Lifting a Kayak on the Top of a Car

The kayak's long, narrow profile allows it to glide effortlessly across the water. Out of the water, however, the kayak proves a heavy, unwieldy vessel. Taking a kayak trip entails loading the kayak at least once atop the car. Without a friend to lend a hand, the kayaker faces the daunting task of lifting his kayak alone. Applying proper form and technique during this task reduces the likelihood of injury as well as damage to the kayak or car.


    • 1

      Place the kayak on its hull some 4 feet from the side of the car with the bow -- the front of the kayak -- pointing forward.

    • 2

      Stand beside the cockpit of the kayak with the kayak between you and the car.

    • 3

      Bend at the knees and grasp the near edge of the cockpit with both hands. Pull up on the cockpit edge to pivot the kayak on its side so it now faces away from you.

    • 4

      Raise the kayak up onto your thighs, keeping the knees bent and the back straight. Reach over the top of the kayak with your stern-side (rear) hand and grab the opposite edge of the cockpit.

    • 5

      Pull up on the opposite edge of the cockpit until you are face to face with the open cockpit. Allow your bent thighs to help carry the weight.

    • 6

      Pivot so that you are facing forward (the same direction as the front of the car). Simultaneously use both hands to raise the upper edge of the kayak cockpit onto your shoulder. With the shoulder supporting the kayak, straighten your knees to stand upright.

    • 7

      Position the bow of the kayak onto the front rack atop the car, allowing the rack to take part of the weight.

    • 8

      Lift the kayak in the middle and position the stern, or rear, of the kayak onto the rear rack.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before lifting a kayak check the cockpit and bulkheads for any removable items. These items add unnecessary weight when lifting your kayak. Remove these items and store them inside the car.
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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

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