Road Travel Questions: Deck up or down? Small car or pickup truck? Bow & stern tiedown?

Comment on the cockpit cover if hauling cockpit up…
Always secure the grab loop to something in the deck with a carbineer. Obviously easier to find such on a fully rigged sea kayak than something like a WW boat. This may not be a plan for rec or WW boats. But find some way to secure the thing if possible, if for no other reason than it is a PITA if you arrive at your destination fo find it gone. Neoprene as well - they are not immune from flying off.

One other measure I take for the annual trip to and from Maine is to run an extra strap around the cockpit, about in the middle, to additionally hold the cockpit cover on. Between double strapping at each point and that, there is quite the array of straps on the boat by the time I am done. But I had a fender bender with two boats mounted with this extra strapping once. Neither boat budged.

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Got the boat home safely and undamaged yesterday using the pickup truck and foam pads. NOT a very relaxing experience, though. I chose the truck because the car did not have good tie-down points for the bow. The under-hood loop strap would probably not fit at the front because there is very little space between the underside of the hood and a metal plate. The problem with the truck was that the roof metal is very weak. Moving the front pad as far forward as possible kept it from “oil canning” at the front. But despite being as far to the rear as possible, the rear pad would oil can the truck roof when passing/being passed by large trucks.

So I stopped a short time after getting on the freeway to tighten down the stern line to keep the rear pad from oscillating up and down. I figured it was better to drive home with the roof pushed down the whole way rather than letting it oscillate up and down. Fortunately, it does not appear to have permanently dented and damaged the truck roof.

It does appear that I’ll have to get a roof rack, probably the Yakima, before heading out with our trailer in tow next spring. There won’t be many trips to the late between now and then here in Michigan and I’m not sure yet what I might do for a temporary solution.

Thanks to all who offered advice. Here’s a pic of the kayak on the truck leaving Rutabaga Paddle Sports yesterday:

Kudos to John at Rutabaga. He was a huge help doing a proper job of securing the boat for a safe trip home.


Also a user of a hull strap on our cockpit covers in addition to hooking the pull loop. The Seals covers that we have include a loop on the side to run the hull strap through, so it would be extremely hard to totally lose the cover.

I bought the Rutabaga cockpit cover while I was there. I think it is actually the Seal brand. But a big selling point for me was that it has the “belly band strap” plus a clip to connect to the boat’s deck cordage. Belt and suspenders! Seems to be a very nice cover and it was the least expensive.

A trailer has the advantage of being easy to load and unload the boat, but there are a lot of other considerations. You need a tow package with electrical hookup. Then there are title, tags, insurance, maintenance, and storage. Some jurisdictions may have annual taxes and inspections.There are increased tolls and hassles parking. In Maryland every public boat ramp requires a separate fairly expensive annual county permit for a trailer. Car top boat launching is free, except for Queen Anne County where you need a permit to park any vehicle.

There are many dedicated car top launches where there is no ramp, so no backing the trailer to the water. Of course, no power boats to contend with either.


sharp looking boat, congrats on the purchase

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Very secure pickup rack system. Yakima on the cab, home made on the back. Yakima saddle and bar. Yakima makes a very similar system .

We have a travel trailer that we tow to many of the places I want to paddle, so a trailer for the kayak would not work on those trips.

This sort of split system has a lot of appeal. I have a roll-up tonneau cover on the truck that has to remain in place to keep other gear dry when we’re towing our travel trailer. I have been thinking about how I might be able to rig the truck bed support and still roll out the cover, but the framework for the cover is (so far :wink:) a single strip of angled aluminum.

I do both, car top and trailer. Been all over the northeast Car topping and finally got a trailer for my fishing kayak. (90 plus lbs.) no way topping that.
Now that I have one I will take the trailer any day over the cartop. Probably will never put a kayak on a roof again. Easier on and off. Well worth the additional requirements on registering etc…

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In the West trailer registration is $15 a year. There is no insurance, maintenance or storage fees. There is no need for a ramp.

Any truck can tow a canoe trailer. Tapping into the electrical system on a car is easy. Bolting on a light trailer hitch is easy.

I wouldn’t count on that. You may need to figure out how to remove a lot of interior trim in the rear to access the connections, and on my Hyundai it was required to run a separate hot wire with an inline fuse direct from the battery. I ran that wire down through the engine compartment, under the car in a protective plastic sheath (tedious if you don’t have the car on a lift) and then up in the rear to the spare tire well through a rubber grommet used for an ABS wire. Being careful, wiring my trailer lights took me a full day.

Doing the hitch myself, carefully, also took most of a day. But it was all time well spent. The trailer is great at many launches (some launches I have to car top) and the trailer is also very handy for hauling other things at times, such as an 8 foot tall shrub lying flat.

Most of the time canoes are carried upside down, and kayaks are carried facing up.
The right rack makes nearly all vehicles suitable for carrying boats. Trailers are even better.
Always secure the bow and stern with lines to the bumpers or equivalent.

It is usually possible to tap into the tail lights of tow vehicles to supply power to trailer lights. Trucks normally have a provision for towing a trailer and an electrical 4 way and 7 way plug for lights.

I would not suggest that for here. Not in the North Maine Woods. The only places you can reliably back a trailer up in are logging camps. For this reason much of canoe country up there never sees a large motor boat.
If you pick the wrong twitch road you always have to think about the possibility of having to back out. And yep I did that a bit this summer picking out obscure boat launches that were hand carry and not quite marked accurately on the De Lorme paper Gazeteer


A canoe trailer is easy to disconnect and turn around by hand.
Lots of places in the West have no boat launches.
I like drift boats now for running rivers. You can crank them up the bank, or use a line and drag them out of the water with a truck. They have flat bottoms and get launched everywhere.

I ended up buying Yakima Baseline FX roof rack with the Yakima Sweetroll option. Looks like it’s going to be easy to load the boat even when towing our travel trailer.

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Canoes and sit in kayaks upside down and SOT right side up. I carry my sit ins upside down as I have lost or destroyed several hatch and cockpit covers over the years. They just don’t hold very well up over 70mph no matter how I secured them, so I remove them.

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I went with a roll up Kayak for my RV trips since I upgraded to a fifth wheel. it stores easily and is about 3.5 feet long and about 10 inches in diameter. I would not recommend whitewater for the roll up, but have had it in some class 2 with no issues.

It depends on the boat, but in some cases the hull is more rigid than the deck so rightside-up is preferred. That said, it also depends on the spacing of your crossbars and how that lines up on the deck of the boat if you are contemplating upside-down. Sometimes you just can’t find a horizontal way while inverted that doesn’t hit the cockpit or a hatch. Heavy rains on long drives have me in the inverted position on the roof rack, otherwise deck up and bow forward.

if it were me I would remove the hatch covers and move the skeg up into the boat. I would try upside down first on the foam blocks. I wouldn’t bother with the cockpit cover if it is upside down. the stratos doesn’t have much rocker so it should ride okay upside down but if it naturally doesn’t want to sit on those foam blocks then I would go right side up and use the cockpit cover. I would strap twice. I would tie the ends of boat as well to the vehicle. Especially given the boats length and the fact that you are using foam blocks. I use good quality straps, like nrs, and not the cheap straps that stretch that are sold at home improvement stores. I would use rope before I would use the cheap straps. You can go with an extra strap or rope diagonally if you are worried about how you did it. After you get it strapped or tied or both then I would push on the boat and watch to see if the whole car jiggles a little bit because the boat and car have melded into one. I almost always go bow first for superstition reasons. Bad Juju to load with stern forward but a few boats do ride better that way.