If you're an avid kayaker, you know that one of the most important pieces of gear is a good roof rack. But what do you do if you don't have a roof rack? Here are 5 clever ways to transport your kayak without one.

6 Clever Ways on How to Transport a Kayak Without a Roof Rack

Are you tired of trying to figure out how to transport a kayak without a roof rack? Look no further! In this blog post, we’ll provide you with six options for getting your kayak from your home to the water.

To have a good kayak trip, you need to keep your kayak in good shape and use your resources well. So, keep safety in mind, especially if you need to move a kayak from one place to another. In order to safely transport a kayak, you’ll need bars to strap it down to, and a roof rack is the only way to get them. SUVs or station wagons are perfect for this job because their roof racks are strong enough to hold a kayak properly. But you can’t carry a kayak in a sedan, hatchback, or hybrid car without a roof rack.
Even a little internal damage to a kayak might increase the risk of an incident or a capsize. So far, the body of your kayak has been crushed and depressed, making it hard to maintain a great ride. To keep the kayaks from getting damaged, you must transport them without putting them on rough or hard surfaces. Avoid dragging it over long distances, as this will cause the bow to distort.
The precautions are not limited to situations where one is preparing to go kayaking or has just jumped out of a kayak. However, proper kayaking safety measures should be taken the moment you bring the boat home from the store.
When transporting your kayak from the store to your house or from your house to the beach, make sure to do it over a secure roof rack. Could you easily carry it to your house by putting it on your back if your car or truck didn’t have a proper roof carrier to hold the kayak securely and precisely? Sadly, that just can’t happen.
But without using a roof rack, how can you move a kayak? Just how is that even possible? How can I progress to the next level?
Here, we provide you with a number of options for moving your kayak from one location to another without damaging it in the process. Here are some things to think about if you don’t have a convenient click-and-pick option for the roof rack over your car. These choices require little work and may be set up quickly.

Let’s have a look and make sure things function as intended.

1. Use a Trailer

The easiest way to transport a kayak without a roof rack is to use a trailer. This can be anything from an open flatbed to a closed box trailer. If you are using an open flatbed, make sure the kayak is secured with straps or rope and that it is covered with a tarp for protection from the elements.

Bringing your kayak on a trailer isn’t the most cost-effective way to travel. But if you’d rather not permanently alter your car, like with a roof rack, this is a viable option. It’s also a practical solution if you want to take your kayak with you but don’t want to install roof racks on each of your vehicles. Trailers are convenient not just for transporting your kayak from place to place, but also for stowing it away while you’re not using it. You’ll need to find a location to park the trailer, though.
If you plan on towing a trailer, you should check to see if your car has a hitch. Even if that’s not the case, there are still ways to tow a trailer. You need to do some reading to learn how much weight your car can tow and what kinds of trailers are appropriate for it. Check out our post on How to Pull a Trailer Without a Hitch if you wish to use a trailer but don’t have a hitch.
Because of their adaptability, kayak trailers can be a wonderful alternative to other means of transporting kayaks. Your kayak may not be the only “toy” you want to bring on your trips, so many trailers also provide space for bicycles, paddleboards, and other small vehicles. They are not just useful for moving; they may be put to use in any situation where heavy objects need to be moved.
If you’re looking for a kayak trailer, here’s a brief look at three different options. Here’s a comprehensive guide to kayak trailers if you’re interested in learning more.

Our Top 3 Picks of Kayak Trailer

Ironton Folding Trailer

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Ultra-Tow Aluminum Utility Trailer

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Malone XtraLight Trailer

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2. Soft-Top Carriers

You can also transport your kayak without a roof rack or trailer by using a soft-top carrier. These carriers attach directly to the top of your vehicle with straps and feature padded arms that hold the kayak securely in place while you drive.

If you want to transport your kayak on the roof of your car but don’t have the side rails or cross bars required for a roof rack, a foam car top carrier is a fantastic option. The foam carrier is made up of two foam blocks that are fastened together with ratchet straps that go all the way around the front and back of your vehicle. The kayak is then set on the blocks, and the whole assembly is secured with additional rope or straps (which may or may not be included in your purchase).

If you decide to go this route, there are a few details to keep in mind. First, the foam blocks must be secured before the kayak is secured. You’ll have a lot of trouble keeping the foam blocks in place if you don’t secure them. There is some noise from the ropes when traveling at high speeds, but I consider it to be a minor inconvenience given the low cost of the kayak carrier.

