Newbie Question About Carrying a Kayak

I am thinking about purchasing a used Old Town Loon 160T. This kayak is 16 feet long and would be my first kayak.

Can this kayak be carried on a Toyota RAV-4? Or is it too long to transport with this vehicle?

Also, need advice a an inexpensive method of securing it to my roof rack crossbars.

Thanks for any advice.

Of the 3 boats I use regularly and carry on my Rav4, the shortest is 15’ 4", the next one is 18’3" and the longest is 19’.

Here is the 18 footer…


Should be fine
It should be fine if you use bow and stern tie downs. The tie downs attach to your handles and then usually to your tow rings on the car. Also, check your owner manual and get the crossbars weight limit. That is a heavy boat, 75 lbs is my guess.

I would spend the $100 and get a kayak rack from Thule or Yakima. I have seen way too many screwy jury rigged rack tie jobs that first of all are not safe and take way to long to tie and untie the boat. If you want to stay cheap the pad types are probably your best bet as you can carry the kayak in the center of your roof. Plus this is such a big boat, with the pads you can slide it on more from the end. You may scrape the bottom a bit but a plastic boat bottom is going to get extremely scraped up anyway.

Since you have crossbars, check out the Thule Top Deck ($110 but either EMS or REI is having a 20% off sale right now on Thule) or Yakimia Landsharks.

Tie downs
Don’t go cheap on tie downs. Get some pool noodles to cover the bars. This will pad the boat. Use front and rear lines to keep it on if there ever is a problem. Use two over the boat. You should be okay. There are massive tie-down threads on this site. Read some for more info.

Thanks for all of the input.

Andy, I see you have a RAV-4 as well. Any issues with the weight as mentioned. Also do you tie down the bow and stern?

Only on long trips.

RAV4 crossbars

– Last Updated: Jul-18-12 1:08 PM EST –

stink! I wouldn't trust them to carry a boat. On my RAV4 I have a Yakima rack with rail grabbers. The Yakima cross bars are very robust and strong.

The factory cross bars are arched and if you put anything heavy on it, like a boat, the force is concentrated outwards to the rails, which can loosen the rails over time. With my bars the force is downward on the rails.

One other thing. The factory cross bars don't allow for a good spread between them. The wider the spread, the better.

I often carry two boats and whichever combination it is, the total weight is under 100 lbs. I’ve driven over 1200 miles with two boats and have never had a problem.

Yakima or Thule
For short trips the factory bars may be okay. For lots of use the Yakima or Thule racks will make your life easier.

The good racks will make getting the boat on and off the car and securing it easier and making it more stable for long road trips. I can take put my boat on my Yakima roofracks and have it bombproof in under 10 minutes.

Having to futz with a jury rigged setup on factory racks could hamper your longterm enjoyment of kayaking. For short term and short distances it may be okay but consider investing in a good roof rack system.

So it’s a tandem? You’ll use it tandem
most of the time? Or trim it with a large dog or a bunch of gear? Or contraband?