7 things you need to know about – loading a kayak

1- Do I need a kayak loader? This will depend on a number of things. The size of the kayak, the height of your vehicle, your physical ability, your age etc. You will know the first time you try to load your new kayak whether you need to invest in a kayak loader or not. Don’t make the mistake of struggling to lift the kayak because you used to be able to do it 20 years ago, therefore you should still be able to do it.

2- Many people assume that because the kayak only weighs 35kg they should be able to lift it. The weight is only part of the problem. Imagine trying to hold a 4-meter-long piece of wet soap above your head while standing on one leg!  Kayaks are awkward and slippery with nothing to hang onto. Trying to handle something with weight – especially if you are over 50 – even 10 kilos over your head has the potential of causing rotor cuff, back or neck problems that could leave you convalescing instead of enjoying your life.   Don’t do it, invest in a kayak loader.

3 – What type of kayak loader do I need?  There are many types on the market ranging from simple roof rack extensions that extend out over the side of the car, rear manual loaders right up to electric side kayak loaders. The best type will depend on the kayak size, vehicle height, your age and your physical fitness.  A vehicles roof can usually take a minimum of 2 kayaks side by side.  Some vehicles have 2 or even 3 stacked on top of each other which may mean they loaded them as a group or individually.  No matter what you choose you will most probably need to rope the kayaks down once loaded.

4 – Roof rack extensions are a cheap method of helping you load your kayak with some limitations. Depending on your vehicle height you still need to lift the weight of the kayak above your head so these loaders are best for kayaks under 3m loading onto mid-range cars.

5 – Rear tow ball mounted kayak loaders are a great way for a single person to load a kayak. Simply sit the loader over the tow ball, lock in place then lay the loader back at 45 degrees and load your kayak. This type of loader will suit kayaks up to 65kg and can be used to load multiple kayaks.

6 – Electric side loaders are by far the best way to load a large fishing kayak as you can leave all your gear in the kayak and simply load the whole lot up onto your roof racks with the push of a button. No lifting at all just a bit of roping off at the end.  Usually roof racks that can handle the kayaks weight and an Anderson plus to power the winch is all that is required.

7 – Another option is a light weight folding aluminum kayak trailer. This option suits people who want to leave their kayak setup ready to go and can carry one or two kayaks. These types of trailers are road registrable and will tow safely at highway speeds.