How To Transport 2 Kayaks Without A Roof Rack: 3 Best Ways

by Jason | Last Updated:   October 8th, 2022
How To Transport 2 Kayaks Without A Roof Rack: 3 Best Ways

Have you been tasked with the job of transporting the kayaks? Are you wondering how to transport 2 kayaks without a roof rack?

Not having a roof rack on your car can feel incredibly stressful when you’ve been tasked with transporting the kayaks to the lake.

To make things worse:

You might not have the funds to purchase one in time for your kayaking trip. And this can leave your mind racing trying to discover a way to safely get the kayaks on top of your roof without damaging your car.

But what if I told you there’s a simple and cost-effective way of transporting two kayaks without a roof rack?

Well, I’m here today to provide you with some good news. You can use two methods ( I even have a bonus one for you) to transport your kayak, even if you don’t have a roof rack.

How Do You Carry Two Kayaks On A Car Without A Roof Rack?

As I mentioned earlier, there are two methods you can use to transport your kayaks without using a roof rack safely. And in this section, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about these methods.

By the end of these sections, you’ll know exactly what you need to get the job done and how to take it on correctly.

Sound good?

Great, let’s take a look at a few kayak transportation methods:

Method #1: Pool Noodles 

Yep, that’s right; you can use pool noodles to transport your kayaks on the roof. The pool noodle provides an excellent buffer between your kayaks and your car.

The soft, flexible, and cheap material is an excellent choice for those who haven’t got a roof rack on your car. So, before I get into how to use the pool noodles, let’s take a look at what you’ll need to get the job done:

Things You’ll Need

Before you go out to the shop to buy some pool noodles for your new venture, you should make sure you have the following pieces of equipment:

Pool Noodles

Ideally, you’re looking for pool noodles at least 3 to 3.5 inches thick and have a hole running through the middle. You’ll need a minimum of two pool noodles for this method, but having a third can be pretty beneficial.

The general rule of thumb is to have pool noodles placed at every three feet of your car roof.

Ratchet Straps

You’ll need more ratchet straps than you have pool noodles for this method. Each pool noodle needs a strap so you can secure your kayak to the car without any issues. And then, if you’re using two pool noodles, you’re going to need two more straps for each kayak.

So, overall you’re going to need at least six ratchet straps for this method. And if you’re using three pool noodles, you’re going to need nine straps.

Aluminum Hollow Tubes 

If you’re only transporting one kayak, you would be able to leave this part out. But, because we’re going to be transporting two kayaks, I feel it’s a vital piece of equipment.

You’ll be feeding the aluminum tubes through the pool noodles to give them more rigidity and supply an anchoring point to tie down the kayak similarly to a roof rack.

You could also use stainless steel poles over aluminum poles, they are a lot stronger, but also add a lot of weight to your car roof.

Step #1: Connect The Pool Noodles To Your Car

The first step you need to take is to ensure the pool noodles are the right size for the car; you don’t want too much hanging over the vehicle’s edges.

If you have a large amount of foam hanging over the car, you need to cut it down to size, which you can do with a Stanley knife.

Make sure you do this with every pool noodle you’re attaching to the car. Once they are cut down to the correct length, you’re ready to secure them.

To do this, you will need to open the car doors. One of the most common mistakes people make is feeding the straps through the windows and then not being able to open the door…

Don’t be one of those people!

Feed the ratchet straps through the pool noodle, so you have the strap hanging out of one end and the buckle hanging out of the other end.

Place the first pool noodle on top of the car with the straps hanging over each side and make sure it’s centered with the door frame. 

You’ll then need to attach the ratchet strap from inside the car, so the buckle is in the center of your car. Once it’s connected, feed the aluminum pole through the hole of the pool noodle with about 6 inches hanging out from either side.

Repeat this process for the other pool noodles; you should have at least one pool noodle for every 3 feet of roof. 

Double-check the ratchet straps to ensure they are secure but not so tight that they will damage your car. And there you have it, a DIY roof rack system for your car.

Step #2: Secure The First Kayak

Once you’ve got the pool noodles ready and secured, you’re ready to start the next step, and that’s getting the first two straps in place.

