How To Transport A Kayak Without A Roof Rack

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You’ve just bought your new kayak and you’re looking for a way to get it home? You don’t have a roof rack so how are you going to transport it?

There are plenty of options if you have the cash to splash but what if you don’t? Or maybe you’re just looking for a temporary solution so you can transport your kayak from A to B until you can decide on a more permanent method of transportation.

If you DO have a roof rack, check out our other guide.

Transporting Kayak Without A Roof Rack

What You’ll Need

  • Pool Noodles
  • Ratchet Straps

Be very careful throughout this entire process. There is a chance that you may damage your car's paintwork if you are not careful!

Step 1: Put The Noodles On Your Car

Pool noodles? Yep, as simple as that. Make sure you get heavy duty (thick) noodles, that can take some punishment.

Once you’ve got your pool noodles, place them across the roof of your car. You should put one near the front, one in the middle and one near the back. You can use more if you want extra padding but you’ll probably find that 3 will be enough.

You might find that the noodles are longer than the width of your car. If this is the case, you can always cut them to size. You could even thread a strap through each of the noodles and secure them through the inside of your car for more security.

Use Pool Noodles? Yup!!!

Step 2: Lift Your Kayak Onto Your Car

It’s easier to do this with another person helping you so that one of you can grab the bow of the kayak and the other can grab the stern to lift it on. It’s better to have your yak facing the right way up with the hull on the noodles.

If you have a more curved hull, you might find it’s more convenient, however, to place it upside down on the roof of your car, so that it’s more stable.

Once your yak is resting on top of the noodles, you can lift any part of the yak to readjust the noodles and make sure they’re all parallel with each other. The yak should obviously be positioned perpendicular to the noodles so that the bow or stern is facing the direction your car will be traveling.

Step 3: Secure It With Straps

You should have two sets of either ratchet or spring-loaded straps and the front and back doors of your car should be open. Secure the center portion of your yak by putting the strap over the body, so that you have the ends of the straps at either side of your car. Grab the two strap ends and have them meet inside your car through the front doors.

Time To Strap!

Twist them and tighten them so that it’s a snug fit and remember to keep the buckle on the outside near your yak so that it’s easy to tighten. The twisting of the straps will help to prevent the loud noise that will be created from the wind as you’re driving.

You should then repeat this with the second strap being secured through the back doors of your car. Don’t tighten the straps too much, otherwise this could damage the hull of your yak or the roof of your car. If you’re traveling to cooler temperatures, you should also remember that the straps may loosen.

Tie Straps The RIGHT Way!

Step 4: Tie Down The Bow And Stern

For extra security and safety when you’re on the road, it’s a good idea to tie down the bow and stern of your yak. This you can do with spring-loaded or ratchet straps, same as the ones you’ve just secured your yak with.

Thread the straps through the front and back carry handles or toggles and secure each one to a tie-down spot underneath your car, either with a carabiner or a hook. If you have a towbar on the back, this can work well as a place to secure your strap.

Underneath the front of your car you should have tow points built-in, or towing eyes, designed for towing your car. These will work well for attaching the front straps.


Now you know you don’t have to spend a fortune to be able to transport your kayak wherever you need to go. Just remember that safety is always important, so make sure your yak is safe and secure on top of your car before you drive away.

Did you enjoy discovering this inexpensive alternative to a roof rack? We hope you’ll be able to try it out the next time you find yourself without a mode of transportation for your craft.

Don’t forget you can let us know how you get on by leaving a comment or maybe you want to share this so others can check it out.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 11 comments
Travis Bauman

Thanks for teaching some affordable and cost effective way to transport a kayak. I asked my friend to have a look at this article. He recently had his kayak transported from the dealer through After having a look at this article, he realized he must have taken his car to bring the kayak home. Your videos helped us understand the procedure neatly. I had recently transported my kayak using 12-foot straps with cam buckles. But that didn’t go well. I now understood the correct procedure. Thanks a lot for the brief explanation.


I lease my vehicle and do not have roof racks. What is the best option to transport a kayak and for a long distance trip?

    Scott Roberts


    Walmart sells a nice system that includes pads, buckle straps & nylon rope to tie off the bow & stern as well! Very affordable at approximately $25.
    Hope this helps!

      Kayak Guru

      As Scott says, there are probably plenty of options in physical stores near you.

      Whatever you do, just be careful. I don’t know what the terms are of your car lease, but you might have to be really careful with accidental scratches or marks. If it’s your own car it doesn’t matter so much…


      Thanks so much for the walmart set info. Awesome!

Jessica M Aukema

Thanks so much for the info! I am a new kayaker, and have many questions, but you helped solve the most important one…transportation!! It’s essential!

    Kayak Guru

    No worries, Jessica!

Kimberley Payne

I love this method, but I have an antenna on the roof at the back…will this method work with that? Any suggestions? Does the antenna fit inside the cockpit?


    You may be able to unscrew your antenna to avoid breaking it.

Alexandra Hill

Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing and keep up the amazing work.
For more info:


Hola! I need to transport small kayak (45#, 10’4″) 1,000 miles with a Honda Fit. If we could afford to ship it we would, but we can’t. Oh, also, there’s no roof rack.

I’ve seen the “pool noodle” mode of moving before, but I always assumed it was for short distances and/or modest mph. Can you recommend a way for us to move this thing?



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