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The Best Way to Carry a Kayak

It’s finally the summer season, and you have some time to go adventuring with your kayak. So you load up the car, get your gear ready, and head out.

two seniors carrying a kayak

But how do you get your kayak from the car to the water? You’re going to have to carry it! Kayaks aren’t extremely heavy, but depending on the size of your specific kayak you might have a bit of a struggle, especially if you’re attempting to carry it by yourself.

It’s important to carry it properly, so that the kayak doesn’t get damaged during its transportation, but also so that you don’t strain any muscles or suffer any injuries or accidents. 

There are certain ways in which you can carry the kayak so that it’s safe and easy. And we’ll go through different ways to carry it, whether it’s by yourself, or with the help of someone else! Let’s get right into it!

How to Carry a Small Kayak by Yourself:

If the kayak is small enough, you can probably carry it by yourself, without much of a struggle. And the best way to carry a kayak is by lifting it onto your shoulder and transporting it that way, being careful not to bump it into anything!

Here is a step by step on how to get the kayak onto your shoulder for carrying:

  1. To begin, you should have the kayak laid out on the ground in front of you, with the bow (the front of the kayak) facing in the direction in which you want to go. Move to stand next to the kayak, so that you’re right next to the cockpit. This is your starting point.
  2. Next, bend down into a squat. It’s important to bend your knees so that you’re lifting the kayak up with your legs, and not bending over and lifting it with your back. This way, you will avoid hurting your back muscles, and you will lift the kayak in a much safer way.
  3. Grab the side of the cockpit that’s closest to you and slide the kayak onto your thighs. Then reach for the other side of the cockpit, so that you are able to have a proper hold of it for lifting.
  4. Stand up and lift the kayak with you. As you do so, place the kayak on your shoulder, so that the rim is resting on you, and it’s balanced.
  5. Now you can walk, holding the kayak in place as you do so, and all the weight will be on your shoulder so that it’s easy to transport!

If you find that doing this hurts your shoulder, because the kayak is digging in, you can place something to cushion it, such as a cloth or a towel. You could also just wear your flotation device, as that will serve as padding on your shoulder for the kayak!

How to Carry a Large Kayak with the Help of Someone Else:

If the kayak is a bit more on the larger size, you might have a harder time trying to carry it by yourself. And it might even be a two-person kayak, so why not get the other person to help? Having someone else carry it with you will make the job a lot easier.

person putting a kayak on a car roof rack

With two people, carrying a kayak is especially easy, because you just place one person at each end, and you use the handles that a kayak will usually come with! But here is a more detailed step by step guide to help you, and your helper, out:

  1. Lay the kayak out on the floor, with the bow (the front of the kayak) facing the direction you’re going to be going in.
  2. You and your helper should both stand next to the kayak (on the same side!), with one at each end. So one at the front, and one at the back, by the side of the kayak.
  3. Each person can now grab hold of the handle on their end. (Most kayaks come with these handles, for transportation and safety purposes, so they’re very comfortable to carry.)
  4. And you just walk off with the kayak! With two people the kayak won’t seem heavy at all, so you could even carry two kayaks at once, grabbing one handle with each hand, in the same way!

The only thing to be careful of, when carrying a kayak with someone else, is actually walking in sync and making sure you both know where you’re going! If you accidentally try going different ways it won’t end well, so make sure there’s plenty of communication. It is, after all, teamwork!

Other Ways of Carying a Kayak:

If you don’t want to physically carry a kayak, for whatever reason, then that’s fine. There are other ways in which you can move and transport a kayak! Mainly there are two, dragging the kayak, and using a kayak cart.

red and green kayaks on a trailer

Let’s look at both in more detail:

  • Dragging the kayak:

Dragging the kayak consists of grabbing hold of one end, and just dragging it. That simple. It’s a lot easier to move, and there’s no lifting involved. However, you have to be careful when dragging a kayak. Make sure you’re doing it on grass or sand so that the end being dragged isn’t getting damaged.

And if you have to drag it on a hard surface, that will likely harm the kayak, then you can try using a skid plate or keel guard for protection. Ideally, dragging your kayak should be the last option, as you run the risk of causing some serious damage, and some eventual wear and tear.

  • Using a kayak cart:

Kayak carts are essentially two-wheel attachment carts. You slide them into position on one end of the kayak, so that it’s lifted up, and then you push it to where you’re going so that it’s a lot easier to transport!

Of course, not everyone has a kayak cart on hand, so this isn’t as common a method.

Final Thoughts

There are several ways to carry a kayak and even more ways to transport one. You always want to make sure you’re being careful not to hurt yourself or your trusty kayak!

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