Load and transport the kayak? Face it; it is no easy task for anyone. There are loads of complicated guides out there showing you how to load a kayak on a J-style rack by yourself.

But in case you need a straight -forward instruction, this is it. It is so simple that I am sure that even women (those who do not want to seek help from men) can do too! Believe me!

The most crucial goal of the whole process is to make sure the kayak is rightfully secured on top of your car so that not only can you enjoy your sweet ride, but also avoid hurting yourself or others during the process.

Part 1: Prep Your Kayak And Your J-style Rack

Prep Your Kayak And Your J-style Rack

Prepping the kayak and the rack is too apparent, yet still very important!

First of all, please ensure that you clean both your kayak and your rack carefully. We definitely don’t want dirt drip off your car and right onto your face!

About the j rack, you should choose a high-quality frame that is made of composite material. A proper stand will give you the feeling of security, knowing that your roof rack won’t break down during the ride, or the kayak won’t slip down the road or fall over someone’s cars. That would be dangerous for you and other drivers!

You should also purchase padding for your roof rack. Padding blocks are small, soft pieces placed on top of the roof rack bars or wrapped around it; both are excellent choices for you to choose based on your preference. The pads will prevent your kayak from being scratched or press down during your drive. Your car will be protected from being damaged as well. All of the supply should be found easily at any local store.

Kayak also has a lot of different kinds of material; you should find the most suitable one (suggestion: choose the one which is not exposed directly to the sun). And don’t forget, make sure the size of your car is enough to carry around a kayak (measure the length of your car and the kayak and also weigh the kayak before purchase).

Part 2: Put The Rack On Top Of Your Car

Put The Rack On Top Of Your Car

Before deciding to put a piece of extra equipment onto your car, you should run through the authority’s protocol about transportation in your area to make sure that it is not illegal.

Insert the rack on the top of the car by following the manual of the instructor (some roof racks are attached to your vehicle by drill and nails, some by weld, so better read the user manual carefully and decide which is the best for you).

You should consider going to a car shop or a car garage to have the rack attached. You may need to pay some extra bucks, but your safety is worth every penny. Also, don’t forget the padding.

Part 3: Load The Kayak On Your J-style Rack

Here comes the trickiest part. It would have been much easier if you had another person’s support during the process! Note that the kayak boat is heavy, and it could cause unwanted injury.

Step 1

Load The Kayak On Your J-style Rack
Stand on one side of your kayak, face the cabin. Grab the nearest side of the cabin using both hands. Then, kneel down, lift the kayak with your legs, not your back, to pick it up and put it right onto your thighs.

Step 2

Load The Kayak On Your J-style Rack
Then, quickly reach to the opposite side of the cabin and rotate the kayak up on your shoulder. Be careful and do not put the kayak too hard on your shoulder, or it could cause severe damage to the bones.

Step 3

Load The Kayak On Your J-style Rack
Once you got the kayak on your shoulder, gently put it on the rack and flip it. Now, it should be in a sloped position with one end on the ground and the other on the loading bar. Most racks have wheels, so all you have to do is push the rest of the kayak on the rack. Make sure that it is not too front-heavy (the bow of the kayak) or not too back-heavy (the stern of the kayak.)

Step 4

Load The Kayak On Your J-style Rack
Once you got the kayak on your shoulder, gently put it on the rack and flip it. Now, it should be in a sloped position with one end on the ground and the other on the loading bar. Most racks have wheels, so all you have to do is push the rest of the kayak on the rack. Make sure that it is not too front-heavy (the bow of the kayak) or not too back-heavy (the stern of the kayak.)

If you feel like you can not do it on your own using your body strength, you might want to find some alternative solutions, like a heavy weight lifter. This will make your work a lot easier; even women can do it.

Part 4: Secure Your Kayak

Now, you have already had the kayak on its perfect position, the next thing to do is tie it up.

Tie The Kayak To The Roof Rack

Buy unique kayak straps with cam buckles. These straps are designed specifically for tying down objects, makes it a lot stronger and better compared to ropes. This equipment also prevents you from over-tightening the kayak, causing it further damages and may not be usable.

Another useful tool is a set of bow and stern lines, which are straps or ropes. Using these straps to lock down the bow and stern of your kayak to your car will prevent your kayak from sliding around on the top of your car. Better use these with a heavy-duty kayak straps cam buckle.