Run one strap along each pool noodle with the buckle hanging by the door. You can then place the kayak on top of the straps.

Loading your kayak on top of your car is never easy, but if you want to learn how to load a kayak by yourself, you should check out our guide. 

Depending on how large your car roof is will depend on how you’re going to load it. If the roof is wide enough, it’s a good idea to strap the kayak to the roof facing down. If it’s not wide enough, you’ll have to strap the kayaks on their side.

Once you have the first kayak in position, wrap the far side of the straps under the pool noodle and chuck them back over the kayak towards the buckle.

You can then feed the strap around the aluminum bar and through the buckle, but don’t tighten it too much just yet; you may need to make adjustments later.

Step #3: Get The Second Kayak Secure

Once the first kayak is in place, it’s time to get the next one up there to join him. And this is done in the same method as we discussed in the previous section.

Follow the same steps as above; the only difference here is you need to make sure there’s a small gap between the two kayaks.

If there isn’t a gap, you may have to rearrange the first kayak slightly, so it’s important not to tighten it fully.

Step #4: Secure Both The Kayaks

Now you’ve got both the kayaks in place; it’s time to secure them both down, so they won’t fall off your car when you’re driving.

Go back to the first kayak and make sure you’re happy with the positioning. If it’s not good, make some minor adjustments until you’re satisfied.

Once you’re happy, work your way around the car and tighten all the straps. Just make sure it’s not too tight; you don’t want to damage the kayak.

When everything is strapped down nicely, go round and wrap the loose edges around the bar, so they’re not flapping around in the wind.

Step #5: Triple-Check Everything

Okay, you’ve got everything tightened up, and now it’s time for the 5th and final step: 

Triple-checking everything.

This is probably the most important section; the last thing you want is your kayaks flying off the roof 10 minutes into the journey.

Make sure everything is nice and tight, and the kayaks feel secure if they don’t make the adjustments you need to make until you feel comfortable.

Finally, after ten minutes of driving, pull over and see how everything is going. The wind resistance caused by driving can make things come loose again.  

Method #2: Foam Blocks

The second method I want to talk you through is using foam blocks instead of pool noodles.

The best thing is:

The principle is very similar; you’re basically creating a sturdy base to act as the DIY kayak rack for your kayaks.

Foam blocks provide a stronger base than pool noodles and require fewer steps to get it going, so let’s take a quick look at it:

Things You’ll Need

You’re going to need a few things to get this setup going, and that’s what I want to speak about briefly in this section:

Foam Blocks

This should go without saying, but the first thing you need to get is some foam blocks to act as a buffer between your car and the kayak.

If you can, you should look at latex rubber foam blocks, but these can be pretty expensive, so you can also use a good quality Lux foam.

You should be looking at four blocks that are a minimum of 20 inches long and four inches wide and high. If you can find them with a V-shape in the middle, it allows you to secure the side of your kayak up.

Ratchet Straps

The last thing you need for this method is the ratchet/cam straps. Ideally, you need six, but you can get away with four. You should also be looking for straps that are at least 20 feet in length each.

Step #1: Setup Your Foam Blocks

The first thing you will have to do is set up your foam blocks ready for the kayaks to be placed on your homemade roof rack. 

You should have the blocks placed around two feet from the front and back of your car, but it really depends on the kayak.

Another thing you need to think about is what style of foam block you got. If they don’t have the V-shaped cut-out, your kayaks will need to be transported face down.

If you get the foam block with the V-shape, make sure the V is pointing to the sky so you can transport your kayaks on their side. Once the block is in place, you can get the kayaks ready to secure them down.

Step #2 Secure Your Kayaks To The Foam Blocks

Once the kayaks are in place, you’re going to secure them in place. You can do this by chucking the cam straps over the kayaks in roughly the exact location of the blocks.

Make sure you open your car doors and fasten the straps on the inside of your car. Please make sure you don’t do it through the window; you need to be able to get inside the vehicle.

Once you’ve got both straps tightened up, you need to check if your kayak is secure. You can do this by trying to move the kayaks forwards, backward, and sideways. If you’re happy with everything, you can move on to securing the bow and stern to your front and rear bumper.  

