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Recommended Cars For Hauling Kayaks and Canoes (from Home to the Water)

Mark Armstrong
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When you’re choosing your kayak, you may not always think about how you plan to transport it.

But choosing the right car can be important. So when it comes to the best cars for kayaks, you may find that some perform better than others.

We know a car can be a pretty big purchase, so it’s best to do a little research before you hand over your cash.

To give you a helping hand with the research, we’ve looked into the best cars and SUVs for kayakers and we’ve made a note of our favorite ones.

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Best SUVs For Kayaks

SUVs can be ideal for carrying a kayak on the roof, as many of them come with roof rails as standard, allowing you to easily add crossbars. This means you can then install kayak carriers to help keep your yak safe on the roof as you travel.

Chevrolet Tahoe

The Chevy Tahoe can give you plenty of room inside for all your gear. It features 7 seats, with the rear two rows able to fold down to let you store even more gear.

 The built-in roof rails make it easy to install crossbars and kayak carriers. It also has enough power behind it to tow a trailer if necessary. Another handy feature is the 4 wheel drive, so you can cross over rugged terrain to get to your launch site.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep Grand Cherokee can be a good choice if you do a lot of off-roading, as it has a Traction Management System that allows you to select the terrain you’re driving on. As well as its 4 wheel drive, this can mean better performance, such as on sand and mud.

The Grand Cherokee also comes with roof rails as standard and has a spacious interior and room for 5 passengers.

Honda CR-V

The CR-V is a small to midsize SUV that is available as a hybrid model, with all-wheel drive for off-road capability and good fuel economy. It benefits from 60/40 split rear seats to let you carry additional gear without the back seats in the way and comes with improved technology compared to previous versions.

There are rails on the roof of the CR-V for attaching a kayak roof rack.

Best Pickup Trucks For Kayaks

Pickups can be an obvious choice for people when they consider hauling a kayak, thanks to the good ground clearance for driving off road. Often people can load them into the bed of the truck, strap them down and head off. But a truck can also be used to haul kayaks on the roof.

Transporting kayaks in a pickup bed

Dodge Ram

The Dodge Ram comes in a range of sizes, with bed lengths up to 8 foot long. For smaller vessels, this could be ideal if you plan to transport them in the bed of the truck. You could also use a bed extender for longer yaks.

DIY Video: Kayaks In A Pickup

The Ram has a lot of power and comes in either 2 or 4 wheel drive, depending on the model you choose. It could also be used to tow a kayak trailer. With a truck roof rack you could carry your yak on the roof. 

GMC Canyon

The GMC Canyon is a midsize pickup truck with sufficient cargo space for transporting kayaks. It’s available in both crew cab and extended cab, offering two bed lengths, 61.7 inches and 74 inches. It has generous 7,000 lbs towing capabilities (1,430 lbs payload), so you could easily attach a trailer to carry multiple vessels.

Best Estates/Wagons For Kayaks

Estate cars can be an ideal choice for carrying your yak, as they tend to be lower to the ground than minivans and SUV, which could make loading your yak a little easier. The hatchback style access to the rear of the vehicle can also make it more convenient for hauling other gear.

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is known for its sense of adventure and it can be a good choice for outdoor sports. It features standard roof rails with optional built-in crossbars or cross rails, so you can be ready to load your kayak and head to the water.

It has plenty of power and all wheel drive but is also much more efficient than most SUVs. Because it’s lower to the ground than an SUV you shouldn’t need to lift your yak up as high to load it onto your roof rack.

Volvo V60 Recharge

This Volvo wagon is a plug-in hybrid with eAWD for driving off-road. It has a hands-free tailgate so you can load gear in the trunk while your hands are full. You can also carry kayaking gear on the roof with the built-in rails, allowing you to add aftermarket roof racks and accessories.

As well as having enough space inside, this car is also built for comfort and safety on long journeys.  

Best Car For Kayaks

While a small car may not be your obvious choice for kayak enthusiasts, some small cars can be just as good for getting your yak to and from the water. And often with better fuel consumption. You’re also more likely to fit in tight spaces compared to other vehicles. 

Kia Soul

The Kia Soul is a small car with tons of personality and it can be a great vehicle for hauling your kayak. You can easily add cross bars to the roof and you could then also install a kayak carrier to give you a more secure way to transport your yak.

The Soul is a fuel efficient car and it even comes in an all electric version.

Video: DIY – Installation Of Crossbars For Kia Soul!

Tesla Model 3

The Model 3 is probably best known for its fuel efficiency and high-end technology but it can also be an ideal choice for environmentally conscious kayakers, as well as the daily commute. This electric all-wheel drive car features ultra fast acceleration and a 353 mile range on a single charge. There is also roof rack (sold separately) that’s designed specifically for this model.

Additionally, it benefits from having a low roof to make it easier to load and unload your boat.


There are many cars out there that can be great options for hauling a kayak and these are just a few of our favorites. But it’s probably down to personal preference which is the best vehicle for you. 

Think about what you want from your vehicle, such as who will be riding with you and whether you’ll be crossing muddy or sandy terrain, as this could influence your options.

Kayak on car (without a rack!)

If you’ve enjoyed reading this, share it with your friends to help them with their next car purchase. If you have a favorite car for carrying kayaks, let us know down below.

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