How To Put Kayak on Crossbars By Yourself

Putting a kayak on crossbars is undoubtedly a difficult job if you have a luxurious SUV (or any other vehicle) and an expensive kayak, then this task can indeed be a headache because you don’t want any scratch in your vehicle and any damage in your kayak.

So, how to put a kayak on crossbars by yourself without causing any damage? Fine, I will describe some easy methods to get this job done. These methods will also guide you to load the kayak alone.

How To Put Kayak on Crossbars By Yourself (Easy Methods 2023)

So, check out the methods and choose the suitable one for you.

Things You Need

  • Cart or trolley.
  • Towel/foam pad.
  • The strap (should be 12 feet or longer).
  • Rope (length should be half the length of the kayak or more than this).
  • Kayak cradles / rack / padding.
  • Crossbars/roof rack(If your vehicle has not had factory-made crossbars, then you need to collect a pair of them).
  • J-style roof rack.

Loading Kayak

Method 1

Step 1:Take a strap. Check carefully; there are no twists. Make a big loop with the strap.

Step 2: Run the strap loop around the edge of the crossbars. And tight the loop up. Here the crossbars should be long enough that their edges should come out about four / five inches. If your crossbars are long enough to carry two kayaks, then it is perfect.

Step 3: If your vehicle’s crossbars aren’t large enough, lose them up and slide them to one of the ends approximately four or five inches over the edge of your vehicle.

Step 4: Place your back portion of the kayak in the ground parallel with the middle point of the crossbars. It would be best if you kept a distance of half of the length of your kayak between your vehicle and your kayak.

Step 5: Pick the boat holding the front handle and rotate about 90 degrees and lay it down at the top of the strap.

Step 6: Now, grab the back-side handle; lift the kayak, and push. When the middle is on the strap, rotate the kayak and get it up on the top of the front crossbar then lift slightly and turn again and place in the rear crossbar.

Ok, you can get your kayak up now. But to get it off, what you will do. Actually, you need to do the same thing in reverse for getting your kayak off.

This method is an easy one and you can apply it without using multiple types of equipment.

Method 2

This method is for loading your kayak on a J-style rack or J-rack(also known as J cradle).

Step 1: Flip the kayak and lift it. When you are raising, be careful that you are not getting hurt.

Step 2: Place one of the side rear/fronts on the rack and push. Lift the other part and place it on the rack. Your kayak should be perfectly centered.

Step 3: Use the strap to bind it tightly along with the rack and also with the vehicle.  You can use a rope to wrap the front and back handle with the car for extra safety. Here is a tip for you. Use a cinch strap instead of a ratchet strap and fasten in such a way that the hook is far away from the window.

By following this method, you can easily carry your kayak on j-rack by yourself. And this method is widely used and safer.

Method 3

Step 1: Set up a kayak cart (roller) upside down on the back window with the help of a strap. You can strap it to the rear or front roof rack bar. But if you want to wrap the strap around the front bar, then you need a long strap. Here you can use a towel or any protection under the cart to protect the window.

You can also use foam to raise the cart slightly. You need to use this, especially when your car has a prolonged edge.

Step 2:  Take the rope and lock it with a bumper or hitch. And connect the other end with the back of the kayak. This rope setup will save the kayak from slipping out when you are lifting it to your vehicle.

Step 3: For lifting the kayak, hold the front end of it, and raise the kayak gently.

Step 4: Rotate the front end and place it over the cart.

Step 5: Now, lift the back end of the kayak. Carefully roll up it and slide it to the kayak cradles. You can use our towels in the cradles for extra grip.

Now, you are done. But again, the question arises of how to unload the kayak by yourself. This is as simple as you get it up on the top. For unloading, you should reverse the whole process. You need to pull back the back end and slide it down onto the cart and set it down on the ground. Then carefully set down the front end.


How do you carry a kayak by yourself?

  • If you have enough strength to carry it alone, then you can lift the kayak onto one of the shoulders.

Can I transport a kayak without a roof rack?

  • You can not transport a kayak with your vehicle without a roof rack. So, if your vehicle has no factory-made roof rack, then you have to buy one. You can purchase a crossbar and J-style cradle (or kayak cradle).

How do you unload a kayak by yourself?

  • For unloading the kayak, you should reverse the steps that you did for loading the kayak.

Final Note

That’s all about loading a kayak on your vehicle. These loading methods can be applied to every kind of vehicle like cars, SUVs, vans, trucks, etc. And these methods are relatively easy, and you do not need extra equipment. I hope the way I have described will surely help you. So, get the most appropriate one for you. Moreover, sometimes you may need to go alone.

So, learning to load a kayak without anyone’s help can help you at that time. And when you are loading or unloading your kayak be careful, so you do not get hurt.

About The Author

Leave a Comment