How To Transport A Kayak Without A Roof Rack: The Most Easy And Effective Ways

You’re looking forward to spending a day on your kayak when you are faced with the realization that you somehow have to transport it from your home to your destination.

This can be quite a challenge, especially for those who do not have a roof rack in their possession or fitted to their vehicle. There are many reasons why you may not own a roof rack.

Perhaps you’re a beginner who is taking to the water for the first time on your newly purchased kayak, or maybe you don’t have the budget to accommodate this expense.

It may even be that you have experienced difficulties when trying to find a roof rack that is compatible with your vehicle. Whatever the reason, it is likely that you are now looking for alternative ways to transport your kayak between locations.

Below we have identified a few methods that you can use to transport your kayak. They are affordable, easy to implement, and will effectively keep your kayak secure for the duration of your journey. Continue reading if you would like to find out more. 

Use Pool Noodles And Ratchet Straps 

The first method involves the use of pool noodles and ratchet straps. Pool noodles can be purchased from most hardware stores and supermarkets, whilst ratchet straps can usually be found in automotive and hardware stores.

If you are unable to get your hands on pool noodles you can use any type of soft polyurethane tube so long as it has a hole in the middle.

Ideally, your pool noodles should be of a heavy-duty standard so that they are effective in supporting the weight of your kayak. 

Step 1 

First, you must make sure that the pool noodles are the right shape and size for your vehicle. When secured to your roof, they should not stick out very much on the sides. If needed, you may cut the sides down until they are a better fit. 

A great thing about pool noodles is that they are flexible and easy to work with. They will also protect the roof of your vehicle from potential damage caused by the kayak. 

Step 2

Now it’s time to attach the pool noodles to the roof of your vehicle. Three pool noodles will likely be sufficient. Position the first one at the front of your vehicle, the second one in the middle, and the third one towards the rear.

Ideally, you should try to leave a gap of around 24” between each of the pool noodles, however, the size of the gap will be determined by the size of your vehicle’s roof.

Take your ratchet straps and run each set through the hole of the pool noodles before securing them inside your vehicle via the doors. Do not secure them through the windows because you will not be able to open the doors to get inside. 

Step 3

Next, it’s time to put your kayak onto the roof of your vehicle. Certain models are going to be particularly heavy so it is best to ask someone to help you lift it.

As you lift the kayak you will need to turn it upside down so that the cockpit is facing downwards. You will then need to align the kayak so that its center is sitting on the pool noodle that is located in the center of your vehicle.

Make any necessary adjustments to the pool noodles to make sure that your kayak remains securely positioned. 

Step 4 

You will now need to secure the kayak in place using the ratchet straps. Open the front and rear doors of your vehicle and put the first set of the ratchet straps over the hull of the kayak. Join the straps and then tighten them.

It is important to make sure that you do not tighten the straps too much as doing so may damage your vehicle or kayak. You will then need to repeat this process with the rear end of your kayak making the necessary adjustments as you do so. 

Step 5 

When you are passing the straps through your vehicle to join them together, it is recommended that you twist them as this will stop them from making any noises as you travel.

Moreover, you should also position the buckle of the straps in a place where they are easy to access. If your straps begin to loosen during your journey, you can then reach them with ease to tighten them. 

It is worth noting that your straps can be affected by changes in the temperature and the climate.

If your ratchet straps have endured some bad weather there is a chance that they may have loosened or slightly deteriorated in quality. Because of this, you should check them thoroughly before you use them and start to drive. 

Step 6 

Before setting off on your journey, remember to secure the bow and stern as this will eliminate the risk of any sudden movements sending the kayak forwards off the vehicle or backwards.

You can use ratchet straps to attach the bow to the vehicle via the eyes which will be situated just under the bonnet. Repeat this process when securing the stern of your kayak to your vehicle. 

Use A Trailer 

This may not be a feasible option for everyone, but if you have a trailer sitting idle why not put it to use and transport your kayak inside it.

Using a trailer is going to be a better option for those who may struggle to lift a kayak on and off the roof of their vehicle. Moreover, this may also be a better option for those who need to transport more than one kayak.

When a kayak is put in a trailer rather than placed on the roof of your vehicle, there is less risk of it falling off during strong winds.

If your budget allows, you may choose to invest in a new trailer if you consider this method of transportation to be the most effective. There are trailers available that are specifically designed for kayaks.

It is likely that these trailers will come with straps that you can use to secure the kayak in place. If they do not, you can invest in some ratchet straps.

Use A Foam Block 

If you do not have a roof rack, another method involves the use of foam blocks. They serve the same purpose as pool noodles although some would consider them to offer more stability.

Foam blocks are readily available in most supermarkets and are super easy to use. 

Step 1 

You are going to require the use of two foam blocks. The first one will be positioned at the front of the vehicle and the second will be positioned at the back of the vehicle.

Whilst there needs to be some distance between the blocks, you must make sure that the kayak is not going to touch the roof of your car as there is a risk that it may scratch it. 

Step 2

If possible you will then need to secure the blocks in place using straps. You will find some straps that are designed with clips that you can use to attach them to the frame of your vehicle.

If your straps do not have clips you will need to run them through the open doors of your vehicle. 

Step 3

Once you have positioned and secured the blocks, you will need to lift the kayak onto the roof of your vehicle.

You should ask someone to help you if you have a heavy kayak. When you place the kayak onto the roof of your vehicle, make sure that the weight is evenly distributed and the kayak is in the center of both blocks to stop it from moving. 

Step 4

Now it is time to secure the kayak in place. Use some straps and run them around the kayak. You will need to keep the doors of your vehicle open so that you can join both ends of the straps together.

Use as many straps as you consider necessary to keep the kayak secure. Avoid over-tightening the straps. If they are too tight, there is a chance that your car or your kayak may get damaged. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it, three different ways that you can transport your kayak if you do not have a roof rack.

As you can see, you do not require lots of additional resources and most of the things that you will need are affordable and readily available in most stores.

If you enjoy DIY projects, you will likely find it pretty easy to secure the pool noodles or the foam blocks to your vehicle. We have detailed all of the steps that you will need to refer to during the process. These are great, convenient alternatives that you can use to transport your kayak to different locations with ease.