Transporting Your Kayak

Transporting Your Kayak

Kayaks work best in water- everyone knows that!- but unfortunately not everybody is lucky enough to live right by a river, lake, canal or sea. This means that most of us will need to transport our kayak to our chosen paddling spot.

There are lots of ways to move your kayak. Let's discuss the benefits of the different transport methods available!


‘J’ Style Roof Bars

J bars are shaped to hold and cradle your kayak as safely as possible during transportation. They fit to traditional horizontal roof rack bars fitted to your car.

There are two styles of J bars to choose from: fixed, and folding.

  • Fixed J bars are shaped to fit the average kayak, and can be fitted in minutes.
  • Folding J bars tend to cost a little more but it's well worth it. They offer much greater flexibility since the angle of cradle can be adjusted to fit a multitude of different craft from Canadian canoes to SUPs. They can also fold flat when not in use.

It is worth noting that, wherever possible, you should remove all roof racks and bars from your vehicle when not in use as they will affect your cars overall efficiency.

One downside to J bars is that they may limit how many kayaks you can transport.

On smaller cars, it may only be possible to fit one set of roof bars. On larger cars, two sets of J bars will usually be the most you can get away with.

We have even seen vans with three sets of roof bars, but you should always consult your vehicle handbook to ensure that you do not exceed the manufacturer's maximum specified roof load.

J bars cannot be fitted to the longitudinal running bars which come fitted to many larger cars, SUV’s and 4x4’s


Roof Pads

Roof pads offer a fast, convenient alternative to roof bars.

They serve to protect the roof of your vehicle with a cushioned pad which sits on the roof, the kayak in turn sits on the roof pad.

Roof pads attach to the roof of your car using a strong webbing strap which connects through the inside of the car. Roof pads are fitted by opening the car doors, fitting the pads and closing the doors.

You then attach the kayak to your roof pads using the same method of feeding the straps through the open doors. You should never fit roof pads through open car windows as this could hamper getting out of the car in the case of an emergency.

Roof pads are an excellent cost-effective quick-fix if you don’t have a roof rack fitted.

They fit in seconds and can be removed just as quickly. Their small size and light weight make storing and transporting them easy and convenient.

Roof pads do limit how much weight you can transport. We would typically recommend at most, a two person kayak, or two single person kayaks be transported using roof pads.


Roof Rack

An acceptable but less-preferred option for transporting a kayak is to simply use the horizontal bars of a roof rack. These are available directly from car manufacturers or from third party retailers such as Halfords.

It is possible to move one or two kayaks using a roof rack, usually placed upside down so as to place less stress on the bottom of the kayak since it should be tied down firmly.

We would suggest using ratchet straps or cam straps as these allow a decent amount of tension to be achieved and are more reliable and stronger than rope.

You should ensure that your roof bars are fitted in accordance with your vehicle's handbook and the roof bar manufacturer's instructions.


Final Notes

If you intend to move your kayak on the roof of your vehicle, it is crucial that you use some kind of support system to transport your kayak. This will protect your kayak, your vehicle and, more importantly, other road users.

The information offered here is for guidance only. It is your responsibility to ensure that your vehicle and cargo are fit and safe for road transportation. Conwy Kayaks accepts no responsibility for the road worthiness of your vehicle or any cargo you may transport.

Address - Conwy Kayaks, Blackmarsh Road, Mochdre Business Park, LL28 5HA, United Kingdom

+44 (0)1492 330203

From Monday to Friday

8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.