How to Carry a Kayak

Whether on your own or with a friend, learn how to safely carry your kayak to and from the water.

June 05, 2019

You’ve been waiting for this all week: the warm sun, the great outdoors and hours on the water with your kayak.


However, before you start your day of adventure, you need to carry your kayak from your car or storage to the water. Pro Tips is here with some pointers on how to get your boat to the water. Depending on the type of kayak you have, there could be several ways to carry your vessel.




If you have a smaller, lighter kayak, you may be able to carry it on your own. You’ll do this by lifting it onto one shoulder. “Lift with your legs, not your back,” professional kayak instructor Carson Lindsay says.


Follow these steps to get the kayak off the ground and onto your shoulder:

  • Start with the kayak on the ground in front of you. The bow, or the front of the kayak, should face the direction you want to travel. You should be standing beside the cockpit.
  • Bend your knees and squat down.
  • Grab the side of the cockpit closest to you.
  • Slide the kayak onto your thighs while keeping your knees bent.
  • Reach to the opposite side of the cockpit.
  • Lift the kayak as you stand up.
  • Rotate the kayak onto your shoulder. Let the rim rest on your shoulder.

“Once you’ve got the kayak on your shoulder, you want to have good boat awareness to make sure you don’t hit anyone or anything on your way to the lake,” Lindsay says.


PRO TIP: Wear your personal flotation device when carrying your kayak on your shoulder. This can help add extra padding for your kayak to rest on.




If your boat is longer and heavier, it’s best to carry it with a fellow kayaker. Point the bow in the direction you want to go. One kayaker will grab the handle at the bow, while the other will grab the handle at the stern, which is the back of the boat. Both kayakers should face in the direction you are heading instead of one backpedaling.


You can carry two kayaks at the same time in this manner. Start by lining the kayaks up next to each other. Next, you’ll reach down and grab the handles before heading to your destination.


Remember to communicate with your fellow kayaker when carrying a boat together. Being synchronized when lifting and putting the kayak down is important.




If you have a plastic boat, you can drag your kayak to the water. Just grab the handle at the bow and drag the boat. You should only do this on grass or sand to avoid damaging the keel. A skid plate or keel guard can help protect the keel of the kayak when dragging it to and from the water.


“We definitely want to make sure that we avoid dragging fiberglass or composite boats, as that can put holes in them and rip up the boat,” Lindsay says.




If you have to carry your kayak over long distances, a kayak cart can make the trip a little easier. Kayak carts are two-wheeled attachments that help bear some of the load. They slide onto one end or the center of your boat, allowing you to wheel your kayak to the water. The kayak cart bears most of the weight, making for an easy trek.


Once you reach the water, you'll be ready to launch your kayak. Discover the process of properly launching your kayak with these Pro Tips.


Carrying your kayak may take a little practice, so don’t get discouraged. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be ready to hit the water in no time.