Picking up where he left off in June, the author’s take on long range and “tandem” yak hauling.
Back in June (Inshore: Lighten Your Load) I shared some tips on hauling a kayak to and from your favorite local fishing grounds. But as much as I enjoy the solo adventures, kayak fishing can be a communal sport. First, it allows you to work with many others to find fish quickly. Additionally, there is safety in numbers. So, there may be instances where carrying multiple kayaks becomes a priority.
The easiest way to haul multiple kayaks is using a kayak trailer. Malone Auto Racks manufactures numerous trailers that hold between one and four kayaks, including the EcoLight, LowMax and MicroSport lines which allow you to easily haul kayaks and additional gear to your destination. Some trailers have rod holders and gear storage so you can carry everything you need on the trailer itself.
Trailers can be a great option for hauling multiple kayaks, but when I’m hauling my kayaks long distances, I don’t want the worry of trailer upkeep. But luckily there are some other options. Crossbars of course allow the yakker to cartop at least two kayaks, provided their crossbars are wide enough. Remember that yaks will not be friendly in 70-mile per hour winds, so do whatever is necessary to make them as aerodynamic as possible. I will often position my kayaks upside down as the hull-facing-up approach seems to be more aerodynamic.
Depending on your kayak configuration, you may be able to carry as many as three kayaks side-by-side and by stacking, then securing all of them together and tying them down with cam straps. Be sure to experiment with the best configuration and be willing to improvise. Those with SUVs and pickup trucks have a greater ability to haul on top of their vehicles. SUVs with roof racks, or trucks with high racks will both have the ability to haul side-by-side kayaks. The length of the kayak is often close to the length of the vehicle; trucks can install raised crossbars so the kayaks go above the cab and hood.
Pickups also have more options. I have mounted two sets of crossbars above my bed that sit only inches above the bed. I attach a bed extender to an 18-inch hitch extender; this allows for a 13-foot kayak to receive support from crossbars from approximately 2, 5 and 9 feet. The low crossbar setup with the hitch extender/bed extender combination also allows me to put a tonneau cover on my truck and the ability to open the tailgate while the ‘yaks are on the truck. On longer trips, I can fill my truck bed with luggage and fishing gear, keeping everything secure and somewhat waterproof.
Of course, hauling kayaks longer distances may require a bit more planning and coordination. I have created checklists so whenever I take my kayak I don’t forget anything; being far from home without seats or my pedal drive has taught me to be prepared. Also, when hauling long distances, be sure that you can accommodate not only the kayaks but everything else. My multiple kayak approach with low crossbars, a bed extender and a hitch extender works well for longer trips as I am able to leverage my bed and stay secure with a tonneau cover. All of the car-topper approaches will also work for long range hauling.
Be sure to check and double check all of your connections, and don’t let late night packing make you sloppy. I recently had an incident where I packed my truck with kayaks and gear the night before for a trip to North Carolina. While everything was fully strapped down and my bed extender and hitch extender were in the receiver, I had not put the pin that holds the hitch extender into the receiver. I was alerted by a passerby on the Pennsylvania turnpike that my bed extender was hanging out and had to pull over early in the morning to fix it.
The world of kayaking opens up so many possibilities for the angler, and the ability to haul multiple kayaks, and hauling long ranges, makes the world so much bigger.