Last Week

Using Lift-Assist Systems for Kayak Loading: A How-To Guide

kayak lift-assist systems

In recent years, fishing kayaks have become larger and heavier, making it more difficult to transport and launch them. Traditional roof racks are affordable and easy to install, but lifting the kayak to the necessary height can be challenging. This section will provide a guide on using lift-assist systems, such as assistive kayak loading devices and easy lift kayak racks, to simplify the process of loading and unloading kayaks.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lift-assist systems can help simplify the process of loading and unloading kayaks.
  • Assistive kayak loading devices and easy lift kayak racks are designed to make transporting larger and heavier kayaks easier.
  • Traditional roof racks may be affordable and easy to install, but they may not provide the necessary assistance for lifting kayaks to the desired height.
  • By using lift-assist systems, you can reduce the physical strain and simplify the process of loading and unloading your kayak.
  • Investing in a lift-assist system can make kayaking more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

DIY Kayak Load Assist: A Clever and Affordable Solution

If you’re looking for a clever and cost-effective way to load and unload your kayak without assistance, Eric Williams has the perfect DIY solution for you. Using materials easily found at a local hardware store, Williams designed a kayak load assist system using two 2x4s, each measuring ten feet long, and attaching twenty caster wheels to them.

The design is simple yet effective. The 2x4s with caster wheels allow you to easily roll your kayak onto a Malone J-loader roof rack, eliminating the need for heavy lifting. Not only does this DIY solution make the loading process easier, but it also saves you money compared to expensive commercial kayak lift-assist systems.

“I wanted to find a way to load and unload my kayak on my own without straining my back or relying on someone else,” says Williams. “With this DIY kayak load assist, I can now do it all by myself, quickly and efficiently.”

Williams’ DIY kayak load assist is an affordable and innovative solution that anyone can create with a little bit of time and effort. Not only does it make loading and unloading your kayak a breeze, but it also gives you the freedom to enjoy your water adventures without the hassle of heavy lifting.

Eric Williams DIY Kayak Load Assist
Materials Two 2x4s, each measuring ten feet long
Twenty caster wheels
Benefits – Easy to build with readily available materials
– Enables solo kayak loading and unloading
– Affordable alternative to commercial lift-assist systems
Instructions 1. Attach the caster wheels to each side of the 2x4s, evenly spaced.
2. Position the DIY load assist parallel to the Malone J-loader roof rack.
3. Roll the kayak onto the load assist, ensuring it is centered and secure.
4. Use the load assist to lift the kayak onto the roof rack.
5. Secure the kayak to the roof rack following the manufacturer’s instructions.

With this DIY kayak load assist, you can easily load and unload your kayak without breaking a sweat. Follow Eric Williams’ lead and save money while enjoying the convenience of a homemade kayak lift-assist system.

DIY kayak load assist

Side Loaders: Convenient Options for Kayak Loading

If you’re looking for a convenient and efficient way to load and transport your kayak, side loaders are an excellent option. These innovative systems make it easy to lift and secure your kayak onto your vehicle, saving you time and effort. In this section, we’ll explore some popular side loaders available in the market, such as the Thule Hullavator Pro, Rhino Rack NKL, Rhino Rack RUSL, and Rhino Rack 580.

Thule Hullavator Pro

The Thule Hullavator Pro is a gas strut-assisted lifter designed to make kayak loading a breeze. It features a unique lift-assist system that helps lift and lower your kayak with minimal effort. This side loader can handle heavy kayaks and is particularly suitable for individuals with shoulder issues or limited strength. With its smooth and controlled movements, the Thule Hullavator Pro offers a safe and convenient loading experience.

Rhino Rack NKL

The Rhino Rack NKL is another popular side loader that provides easy and efficient kayak loading. It has an impressive 80kg load capacity, making it suitable for larger kayaks. What sets the Rhino Rack NKL apart is its hand winch system, which allows for effortless operation. Simply attach your kayak to the side loader, and the hand winch will do the heavy lifting for you. This innovative feature makes the Rhino Rack NKL a top choice for anyone looking for a hassle-free kayak loading solution.

