Solo loading Kayaks on SUVs

Recently I purchased a 2004 Chev Trailblazer. The vehicle came with a factory rac which made my Yakama a good fit with the addition of new towers. I stand 5’7". My kayak is a 17’ Eddyline glass. My call for help is anything anyone would like to share that has helped them load and off load solo. I put the saddles and rollers on the drivers side. Usually when I would put it on my previous vehicle I would angle it next to the truck (ford ranger)with the stern in line with the rollers. Then I would lift the bow on the rollers and go to the stern and push. Piece of cake. The Trailbalzer is about 2 feet higher and there is a piece of the hatch that sticks out. Also the bumper. Pretty please on any suggestions. Please send to Thanks.


I would recommend checking out the sideloaders at Accessories in the Buyer’s Guide of this site. A lady friend purchased one for her SUV and loves its.

Stay safe on the water

loading help
I’m a bit taller than you but my truck sits alot higher. I found that a short 4 foot latter to be a big help. A step stool would also help. Set the bow along side the car and then get behind the car and lift the bow up to the rollers and then slide it up on to the roof. I loop one of the ty down straps over the stern to ease the boat down and also to pull it down when downloading it, then slide it off and use it to secure the boat.

Loading SUV

– Last Updated: Oct-25-04 7:54 PM EST –

I carry a small rug that I put on the back of my SUV To avoid screwing up the paint job on the SUV)and then put the bow in place on the rollers, then with the kayak still over head I walk my hands to the stern and then push the kayak in place.

Also carry a step stool to help me in tieing the boat down.

It took me awhile to figure out the easiest way for me. I tried different methods but this one works for me.

I have a wooden kayak so I'm very carefull about getting on and off the car.


When loading and unloading clip a line from the stern to the rack to keep the stern in place and the bow from slipping off the rollers. I have also used the side extensions and they can help. If you are on a ramp or incline, always load and unload from the high side as it decreases the angle.

Loading Bar
Take a look at this loading bar for $25

I just pull off the end cap of the cross
bar of the rack and put a pipe in the bar and slide the end of the kayak onto it then take the other end off the rack and put it on the ground then lift the end off the bar. Reverse it to put it on the rack.

My goofy method
I went from a '98 Blazer to a 2004 Yukon which is considerably higher. I am a 5’4" female and I have my method pretty down pat after doing it all summer. I also use the rug method. I have a rubber-backed small bathroom rug that I put on the top of the truck behind the rear mako saddles which protects the truck from getting scratched. I lift the kayak and rest the bow on the rug. The rear of the kayak is sitting on the ground, which may not work well with a glass kayak. Mine is plastic so I do not worry about scratches on the kayak too much. I have seen one woman at a symposium with a similar method who had a glass kayak and she positioned a second rug on the ground. Anyhow, I then move to the rear of the kayak and push it on to the saddles. Since the Yukon is so tall and I am short, pushing it all the way to the front gets interesting. I have to step up onto the bumper to push it the rest of the way. Two things to point out with this method. It is a good idea to try and wipe the sand off the kayak before pushing through the saddles. Drying off the kayak as much as possible would be a good idea as well. While perfecting my method I found out that drying off the kayak is a good idea when it slipped out of my hands while pushing. Not a pretty sight (or sound)! Now my method for the straps. I can reach the back strap and flip it over by stepping on the bumper. The front strap I have to open the passenger side rear door, step in the truck and flip the buckle side over the kayak. I then open the driver side door and step up into the truck to fasten the front strap. For the rear strap I step onto the rear tire and can fasten the strap. I will sometimes carry a four foot aluminum ladder (lightweight) with me which helps the process a bit more. Man, what I have to go through to go kayaking!

I made additional roller consisting of Yakima bike fork and rubber roller for boat trailers.

It is resting on the back door and allows me to

start rolling kayak at much lower hight.

Funny, nobody thought about it before.

side loader
I had the same problem with my Ford Escape.

The sideloader solved the problem

I’m With Andy and Scoop
I have an old bath mat and I tied nylon cord to loop around the rear bar on my rack The rug lays soft side down and rubber side up over the back of my Honda CRV. I set the bow of my 16’ 6" Prijon Eski on the rug and then push it up into the saddles. The price is right and it’s easy. Have fun, paddle often!

I wouldn’t
use the rug or mat method on the Trailblazer. The end cap piece on the top of the gate is plastic and tends to come loose without any help. Any weight on it will just make it worse. Perhaps side loaders,as previously suggested?

Thanks for all the help and suggestions. I will try the cheapest method first (the rug) and then work my way up to the side loaders. You guys ( and ladies) are the greatest. Safe paddling to all…and if you are ever in the great northwest…e-mail me. Really some places in the San Juans that will blow your socks off.

Yakima boatloaders work great for solo loading of canoes on my Yukon. They are bars that fit inside the cross bars and can be slid out for loading and unloading. Most people just use one boatloader but a few have them on front and rear. Single boatloader setup is great and double even better. Hope this helps.