Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

For various reasons I will sometimes have to load/ unload my kayak onto/ off the car-top roof rack single-handed.   The car is a Honda Civic sedan with Honda racks and kayak carriers installed – the Ches 17LT weighs 52 pounds. Does anyone have any suggestions on a device I can make myself to ease the process of loading?   Being on the cusp of 70 years, and with poor upper-body strength, I cannot just lift the craft onto the racks as Arnie may find easy to do, so some kind of roller or padded ‘ramp’ at the back of the car to slide the craft onto the racks seems the way to go.    I have seen such things advertised by (among others) ‘rollerloader’ and Yakima, but I’d prefer to make something myself.   I recently made up a simple but effective kayak trolley out of PVC plumbing pipe, to get the craft from the car to the water’s edge, and maybe some thinking along these lines might be a starting point.   I don’t however have access to any welding gear so I cannot fabricate anything from metal. I’d be extremely grateful to receive any thoughts or ideas from Those Who Have Gone Before in this field! Cheers and thanks… Wordsmith

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RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

we also have a civic, and a honda Fit.  the civic is not too bad to get the boats on and off of.  before we had these cars, we had a honda pilot, this was a nightmare for loading boats on for me (i'm 5' 8")  if i was 6' maybe not so bad...

i am not familiar with the honda rack  - i have a thule racks, and since the cross bars are hollow, you can temporarily put a piece of rebar or something strong through the front crossbar, and leave it sticking out 2 feet or so.

then you only have to lift the bow of the boat up (about half the weight)

then lift the stern of the boat.   this system has allowed my 5' girlfriend to load her boat (55lbs) onto the civic by herself.

dont forget to take out the piece of rebar when you are done!!!


thule and yakima make a pole that slides out like what i have described, but i did this before i knew of their factory made parts.

 the other way is to put a chunk of foam on the trunk lid, and slide the boat over the trunk and onto the kayak carriers.


hope that helps?


RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

Preposterously expensive but this could be just the ticket for your situation.

RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

One trick I have seen used with saddle type racks is to carry an old piece of carpet to place over the rear car roof/trunk. This allows the bow to be lifted and placed on the carpet. You then walk to the stern and lift it while sliding the boat forward on the carpet and onto the rack. Probably would work better with a station wagon but might be workable with a sedan if you had a large enough section or possibly two sections of carpeting. 

Another option is to acquire a stocky former East German olympic weightlifer girlfriend. Though that may come with its own set of complications. Minimally, you'd have to build another boat:)


Ogata (eric) 

RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

I routinly load my 65# MC 16.5 onto my Ford Expedition alone.  In the year + I have been using this boat I can only recall a couple of times I had any help.  My carrier is the Malone foam blocks that snap over the factory rack cross bars (You can get them from CLC.  I however found extra wide onces at Campmor to suite the width of the MC).  I carry the boat out and set it down with the bow resting above the tail gate of the car and the stern on the ground.  Then I just pick up the stern and slide the boat up over the rack into place.  All the rubbing is between the bottom of the boat and the foam block.  there is no noticable damage to the bottom varnish.  Cheap, simple, and it works well.  By the way, I am 61 and I must say, I would not want to do this with anything heavier.


RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

I never pick up my kayak for rowing shell. As someone else mentioned, I put a towel on my trunk, life the bow onto the truck and slid it up onto the rear of my rack and continue pushing forward from the rear of the boat. My kayak and rowing shell always have a dolly cart strapped to the rear of the boat if they are not floating in the water and I carry with my a foam block in case I want to put the bow of the boat on the ground. there is no need to ever pick up a boat and bear all the wieght. They are not that heavy but loaded can be and they are always awkward because of their length. A little practice and an evolving plan and soon you will see you should never have to pick up your boat for any reason.

RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

I use the same trick suggested by ogata.  I place an old towel on the back bar of the rack and another towel on the ground behind the car.  I get the bow on the rack and the stern on the ground.  I move to the stern and then slide the boat forward.  Works great.  I tried the Yak racks and they were expensive and didn't work as well. 


RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

Now being a kayak guide and coach here in FL, I have to say that I don't advacate paddling alone (not that I dont do it).

Leading groups of people out, I see a lot of people use the carpet/towel method a lot.  One day I saw a man that had a boat roller on a u-shaped tube with suction cups on the ends that he stuck on his back glass.  When I asked, he said he found it on Ebay.

Yes I cheat, I have those expensive Thule Hullavators, but in my defense, my truck is over 7 feet tall.


RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

Here are two options found on YouTube.

Good Luck,  TwoBob

RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

This is a common problem solved easily and inexpesively.  There is a  new product from Yakima called the ShowBoat.  It is a simple roller setup that is an add-on accessory to Yakima base racks, and it might fit other racks, too.  I think it costs $100-$175.  Basically, it allows on person to load their boat, and you never have to lift the full weight of the boat off the ground like you still have to do with those expensive folding cantilever type contraptions. Looks nice, too. 

Here is a link:

Good luck.

RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

Thanks for suggestions and experiences, most helpful!   Maybe - spinnb7 - you would care to loan me your girlfriend – she sounds like one to cherish!   I have picked-up on your (and others’) foam-block idea, as the Honda’s racks are closed at the ends and so cannot take a length of metal to support the craft.   Thanks to those who suggested buying ready-made proprietary solutions – I’m sure they work, but budget constraints and lack of availability Down Here precluded this option.


Eric Ogata – it’s very worrying to me that my thinking should be in sync with yours, but I too initially went down the exploratory weight-lifting path, but a bit less extreme than your suggestion of  ‘finding a girl-friend who’s a stocky East German Olympic weight lifter’.   I considered asking my wife to go on a crash-course of anabolic steroids so that she could single-handedly bench-press the craft up onto the roof, but it then occurred to me that the resultant facial hair (on her, not me) would get in the way of our regular goodnight kiss!   As well as other possible undesirable bodily changes!

 Anyway, banter aside, I picked-up on a couple of good points.   Using some spare stuff I had left over from flotation installed earlier I made up a large block of expanded polystyrene foam, roughly 12” x 12” x 8” thick.   Using two buckle-ended 1” nylon straps I secured the block to the boot (trunk?) lid, one strap across the lid, one fore-and-aft, to stop the foam block slipping around.   The straps also give a nice base for sliding the hull on, as it would probably rip the soft foam to pieces without it.    Then, exactly as some suggested, the bow was lifted onto this from the back of the car and then tipped upwards, sliding forwards across the foam block and up and over the kayak holders until the ‘tipping point’ was near, lowered into the holders, and finally set in place when nicely balanced.   Wonderful - thank you all so much!   I thought I was going to be up for a complicated wheels and/ or rollers set-up – this has the essential virtue of simplicity, plus I had all the necessary stuff to hand.   And I can now confirm that a Ches 17LT DOES float!   Cheers… Wordsmith

RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

Whether you have moved into a new house or you are redecorating an old one, when it comes to the bathroom you will face the decision of central heating vs electric towel rails. In this situation, you can either opt for a radiator or towel rail connected to the central heating system, or an electric rail. All these forms of heating have their advantages so it can often be quite a difficult choice to make, particularly if you do not have much experience in the area

RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

Yes, I definitely want an electric towel rail in my WD12's bathroom. Central heating would make it way too heavy. I bet that guy with the 52 lb CH17LT has central heating. An electric towel rail can also be used for a spit for heating chunks of spam in my kayak's kitchen.

Perhaps it can also be used as a way too personal warmer for Mr. Tom Plumb.



RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

I use the lift the front onto the car, and slide method also.  The trick I found is to use some 3/4 wide black stick on body molding cut to length and placed where the kayak would rub on the top of the tailgait (forester) or on the spoiler (subaru impreza).  Protects the car and the boat and is always in place and ready to go.


RE: Single-handed loading onto car-top roof-racks

I, too, use a piece of carpet. Nose the boat on. Slide it up. Pull out the carpet. Cheap and works great for me.

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