Rhino Rack RUSL and Rhino Rack 580

If you’re searching for a versatile side loader, the Rhino Rack RUSL and Rhino Rack 580 are worth considering. The Rhino Rack RUSL is a universal side loader that clips onto overhang type bars, providing a secure and stable platform for your kayak. On the other hand, the Rhino Rack 580 is a cradle system that is compatible with most roof rack systems. With its adjustable cradles, the Rhino Rack 580 can accommodate kayaks of various sizes. Both the Rhino Rack RUSL and Rhino Rack 580 offer convenience and flexibility for kayak loading.

“Side loaders are a game-changer when it comes to kayak loading. They take the hassle out of lifting and securing your kayak onto your vehicle, making the whole process effortless. With side loaders like the Thule Hullavator Pro, Rhino Rack NKL, Rhino Rack RUSL, and Rhino Rack 580, you can enjoy stress-free and efficient kayak transportation.”

Rear Loaders: Alternative Solutions for Kayak Loading

If you prefer a different approach to loading your kayak, rear loaders offer convenient alternatives. These innovative systems are designed to simplify the process and ensure secure transportation. Here are some popular rear loaders to consider:

Yakima SweetRoll

The Yakima SweetRoll is an excellent option for hassle-free kayak loading. It features rear rollers that make it easy to slide your kayak onto the roof rack. With a weight capacity of up to 36kg, this rear loader can handle various kayak sizes and weights. The SweetRoll is designed for quick and effortless loading, providing peace of mind for your outdoor adventures.

Yakima ShowBoat 66

If you have a car with a large spoiler or high stature, the Yakima ShowBoat 66 is the perfect rear loader for you. It comes with an extendable roller that allows for easy kayak loading and unloading. The ShowBoat 66 is designed to accommodate kayaks of different sizes and weights, ensuring a secure fit during transportation. With its sturdy construction and user-friendly design, this rear loader is a popular choice among kayak enthusiasts.

Rhino Rack T Loader

The Rhino Rack T Loader is a hitch mount system that provides a simple and efficient solution for solo kayak loading. This rear loader allows you to secure your kayak onto the T-shaped frame, making it easy to lift and position onto your vehicle’s roof rack. The T Loader is adjustable to fit different kayak sizes and can support up to 80kg of weight. With its user-friendly design and reliable performance, the Rhino Rack T Loader is a popular choice for solo kayakers.

Rhino Rack 581

The Rhino Rack 581 is a rear loader designed for easy mounting of kayaks onto your vehicle’s roof rack. It features rubber pads that provide cushioning and protect your kayak during transportation. The 581 is compatible with most roof rack systems, making it a versatile option for kayak enthusiasts. With its sturdy construction and reliable performance, this rear loader ensures a secure and convenient way to transport your kayak.

Whether you choose the Yakima SweetRoll, Yakima ShowBoat 66, Rhino Rack T Loader, or Rhino Rack 581, these rear loaders offer efficient and secure solutions for kayak loading and transportation. With their user-friendly features and durable construction, you can enjoy a worry-free outdoor adventure.

Tips for Safe Kayak Lifting and Carrying

Lifting and carrying a kayak can be a physically demanding task, but by following proper technique and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure the safety of both yourself and your kayak. Here are some tips to help you lift and carry your kayak safely:

1. Use Your Legs, Not Your Back

When lifting a kayak, it’s important to use your leg muscles rather than straining your back. Start by bending your knees and keeping your back straight. As you lift, use the strength of your legs to power the movement, avoiding any twisting or jerking motions.

2. Roll Onto Your Shoulder

To distribute the weight of the kayak more evenly, consider rolling it onto your shoulder once it’s lifted off the ground. This technique can help reduce strain on your arms and allow for a more balanced carry. Remember to keep your shoulder engaged and supported to prevent any discomfort or injury.

3. Lift with a Partner

If possible, it’s always best to lift and carry a kayak with a partner. Having someone to share the load can make the task easier, reduce the risk of accidents, and provide additional support if needed. Communication and coordination are key when lifting with a partner to ensure a smooth and safe experience.

Additionally, there are various lift assist tools available on the market that can further simplify the process of kayak lifting and carrying. Kayak carts, for example, can be used to transport your kayak over longer distances without having to lift it entirely. These carts typically feature wheels and a sturdy frame that can support the weight of your kayak, making it easier to maneuver.