If you do not have a set of bow and stern lines, a regular rope can be useful too. It should be waterproof, inelastic, and non-slippery. You shouldn’t use bungee ropes as well. Using the right rope prevents the situation where it gets loose, and the kayak slips out of the car, causing traffic jams or, worse, traffic accidents.

You definitely do not want something like that during your drive, right? Besides, the rope will require some professional knot-tie skills, which can be challenging.

A few suggestions are Half Hitch Knot: used to tie the rope around an object and back to itself, or Noose Knot: creates a loop that tightens when pulled.

After preparing all the equipment you need, follow these steps:

Step 1

Tie The Kayak To The Roof Rack

Once the kayak is on the rack, make sure that you place the kayak in the correct position in terms of the bars, so that it is evenly balanced. Use at least two strings to keep the body of the kayak fixed at the spot.

Step 2

Tie The Kayak To The Roof Rack

Throw one of the straps with the buckle over your kayak. Next, loop it under the roof rack bar. The bare end of the strap better is looped tight and knit under the roof rack bar.

Once the end of the strap is looped, lift the buckle up, put the string through and pull it. This way, you can create pressure and tighten the kayak.

Step 3

Tie The Kayak To The Roof Rack

Throw the spare end of the strap to the other side of the kayak; keep doing these steps mentioned previously. All strings should be wrapped all over the length of the kayak. Tie it all to the car roof. To keep the kayak at its place, make use of several secure knots. You should not leave any strings hanging; it could get caught in your tires. Therefore, your kayak and the roof rack might fall onto the road, causing some serious traffic accidents.

Secure The Bow And Stern

Secure The Bow And Stern

Step 1: At the back of your kayak, there is a carrying handle. Insert the hook at the end of the bowline right through the loop on the handle. It should be secured. The end of the bowline has to be hooked to the front of your kayak.

Step 2: Grab the other end of the bowline and then hook it to the tow hook, which is a small, round piece of metal placed right underneath the bumper of your car. If your car doesn’t have hooks, tie it to the mud flap under it.

If your vehicle doesn’t have any hook or even the mud flap, you might want to install one. Remember, do not hook and tie the strings to any plastic parts of your car, or else you may ruin them. The lines will not be secured and may cause danger to the people on the road with you.

Step 3: Tighten all of the ropes, make sure there is no loose end, or else it would be hazardous to start the trip. But please be noted that tighten the strings too hard could ruin your kayak and also your car. It should be in a position that you can be able to shake the kayak up and down.

Part 5: Tips And Tricks On The Go

You should always keep in mind that your kayak has to be secured firmly on the rack before starting the trip. During the drive, you should check it occasionally, especially the fluctuation while driving can make the rope loosen, and some materials (which are used to make the kayak) are likely to melt under the heat of the sun.

To check the kayak, grab one side of the boat and shake it. If it is secured correctly and firmly, both the car and the kayak will shake, not just the kayak. Also, check the rope tie at the mudguard carefully.

Tips And Tricks On The Go

Drive carefully! The kayak may affect your sight if placed improperly, thus reduce your ability to handle the situation, especially on the highway or in areas with strong-wind blown. If possible, slow down when you drive with the kayak on top. Keep distance from other cars on the road!

Please remember not to drive with the bow and stern lines hanging. They could get stuck on your tire, and your kayak and your J-style rack might come off. Worse, they could make your car unbalanced and go off track.

If you have the rack attached to your car permanently, please remember to maintain it regularly. If you only go on a trip once in a while, it would be dangerous if the rack got rusty (if it was made of metal) and became unstable.

Scheduled maintenance may cost you some money, but it is for your safety, and you could not imagine how horrible the situation can be without maintenance. Besides, scheduled maintenance is a must and beneficial for your car, so why not?


There you go, all of the steps you need to load a kayak, simple, and straightforward.

Loading a kayak and transport it yourself may seem hard and lumbering, almost impossible for women to do. But with those steps mentioned above, you can do it quickly and comfortably.

Eventually, the results will be so rewarding and worth experiencing. After all, there is nothing better than a kayak trip to blow off some steam, am I right?

Now you can enjoy your trip, no worry about asking people for help! Thank you for reading, and don’t hesitate to share this with your friends and family so that they can enjoy the kayak ride like you (especially those independent ladies out there)!

We hope that you are equipped with enough knowledge and techniques to answer the question “How to load a kayak on a J-style rack by yourself.”