Transporting Kayak - Shortness

Hi. I have a friend around 5’2" who wants to be able to transport her kayak without assistance from someone everytime she wants to go paddling.

Her SUV has a car rack to which she could apply a system of rollers (like Yakima), but just getting the kayak to the height of the rollers (the car is taller than she is) would be a problem.

Are there any ingenious solutions out there for transporting a kayak that might help someone out in this situation? I’ve explored trailers designed for kayak transport, but they can cost as much or more than the kayak itself.

Any ideas would be wonderfully appreciated.

Thank you,


Collapsable Three Step Ladder
from a hardware store.


What I’ve seen.
What I’ve seen in diagrams before with J-carriers is to get one end of the kayak up on the rear J-carrier (using stepladder) while placing something on the ground to protect the other end of the kayak that is resting on the ground. Then move the stepladder to the front j-carrier and get the other end up onto the front J-carrier.

Obviously, you also need some space on the side of the J-carrier for the above method so make sure you park appropriately.

I have also seen a Thule demonstration at a paddlesport show where the whole rack was on rollers and hinged in such a way to slide out and down to the side of the vehicle, then the whole thing would reverse the procedure and slide back over the car. Definitely needs a lot more room on the side of the vehicle but does bring the rack down to the ground.

I have a car and I’m able to lift my kayak over my head so I can easily just lift my kayak and put it on my j-carriers.


Here’s Something I tried
I used a sedan, but I think it can be adapted (and I’ll describe the adapted method) to this situation.

It requires: a stern cart and a product called Rollerloader ( check for some pictures), possibly a small stool.

First, the Rollerloader is fastened to the rear windshield using it’s large suction cups and straps. You may need to play with the placement height.

Second, place the boat (mounted on it’s stern cart) with the bow facing the rear of the SUV.

Third, lift the bow until it catches on the RollerLoader. Grab the stern and push upwards until the bow catches on the rack loader. You may need a stool to continue loading onto the racks.

The one issue to be worked out is at one point should the stern cart be removed. I would think with an SUV, it would be done as soon as the bow catches on the Rollerloader.

The RollerLoader is made by a small kayak shop in Amagansett NY. If you are thinking of trying this, give them a call. They are very nice and can probably help you further.

Good Luck…Lou

Sell the SUV
and buy a car or buy a used car just for kayak/canoe transport.

I’m 5’2" with a Carolina 13.5
My boat is over 50lbs and quite long. I use a homemade trailer to drag it around the yard and took a 1/2" axel I bought at the hardward store. I padded half the axel with pipe insulation foam and (since my racks are old and the end caps fell out) I stuck it in one end of the rack (only temporarily, till I got the boat on.) I drag the boat to the car and hoist the front end onto the axel, now called an outrigger, and slide it up as far as I can. Then I just go to the other end and walk it onto the racks from behind.

easily done
cheap foam sleeping pad on ground away fron car. (REI) heavy all cotton bath mat or two covering edge of suv all the way to hully rollers (Target)and perhaps over the hully rollers themselves. one end of boat on pad, the other end on the mat protecting suv. Holding boat, walk to low end; lift and shove forward. Use empty bucket fron home depot to stand on, or go with Songs stepladder idea. With bucket total cost undet $24, maybe cheaper.

Can they make a better vehicle choice next time or do they really need the behemouth.

See thread Loading Kayak on Van
I’m glad people are using stepladders. This is a cheap and sensible “assistant” esp. when solo paddling. For taller vehicles, you can use taller stepladders…Just take precautions to ensure you don’t scratch or drop your boat in the process. Good luck!

how big is the boat/suv…?
won’t it fit in the back temporarily? I do it with a 12 foot pungo in a sable wagon…hangs out the back about 3 feet but I flag it.