How to Transport a Kayak Without a Roof Rack [Follow These Steps]

In your excitement to get your kayak home or to the waters, you forgot about how you would transport it from the store home or home to the water. Or, your excitement didn’t cloud your judgment at all, you just cannot find the right size of roof rack for your car. Well, here’s some massive improvisational advice you should follow, and thank me later.

Things You’ll Need

Pool Noodles

Pool noodles are cylindrical, long, and flexible materials made of polyethylene foam. They come in different sizes and dimensions, but the most common are those that are 63 inches in length and 2.8 inches in diameter. Pool noodles are originally meant to assist poor swimmers and they also serve as safe pool toys. You should get a number of those, depending on how big your car is.

pool noodles for kayak rack

Oh! Almost forgot to mention that you can find pool noodles at the outdoor section of a supermarket or construction store.

Ratchet Straps

Two to five sets of Ratchet Straps. Ratchet Straps are made of a sturdy polyester woven fabric and it comes with tie-down hardware. It is very much like a buckle used for securing the straps, just like a belt with a buckle. It is suitable for securing a wide variety of loads on vessels, and in this case, cars or trucks. You can easily get these ratchet straps at automotive or hardware stores.

ratchet straps

How To Pull This Off

Step 1: Position and Secure the pool noodles on the roof of your car.

Before lifting your kayak onto the roof, be sure to check if the Pool Noodles are the right fit for the roof of your vehicle. This means they shouldn’t protrude from either of the edges of the rooftop. It’ll be safe to avoid notable protrusion from the roof of the car. This can be done by simply trimming the excess length or getting the ones with the same width as the roof of your vehicle.

While placing the pool noodles on the roof of your car, make sure to give a calculated spacing to prevent abrasion between your kayak and rooftop, ensuring that one noodle falls at the exact center of your car, one at the front, and another at the back.

After this, take one of the sets of your straps and firmly pass it through the hollow centers of your pool noodle, and into the car, through the open doors. Let it be firm before securing it to avoid the kayak from slipping off.

Step 2: Lift the Kayak and position it on the Pool Noodles

After securing the straps through the pool noodles, gently place your kayak on the pool noodles. You should do it with the help of someone as kayaks could be heavy and difficult to carry alone, well, except you are the big green guy we see in the movies.

Kayak and Pool Noodles

Next, with one person on each end, raise the kayak and place it, so that the cockpit is faced down, and the center of the boat is resting on the center pool noodle. Remember that the pool noodles firmly secure the kayak on the car and keep it from scratching the car.

Step 3: Tie The Kayak To Your Car With The Straps

This is perhaps the most important step in this guide. With your kayak positioned on the car, run one set of the Ratchet Straps through the front and rear of your car (with the doors open of course) and firmly over the kayak. Secure the straps firmly, inside the vehicle with the tie-down hardware. Remember to avoid using dried-up straps or worn-out tie-down hardware to avoid an accident while driving.

Tie The Kayak To Your Car With The Straps

Take up another strap and redo the above activity, securing the kayak to the car. Try to avoid exerting too much force when strapping your kayak to the car – it saves the hull of the boat from being damaged. Also, ensure that the buckles are fitted in such a way that they can be easily reached while on the go. Sometimes during colder seasons, you have your straps loosening through the journey and that would require immediate adjustments.

Here are some pointers to note when tying down the kayak:

Do not over-tighten the straps

Avoid exerting too much pressure when tightening the straps. An over-tightened strap may cause the plastic hull of the boat to dent and this would surely affect the performance of the kayak on the water.

Cross-check your Ratchet strap

Again, as stated earlier in this guide, do not use worn-out buckles or straps. You wouldn’t want them to snap while you’re driving, that could be dangerous. It is also wise to note that these Ratchet straps or tie-down hardware could be affected by climate change over a period. So if you’re not getting new sets, check the old ones thoroughly.

Over time, the nylon ends of ratchet straps can fray, making them difficult to pass through the buckle. You can fix this by carefully exposing the frayed end of the strap to fire and, applying pressure to it. Be careful so it doesn’t come in contact with your skin, as it could be fatal. The melted nylon is relatively easy to push back into shape and will make the straps far easier to buckle.

Step 4: Tie the Bow and Stern

The already secured kayak should be unable to slide to either side of your car top, but don’t forget that in the event of a sudden break, the kayak can roll forward or backward. So what should you do to avoid this?

Grab another set of ratchet straps and pass it through the carry handles of the kayak. Wrap it around through the headliner of the vehicle and tie it firmly. You can make use of a securing hook here.

Repeat this same procedure at the rear with the rear carry handles and you are good to go.

In Conclusion

Remember, the use of the Pool Noodles is to protect your car or vehicle, and also your kayak scratches from getting marks that might make them ugly, so do well to provide enough pool noodles to carry out the job effectively. You should also twist the Ratchet straps so they don’t give a high-pitched howling sound when you hit the road. It could be alarming and disconcerting.

This is a brilliant innovation, don’t you think so? I bet you are already thankful. Have a nice kayaking trip!