How Many Kayaks Can You Fit on a Car?

So I find myself wondering “How many kayaks can you fit on a car?” I have an SUV and a truck, I can choose to use the SUV, but what if I’m going out with family and friends and need to carry more than one kayak? Knowing how many kayaks you can safely fit on your car roof is necessary for a successful paddling adventure. This blog post is for people in the same situation as I was, it delves into the factors that influence kayak transportation, explores different scenarios, and provides tips for maximizing your car’s kayak-carrying capacity.

The number of kayaks you can fit on a car depends on both the dimensions of the kayaks and the size of the vehicle. Normally, a car can accommodate two or three kayaks. For individuals with a compact sedan, one or two kayaks will fit. But if you’ve got a spacious SUV or truck, you can fit three or four kayaks.

If you want a lightweight, inflatable kayak to avoid the hassle of loading and unloading kayaks, the Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak is my recommended option. Or, you can see other options on our best inflatable kayak post.

Number of Kayaks you can fit on a Car

Car TypeKayaksRack Type
Sedan2Pool noodle DIY

Car Type

  • Sedans and small SUVs: Typically limited to 2 kayaks with proper roof rack setup.
  • Larger SUVs and trucks: Can accommodate 3-4 kayaks with proper roof rack or truck bed setup.

Roof Rack Setup

  • Standard J-cradles: Can hold 2 kayaks side by side.
  • Stacker racks: Allow you to stack 2-4 kayaks vertically.
  • Pool noodle DIY systems: Can be used to stack kayaks on their sides, but require careful attention to security and potential hull damage.

Kayak size

  • Narrower kayaks can be packed closer together than wider kayaks.
  • Shorter kayaks can be stacked easier than longer kayaks.

Factors Determining the Number of Kayaks

If you can’t afford a roof rack at the moment to transport your kayak, we have listed 5 always available options you can use in this post. Before you start stacking kayaks on your roof, consider these key factors that determine how many your car can handle:

Car type and size

Sedans, with their limited roof space, can typically hold one or two kayaks. SUVs and trucks, boasting larger roof areas and higher weight capacities, can accommodate more kayaks.

Kayak size and weight

Kayaks come in a variety of sizes and weights. Lighter, shorter kayaks are easier to transport than longer, heavier models. Be sure to factor in the total weight of all kayaks and ensure it doesn’t exceed your car’s roof rack weight limit.

Roof rack system

Investing in a sturdy roof rack is essential for safe kayak transport. Different types of roof racks, such as crossbars, J-racks, and stacker systems, have varying weight limits and kayak capacity. Choose a system compatible with your car and the number of kayaks you want to transport.

We have written a detailed post on everything about how to choose the best roof kayak rack for your vehicles with recommendations based on our experience.

Local regulations

Different regions may have specific regulations regarding the number and placement of kayaks on vehicles. Be sure to check your local laws to avoid fines or safety hazards.

Carrying One or Two Kayaks

For one or two kayaks, the simplest solution is J-racks or foam blocks mounted on crossbars. These are affordable and easy to install, making them a popular choice for casual paddlers.

Carrying Three or Four Kayaks

If you need to transport three or four kayaks, then get a stacker system or vertical carrier with pool noodles on larger SUVs or trucks. This must have sufficient roof strength and weight capacity. These systems allow you to stack kayaks upright, maximizing space and minimizing wind resistance.

Creative Solutions

For budget-conscious paddlers, DIY solutions can be effective. Pool noodles and ratchet straps can be used to secure kayaks to your roof rack, albeit with less stability and security than professional systems.

Safety Considerations

Regardless of the number of kayaks you’re transporting, safety should always be your top priority. Here are some important considerations:

  • Weight distribution: Ensure the kayaks are distributed evenly across the roof rack to prevent overloading and potential damage to your car.
  • Securement: Use strong straps and tie-downs to securely fasten the kayaks to the roof rack. Double-check all connections before driving.
  • Driving: Be mindful of the added height and weight of the kayaks when driving. Adjust your speed accordingly and take extra caution while turning and braking.

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Edet Ubok-Obong
Edet Ubok-Obong

Edet Ubok-Obong is an experienced Writer with a deep passion for Gardening, Fishing and home improvement. He shares his knowledge of these fields through this website.