How To Transport A Kayak In AN SUV

How To Transport A Kayak on A SUV
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    Transporting Kayaks Inside SUVs

    Once you discover the joys of kayaking and fall in love with the sport, you desire only to find your way to the water to paddle till you are exhausted, then repeat the process all over again.

    A key step in living this reality is getting a kayak of your own, but the real challenge lies in transporting the vessel. Kayaks are generally bulky, and that makes getting them to the water for your adventure and back home once you are done for the day quite a challenge. 

    To tackle this problem and make it easier for you to enjoy the sport you love, several means of transporting kayaks have been invented over the years. Kayak roof racks and trolleys are the most popular ways to get your kayak to your intended destination. 

    But if, for whatever reason, you prefer not to make use of them, you can always transport your kayak in your SUV. 

    This method of kayak transport naturally comes with some constraints, and it is crucial you know all you need to about it if you wish to employ it. 

    In this article, all you need to know about transporting a kayak in your SUV is at your disposal. Read on and be ready to get your kayak safely to the water.

    Merits Of Transporting Your Kayak With A SUV

    Kayaks can be transported to their intended destination in various ways, one of which is loading them into Sport Utility Vehicles. The merits of transporting a kayak in an SUV are enumerated below.

    1. As SUVs are longer than average vehicles, it makes it remarkably easier to load your kayak in one and still have enough space for the rest of your gear.
    2. SUVs are better suited for traveling on rough terrain, as is often the case when heading to your launch site.
    3. Sport Utility Vehicles eliminate the need to raise the kayak to shoulder length, as is often the case when making use of a roof rack.
    4. You need not worry about the extra length of your vehicle when using this method, as you would if you were using a trolley.

    Will My Kayak Fit Inside My SUV?

    When you decided to transport your kayak in your Sport Utility Vehicle, you most likely made that decision to avoid the cost and hassle of roof racks or trolleys without giving it much thought. 

    Why spend money on those accessories when I can just load the kayak in my SUV and be on my merry way, you might ask? The truth is that while transporting a kayak with an SUV is possible, some constraints are imposed on the size of the kayak you can transport.

    Generally, the largest size of kayak you can fit in your SUV will have a length of 10 feet, and you will most likely have some of it sticking out of the vehicle at the rear. 

    Trying to transport a longer kayak will be pushing the boundary of safety and endangering yourself and those around you. So, while a kayak can fit inside a Sport Utility Vehicle, you should keep in mind that it depends on the dimensions of the kayak and the vehicle.

    Best Kayaks For SUV

    To have as smooth a ride as possible, it is best your kayak is easily transported within your SUV. Kayaks come in various shapes and sizes, and as such, they can’t all fit the bill. 

    If you already own a kayak, this section will let you know if loading them into an SUV is a transport option for you. 

    But if not, you can factor in whether or not you want to transport the kayak in an SUV on your checklist when purchasing your kayak. The types of kayaks best suited to being transported in an SUV are:

    • Short kayaks,
    • Inflatable kayaks, and
    • Foldable kayaks

    Any kayak that does not fall under either of these categories cannot be transported in an SUV and should be transported by other means for your safety and that of those in the vicinity. 

    Short Kayaks

    Kayaks generally range from 6 to 16 feet in length. The length of the kayak you purchase depends on where you intend to kayak with it, among other things. If you are one who plans, how you will transport the kayak will also be considered before purchase.

    As aforementioned, the upper boundary length for any kayak to be transported in an SUV is 10 feet. That means that for you to successfully employ this method, your kayak should be 10 feet long or less by the time it is loaded into the vehicle. 

    The best way to ensure that is to purchase kayaks that are 10 feet long or less, so the ball is in your court. If you love navigating rapids, then you’ll use a short kayak by default, and loading it into your SUV will be an easy way to transport it.

    Inflatable Kayaks

    True to their name, these kayaks can be inflated when you want to use them and deflated when you are through for the day. 

    Inflatable kayaks give you all the benefits of a traditional kayak without most of the problems, and that is one of the reasons they are so popular. 

    When deflated, inflatable kayaks can easily be stored in a backpack or small box that can be kept in the trunk of your SUV along with your other gear without any hassle. 

    If you own an SUV and are comfortable with using an inflatable kayak, get one. You will be glad you did.

    Foldable Kayaks

    If you are a novice in the world of kayaking, you may be surprised to learn about the existence of foldable kayaks. 

    Foldable kayaks exist, and they make the lives of kayakers considerably easier, especially in the areas of transportation and storage. 

    If, for instance, you want a kayak longer than 10 feet and still want to transport it with your Sport Utility Vehicle, you need only purchase a foldable kayak and that will be the end of your troubles. 

