How to Load a Kayak Onto a J Rack by Yourself


Written by David Myers

October 9, 2019
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Some people kayak with their family, and some kayak with their friends. But some of us prefer the solitude of kayaking on our own, with just the water, our kayak, and our thoughts to keep us company. This does, however, present some problems, and one of those problems is how to load your kayak onto your cars j rack when you’re all on your own.

In this article, we hope to go over a few techniques that should help make life a bit easier for you.

Lift with your legs

Kayaks can weigh a fair bit, and for that reason they can be dangerous to lift alone. It can be a particular struggle if you already have back problems which prevent you from lifting heavy things. And given we all want to kayak as much as possible, having a back injury is the absolute last thing we want to pick up!

As such we recommend always lifting with a straight back, and bend at the knees. Your back should remain as vertical as possible throughout the lift, and you should be using your legs to generate the power. They are the most powerful muscles in your body, after all!

The shoulder press method

First, you’ll want to position yourself behind the kayak, which will be laying on the floor with the bottom of the hull facing up.

Next, you position yourself at the stern and lift the kayak up until it’s vertical on its bow. You might want to put something under the bow before you do this to protect it, depending on what surface you’re doing this on.

Next, you’ll shuffle your hands down to the center point of the kayak until you feel that you’re finding its balance point. This is usually around where the seat is.

Once you’ve found that, you just need to straighten your arms and let the kayak balance. After you’ve done that, lower one side of the kayak onto one of your shoulders. Your head should now be in the opening of the kayak, or thereabouts. You want to kind of look like you’re using a massive kayak boombox!

Then walk over to your car, and transfer it over your head, and onto the j rack in one motion.

After that, follow the guidelines for how to use your j rack as they all differ a bit. All j racks should be usable by one person.

The hood slide method

If you really struggle to lift a kayak above your head then this can be a good alternative. For this method, you will need a spare towel to protect your car.

First off you’ll need to erect your J rack so it’s ready to receive your kayak.

Next up you’ll want to drape the towel over the hood of your car, directly in front of the j rack.

Then you’ll lift up the kayak (lifting with your legs!) and put it on the towel on the hood of your car.

Finally, to load a kayak onto a J rack by yourself, you’ll push the kayak up the hood, up the windscreen, and into the j rack. Make sure the towel is coming along for the ride, and that the kayak never touches the paintwork of your car directly or it might scratch it.

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