Transport a canoe and kayaks

We are trying to figure out the best way to transport a canoe and kayak on our roof rack. Can canoes be transported on their side like you can a kayak? I can find racks to transport multiple kayaks, but do not know it it is safe to transport a canoe this way.

The best way to carry a canoe is
upside down on the gunnels.

The way I do it is have a kayak on each side on J cradles with the canoe in the center. On 78 inch bars.

Jack L

canoe on its side
will give you quite a challenge steering when you pass or pass trucks on the interstate.

The open side is just going to gather and keep all that wash and buffeting.

You can get creative but a lot depends on the particular boats. Why do people most always carry kayaks cockpit up? Try turning it bottom up and lying one edge of the canoe on top of it, with the other edge lying on the bar. Depending on the shape of your boats, they might nestle. Plastic kayak? Plastic boat? Relative lengths of boats and bars matter, too. Presently, I have only 50" bars and have carried a canoe gunwales down with a plastic kayak on its side beside the canoe.

I have carried a plastic kayak, cockpit up, on top of a gunwales-down royalex canoe. The kayak moved around a little, but it didn’t leave.

How wide are your bars?

Once carried two tripping canoes on a older Rav 4. The factory racks on the RAV were less than wide enough for one boat–we set the first boat onto the RAV racks, and the gunwales spanned both sides of the rack. That was a shocker. Furthermore, front to back, the bars were only spaced about 2’ apart. I used u-bolts to attach 7’ 2x4s to the rack bars, and we put the two boats up there. We had a horrible trip to our put in, as the boats were constantly threatening to come off. I had the boats tied to the undercarriage from the bow and stern, but when the driver braked, the boats wanted to move forward and to the side. Kept adding more lines about every 15 minutes until we looked like a moving spider web built by a spider on drugs. Both boats made it to 5th St. John without falling off, and that is a long and bumby ride. Now that I am retelling this, it comes back to me that we had those boats on gunwales-up, because that RAV was so small it couldn’t fit our gear. It horrifies me to recall we then loaded gear in these boats, atop this most precarious platform. DON’T DO THIS. We got away with one, but I would not try that again.

So, be creative, but be reasonable.

Good luck.


As Jack said…
canoes are best gunwales down. I have put my whitewater canoe in J cradles, and have put it on its side against a stacker bar. It was fine, but I wouldn’t do it all the time.

I don’t think you need anything special to carry a canoe and kayak on a standard size bar. Put the canoe gunwales down, and stand the kayak on its side next to it. A couple of long straps and you are all set. I’ve carried a lot of boats that way

It’s easy with small short whitewater boats, but it will work fine with longer boats as well.

same as Jack
I do mine the same as Jack - kayaks on j cradles on the sides with the canoe in the middle.


use one of these set up tall. Makes loading a breeze and supports well.

Yes you can
If you have some way to keep the canoe on its side you can transport it that way. Stackers work nicely for that.