recommendation for shipping kayak?

I’m thinking of buying a used kayak from a private party on the other side of the country. Can anyone recommend a shipper to properly handle a kevlar boat?

No recommendation,
but here’s a thread on the same subject:

My results…
The good…Forward Air (plastic boat) The worst…KAS and Roadway.

You’ll need dimensions of a crate that would hold it and the weight to get a quote, which you should do promptly before you commit to the sale. It could cost $400 or more. I looked into shipping a piece of antique furniture less than half the size of a kayak and less than halfway across the country 5 years ago and it was $250. That’s why it’s an option few people bother with – best to search for used boats within an area you can reasonably go to pick it up yourself.

Check out
NC Kayaks ships them across country all the time. They pack in a large cardboard box with foam collars around the kayak and they are very successful doing this.

I’d reach out to them for advice. They usually use YRC freight

They will have pictures on their website on Wednesday with some photos of how they pack theirs for shipping

cautions about Forward Air
Forward Air ships by truck, not by “air”. The object (your kayak/canoe) is off loaded at a number of terminals in-route and reloaded onto different trucks a number of times.

I have had two kayaks shipped cross-country and both had fork lift tong holes in the extremely thick cardboard shipping container. You didn’t think loading dock workers would carry it by hand just because it’s repeatedly labeled fragile, kayak etc?

The hole in the first kayak carton was above the likely position of the kayak. I placed my hand in it and felt that the kayak was ok.

The second shipment had the hole where where it likely hit the kayak. They wanted me to sign for the shipment before I could open the extra thick cardboard container for inspection. Had I done so, any damage would have fallen under the insurance policy based on weight ($ per lb) not the value of the kayak.

We had a 45 min stand-off with me refusing to sign without inspection of the kayak and their refusing to allow me to open the carton for inspection before signing. After 45 minutes with me stating I would never sign without inspection and that they would have to store the carton while I contacted corporate head quarters for resolution of this issue they finally allowed me to inspect before signing.

On inspection I found the the fork lift tong had penetrated just 1/4" under the upsweep of the bow. It would have hit the kayak were it 2" aft of where it penetrated.

Summary: Two kayaks shipped by forward Air. Both had fork lift tong penetration in the shipping container. I lucked out in that both penetrations missed the kayaks inside. -----INSPECT before signing!


I love this topic
Different answers every time around and never a clear-cut favorite.

And it doesn’t help when people criticize a shipper without saying WHY.


– Last Updated: Sep-01-14 10:14 AM EST –

When mine arrived Via VRC the driver insisted we open it and inspect. It was flawless. Box was scuffed and torn but the kayak was fine.

As someone who has managed bulk warehouse transfers and had to arrange shipments of various large items (mostly electrical power components) as part of my jobs over the years, I would advise you to seek a packing company who will build a container with a clearly palletized structure beneath to enable forklift handling since it will inevitably happen. Warehouse people not only appreciate packages that are designed for them to handle easily, they will take better care of them. A bulky package marked “fragile” that is not packed in a way that enables ready handling is likely to provoke frustration and even deliberate neglect.

Willowleaf is right
She’s right about the need for convenient fork-lift carrying, and the fact that shipping personnel may sometimes do nasty things when faced with an item that they see as an inconvenience (the stories I heard about how U.S. Postal workers at one particular plant would handle packages marked “Fragile” back in the days before automation are pretty funny, though they are also yet another really bad example for public employees to have to live down).

Many years ago I talked with the folks at Adirondack Guide-boat about shipping, and though in those days they did an awesome job of wrapping the boat in thick, industrial bubble wrap, forklift damage was fairly common, in spite of the fact that there is no excuse for using a forklift on a boat. They even had a boat which a forklift had been driven completely through, from one side to the other (just a single shred of material held the two halves of the boat together when it arrived at its destination).

Nowadays the boats are unwrapped within an open-sided crate. It looks to me like the crate can be lifted by forklift either from the side OR from the end.

If the crate is built as it appears in that photo, then it mainly works as a cantilevered bridge to allow end-wise lifting, and being wide-open so the contents can be seen, a forklift operator isn’t so likely to just “stab” the package at any convenient location, even if he happens to be some lowlife who couldn’t get a job that required him to use his head if he wanted to (no offense to the conscientious forklift operators out there). Last time I talked to those people, they said they’ve been having very good results with the new shipping method.

Forward Air and KAS

– Last Updated: Sep-01-14 1:43 PM EST –

I went out to the Forward Air terminal with a friend who had had a kayak shipped. It was evident a fork lift had penetrated the cardboard, and they would not let her inspect without signing and taking possession of the boat. She finally did sign, and she was lucky as it had not damaged the kayak.

On the other hand, KAS brought me a kevlar/carbon canoe from upstate NY to Florida last week. They delivered within 20 minutes of their estimated time of arrival, and they unwrapped the canoe for me so I could inspect before they left. Canoe was undamaged.