How to Transport 2 Kayaks With and Without a Roof Rack

Gloria Bussey
Gloria Bussey
Research Writer
Gloria is a young, but prosperous writer. A few years ago she graduated with a Master’s degree in Journalism, and since then experiences no difficulties with job offers.
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Steven Martin
Steven Martin
Expert Consultant
Apart from the fact that Steven is a car mechanic, we value his experience as an avid camper. Steven knows for sure how to make the most out of any space in your vehicle.
Last updated: April 22, 2023
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Kayaking is a popular hobby around the world. In fact, over 200,000 kayaks Trusted Source Total number of kayaks sold in the U.S. from 2001 to 2013 The timeline depicts how many kayaks were sold in each year from 2000 to 2013. In 2010, a total of 228,000 kayaks were sold in the United States, a decrease of 10.2 percent compared to the previous year. are sold each year in the US alone.  Kayaking can be a great way to work on your fitness and get out there and enjoy some spectacular nature.

However, the fundamental point of kayaking is to get out off the beaten track. So, you’ll need to pack up your kayak and drive your vehicle to a good spot before you can get started. While this is fine if you are solo, if you decide to take some company on your next kayaking trip, you may wonder how to transport 2 kayaks.

So, in this article, we’ll explore the best ways to transport two kayaks on a car with or without a roof rack.

How to Transport Two Kayaks with a Roof Rack

When you need to transport two kayaks, having a roof rack provides a great advantage, but you still need the right accessories and an understanding of how to do the job right. There are specialist kayak roof racks, but this is not necessary. Whether you have a factory installed or aftermarket roof rack, you will need two sets of straps and either a stacker or two J hooks.

You can also use rope, but you will know how to tie a proper trucker’s hitch. Depending on how heavy your kayaks are, you may need someone to help you to load the kayaks onto your car roof.

Step One: Place Your Tie Down Straps on Your Roof Rack

When you’re learning how to safely transport 2 kayaks, you may assume the first step is to load the kayaks onto your roof rack, but it is easy to set up your straps first.

Thread one strap under the front crossbar and one under the rear crossbar. Ideally, they should sit in the middle, with the front set resting against the middle of the windshield and the rear hanging at the middle of the rear window.

Step Two: Load the First Kayak

Now, you can start loading the first kayak. Pick it up and lift it onto one side of the roof rack. Ensure that it is far off to either the passenger or driver’s side, so there is room for your second kayak.

You may need to try a few different positions and readjust until you find the right spot.

Step Three: Strap Down the First Kayak

Once you have the first kayak in the best position, throw the tie down straps around it and secure them loosely. Don’t over tighten the straps at this point, as you may need to make some adjustments once you load the second kayak.

Step Four: Load the Second Kayak

Load the second kayak, pushing it against the other kayak. If you have sufficient space for both, ensure there is a gap between them. It is better that the kayaks don’t rub against each other. If there is not enough space, you’ll need to make room by readjusting the first kayak.

Ideally, the kayaks should sit side by side at the center of your roof rack.

Step Five: Strap Down the Second Kayak

Once you have both kayaks in position, strap the second one down in the same way. After you throw the front and rear straps over the kayak, you can secure the buckles. However, you can now tighten the straps all the way, so the kayaks are secured to your roof rack.

Step Six: Tighten the Straps on the First Kayak

Now you should go back to the first kayak. Check the first kayak’s position and then tighten the straps to ensure it is secure.

Step Seven: Double Check

It is important to now take a few moments to double check both the kayaks are secure and correctly strapped down. Both sets of straps should be secure so the kayaks don’t move around on the rack.

Double and triple check this, as you don’t want to lose a kayak as you’re driving down the highway.

You should also wrap the loose ends of the straps around your crossbars. The last thing you need is them to be flapping in the breeze and potentially causing damage to your windshield on your journey.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to securely transport your two kayaks. However, if you’re looking at how to carry kayaks on a truck, you may need a specialized rack.

How to Transport Two Kayaks without a Roof Rack

If you don’t already have a roof rack, you will need to be a little more creative. Fortunately, there are some simple ways of how to transport 2 kayaks without a roof rack.

With pool noodles

The first method of how to transport 2 kayaks is with pool noodles. The best pool noodles are not only affordable, but provide sufficient padding for the top of your vehicle.

