Getting there is half the battle.
The kayak provides the best of all worlds for the angler. They allow those that want to get into fish the ability to be nimble and launch from almost anywhere, usually not having to pay launch fees or worry about ways to get their boats on a trailer. The kayak goes almost anywhere, including back creeks, skinny and big water.
Of course, the first question that anyone who purchases a kayak must ask is how they will get their yak to the water? Unless you live on the water, you’ll have to plan on transporting your kayak. For those of us that have a truck, it can be easy. Multiple kayaks add complexity to the equation. There are many kayak hauling solutions, from carriers to trailers and more. I’ve taken my kayaks up and down the east coast, from the rocky shores of Maine to the mangroves and backwater of Florida; my wife and I fish together, so we have to haul two yaks.
Those who own cars or SUVs (as opposed to trucks with beds) are required to put their kayak on top of their vehicle when hauling. The convenient car topper has numerous elements, and provides the kayak angler with the ability to easily lift their yak above their vehicle then stabilize the kayak so it remains stable from all angles. Crossbars are the most important element as they provide the foundation for the kayak to sit on. With a good pair of crossbars and cam straps, you can easily haul your boat for long distances.
Determining the best way to mount your kayak on your crossbars is often a challenge. Many anglers turn their kayak upside down, but electronics, rod holders and other equipment may present a challenge. It’s best to experiment to see the most secure way to mount your kayak; I’d rather spend an extra five minutes putting parts back on my kayak than risk having my kayak fly off the top of my vehicle as I’m driving down the highway.
Once I have the kayak on the roof, I secure it with cam straps. Take the cam strap and send it over the kayak, under the crossbar, back over the kayak, then under the crossbar, and put the tag end into the cam and tighten it down. Be sure that all cam straps are straight and do not have twists as the twists will catch air when driving down the road, causing resistance and possibly loosening the strap.
If you cannot secure the cam strap to a handle or loop on the kayak, there may be risk of the kayak shifting forwards or backwards, in this case tie a line from the bow and stern and secure them to the tow hooks under your vehicle—if you don’t have tow hooks, you can use an s-hook to secure it under your bumper. Some have used ratchet straps to secure their kayak and keep it in place. But be warned, these straps are so powerful that they can easily deform your kayak; don’t fool around and ruin your boat with a strap that you don’t need.
Getting your kayak onto the crossbars can be a challenge as many kayaks weigh between 60 and 100 pounds. There are many products that now help with this, from very simple to more intricate lifting systems. The Yakima Showboat provides a convenient way to load and unload a kayak, allowing one person to easily do the job. The Rhino Nautic is also great, providing a winding system that allows the yakker to pull their boat atop their vehicle with little effort. There are also simpler tools that help you get your kayak on crossbars, such as the Malone Channel Loader and the Rhino Universal Side Loader.
Those who own pickup trucks will have an easier time hauling their boats. The bed of most pickups these days is nearly 6 feet long and with the tailgate open the platform is nearly 8 feet long. Using a T-bar style bed extender will give you all the support you’ll need to haul your yak. Just fit the extender into the hitch receiver, slide the kayak into truck and cinch it down with the cam straps—you’re ready to roll. There are plenty of bed extenders that you can buy from many retailers like Harbor Freight or your local kayak dealer.
Don’t let hauling your kayak be an obstacle to fishing. With some basic materials, you can quickly be on your way. In a few weeks, I’ll cover how to haul multiple kayaks and the long haul trip to help get you where you want to go.