If you’ve got cam straps to do this with, that’s great use them. If you haven’t, you can use bungee cords or rope with a ¼ inch thickness.

Just make sure you secure the rope/bungee/strap to something metal underneath your car and ensure it’s nothing that spins. Don’t connect it to your bumper; if anything goes wrong, you don’t want it to fly off with your kayak.

Method #3: Bonus Options

Of course, one of the best methods of transporting your kayaks without a roof rack is to use a trailer or the bed of your truck.

But of course, not everyone has a kayak trailer or a truck to hand, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here.

If you do have either of these things, check out this guide on how to transport a kayak in a truck.

It will give you some valuable information and make your life a lot easier in the long run if you plan on using kayak trailers.

Another great option is to buy an inflatable roof rack, they are easier to install and cost a lot less money than traditional roof racks.

Rules For Transporting Your Kayak On Your Vehicle

If you’re using roof racks or not, there are specific rules you should follow if you want to get the kayak to its final destination without breaking anything.

So, in this section, I want to talk you through some of these rules, so you don’t make the same mistakes so many people make every year:

Should You Use Cam Straps Or Ratchet Straps

Not many people will think about this, but what types of straps you use to transport your kayak is pretty essential.

Most people tend to go for ratchet straps because they are easier to get tight, but is this good for your kayak?

Well, not really. Over tightening the straps on your homemade kayak roof rack system can seriously damage the kayak. And this is why it’s best to use cam straps.

They may be harder to tighten, but usually means you can’t pull them tight enough to damage/warp your kayak… which is a good thing.

Another great thing about cam straps is they have fewer moving parts, which means fewer parts get damaged. This means cam straps will also have a longer life expectancy, saving you a lot of money in the long run.  

Never Over Tighten The Straps

One of the beginners’ biggest mistakes when transporting a kayak is over-tightening the straps.

Yes, you need to ensure the kayak is secure so it doesn’t move around while driving, but you don’t want it so tight that it will damage the kayak.

Learn How To Make A Daisy-Chain

Most of the time, we’re using cam straps that are too big for the job, which usually means we have plenty leftover hanging from the car.

And just leaving loads of excess strap hanging from the car is not a great option. It will blow around in the wind and potentially cause damage to your car or kayak.

And that’s why learning how to make a daisy chain can be beneficial. It’s a quick and easy way to reduce the excess strap and ensure everything is tucked away.

It’s a pretty simple process; just check out the video below:

Triple-Check Everything!

And my last and most important rule is to double and triple-check everything before you leave. We’re all human, and sometimes we make mistakes… but sometimes these mistakes can be costly to you and other people.

The best way to overcome this is by triple-checking everything you do before setting out on your kayaking journey.

This will help to prevent your kayak from flying off the car and potentially injuring someone or you ending up in jail.

It doesn’t take long to triple-check your work, but it can literally be a lifesaver… make sure you do it!

Okay, there you have it, a few pretty good methods of transporting kayaks without a roof rack. But which one do we recommend?

For me, the best option is to use the pool noodle method if you’re transporting 2 kayaks without a roof rack.

The added width and strength of the aluminum pole give you more room and better security for both of your kayaks face down, which is precisely what you should be looking for.

Not only does it provide more strength and width…

But it’s also something that can be left in place a lot easier, so you don’t have to take everything down and put it back up for each journey. And this can save you a lot of time and effort in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Carry 2 Kayaks On A Car?

As long as the roof of your car has enough width, you’ll have no issues carrying 2 kayaks on the top of your car. You just have to make sure you have everything in place to get the job done, which is where this guide above can help you.

How Do You Transport Two Kayaks On A Roof Rack?

Carrying two kayaks on a roof rack is super simple; just follow this guide on how to strap two kayaks on a roof rack. You could even try out some inflatable roof racks. This guide will show you everything you need and give you some helpful pointers to get you going.

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Hey, my name's Jason, and before I was a writer, I worked as an outdoor activity instructor where I took groups kayaking and camping. Now I use my personal experiences to share tips and tricks I've learned over the years. For as long as I can remember, I've been passionate about the outdoors, and now I want to share that passion with my readers.