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How to Transport a Kayak Without a Roof Rack: The Most Easy & Effective Ways

How to Transport a Kayak Without a Roof Rack
Written by Jessica Herron
Last Update: August 14, 2023

Now that your new kayak has arrived and you’re about taking it to the closest beach. Then, you realized that you’re yet to install a roof rack in your vehicle. Now, you’ve discovered a problem which is how to transport a kayak without a roof rack.

Don’t worry! We got all the solution you need. This friendly guide will show you the easy steps to transport kayak without a roof rack.

How to Transport a Kayak Without a Roof Rack?

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, we’ll show you a few tricks of how to transport your favourite kayak without a rack.

Gather the Essentials

You’ll get your pool noodles, tie-down strap, and ratchet straps ready.

1. Pool Noodles

These are soft polyurethane tube materials with a single hole each in the middle. In case you’re considering where to buy them, they’re available in supermarkets. Ensure that your pool noodle is thick, heavy and large enough to cover the size of your vehicle’s roof.

2. Ratchet Strap

They come with adjustable buckles that allow you to hold your kayak in place. Ratchet straps are from hard nylon. You’ll need at least two of them to tighten your kayak. Also, you can buy them in any automotive stores.

Transporting Kayak Without Roof Rack

Still concerned about knowing how to transport kayak without roof rack? Then, pay attention to the steps below.

Step 1: Setting Up the Pool Noodle Kayak Carrier

It’s time to take out your heavy-duty pool noodles. Place each of them at a distance of about 24 inches apart. One should be in the front, another in the middle and the other at the rear of the roof. These 3 should be enough but you can use more if you’re not satisfied.

Trim the noodles with a scissor to make it align with the width of your car. Now, run the ratchet strap through the holes of the noodles. You’ll need to secure the pool noodles inside your car. Ensure that you don’t strap the noodles inside the car through the windows because the doors will not open.

Step 2: Put the Kayak On the Car

If you can lift the kayak by yourself then go ahead and place it on your car. But, if it’s too heavy for you, get some help. While raising the kayak, turn it upside down for the hull to point to the sky. Place the kayak on the pool noodles on the vehicle. Now, adjust the pool noodles to keep the kayak in place.

Step 3: Secure It with Ratchet Straps

Now that the kayak is in place, put a ratchet strap over the kayak’s hull. Hook the ends of the strap together to hold the kayak in place. Don’t overtighten the straps so you’ll not damage the top of your car or the kayak’s hull. Repeat the process for the other end of the kayak. Make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the straps are secure in place.

Step 4: Tie Down the Bow and Stern

Always remember to tie down the bow and stern of the kayak since you’ll be moving it without a roof rack. You’ll pass the tie-down strap through the grab handle of the kayak and secure it to the towing eyes below the bonnet. Do the same to secure the kayak at the back. This will keep your kayak in place while you’re driving.

Transport a Kayak with Foam Blocks

Transport a Kayak with Foam Blocks

If you don’t have a roof rack, you can also transport your kayak with a foam block. It is almost the same as pool noodles but it provides more stability. These steps will show you how to attach kayak to car using foam blocks.

Step 1: Place the Blocks on the car’s roof

You should place two blocks on the roof of the car. One at the front and another at the back of the car.

Step 2: Lift your kayak to the top

With the foam blocks in place, carry your kayak and place it on the blocks.

Step 3: Secure the Kayak with the straps

Run the straps around the kayak but keep your doors open to secure it inside the vehicle. If you still doubt the kayak’s stability, you can use more straps.



Transport a Kayak with Kayak Trailers

Now that you know how to transport a kayak without a roof rack, we should learn another trick. How about transporting your kayak without carrying it to the roof of your vehicle? Yes, we can by using a kayak trailer.

Some of the reasons many people prefer the kayak trailer to the roof-top are that it is close to the ground. With this, you’ll not spend much energy when lifting your kayak. Another reason is that some trailers can transport 2 kayaks at a time. Also, your vehicle’s roof will be free to hold other items for the vacation. Finally, the wind resistance on your vehicle will reduce. Though a quality roof rack is quite handy, these trailers will provide you with good gas mileage.

Once you’ve selected the right trailer based on the number of kayaks to carry, attach the trailer to your vehicle, then place your kayak on it. So, how do you strap a kayak the trailer? Most of the trailers come with straps for you to secure your kayak. Attach the trailer to your vehicle and start transporting your kayak.



Q. Can I transport a kayak right side up?

Ans. You can safely transport rotomolded kayaks on their edge or with the hull up using kayak stackers. This isn’t applicable for composite kayaks. Transport them bottom-down and use cradles to prevent any deformation or damage.

Q. What’s the safest way to drive with kayaks on the roof?

Ans. Kayaks add more than the usual load to your vehicle. You need to keep a safe distance from the vehicle at the front when you drive with them. Take frequent breaks during the ride to check on the straps. It’s best to take a slow approach when you drive in the rain with the kayaks on your roof.

Q. Can you stack kayaks on top of each other?

Ans. Most kayak brands don’t recommend stacking kayaks on top of each other since it may damage the body. Roof racks are the safest solution for transport. You also want to use straps to secure the stern and bow.


In as much as you’ve known how to transport a kayak without a roof rack, yet it’s safer to install roof racks on your vehicle. But, if there’s no possibility of getting a rack of your vehicle’s roof, then you can always rely on this guide. The methods of transporting kayaks which we’ve provided are some of the easiest you’ll ever find.

About the author

Jessica Herron

Hi! This is Jessica. I can be your virtual outdoor buddy, lol! My friends call me a devotee of adventure. I believe, as any outdoor enthusiast does, adventures are all about the thrill. My love consists of a mix of fishing and camping in the wild, if you ask (what thrills you most?). So, I could be of help (through my articles on this website) to any adventure seeker as long as backpacking, survival, camping, hiking, and fishing are concerned. Are you planning to take a trip to the wild next weekend? Maybe, you already are in the middle of a journey. No matter where you are, my words are on the air!

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