Transporting Kayak with gear in hatches

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  • #21581
    Tyronne L’Hirondelle

    is it okay to put gear in your hatches when you are transporting a kayak on your car?  I’m thinking I can save truck space by carrying light and soft gear, (spray skirts, lifejackets, wetsuits) in the hatches while the kayaks are on the roof rack. any thoughts?

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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  • #21600
    Johan Worst

    Offhand I’d advise – no. It’s to your advantage to keep the boat as light as possible since wind and the motion of the car can result in the damaging forces that Vincent mentioned. Anything in the kayak that’s free to move will move in the opposite direction of motion so if you have to brake in an emergency, that lose, sharp paddle in the cockpit will move toward the bulkhead at a high rate of speed. The most precarious days of your boat are the days it’s on top of the car. If you’re travelling at 80 kms/hr on a two lane road and you meet a semi on the other side moving at 90 kms/hr, your boat experiences winds of about 170 kms/hr. Even if it’s only for a short time it’s still a significant force. Better to have the boat as light as possible and tied in four places. Bow and Stern lines and a good strap at each roof rack. As Nick mentioned, put a good cockpit cover on while it’s up on the car. It makes the boat more aerodynamic, saving you some gas and it keeps any water out which can become a wave sloshing from bulkhead to bulkhead as we brake and accelerate.

    Nick Heath

    If items are light and soft I don’t see much harm but I’d prefer to use the cockpit rather than the end hatches and to secure (tie in with cord) any light but hard items, like paddles.  Many people seem to overload clamp-on racks and SUV manufacturers’ flimsy racks – check your rack’s rating and think about what will happen if you are in a serious collision. Flying roof loads have been known to cause fatalities and serious injuries when the collision itself would have otherwise resulted in no injuries at all.

    As Mick says, do something to keep out rain from the cockpit – (not to keep your seat dry – as was once suggested to me!) – but to prevent several kgs of water from accumulating and sloshing about, possibly causing a dangerous stability or overload problem. This is one reason for preferring J bars or carrying the boat inverted (like all canoeists!)

    There are serious safety issues with roof loads on closely-spaced passenger vehicle racks. Strong end ties are essential, mounted to a solid part of the vehicle, not to the rack, (which have been known to break or come loose) but on some vehicles it is hard to find anything that I’d trust as solid!

    Mick Allen

    Stern and especially bow lines are required – so no cantilevering, and rack stresses by side wind loads are minimized by being taken by the end lines.  Boat is carried right side up [it’s rockered curvaceous shape is supported adequately by the rack spacing – think of the diffential loading in abrupt changing conditions on and in waves when we’re paddling!]. As Peter mentions,  main heavy loading is in the centre with the sprayskirt attached and the waist opening tied off and inverted [or a ckpt cover if present] to eliminate rain ingress at speed and use the end compartments for the light items like clothing, tents etc.

    For the end ties if possible, use a triangulated approach from ea side of the bumper [frame tabs or whatever is used] so that end  movement is minimized [and thereby minimal unwanted twist stress to the racks].

    . . . I never could see the point of those roof top carriers when we’ve got a much more voluminous and especially doubly useful method – and they look meaningful and cut the wind so much better. Or if a seakayak is too big, just pick up one of the many short 2nd hand WW boats that appear on craigslist once in awhile.

    [And joking must be inserted: because of the yak’s hydrodynamic shape, at high rates of speed it will actually fly a little bit thereby reducing much of that rack loading, heh heh.]




    Vincent Law

    The racks are typically spaced 3 feet apart which is too close together for objects that are 16’-18’ long. (3 foot spacing is ideal for bike rack and mounting skis.) Also, Kayaks have a big surface area which can pick up a lot of wind loads that will be transferred directly to the rack. The long overhang at both ends of the rack can result in cantilevered forces that can readily overload the racks, even if it’s just for a split second.

    I would suggest making the kayaks as light as feasible. I.e. store as little as possible in the compartments. If you have to store items in the compartments then put them in the cockpit as suggested above.

    Mick Allen

    Kayaks are just dual purpose roof-top carriers!

    Peter Kearney

    Hi Tyronne,

    Light, bulky stuff is fine in the hatches. If heavier then better in the cockpit with a secure cover over it. Weight of all the kayaks and gear should not exceed the load rating of your car/ roof rack system. Take apart paddles can also go in the cockpit. Cheers, Peter



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