Can I Fit A Kayak In My SUV?

Can I fit a kayak in my SUV? We get this question a thousand times. We have decided to prepare an elaborate response for it. A short answer is a yes, but how?

You can fit a kayak inside your SUV if you fold the back seats, though it is risky if you don’t get it right.

So, we will look at how to load a kayak into an SUV and secure it there to make it safe to transport to the destination. Read on for detailed information!

Can I Fit a Kayak in My SUV?

Yes. You can actually fit a kayak in your SUV. However, the ease with which that can be done depends on the size of the kayak and vehicle. The smaller the kayak is, the easier it will be to fit in an SUV vehicle.

Transporting a kayak without a roof rack or trailer is a daunting task. Though you can do it in your SUV, it is unsafe, especially if you cannot close the back door because the kayak protrudes outside. Consider securing on the roof or roof rack for safety.

how to put a kayak in suv
How to put a kayak in suv

3 Types of Kayaks that Can Be Loaded Into an SUV

Not all kayaks can fit in an SUV. Some are too big or just not designed to be carried in such a confined space. If you want to transport a kayak in your SUV, buy the types that can be easily loaded into the vehicle. They include the following:

Inflatable or foldable kayaks are the best choice to fit in an SUV. Small-sized kayaks are also good candidates to be transported in an SUV. However, they will require you to fold the back seats to create more space. Let’s get into the details of each.

The man is rowing inflatable kayak
The man is rowing inflatable kayak | Credit: Iascic /

Smaller Kayak

You can fit a small kayak in an SUV without any problem. But how small is small enough? A golden rule is to let only a third of your kayak stick out of the vehicle. Or better still, the kayak should allow you to close the trunk door or back hatch.

For example, if your SUV gives you a space of 5 feet after folding the back seats, the kayak you can fit in should not be longer than 10 feet. You should ensure that more weight of the kayak is supported in the car instead of hanging behind.

However, fitting a small kayak in an SUV is only practical if you rarely use it. It is not best to haul your kayak more than once a month or when covering long distances.

Smaller kayaks that can fit inside your SUV are safer to transport. But if the protruding section is large, consider alternatives.

Fitting a kayak inside your SUV means the back seats are always folded. That limits the passengers you can carry. It may not be the best approach if you still want to move with your family or buddies.

Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle

Inflatable Kayak

An inflatable kayak is the best candidate to be transported inside an SUV. That is because they can be reduced into compact sizes that fit inside the trunk without having to fold the back seats.

You can also get enough room for other hiking or adventuring gears and passengers.

Hauling an inflatable kayak in a deflated state requires a high-quality electric pump that you can power directly from the cigarette lighter socket. Remember, you will deflate it each time you transport it and re-inflate it when you need to use it.

Inflatable kayaks are good options if you frequently move them around. However, they are not the best in maneuverability when in water. Their performances are not at par with the fixed designs, hence the unpopularity.

Driftsun Rover 120 / 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak

Folding Kayak

Folding kayaks are the best alternatives to inflatable kayaks if you want to fit them in your SUV. In fact, they can even be placed in small sedans. By design, these kayak types easily fold over into compact shapes that can fit in the trunk.

Like inflatable kayaks, folding kayaks can fit inside the trunk without having to fold the back seats. You retain the passenger carrying capacity. But they also face maneuverability challenges, and their reliability cannot be compared with other kayak designs.

If a kayak does not fit in your SUV completely, consider other options for hauling it. Instead of risking everything, install a roof rack and just secure it on the flat roof. Alternatively, you can invest in a trailer as a safer approach.

Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak

How Do You Transport a Kayak on an SUV?

Before you even start fitting a kayak inside your SUV, determine the size of space you have inside. Measure the length and width of the vehicle to know where you will place the kayak without obstructing or injuring other passengers.

Also, make sure the sharp edges do not hit against the window glasses or cannot harm passengers. After those prerequisites, proceed with the following steps:

Suv is carrying kayaks
Suv is carrying kayaks | Credit: Jacob Lund /

Step 1: Find Solid Points Inside Your SUV

The first step is to find solid anchor points inside your SUV. They are usually metallic sections strategically positioned inside the vehicle to allow you to pool the kayak when loading and unloading it.

Look for D-rings and possibly hooks attached to the frame of the trunk. Most SUVs come fitted with multiple anchor points. So, you won’t spend much time looking for them.

Step 2: Put Seats Down and Load Your Kayak In

Fold the back seats to create enough room for your kayak. Load your kayak to the car, ensuring the anchor points in the vehicle align with those on the kayak. It will make it easier when you want to strap the kayak to restrain its movement.

