For many years I loaded my fishing kayaks on the roof of my SUV by laying a towel over its rear wind deflector, lifting the bow of the kayak onto the towel, sliding the kayak forward onto my padded roof rack, flipping the kayak over onto its gunwales, and strapping it down. This was quick and easy, and the only gear involved was a $3.50 discount store towel. I always parked my vehicle on a flat spot before loading my kayaks, so I never had a kayak slide sideways off my wind deflector when loading it.
However, I bought a new SUV, and it had a thin and flexible rear wind deflector with a thin red light on its rear edge. Because I can’t clean and jerk a 13 foot long kayak, I had to find another way to get my fishing kayaks onto the new vehicle. I first bought a kayak loader which slid out of the end of one of the bars of my roof rack, but it was too flexible and felt very precarious. I was looking at various loading devices which mount in a tow hitch, but they cost a lot, and would rock and swing around on the back of my vehicle unless I removed them from the hitch and put them inside the vehicle when traveling, which would be a big hassle.
So I have been loading my kayaks onto the side of my SUV using a towel, which is almost as convenient as loading them on the rear, and there is no risk that the kayak will slide off sideways if my vehicle isn’t parked on a flat spot, because the roof rack keeps the kayak in place.
First, I lay a towel over the side of my vehicle, and put my kayak on the ground next to the vehicle with the stern lined up with the towel.
Then I lift the bow of my kayak onto my shoulder, walk it over to the side of my vehicle, and set it on the towel, with a foot or so of bow above the towel so if the stern slides on the ground, the kayak won’t fall off the vehicle.
Then I pick up the stern of the kayak, slide the kayak forward on the towel, walk the stern around to the back of my vehicle, and lay the kayak on its bottom on the roof rack.
Then I stand on the threshold of one of the passenger doors, flip the kayak over onto its gunwales, and strap it down.
I already had a towel. A problem with using a towel to load a kayak on your vehicle is that if it’s windy, the towel can blow off your vehicle before you can lift your kayak onto it. One option is to lay something heavy on the towel to hold it in place. My vehicle has a couple of holes in the sides of the rails on its roof to hold the factory rack in place. I invested a couple more bucks in a bungie cord, shortened the ends of its hooks so they would go into the holes, and use it to hold the towel down. I leave the bungie cord in place for a weekend of kayak fishing.
This is an easy, cheap, and secure way to get a big kayak on top of your vehicle.