SUV, solo paddling, how to ...

… Get the boat on and off the roof. Looking for some suggestions. I’ve seen folks use folding step stools. The Hullavator looks like a great idea, but at $400 that’s a costly solution, and it looks like it adds about 6" or so additional height vs. a regular rack.

My boat weighs in at around 55 pounds … I’m 5’9", and currently have a sedan, so when the boat’s on my shoulder it’s just a little lower than the rack… easy to put up there and take down.

In a few weeks I’ve got to turn the car in (company car), and the new one is an SUV.

Looking for suggestions and ideas.

At the end of a paddle…
…when my arms and shoulders aren’t quite as fresh as when I started, I usually just lift the bow of my 57# boat onto the rear set of my Yakima Mako Saddles and then slide the boat from the rear until it’s in place. I didn’t even bother getting any Hully Rollers – it’s easy enough to slide the boat with the Mako’s.

…and my boat’s the same as yours,…
but plastic.

tilt, lift, slide.

Tilt it againt the rear of your SUV lift it and slide it foward on to the rack… of course my Suv does have that nifty Roller bar on the end of the rack, however my Pick-up doesnt and this works fine for it too.

Protect back of vehicle
I am 5’3" with a 52 pound kayak and a Nissan Xterra (a fairly tall SUV). I put an old ridge rest pad on the back of the SUV. Some people recommend a bath mat. I lean my bow of my kayak against the back of the SUV, slide it up onto the rear Hully Rollers then stand on a step stool to slide it on the rest of the way. Use whatever method works for you, but putting some kind of padding on the back will avoid scratches on that company car.

Don’t know why…
somebody hasn’t manufactured something like I’m about to describe–or maybe they have. But one of the easiest ways to load a boat on a taller vehicle is to put bars running from the ends of one of your racks to the ends of the other. That way, you have a bar on the SIDE of the vehicle, and you can easily lift one end of the boat up onto it from the side. Once you get that end up on the side bar, it’s really easy to slide it farther up at an angle, onto the rear crossbar, without it ever touching the vehicle. And once all the weight is on the side bar and rear crossbar, it’s easy to slide the front end onto the front crossbar, even if you are height challenged and have to open the door and climb up on the doorstep to reach up there and scoot it. Unfortunately, every homemade side bar I’ve ever seen was pretty ugly, even if functional.

If you can afford to keep gas in the SUV
A Hullavator, or Hully Rollers and Mako Saddles should be easily in your range. Those are only a couple of tanks, right? Don’t know about the Hullavator, but the Rollers and Saddles will last for years, and will retain a pretty good resale value. The gas? It’ll be gone in a month, two tops.

Yakima makes something called the “BoatLoader”, which is an extention that slides in and out of one of the crossbars. Basically, this bar unlocks, and slides out, to extend out beyond the side of your vehicle about 3 feet or so. This allows you to pick up one end of your boat and rest it on the extension while you lift the other end in place. You can see it here: (Though obviously this is a Yakima only solution.)

Try a trailer
I use a converted utility trailer all the time. Significantly less lifting.

I am 5’4" with a Tundra with
Yakima Hi Towers…the bars are close to seven feet off the ground…

I just get the bow up and then walk the stern up a stepstool…The hardest part is at the end where the whole boat is seven feet up and I have to shove it a little forward. Even so its not much effort and the stepstool is eleven dollars.

I padded my rear bar with rubber tubing that rolls also.

Boat is a Caribou and about 50 lbs.

Load stern first
When loading my canoe I always put the stern on first,then lift the bow on.

Crossbar extenders
I normally use a trailer for the sea kayaks, but for loading my short Prijon Twister onto my 4x4 truck topper, the Yakima Boatloader ($60) works well.

If you go this route, you MUST be very careful, because the bar extension is just that. It is not a cradle. If you are parked on a tilt, the boat could slide right off. Practice with a helpful friend ready to grab the boat, before you try it solo.

high vehicles, short people
Okay just to confuse the issue further. I have a full size Dodge Ram Van and with Thule racks. The bars are about 7 and a half feet off the ground. I added a third bar as far to the rear of the van as possible. This is a padded 2x3 with the easy rider brackets that clip on the raingutters. Using an overhead carry I walk straight toward the back of the van and rest the stem on the back rack and the other stem on the ground. I then walk from under the hull around to the back of the hull and lift then slde it forward until resting on the Thule racks (the easy rider rack is lower). I’ve a van ladder attached the rear van door which I climb up to fix straps on the hull and stand on the front door footwell to strap the forward hull stem.


Thanks for the suggestions!
The trailor idea sounds like the best for loading, but where I usually go, parking is tight, and I might raise too much attention with a trailor (places where cars with trailors need resident permits, for example).

Other ideas are great as well. I’m thinking the Hullavator might be worth the investment in the long run … I’ve got a bad shoulder, and really can’t lift much over my head, so the end result might end up that I just don’t use the boat much because of the pain. The Hullavator lets me drop the boat down … lower than my car roof. So, while I don’t want to spend that much now, it might mean the difference between paddling or not.

Still got a few weeks to think it over …

Another Xterra owner here
Had a different idea. (I would give him/her credit but I can’t recall who it was.) Open both doors on one side of the vehicle. Put padding on tops of doors, or slit-open pieces of pipe insulation. Lift boat onto doors. Then lift each end into its saddle.

I have been using this method with great success for some time now. Thanks, whoever you are!

SUV solo paddling, how to…
I am absolutely new to the world of kayaking. I drive a 2000 Chevy Blazer with the standard factory installed racks.

I very recently purchased an Eddyline Skylark weighing in at 41 pounds. I purchased Gull Wing Kayak Saddles ($89.90) that can be attached to my racks, as well as a SUV KAYAK ROLLER LOADER ($89.90). The six straps to secure the boat and hood loops to attach them to were another $70. At the recommendation of the salesperson helping me, a Wal-Mart rubber door mat (a standard “Welcome” mat) was about $10.

I am 5’3" and have had no difficulty either getting the kayak on or off the car alone. When loading, I put the rear end of the kayak on the rubber mat (to avoid slipping and to protect it from gravel/cement etc) and simply pivot the front corner on to the roller. It’s a simple thing to then gently glide the kayak up and into the saddles. Getting it down is just as easy, and I’ve never felt not “in control.” Piece o’cake!! I do have to have a little Rubbermaid step stool to get up high enough to be able to properly secure the straps.

I purchased my boat, paddle and all the other lovely accoutrements at Oak Orchard Canoe and Kayak in Waterport, New York, and you can see the items I’ve mention on their website at I live in the state of Ohio and made the 7 hour drive to make my purchase. I’d spoken with “Mark J” numerous times on the telephone while trying to decide on a kayak purchase. He was an incredible resource for knowledge, and offered many suggestions and recommendations for my particular needs. It was worth the drive…I didn’t leave his lot until he was satisfied that I was well equipped, comfortable and ready to tackle this job solo! I like this set-up because it required no alteration to my vehicle and can be entirely removed between kayaking trips, or when I replace my vehicle.

Good luck!

:slight_smile: Cheryl