The way you load a kayak onto the car depends on the anchor points you want to use. It can be face-down, face-up, or angled, whichever approach is appropriate.

Step 3: Secured Your Kayak Down

Use cam straps to secure the kayak in place. You can alternatively use ratchet straps for the same purpose if you can’t get cam straps.

Ensure the straps are easy to tighten and loosen. It is better if you know how to make a daisy chain with the remaining strap’s length. That will prevent it from flapping and getting caught, which can cause accidents.

Woman is rowing a small kayak
Woman is rowing a small kayak | Credit: Kamchatka /

Step 4: Secure Your Rear Hatch/Door

Once the kayak is secured inside the SUV, it is time to close the rear door or hatch. Move it closer to the kayak body and use another cam strap to secure it. It is safer this way than leaving it fully open.

Use a cam strap to secure the door. Pass it through the D-ring on the door where it usually latches on the car when closed. Another consideration is where the door makes contact with the kayak.

Use a pile of clothes or folded towel to avoid direct contact and accidental damage as the vehicle bounces off on speed bumps and potholes.

Step 5: Attach a Bright Signal Flag To Alert Other Drivers

The only thing left to do is to let other drivers know the nature of your load. You do that by attaching a red flag at the back of the rear door or hatch. It is a requirement by state laws that will give you an upper hand when handling legal matters in case of an accident.

Safety Tips While Transporting A Kayak In Your SUV

Transporting a kayak inside an SUV raises many safety concerns that should be addressed. Even the steps outlined above should be keenly followed not to miss even a sub-step. If you are considering fitting and hauling your kayak inside an SUV, ensure the following:

  • The kayak is secured inside the car, and its forward and backward movements are restricted.
  • The rear door or hatch is safely secured to avoid accidentally opening while still on the roads.
  • No space left where the kayak can fall out from under the rear seat.
  • Fit the kayak in the SUV upside down whenever possible because it is the standard.
  • Close all doors and ensure back seats are folded and well-secured.
  • Keep all other small items in any space left in the trunk if you have to carry them with you.
Four kayaks on suv
Four kayaks on suv | Credit: Grandbrothers /

Is It Legal to Drive With the Trunk Open?

No. It is illegal to drive your car with your trunk open if you don’t have a valid reason.

However, most states allow you to leave it open if transporting an oversize load, such as a kayak, cannot allow it to close. You don’t break any law by using your SUV to transport your kayak.

However, don’t forget to attach a red flag at the back of the rear door or hatch. Also, consider checking the local traffic laws because it can be legal in your state to leave the trunk open while driving regardless of the load. It is better to be sure than sorry!

Hook Safety Warning Flag Mesh Safety Flag Warning Flag


Can I put a 10 ft kayak in an SUV?

Yes. You can fit a 10-feet kayak inside your SUV if the space with back seats folded is more than 5 feet long. The rule is to put much of the kayak’s weight on the vehicle.

How big of a kayak can I put on my car?

It depends on the size of your car. The golden rule is to let at least two-thirds of the kayak’s body inside the trunk. So, do the actual measurements and draw an accurate conclusion.  

Will a kayak fit inside a RAV4?

Yes. Loading a kayak inside a Toyota RAV4 is not different from how you do it in an SUV. Just fold the back seats and measure the available space to know the size of the kayak you can carry with it without many risks.

Can a kayak fit in a Jeep Grand Cherokee?

Yes. You can certainly fit a 10-feet long kayak inside a Jeep Grand Cherokee. However, the ease of doing it depends on the actual size of your kayak. The smaller it is, the easier it will be to fit it in the car.

Can you transport a kayak upside down?

Yes. The standard for transporting a kayak is to turn it upside down. But that may not be the case, especially if you have to fit it inside an SUV. You may need to tilt it at an angle or even load it face-up, depending on the position of the anchor points.

Can a kayak fit inside a Subaru Forester?

Yes. A Subaru Forester can carry up to two kayaks with back seats folded. But if you need to carry more, use stackers to make it easy to have more kayaks onboard.

Final Words

It is possible to fit a kayak inside an SUV. However, there are better alternatives to explore if you frequently haul your kayak over long distances. Buy a traditional roof rack or a trailer.

These options are safer when transporting a kayak to any destination and across state lines.

Thank you for your time at Windpaddle. We appreciate your time and believe that you have the answers. Kindly share this article with your friends and explore the website for related content.

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