How To Transport a 12 Foot Kayak

There are several ways to transport a kayak, and the way you get the job done depends on the size and type of your kayak. If you have a strategic approach, transporting a long kayak is not as intimidating as you might think. 

If you just happened to buy a 12-foot kayak and are wondering how you can take it to a kayaking spot, keep reading. Regardless of the type of kayak you have, here you will find some useful guidelines for transporting the vessel. 

In this post, we will also answer some other frequently asked questions about transporting kayaks. 

3 Things To Know to Transport a 12 Foot Kayak

A 12-foot kayak is not a small one—it’s pretty long. When choosing a method for shipping the kayak, take three factors into consideration: the material used to build the vessel, the type of vehicle you are using, and the distance of the kayaking spot. Then pick a method that’s convenient to you.

Material Check

To some extent, the way you transport your kayak depends on its material and design. A folding or inflatable kayak is a lot easier to transport than a hardshell kayak. For an inflatable kayak, the process is as easy as it gets: just fold the kayak and put it in your car.

But if you have a hardshell kayak, you will have to secure it to the roof or bed of your vehicle, and the process may include installing roof racks.


To transport a hardshell kayak, you can put it on your truck bed or car roof, or use a trailer. Your choice depends on the type of vehicle you are using. 

A pickup truck makes the process pretty straightforward. Just open the tailgate and place the vessel on the back of your truck. Tie a red flag to the part of the kayak that sticks out of the car. 

If you want to use a four-door car, consider installing a roof rack or using crossbars. If you have a SUV with crossbars that already have a luggage rack installed with them, your SUV is ready to transport your kayak. 

Many minivans and SUVs have side rails installed on the roof, but most vehicles do not have pre-installed crossbars. You can buy factory crossbars from the service department of a dealer. 

A trailer can make the process simpler and cleaner, leaving more space for your gear. 

Multi-Sport Multi-Rack Kayak Trailer

Transport Distance In Plan

If the kayaking sport is just a short distance away, using a cart may be a convenient option for you. Invest in a cart if you have to transport the kayak regularly. You may even be able to literally carry the kayak  on your shoulders. 

If the kayaking spot is not a walking distance, use your car or pickup truck to transport the vessel. Unless your car already has roof racks, you may want to install them. And if your vehicle is too small for a 12-foot hardshell kayak, consider getting in touch with a transportation service. 

RAD Sportz Kayak Trolley Kayak Cart with Pneumatic Tires 150 LB

Safety Tips To Transport a 12-Foot Kayak

The most important consideration is to make sure the vehicle is firmly secured to your vehicle. The kayak must stay that way when you drive the vehicle. Also, make sure the kayak’s weight is distributed evenly. 

Be careful if you are carrying a plastic kayak. It can quickly become malleable when the sun is up and the temperature is high. Maybe it’s a cool morning and you tie the kayak tightly. But as the day progresses, the boat will start to bend while the straps get loose. 

When driving, try to maintain a little bit of extra distance from the vehicles in front of you. Use common sense and don’t forget that there’s a kayak secured to your roof rack! 

Tie a red flag to the part of the kayak that sticks out of your pickup truck so that other drivers are more careful when nearing your vehicle. 

If you are on a long trip, take regular breaks and check if the kayak is still fastened properly. It will ensure your safety as well as the safety of other vehicles on the road.

AUGO Ratchet Tie Down Straps


How do you transport a 12 foot kayak in a truck?

Leave your pickup truck’s tailgate down, place the kayak on the truck bed, and then secure the vessel tightly. To avoid abrasion and possible damage, you can place a padding between the truck bed and your kayak. Tie a red flag to the part of the kayak that sticks out of the vehicle. 

What is the easiest way to transport a kayak?

If the kayaking spot is a short distance away, the easiest way to transport a kayak is to get the vessel onto your shoulder and start walking. And if you want to use your car to transport the kayak, secure the kayak to your car’s roof rack. 

Is it better to transport a kayak upside down or right side up?

If the kayak is made from composite materials, make sure the vessel is upside down when you are transporting it. And if it is a plastic kayak, do not worry about its orientation. Just load the kayak on your vehicle in a convenient way and secure the vessel properly. 

How do you transport a long distance kayak?

The safest way to transport a kayak is to secure it to the roof rack of your car. If you have a pickup truck, load the kayak on the truck bed and allow one end of the vessel to stick out of the back of the truck. Tie a red flag to the sticking part of the kayak before you hit the road. 

Final Thoughts

Transporting a 12-foot kayak should not be an intimidating process. The bottom line is, there are multiple ways to transport a kayak, and you have to choose a shipping method that’s convenient to you. 

In the beginning, securing a hardshell kayak to your vehicle may be a bit challenging and time-consuming. But once you have transported the kayak a couple of times, you will get the hang of it and start enjoying the entire process.