How To Load & Unload A Single Kayak On A Car | Flat Kayak Roof Rack (By Yourself)

Especially if you’ve never done it before, loading a kayak on your car’s roof rack can be intimidating. Even more so if you’re doing it by yourself.

Luckily, loading a single kayak on a foldable flat rackmount is much easier than you think if you’re capable of lifting the boat over your head.

If not all, most foldable roof racks provide the option to apply 1 kayak if folded down, or 2 kayaks if folded straight up.

The only thing your car needs to apply the kayak racks is roof racks. If it doesn’t have them preinstalled, you can either purchase them separately or find some of the soft roof racks that don’t require cross bars. In this example article, the kayak rack I use is the Field & Stream for this example.

How To Load a Single Kayak On A Car’s Flat Roof Rack

  1. Attach both kayak racks centered and aligned with each other on the roof
  2. If it has the center bar, fold it down, and secure it
  3. Place both foam blocks within the racks (Most have them)
  4. Place kayak centered on the roof racks, with the front of the kayak aiming towards the car’s front. (Most kayaks can be transported either upside down or right side, check your kayaks user manual to be sure)
  5. Tie and fasten 1 strap on each rack of the first kayak; by putting both ends on the other side of the boat, put the straps through the racks cradle, below the crossbar, back up the cradle, buckle and tighten.
  6. Either hand tie the excess straps or place them in your car and shut the door.
  7. Attach the front hook to the car’s front and rear hook to the trunk.

Ideas To Place The Kayak On The Roof By Yourself

Loading a kayak is much easier with a second person. But oftentimes, you don’t have a choice but to load the single kayak by yourself. And the last thing you want is to dread loading the kayaks to the point where you find yourself doing trips less often than you prefer.

As we all know, the loading difficulty depends on how tall or short your vehicle is, how large your kayak is meaning are you capable of lifting it over your head, and something that’s overlooked which is how much you care about your car not getting scratched.

I’m going to tell you right now, I drive a construction car where my car is always getting banged up at my job so I don’t care less about how scratched it gets.

Therefore here are a few different ideas to load your single kayak by yourself without purchasing any other gear.

  • Lift it over your head and place it on the Racks. (Depends if you’re capable, how heavy the kayak is, and also how tall your vehicle is.
  • Get a towel, and place it on the car near the middle of each rack. Rest the kayak leaning on the towel. Slide the kayak up while rotating the body till it latches on each rack. If you find that the base of the kayak is slipping on the ground, a doormat, or doing it near the grass might work.
  • If you don’t care about your car getting scratched and can’t lift it, do the same thing as the previous step without the towel.

How To Unload A Kayak From A Car By Yourself

  1. Remove front & rear hooks
  2. Remove all straps
  3. Slide rear off, and gently lie it down on the ground
  4. Take the kayak body or front from resting on your car and manuever to the ground
  5. Put both foam blocks and all straps within the vehicle. Because if you lose them, you’re screwed.


At the end of the day, practice makes perfect. When I started loading the kayak on my car whether I was taking 1 or 2, it was extremely difficult. After about the fifth time it became incredibly easy and much faster. Thank you for reading!

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