Have you ever had trouble getting your kayak onto your roof rack? If so, you are not alone. Since most kayaks weigh between 40 and 80 pounds, lifting them by yourself without scratching and banging your car can be challenging. Most times, people have to work as a team to complete this task.
Alternatively, it is much easier to raise a kayak onto the roof of your vehicle with the help of a kayak lift assist device. Different types of lift assist devices work in different ways, but they all serve the same purpose of helping you load a kayak onto the car roof. These systems are affordable and extremely helpful to regular kayak users.
In this guide, we have compiled a shortlist of the three best kayak lift assist systems you could use anywhere you are.
Kayak Lift Assist Pole
You will often find two different kayak lift-assist pole designs when searching the market. Below we have classified one type as a classic lift-assist pole and the other type as a cradle lift-assist pole design.
Classic Lift Assist Pole Design
The first design makes use of a single pole that attaches to your roof rack and extends out from the side of your car roof. These lift-assist poles come with a supporting rod extending straight to the ground, making an inverted L-shape next to your car. Both the horizontal and vertical bar does not come into contact with your car’s body.
Using this system is time effective and intuitive. You simply need to place the one end of the kayak onto the horizontal pole and leverage the other side of your kayak onto your car roof. Using this system prevents damage to your car and prevents injury to yourself as you won’t need to lift the full weight of a kayak over your head.
Overall this kayak lift-assist pole system is an affordable option that will save you lots of time and effort. You will only need a few minutes to set up this system.
How to Use It:
Step 1: Depending on the design, attach the horizontal pole onto your roof rack or attach it to the front of your roof rack.
Step 2: If your design has a supporting pole, attach it to the horizontal pole and extend it down to the ground.
Step 3: Place the bow of your kayak onto the horizontal pole. Lift the stern and place it onto the roof of your car.
Step 4: Slide the bow onto your car, and secure your kayak into place.
Cradle Lift Assist Pole Design
The second type of lift-assist pole system is similar to the first design discussed; however, it uses two horizontal bars that attach to your kayak roof rack and not just one. Attached to these horizontal bars are two poles that extend straight to the ground at a reflex angle. You will sometimes find designs that s do not use the horizontal bars and simply use the vertical bars you attach to your car roof rack at an angle.
To make use of these lift-assist poles, simply center your kayak at the foot of the system and slide it upward onto the roof of your car. Modern designs of these pole systems make use of jay bars on the vertical pole as well. These jay bars can then hold your kayak while you slide it up one bit at a time, and lock it into place. This will then allow you to lift your kayak onto your roof one step at a time.
This lift-assist pole design can be tricky to use if it does not have a jay bar or cradle available to help you push the kayak up the pole. As most of us know, kayaks can be heavy; therefore, this design has a risk of sliding down on us when we have the kayak halfway up the pole.
How to Use It:
Step 1: Depending on the design, attach the horizontal or vertical poles to your roof rack on one side of your car. If you are using horizontal poles, simply attach the horizontal poles after that.
Step 2: Center your kayak at the foot of the poles or in the center on your jay bars.
Step 3: Pick up your kayak between the two vertical poles and slide your kayak up and onto your roof. If the vertical pole has a jay bar, then simply center your kayak on the bars and slide up the jay bar and lock it into place one at a time until you reach the car roof.
2. Kayak Lift Assist Roller
Kayak rollers are quick to mount and easy-to-use accessories meant for all kayak lovers. They are designed with rugged metal tubing that has foam or rubber rollers attached. The roller system then connects to your car by mounting onto the front or back of your roof rack, or it can mount to your rear window with heavy-duty suction cups.
To use a kayak lift-assist roller, simply place your kayak right side up and lean one point of the kayak onto the rollers. Grab hold of the opposite end of the kayak and push the kayak up and onto your roof. The rollers will rotate around the metal tubing and enable you to easily slide the kayak onto your roof without any damage to your car or kayak.
Mounting the system will only take a few minutes out of your time, as most modern roller systems make use of window suction cups. This system is straightforward to use and only requires a single person to load the kayak.
How to Use It:
Step 1: If you’re using a kayak roller with suction cups, ensure your window is clean and dust-free before mounting. This will ensure that the cups are secured properly and eliminate the risk of popping off or sliding down while you lift the kayak.
Step 2: Position the kayak behind your vehicle and lean the bow onto the roller. Ensure the kayak is placed in the center of the rollers to add more balance.
Step 3: Lift the stern of your kayak and push the kayak forward and up onto your roof. You will slide the kayak over the rollers while pushing forward, making them rotate as you push.
Step 4: Secure your kayak to your roof rack and disengage the suction cups or unmount the roller from your rack.
3. DIY Lift Assist Blanket
The DIY Blanket method is a simple method that requires no extra equipment. All you will need is a relatively large blanket and your kayak. The blanket will act as a barrier for your car and allow you to slide the kayak onto the roof. This method can be tricky to do and has a higher risk of causing damage to your car or kayak and injuring you. Therefore be cautious when attempting this method.
How to Use It:
Step 1: Spread your blanket over your car roof and tuck it under the roof bars for positioning. If the blanket is big enough, you can position the blanket over your roof bars and wedge the corners of the blanket into your car door or window.
Step 2: Line the kayak next to your car and remove any accessories that might fall off and get lost during your trip.
Step 3: Raise the front of your kayak onto the blanket on one side of your roof. The kayak will then be in a leaning position on the car roof. The ground might damage the bottom of your kayak; therefore, try to complete this on a grassy area or place a rubber mat beneath the kayak.
Step 4: Keeping your hands on the kayak, move around to the back of the kayak and lift the rear. Slowly start pushing your kayak up and onto the roof blanket until it’s about halfway up the roof.
Step 5: Once the kayak is halfway up, simply pivot the kayak towards the car’s back by walking around to the rear of the car while holding the kayak. Once in position, simply push the rest of the kayak onto the roof.
Step 6: When the kayak is entirely on the roof, simply position the kayak in the center of your roof.
Step 7: Carefully raise the kayak one side at a time to remove the blanket before securing the kayak to the roof rack.
The technique for removing the kayak is the same but in reverse. This technique is a creative and inexpensive solution, but it can be time-consuming and requires more physical activity. If you are new to the method, we recommend you refer to one of the instructional videos available on the internet about the blanket method.
Our Final Thoughts
Kayaking is a hobby that is healthy, fulfilling, and adventurous, but when transporting your kayak ends the fun before it begins, then it’s time to consider using a kayak lift assist system. As discussed before, there are many different types of kayak lift assist systems; however, they all have the same purpose: to help you lift a kayak onto your car roof. Therefore it is solely up to your opinion as to which system would work best for you.