Our Top 3 Picks of Foam Car Top Carrier

Yakima - EasyTop

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Seattle Sports NO SKID


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RORAIMA Universal Folding

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3. Use Pool Noodles (DIY Kayak Rack)

It’s amazing that shorter, thinner pool noodles can be ironed into a makeshift kayak carrier that can be moved from a car to a kayak. The pool noodles could be used as a kayak roof rack to hold the kayaks safely, in addition to the other things they could be used for, like making wreaths or keeping doors from slamming.
To make transporting a kayak more comfortable, pool noodles can be strapped to the top of the vehicle. By arranging the following procedures in a queue, their execution can be accelerated significantly:
  1. Center the pool noodles on the automobile or truck’s rooftop.
  2. Wrap the pool noodles with the ratchet band.
  3. Help others lift your kayak to horizontal.
  4. Flip your kayak. In the windy driveway, the kayak stays balanced in this posture.
  5. Once fastened, use firm bands or strops to secure the kayak to the rooftop, up the roof, and inside your vehicle.
  6. Check bow and stern locations for stability.
  7. At curves, circles, and exchanges, watch your rear reflector to reach your destination.
Safely passing other vehicles on the road is possible when you keep an eye on the road’s edges from your kayak’s perch. You don’t want to cause an accident where someone gets hurt if your kayak gets loose and rolls off the road.
Two or three pool noodles should be enough to hold a kayak securely on the roof rack made of pool noodles. Because both pool noodles and thermoformed kayaks are made of polyethylene, they are both light and easy to carry.
If they are transporting hefty kayaks, many drivers can also repair more than three pool noodles. Despite their versatility, pool noodles can only support so much weight. If they’re not sustainable, they can be compacted. Keeping in mind how heavy the kayak is, the pool noodles should be set up in a good way. This means it’s a more secure option for transporting large vessels like kayaks.

4. Make use of an Inflatable Kayak

It’s the best bet if you want to get started in kayaking on a tight budget. In general, inflatable kayaks are more affordable than their hard-shell counterparts. Plus, you won’t need to spend any extra money on equipment to carry your kayak. The majority of inflatable kayaks may be stored in a car’s trunk once deflated and rolled up. If you don’t have anywhere to keep the kayak when it’s not in use, this is a fantastic alternative.

About four years ago, when I first started paddling, I opted to use a kayak. I have the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, and it’s great since you can store the complete thing, including the paddles, in a single bag. Although the bag is on the heavier side, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem as long as you don’t have far to go between your car and the water.
There have been two minor problems with the kayak. The first is that the bottom chamber suffered two tiny punctures. However, this only occurred after more than three years of ownership, and the damage was simply patched up with some E6000 adhesive. Another problem is that there are too many moving parts; I’ve lost the valve and the fin and had to replace them. As such, if you opt for an inflatable, be very mindful of where you put each component.
Inflatable kayaks have the advantage of being portable without the need for a car or other special equipment. The kayak may simply be thrown into your car because a carrying bag is included.
The good thing about inflatable kayaks is that they are easy to move and store. To carry an inflatable kayak, you don’t need a kayak roof rack system. You can just put it in the trunk of your car.

Our Top 3 Picks of Inflatable Kayak

Aquaglide Deschutes Inflatable Kayak

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Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak


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AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible

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5. Hitch Mounted Rack

Inflatable Roof Rack

If your vehicle has a hitch receiver, there are several types of racks designed specifically for transporting kayaks without requiring a roof rack. Hitch-mounted racks attach to the receiver and can hold up to four kayaks.

They come in both swing-away and tilt-down designs, allowing you to access the rear of your vehicle without having to unload your kayaks. Most of the time, these racks attach directly to your car’s hitch receiver and have adjustable arms that hold the kayak in place while you drive.

6. Inflatable Roof Rack

With an inflatable roof rack, you may get the same utility as permanent crossbars on your car without the expense or commitment. It’s already cheaper than buying a similar product because you won’t need to pay to have side rails added. Nonetheless, they are less expensive than metal crossbars. Another plus is that they aren’t meant to be permanently attached to your vehicle. If you like the way crossbars work but don’t like how they look, this is a great choice for you.

