Car Topping Your Kayak

By Josh Duke

Car topping is a great and efficient way to get your kayak or outdoor gear to your final destination. With more and more products being introduced in the roof rack and kayak market, it can be confusing picking the right roof rack, let alone figuring out the specifics of how to car top your kayak securely. Here are some car topping basics that will help you get the right gear and get your kayak to the water efficiently and securely.

PICKING THE RIGHT ROOF RACK

The most important element in car topping your kayak is having the right roof rack. In my opinion Yakima provides the best resource in picking out the correct roof rack. Their website has a very easy-to-navigate “Shop by Vehicle” feature that asks for all of the specifics of your car and what kind of gear you are wanting to carry. If you are wanting a roof rack or looking for accessories, their website is definitely the first place you should look.

yakima

(Screenshot from yakima.com)

ROOF RACK ACCESSORIES

Yakima’s website is also great in showing you what accessories are available based on the activity you are doing. An important thing to remember is that these are accessories, not necessities. I have had regular Yakima round bars on top of my car for 4 years and have car topped all sorts of gear. However accessories become important when you are car topping multiple objects or when it provides an easier loading and unloading process (which I will explain later). Accessories really come down to preference then need. So if you are not sure on accessories, you can’t go wrong with your basic roof rack and you can always add accessories later. However you will notice that a fairing with stickers may actually be a necessity.

SECURING YOUR KAYAK

Once you have your roof rack picked out and installed, the next thing you will need is a pair of quality straps. The basic roof rack straps are relatively the same but you should still read reviews before you buy your straps. Yakima makes a set of heavy duty straps  that will work great with securing down your kayak. For extra security look into buying a bow & stern tie down kit. These are great to use for longer trips and just for overall extra security on your journey. It never hurts to add more straps!

LOADING YOUR KAYAK

The size of your kayak will determine how goofy you may or may not look while learning to load your kayak on top of you car. If you are loading a smaller, lighter kayak, it will be fairly easy to place the kayak on top of your car. Once you get into the 12-14 feet range, it can get a little tricky. A quick YouTube search will reveal the many different ways people prefer to load their kayaks. If you have a heavier kayak and you are by yourself, I have discovered that by doing a power clean (like in weight training) helps me get up the weight of the kayak quickly and efficiently to my shoulder to place on my car. If you go too slowly with your lift, the kayak can get uneven and you potentially may drop your kayak. If you are not comfortable lifting your kayak, or if you are in an SUV, the Yakima Boatloader is the perfect solution. It basically allows you to place the bow (front) of your kayak on the Boatloader extension, then you can pick up the stern (back) and slide it onto your roof rack. If you are going to buy one accessory, this would be the one to get.

Car topping is a great way to travel with your kayak. Any car with the right roof rack can help you transport your kayak, bike, or camping gear! I hope these few pointers help you get your kayak loaded and ready to go for your next paddling adventure!

Josh_DukeABOUT JOSH: I am a husband, dad, outdoorsman and avid fisherman. I am also the founder of Florida Kayak Anglers, which was created to build community and unite kayak anglers in the state of Florida. 
Web: floridakayakanglers.com – Twitter: @joshuaduke – Instagram: @joshduke10