Ways to transport two 14.5' kayaks on a sedan with no roof rack + lift a kayak onto a car alone

I’m wondering if there’s a way I can transport two Riot Edge 14.5 foot kayaks (this would be for short trips, like a 10-30 minute drive with no highway) on a sedan that doesn’t have a roof rack. I’m happy to buy something for the roof if this can be done.

Also wondering if there is any equipment I could buy that would allow a 5’6" woman to lift a 14.5 foot kayak that weighs around 60 lbs onto a roof rack alone.

Thank you!

You need 6 cam straps, two large couch cushions with the covers removed, and 4 anchor points, two each at the front and back of the car. There are anchor points made of a piece of tubing with a webbing loop which you can close in the trunk and hood. You also need two 8 foot 2x4s, six 1 foot 1x4s, and some 2 inch deck screws.
The couch cushions go on top of the car, 1 front and one rear. The 2x4s lie with one end on the ground and one end on the cushion, front and back. The 1x4s are screwed to the sides of the 2x4s, 2 feet from each end and in the middle, so that they protrude upward at right angles to the 2x4. You can then rest the boat on the 2x4 ramps, and the 1x4s keep it from sliding down. move the front up to the next 1x4, then the back, and you can walk the boat onto the roof. Once the boat is on the roof, attach a cam strap from the bow to front anchor point and stern to rear anchor point. I would place the boat deck down. Repeat for second boat. Finally, loop your remaining cam straps around both boats and through the front and rear door openings of your car. You may wish to also secure your ramps to the roof with these straps, so you have them at the launch site. Double check that everything is nice and tight, if you have done this properly the car will move when you wiggle the boat. Resist the temptation to buy ratchet straps and get it reaaaally tight.
Beware, the cushions are a magnet for grit, which will scratch your roof. The whole system looks redneck as can be, but is very secure.

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Slide up, not lift. Above technique

Go to the Yakima or Thule websites and put in the model of your car. Both will recommend get a rack system for your car. Those manufacturers make it easy to determine the correct rack for your sedan. Your safety and that of others on the road appreciates you keeping your kayaks secure on your vehicle.


Or get a trailer.


As others have mentioned, it can be done, but if this is something that you’ll be doing more than very occasionally you are going to want to get a permanent rack system if one is available for your vehicle. That will make loading and unloading much easier with many more options. The easier it is to load the kayaks, the more you will use them.


I’m curious – since you have two kayaks, aren’t you paddling with a partner? Most any two people can easily load a 60 pound kayak.

By the way, I’m a 72 year old (73 in 3 weeks) 5’ 5" woman and I can load any of my kayaks onto the roof rack of my short Mazda CX5. Just did so this past Saturday. It just takes practice. As the folks commenting above note, you slide it up from the rear, not lift it (though I do lift my boats that are under 50 pounds – again, it is just practice that makes this do-able.)

I started out with the cheap foam block and buckle straps arrangement kit you can get at a lot of sporting goods stores but don’t recommend it, especially for two heavy plastic kayaks (i was hauling a single 33 pound folding kayak back then.)

I also advise that you invest in a Thule roof rack. If you check their web site they will tell you which components fit your vehicle and you can often luck out finding used (or new in the box) ones cheaper on Ebay or even locally. The Thule rack I have had on my mazda since 2015 was bought from a local guy who was selling his same model and the rack would not fit his new car. Got it for $180 and well worth it. Jerry rigged roof systems are not only not safe but a pain in the butt and time suckers.

Thule J-racks do make solo loading a bit easier, since you can lift and angle one end onto one rack and then lift and slide to get the other end in the other. i don’t recommend them for long trips at highway speed (though that is my personal opinion from experience with them and others will say different.)

Trailers do make it easier but not everyone has a place to store and load one and it requires a $300 investment in a trailer hitch for your car.

If you want to be an active kayaker, a roof rack is about as necessary as a paddle, to be honest. And you may waste a lot of time, money and effort trying other means to haul your boats before you invest in one, so probably better to just get out the charge card and take that step sooner rather than later.


Unless you’ll need to transport only infrequently, I agree with @willowleaf - bite the bullet at get a proper rack. It will give you peace of mind, even at 2-lane highway speeds, and save you loading headaches and backaches too. The Riot Edge is only 22 inches wide so they may fit upright and side by side on 54-inch crossbars if your sedan will accommodate them. If not, J-cradles are a good bet for your intended use. As others have suggested, go to the manufacturer’s websites and try out their rack selector tools.

Security is dependent on correctly placed and secured cam straps or rope, a rack of the type available for most modern sedans adds nothing to security and may in fact give the user a false sense of security. After my Thule rack departed from my car at 65 mph I bolted a rack to the roof with aluminum angle and Lexel. What a rack does give is convenience, so you can spend your time kayaking and not loading/unloading your boats. And those commercial foam block systems are not as secure as a coverless couch cushion, although they are more convenient.

How often did you check your rack mount? It is a good habit to check each time you load a kayak. I sure do. And, use bow and stern lines when going on any high speed roads (I do cheat without bow & stern lines and accept the risk when launching locally and driving on neighborhood roads).

Yakima and Thule are quality racks if installed correctly on the intended vehicle for their very specific mounting brackets. We as users still must check them regularly and make adjustments as necessary. It was that way for 15 years with the Yakima rack on my last car.


I used a Thule SlipStream. The unit is on the vehicle crossbar and slides to the rear so you can place the bow on the roller and roll it up easily, then the entire unit slides forward. A great way to do it. I now have a trailer but for any SUV it is great.

Thule Hullavator is another good option, but pricey. No matter what, check on Thule or Yakima as mentioned above, then buy used. A lot of great stuff on Marketplace for cheaper than new.

If you have space a Malone Multisprt, or Yakima Rack and Roll are nice.

I also checked the rack every time I loaded kayaks, but the day it fell off I was driving home from work, had not been out in a week or two. I never go anywhere with the kayak on the vehicle without secure bow and stern lines, even with my bolted on rack.

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