By following these tips and utilizing the right tools, you can safely lift and carry your kayak, reducing the risk of injuries and ensuring a smooth and enjoyable kayaking experience.

safe kayak lifting

Table: Lift Assist Tools for Kayak Lifting and Carrying

Tool Description
Kayak Carts Wheeled carts designed to transport kayaks over longer distances without lifting.
Kayak Lift Assist Racks Racks that use mechanical or gas-assisted systems to lift kayaks onto roof racks.
Kayak Shoulder Carrying Straps Straps that distribute the weight of the kayak across your shoulders for easier carrying.
Kayak Loading Assist Bars Bars or rollers that facilitate sliding the kayak onto a roof rack or truck bed.

How to Lift a Kayak Alone

Whether you’re a solo adventurer or simply enjoy the freedom of kayaking alone, there may come a time when you need to lift your kayak without assistance. While it can be challenging, mastering the proper technique and using the right tools can make solo kayak lifting a manageable task. Follow these steps to lift a kayak alone:

  1. Prepare the kayak: Start by rolling your kayak onto its side and positioning it correctly. This will make it easier to lift and stabilize.
  2. Lift with your legs: Bend your knees and use the strength of your legs to lift the kayak, keeping your back straight. This will minimize the strain on your back and prevent injuries.
  3. Utilize your thighs: Once the kayak is lifted onto your thighs, use your hands to stabilize it and keep it balanced.
  4. Roll onto your shoulder: Slowly roll the kayak up onto your shoulder, making sure to maintain a firm grip to prevent it from slipping.

If you find that lifting a kayak alone is too challenging or if you have difficulty with the weight, consider using a lift assist tool such as a kayak cart. These devices can help distribute the weight and make solo kayak lifting easier and safer.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority. If at any point you feel uncomfortable or unable to lift the kayak alone, seek assistance from a friend or fellow kayaker. It’s better to have a helping hand than risk injury.

Benefits of Solo Kayak Lifting

Lifting a kayak alone may initially seem daunting, but it comes with its own set of benefits. Not only does it allow you to have the freedom to explore at your own pace, but it also enhances your sense of independence and self-reliance. Solo kayak lifting can be a rewarding experience that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.

Proper Technique for Solo Kayak Lifting

Mastering the proper technique is crucial for safely and effectively lifting a kayak alone. Remember to always lift with your legs, not your back. Keep your back straight and bend your knees to generate power. Using your thighs and shoulders to support the weight will also help distribute the load evenly and prevent strain.

With the right technique and a little practice, lifting a kayak alone can become a routine part of your kayaking adventures. Just remember to prioritize safety, listen to your body, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if needed.


Transporting your kayak safely and efficiently is crucial for a stress-free and enjoyable water adventure. By utilizing lift-assist systems, such as assistive kayak loading devices and easy lift kayak racks, you can simplify the process of loading and unloading your kayak. Whether you opt for DIY solutions, side loaders, or rear loaders, following proper lifting techniques and taking necessary safety precautions is essential.

Remember to always use your legs and not your back when lifting your kayak, keeping your back straight and bending your knees. Rolling the kayak onto your shoulder can help distribute the weight evenly. If possible, consider lifting with a partner to make the task easier and safer. Additionally, using lift assist tools like kayak carts or lift assist racks can reduce physical strain.

In conclusion, with the right tools, knowledge, and mindset, you can make kayak loading easier and safer for everyone involved. Prioritize safe kayak transportation to ensure that you can fully enjoy your time on the water without any worries or injuries.


Are lift-assist systems necessary for kayak loading?

Lift-assist systems are not necessary for kayak loading, but they can greatly simplify the process and reduce physical strain.

What is a DIY kayak load assist?

A DIY kayak load assist is a cost-effective solution that involves creating a device using simple materials found at a hardware store to aid in loading and unloading a kayak.

What are side loaders?

Side loaders are kayak loading systems that offer convenience and ease of use, typically featuring gas strut-assisted lifters or hand winches for easy operation.

What are rear loaders?

Rear loaders are alternative kayak loading systems that typically feature rear rollers or hitch mount systems for easy loading and transporting of kayaks.

What is the proper technique for safe kayak lifting and carrying?

The proper technique includes using your legs instead of your back, keeping your back straight, bending your knees, and distributing the weight evenly by rolling the kayak onto your shoulder.

How can I lift a kayak alone?

To lift a kayak alone, it is important to prepare the kayak, use your legs and keep your back straight while lifting onto your thighs, and then roll it up onto your shoulder. Using a lift assist tool, such as a kayak cart, can also be helpful.