    Having a foldable kayak is to our advantage, as not only can you load it into the trunk of your vehicle with no hassles, but the fact that you don’t have to fold the seats of the vehicle for extra space means that you can bring more people on your trip. 

    Foldable kayaks truly enable you to enjoy the best of both worlds.

    Transporting Your Kayak In An SUV

    Once you have the right size kayak, you are ready to transport it in an SUV. If you have an inflatable or foldable kayak, you most likely don’t have much to do. 

    You just have to load the kayak into the trunk of your SUV and take precautions to ensure it stays in one place to prevent possible damage. You can then safely drive to your destination.

    However, if you have a rigid kayak or your foldable kayak is of considerable length, transporting it in an SUV won’t be that easy. Some tips to help you with transport are given below.

    Fold The Seats Of The SUV

    The cargo capacity of an SUV is about 39.2 cubic feet. Fortunately, most SUVs have seats that can be folded or removed to increase storage space. 

    The storage space changes from 39 cubic feet to 74 cubic feet, enough space to load your kayak into your vehicle without any trouble.

    Folding the seats of your SUV is the first step in transporting your kayak. The purpose of doing that is to create enough space for the safe transportation of your kayak and other accessories.

    For maximum loading space (from the dashboard to the tailgate of your SUV), you should fold the front passenger seat and the in-line rear passenger seats of your SUV. 

    That will give you enough space to load and secure your kayak while still leaving room for a passenger behind the driver.

    If your SUV has removable third-row seats, removing them will give you even more space to load your kayak and pack gear. Even if you don’t remove those seats, they can still be used to carry passengers.

    NB: Never carry passengers in the third-row seats of your SUV if the back door or hatch of the vehicle will remain open due to the length of the kayak.

    Load The Kayak Into The Vehicle

    After ensuring there is enough space to comfortably fit the kayak, you can proceed with loading it into the vehicle. 

    Loading the kayak should be done with care and, if possible, with help to avoid damaging the kayak or your vehicle, or even injuring yourself. 

    You should carefully slide the kayak on its side across the carpeting until the nose of the kayak slides between the front seats.

    You should also make sure the kayak’s nose does not get too close to the windshield of your SUV. This is because if the kayak is not well secured, it could slide forward when you are speeding or if you come to an abrupt stop, and you may end up with a cracked windshield.

    Transporting the kayak in your SUV is supposed to be the solution to a problem. It wouldn’t do to create other problems while solving one.

    Worthy of mention is that you should always deflate or fold your kayak (depending on the kind you have) before transporting it. Doing so makes loading the kayak easier while also freeing up space for other accessories. 

    Also, if you own a split kayak, you can simply dismantle it and store the various parts in your SUV without even having to fold the seats. What you do ultimately depends on the kayak you own.

    Limit The Portion Of The Kayak That Sticks Out Of The SUV

    This point is the real reason that kayaks beyond 10 feet in length cannot be transported in an SUV. If you must transport your kayak in your SUV, it is in your best interest that as little as possible of the kayak length protrudes from the vehicle when you are through. 

    You don’t want some unsuspecting driver to bump into your kayak because he didn’t account for the extra length behind your vehicle. 

    One other reason to watch the length of the kayak that sticks out of the vehicle is that if too much sticks out, the kayak could fall out of the vehicle.

    Generally, at least two-thirds of the kayak should be inside your SUV. Another rule of thumb is that no more than 3 feet of the kayak should protrude from your SUV.

    In the interest of safety for all involved, many states have specific laws to enforce this rule. You should make sure you know the laws on the transportation of kayaks applicable to your state and the route you will be traveling and adhere to them if you don’t want trouble with the law.

    Secure The Kayak

    Regardless of the kayak type and whether or not you folded the seats of your SUV, it is imperative you secure the kayak once it is in the vehicle. Securing the kayak is even more important when you have a rigid kayak that you loaded over folded seats.

    Why secure the kayak, you might ask? Is it not enough to load it into the vehicle? You secure the kayak for the same reason you wear safety belts in a vehicle. 

    Most of the time, driving without safety belts is without consequence, but in a collision or accident, not wearing your safety belt could cost you dearly. 

    In the same vein, an improperly secured kayak can easily become a projectile should things go south while driving to your destination. And as you can imagine, your kayak launching from your windshield in a collision will worsen an already bad situation.

    Secure the kayak to the vehicle with multiple cam straps (preferably), bungee cords, or other strong rope at your disposal. 

    When you are done, the kayak should not be able to move forward or backward regardless of what happens to the vehicle. You should, however, be careful so you don’t damage your kayak by securing it too tightly.