The best part of the HandiRack, in my opinion, is that the load straps for securing the kayak are already attached to the inflatable “bars.” That means you can secure the kayak to the rack without using any additional straps.
With a weight limit of 180 kilos, this one can accommodate virtually any kayak. The instructions appear to be straightforward, so you won’t lose too much time getting ready before you head out on your kayaking adventure. The only problem with the HandiRack is that, like all inflatables, it needs to be handled with care so it doesn’t pop. Make sure you don’t put too much pressure on it or overinflate it. Additionally, while not in use, deflate it and store it in the trunk of your car. Why? because prolonged exposure to high temperatures might accelerate the deflation of the material.

How to Get Two Kayaks from A to B Without a Soft Roof Rack

In many ways, transporting two kayaks without a roof rack is similar to transporting one.
The change is that you’re bringing in a second kayak. If you have more than one kayak, you’ll need to decide whether to stack them vertically or lay them horizontally on the roof of the car.
Here are several suggestions for getting two kayaks from A to B without using a roof rack.
Pool Noodle Kayak Rack: The pool noodles can be arranged in the same way that the single kayak rack was explained above. If you have a broad enough roof, you may put both kayaks side by side; otherwise, you can stack one kayak on top of the other using two pool noodles cut to size and two straps.
Foam Blocks: You can also buy an extra set of foam blocks and put them next to each other to make room for wider cars. Since there will be more room for cargo if the foam blocks are more V-shaped, the kayak can be loaded on its side.
Kayak Trailer: If you have a kayak trailer, you can save yourself the trouble of installing a roof rack. You can carry two kayaks, or even more, on the trailer with no trouble at all.
Inflatable Roof Rack: A pair of kayaks can be carried atop an inflatable roof rack if your vehicle has a particularly long and narrow windshield. The roof rack, made of expandable material, will run its full length.

Ways to Transport a Kayak without Roof Rack - FAQs

Transport a Kayak without Roof Rack

Q: How can I move a kayak the easiest way?

The easiest way to move a kayak is to use a kayak cart or dolly. These are specially designed devices that allow you to easily roll the kayak along the ground, making it much easier and faster to transport the kayak from one place to another.

A cheap and easy option for transporting your kayak without a roof rack is to use pool noodles.

Q: If I have a small car, how can I transport my kayak?

Just make sure that the padding, foam block, pool noodle, etc. isn’t directly on the glass. You may need to move the front padding a little bit forward or backward to make sure it’s centered on the metal roof. This might make the weight distribution uneven (with more weight in the back) or make it impossible to move kayaks that are deeper, like what happened with my Azul Riot.

It is imperative that the front and back ends of your kayak are secured at all times, and this is especially important if you are going to transport your kayak without a roof rack.

Q: Can a kayak be put in the back of a truck?

Absolutely! You can put the kayak in the back of your truck with the hull facing up and some padding under it to keep it from getting scratched. Then you can just tie it down so it doesn’t slide out. Even if you don’t have a roof rack, it’s very easy to move a kayak with a truck.

There are lots of cool kayak truck racks, like ones that can be put on top of the truck bed or hitch racks for shorter trucks that can hold kayaks that are 14 feet or longer.

Q: Can you carry a kayak without a car roof rack?

If you don’t have a rack, you can legally strap your kayak to your car’s roof. However, as I’ve already mentioned, doing so isn’t the safest thing for either your car or your kayak. You should try to buy a roof rack, or at the very least, a set of crossbars to support the weight with cushioning to protect your kayak.

Q: Can pool noodle roof rack transport large kayak?

A pool noodle roof rack is a type of car rack that uses foam noodles as the main support structure. Most of the time, the noodles are cut to size and attached to a wooden or metal frame, which is then put on the roof of the vehicle. The noodles provide cushioning for any items placed on the rack, and their shape allows them to be easily adjusted for different sized items. Pool noodle racks are lightweight and inexpensive, making them an attractive option for people who need extra space for carrying cargo on their vehicle.

Best Way to Transport your Kayak Final Thoughts

Transporting kayaks is no longer a hassle. You can’t accomplish this job perfectly because your car doesn’t have a roof rack. Cancel your worries! Even if the weather isn’t cooperating or the roads have unfilled gaps in all directions, more than the bare minimum of tricks and preparations are available to offer complete safety for kayaks.
One, two, or even more kayakers can make use of your car. If you take into account pool noodles and foam blocks as reimbursable possibilities, you can take one kayak and a kayak trailer to the beach.
When making these plans, don’t forget to be brief. A tangled mess of straps could be very dangerous. However, if you supplement the safety suitcase with more manageable options, you won’t need a roof rack to transport the kayaks and will have a pleasant journey.
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Daniel Wisdom
Daniel Wisdom

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