How To Load A Kayak On J Rack By Yourself With Simple Steps?

Transporting a kayak may be the biggest problem for kayakers. If not properly carried, the vessel will get damaged and cause scratches on your precious car. 

Thankfully, a J rack can help you with this task. We will show you how to load a kayak on the J rack by yourself. Let’s check the three steps and follow them! 

how to load a kayak on j rack by yourself

How To Load A Kayak On J Rack By Yourself? 

As you can guess from its name, a J rack has a J shape. You need to install them on crossbars that already exist on your car roof. After securing, the racks provide safe and tight housing for your boat to sit inside. 

J racks don’t have a way to secure your kayak, but they do decrease drag by keeping it at an angle. This method can reduce the possibility of your kayak getting lifted off the roof if it rests upside down. 

To load your kayak on the J rack on your own, please follow these steps: 

Step 1: Set the kayak on the ground

This step is very simple, but many new kayakers often miss it. 

The best way to simplify lifting your kayak onto a roof rack is to place it on the ground before moving it.

For instance, when attaching your kayak to crossbars, you need to flip it over for it to face down.

This posture eliminates the need to turn the kayak before hauling it straight up and onto the automobile.

Moreover, flipping your boat beforehand can reduce the possibility of losing control and dropping it. These incidents may damage the boat and hurt you. 

However, when using a J rack to transport your kayak, set it facing up on the ground first. 

Step 2: Load the kayak from the side/rear

Here is the most crucial part. You can choose to load it from the side or the rear. 

  • From the side

To load your kayak from the side on your own, you have to raise and rotate it toward you when you go up.

However, this task is arduous if you have a big kayak. If you still prefer this method, ask your friend for help. 

Stand at one end of your kayak (stern or bow) to begin. While lifting the boat, set the kayak’s gunwale on your J rack.

You’ll need to coordinate turning your kayak by less than 90 degrees.

If you and your friend don’t have the same height, the taller one should set his end of the boat into the rack’s channel first. 

After securing one end, the taller one can swing around the other end of the boat to help place it on the rack. 

  • From the rear

Putting kayaks onto a rack from the back is generally the simplest method for lone paddlers. Launching from the side is not a good choice if you have a super long or heavy kayak. 

So, start with your kayak on the ground facing up. Then, align the kayak’s bow behind your car’s bumper and position a cushion under the kayak’s stern.

The pad can protect the stern from damage when you raise the bow up and into the rack’s channel. 

You can place the pad two to three feet in front of the kayak’s stern since you’ll need to slide the boat forward once you’ve raised its bow high enough.

Before continuing with the next step, lock the kayak’s bow into the racks’ channel.

Otherwise, as you start to raise the stern and pull the kayak forward, you run the risk of your entire kayak rolling off the side of your vehicle.

Swing to the stern after your kayak’s bow rests snugly in the rack’s channel.

Next, raise the stern when pushing forward and turn the boat so that its gunwale can set into the rack’s channel.

This rotation step is crucial because your vessel can slide forward easily as the gunwale is secure in the channel. 

If you have a longer car, try positioning the boat slightly to the rear and side of your vehicle.

This method allows you to pose more pressure to push the boat up and toward the center of the car rather than push it parallel to the car. 

By employing this method, you can minimize the risk that your kayak will slide over the side of your automobile while you try to secure it.

how to load a kayak on j rack by yourself

Step 3: Secure the kayak 

You must fasten your kayak in the rack’s channels before driving your car. Many novice kayakers struggle in this area, and the results can be severe.

You’ll need reliable straps for this task. If you only work with one kayak, two straps will suffice. But if you have two kayaks to load, use more straps for the best security. 

The side of your car is the best place to tie your boats to the racks. You can set all the straps before loading the kayaks if you’re clever enough. 

You need to wrap around the taller bar of the J rack. Then, allow the straps around the rear racks to fall toward the rear of your car and vice versa. 

Next, place your boat where you want it. From there, pull the straps down to the lower half of the rack and over your kayak. 

Slip the rope all the way down and below the crossbar where you mount the rack. This method is a backup plan and can aid in anchoring the strap to a more reliable and stable position. 

Set the clasp on the strap halfway up the kayak’s width before attaching the non-clasp end across the clasp. 

You can utilize a cable lock to increase security and prevent kayak theft.

If your sit-on kayak has scupper holes, try running the cable lock through them and across the crossbar on top of your car to make this task easier. 

Read more: Transporting Kayak Inside SUV Securely [Beginner’s Guide]

Extra Tips For Loading A Kayak On J Rack By Yourself 

The J Rack can make loading and unloading your kayak simpler. However, there are a few safety issues with it. 

Installation tips

While carrying out the steps we explain above, take note of these tips too: 

  • Always wear a PFD or a life jacket when loading and unloading your kayak on the rack.
  • Be careful while working with the straps. If they are crossed over or twisted, you won’t have the proper security you need. 
  • Avoid using the rack when it’s windy or wet. Although the rack is a terrific way to transport your boat, you must take care to protect it from damage.

Safety tips

If you don’t use the J rack correctly, it could hurt your kayak and yourself. So, bear in mind these safety tips before you start. 

  • When fastening the straps to your kayak, always secure them properly. Your boat may become damaged if the straps get twisted, crossed over one another, or don’t have sufficient slack.
  • Keep any pointed or sharp items away from the strap hooks. If the straps scratch your kayak, you can’t use it for water activities anymore. 
  • Make sure you don’t lift more than what the J rack can support by itself. Often, it can only support less than 40 pounds. 
  • You can use pads to distribute some of the weight, improving the carrying capacity of your rack.


We have shared the ultimate guide to loading a kayak using a J rack on your own. 

Aside from the three steps, remember the installation and safety tips too. They will help you simplify the whole process and secure your boat correctly. 

Hopefully, you will find this guide helpful. Thank you for reading! 

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