stair (tread.) If you stay under 2 times the tread (not right at 2 times either) you will be able to stop pulling and let the kayak sit on a step without it rolling back down. That way you can rest part way up the stairs.


For a 7 inch high step, you want the wheel diameter to be over 14 inches (2x7). Otherwise, you’ll be pulling the wheel against the vertical front face of the step, making for a very hard pull until the wheel climbs up to the corner. So, the 16"-20" bicycle wheel idea would be a good way to go.

Any wheel diameter under 14" would be equally bad. A 6" wheel would have to ride up the front face of the step the same as a 12" wheel, but the 6" would require that hard pull for a longer time at each step.

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I was about to say that you want wheels that are at least twice as tall as the step but then I ran a quick test. The cart has 10" wheels and 6" wheels and even the 6" wheels climbed 7" steps effortlessly regardless of the angle I pulled.

I’ve never made a DIY cart (I have a suspenz with 16" wheels) but I like the simplicity of the one on your link. The only potential downside is that you boat may try to slide off the cart. I know there are other options on YouTube. Just FYI I’ve used the cart in the pic to carry canoes too by just folding it flat and strapping the boat to it.

From my experience one thing that can make a difference is how securely you can fasten the boat to the cart. For me, two straps plus friction is enough but I don’t think I could drag it up stairs without perhaps adding ropes to the cart so I could grab the bow+ropes to drag it.


Yikes, good luck. I have problem on level ground.

Why don’t you just ask somebody to give you a hand? 5 minutes tops…


Try searching for a stair-climbing dolly. These have three-wheels on each side arrayed in a triangular shape. I’ve never used one but recall seeing somebody with one and they seemed like a great solution for dollying up or down stairs.

Here’s one I found on the Home Depot site. You’d have to modify it so a kayak could be strapped to the dolly. It looks like it could work for your situation.

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Stair climbing dollies seem like a great idea. Even better, see if the manufacturer sells repair parts and check the central axle size. You might be able to adapt the stair climbing wheelset to fit a standard kayak cart.

Forget the cart on the stairs, it sounds like an accident waiting to happen. Pad the stairs with some foam mats and if you can’t carry the kayak up the stairs, push it from the stern, or hire two strong lads to carry it up for you. If you pad the stairs, stand in the middle of the kayak, and hang on the coaming and take one stair at a time resting, it’s doable if you are physically fit. If this sounds too hard hire some kids to give you hand. I’m in the middle of moving a lot of furniture into storage and not as strong as I used to be, I hired two brothers on the swim team, and was best move I have done.

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Sliding is the best way to go but I think pushing from the stern is less safe than pulling from the bow. Regardless of the size of the wheels, the kayak is going to bump and stop at each step. Much better to use foam pads, cardboard, moving blankets, etc. to slide it.

Lay 3 or 4 cam buckle straps on the ground. Lay some large sheets of cardboard on the straps. Place the kayak on the cardboard. Cinch the straps real tight. Attach a rope to the bow. Go to the top of the stairs and pull the kayak up. You will be able to easily get it back down the stairs the same way.

After you’re done, spend the winter checking out shorter, lighter kayaks that you can handle more easily. Kayaks that are this hard to maneuver don’t get a lot of use.

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Is there any way to hook up a couple of pulleys and pull it straight up? If you look up block and tackle rigging you could cut the amount you are lifting by 75%.

Opinion …Pulley and hoist it up, ignore the going up stairs. Use similar to garage ceiling kayak storage.

Have you considered remote storage?

Maybe you can describe the situation a bit more so we can understand what you’re trying to do and why. A photo would help.

Friend of mine has a similar issue but with a kevlar CD and a rocky approach to his local beach @lexart