To make this work, you will need two full size noodles at least 3 inches thick. You will also need stainless steel or aluminum poles to reinforce the noodles and four cam straps to secure your kayaks.

Step One: Measure Your Car and Noodles

To start, you’ll need to measure the width of your car roof and compare this to the length of the pool noodles. Ideally, the noodles should be a little smaller than your car width, so they won’t stick out on either side.

However, they need to be wide enough so that two kayaks can fit side by side on top of them. So, be sure you measure your car roof, kayaks and pool noodles before you start.

Step Two: Thread the Straps

Thread the cam straps so there is an even amount of strap at either end of the pool noodles. At this point, you can also insert the tubing through each noodle.

You can make the tubing an inch or two longer than the width of your vehicle, so you can transport your kayaks safely and face down.

Step Three: Secure the Pool Noodles

Before you start securing the noodles on the top of your vehicle, double check the spacing. Ideally, there should be 24 to 48 hours between the noodles, but this will depend on the length of your kayak and the length of your car.

Once the noodles are in place, open your car doors to run the straps under the roof. You should tighten the straps, so there is no forward, backward or sideways movement.

Step Four: Set Your Kayaks

You can now set your kayaks on top of the pool noodles. Flip the kayaks, so they face cockpit down before you lift and place them gently on the noodles.

Check the kayaks are centered and then you can tie them down.

Step Five: Arrange the Straps

Run two additional cam straps up and over the kayaks in approximately the same places as the pool noodles. Run the straps back through the inside of your vehicle to secure everything to the roof.

If you want to ensure the kayaks are secure, you can tie the bow and stern to your front and rear bumpers using a roof.

With foam blocks

The next method involves how to transport 2 kayaks with foam blocks. It works on a similar technique to the pool noodles, but using foam blocks specifically manufactured for this purpose.

Step One: Choose the Right Blocks

To make this technique work, you will need two sets of blocks at least 20 inches long and four inches high and wide. However, the blocks should not be wider than your vehicle.

The blocks also need to have a perfectly rectangular shape. Some blocks even have a space or slit where you can insert a cam strap. Of course, this is not a specific design like the best kayak rack, but it can offer a secure way to transport your kayaks.

You will also need at least four cam straps, but you can also use rope or bungee cord for added security.

Step Two: Place the Blocks

Just like with the pool noodles, you’ll need to place the foam blocks apart. It is a good idea to measure the distance of your kayak cockpit to determine where you should place your blocks.

Step Three: Set Your Straps

Once your blocks are in place, you can throw two straps over your kayaks at the rough block locations. With your car doors open, secure the straps.

Your kayaks should not move when you have this first pair of straps set. You can then move on to securing the bow and stern. You can use bungee straps or rope to secure the kayak to your bumper.

Step Four: Check and Double Check

As with the noodle method, it is now important to check and double check that your kayaks are properly secured. Once the straps are in place and the kayaks are tied down, check the movement of each kayak.

Ideally, the kayaks should not be able to shift forward, backward or sideways. This movement can not only be dangerous and put you at risk of your kayak slipping off the roof during transit, but if the kayaks rub against each other, they could be seriously damaged.

Final thoughts

Kayaking is a great activity to allow you to get in touch with nature and enjoy the exercise of paddling down rivers in the great outdoors. Kayaking can help you to strengthen your core muscles and develop your legs and upper body, but it can also benefit your heart health, improve your endurance and increase your vitamin D levels.

In addition to these great health benefits, kayaking can be a great way to spend time with a family member or friend, getting away from the distractions of modern life, like cellphones, television and the internet.

For this reason, kayaking can be a great stress reducer, so you don’t want to increase your stress levels by struggling to transport your kayaks. This makes it crucial to learn how to transport 2 kayaks properly.

Fortunately, if you follow these steps, you can secure two kayaks without a roof rack or with one, with the minimum of fuss and stress. So, take a little time to discover the best method for you and you can be enjoying the great outdoors in next to no time.


Total number of kayaks sold in the U.S. from 2001 to 2013
The timeline depicts how many kayaks were sold in each year from 2000 to 2013. In 2010, a total of 228,000 kayaks were sold in the United States, a decrease of 10.2 percent compared to the previous year.
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