    Secure The Backdoor Of The SUV With The Kayak Inside

    If your kayak is quite short, you should be able to load it into your SUV with no part sticking outside. If that is the case, you can simply close the backdoor of the vehicle like normal and be on your merry way. 

    If part of your kayak sticks outside the vehicle, however, you have more work to do. To successfully and safely secure the backdoor, you first have to find the anchoring points on your kayak and inside the vehicle. 

    For Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), the anchor points are usually shaped like D-rings. The anchor points provide a convenient place to attach straps, and as they are made of metal, they offer a secure hold. 

    You should never make use of anchors made of plastic, as they can easily give out on you.

    The next step in securing the backdoor is to find the anchor points on your kayak. Depending on the brand of your kayak, it could be shaped similarly to the SUV’s anchor points. 

    After locating the anchor points, you should secure the backdoor and the kayak by linking them with ratchet straps, bungee cords, or other strong ropes at your disposal. 

    You will know you’ve done a good job if the backdoor or hatch is not loose in any way and your kayak is also secure. Remember to be careful when securing the kayak and backdoor to prevent damage to either of them. 

    It is also a good idea to use padding when your kayak sticks out of the SUV so that the hull of your kayak does not get damaged. There is no point transporting your kayak to the water if it won’t be of use to you.

    Attach A Red Flag To The Kayak End Protruding From Your SUV

    Still on safety, if your kayak protrudes from your SUV after loading it, you should attach a brightly colored flag, preferably red, to the end of the kayak. 

    The aim of the flag is to serve as an early warning system, alerting other road users to the protrusion of your kayak so they can take precautions and avoid accidents.

    Attaching a red flag to the protruding end of your kayak is a law enforced in some states, so you want to research the laws of your state regarding kayak transportation and ensure you adhere to them.

    Be Safety Conscious On Your Journey

    After attaching the red flag to the protruding end of your kayak (if your kayak protrudes from your vehicle) and ensuring the kayak and your gear are secured, you are ready to hit the road.

    It is best to time your trip to when there is as little traffic as possible, and follow a route with little traffic. There is no point in taking unnecessary risks.

    While driving, you should always keep an eye on the kayak to ensure it is not coming loose, and if you can spare the time, it won’t hurt to go overboard and make periodic checks. You can never be too careful. 

    You also want to adhere to traffic rules and regulations as you journey with your kayak. It would be a shame to go through all that effort to secure the kayak for transport only to be stopped by law enforcement for breaking one law or the other.

    Once safely at your destination, you are advised to rest. If you had a short trip, you can go ahead and start your kayaking adventure. But if you had a long or particularly challenging trip, you want to gather your strength before hitting the water. 

    Employ safe kayaking practices and obey the rules of the waters where you are kayaking. Most importantly, have a fun time on the water.

    Best SUVs For Kayaks

    Every day, new vehicles keep being made with a focus on making life easier. In that regard, some SUVs have been designed for kayakers to have an easier time getting their vessels and gear safely to and from the water. Some of the best SUVs for kayakers are given below.

    The Mitsubishi Outlander Sports

    The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is a great car for kayaks. It’s a small SUV, making it easy to maneuver around tight spaces. The seats are comfortable and the suspension is smooth, making it a great ride for long trips. 

    The Outlander Sport also has a lot of storage space, so you can easily bring along all your kayaking gear. It also has a great entertainment system as well as a navigation system to make your life easier.

    The Ford Explorer

    Speaking of large SUVs, one of the best available on the market is the Ford Explorer. This beauty encompasses all that attract people to SUVs and much more. 

    It has a good fuel system and is fitted with a lot of high-tech features. The vehicle also has four-wheel drive, making it perfect for getting to those hard-to-reach kayaking spots.

    The Ford Escape

    If you’re looking for a great car to take your kayak out on the open road, look no further than the Ford Escape. This small SUV has plenty of space to store your kayak, and its comfortable ride will make sure you enjoy the journey. 

    With its excellent safety features, the Ford Escape will give you peace of mind as you explore new adventures.

    In conclusion, here are the key takeaways for transporting a kayak in an SUV: 

    • Remove any unnecessary items from the vehicle to make room;
    • Secure the kayak inside the vehicle with straps or rope, making sure it is balanced and not able to move around;
    • If possible, have someone else help you load and unload the kayak; 
    • Ensure you adhere to all traffic and transportation rules in your state and along the road you will travel; and 
    • Be aware of your surroundings and take extra care when driving on narrow roads or in bad weather conditions.

    Employing these safety practices will ensure you can safely and with little cost, easily get your kayak from point A to point B. Thanks for reading.

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