Can you stack kayaks on each other? [Advice from top brands]

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I have two fishing kayaks, and until recently I’ve been content with hand-carting them on kayak trolleys down to the beach on the harbourside to launch into the water for a session. 

But recently I’ve been thinking about venturing further afield, changing up my kayaking spots, and trying new places. 

This means I’ll have to transport my kayaks. And one of the first questions I thought to myself was – can you stack kayaks on top of each other? Is it bad to stack them? Might it damage them?

So in looking into this issue, there have been a few considerations, which I’ll cover in this article. And also when storing kayaks – is it ok to stack them? 

I reached out to a few of the most popular premium kayak brands in the world to find out their guidance on this common question, which I’ve included in this article below – the answer will surprise you because I’ve read different (incorrect) advice on forums! 

Looking for a way to transport kayaks on a truck with a tonneau cover? Click for our best-of guide.

Who better to ask about stacking two kayaks than the experts making them?

You can stack kayaks on top of each other when storing them or transporting them, but it is not advised by some of the most popular kayak brands out there because it can cause damage. 

If transporting kayaks:

  1. Invest in roof racks
  2. Always secure the stern and bow with straps too.
  3. Use foam padding to spread the weight of the kayaks
  4. Strap the kayaks down tight, but not so tight you damage the hull
  5. Strap the kayaks through the doors not the windows of the car
  6. Twist the straps a few times to prevent them from flapping in the wind

If storing kayaks:

  1. Invest in a storage solution: racks, straps, slings
  2. If stacking, use foam padding to spread the weight of the kayaks
  3. Do not stack them with any load in the kayaks, this will cause warping.

Is it bad to stack kayaks on top of each other?

If you read on popular kayaking forums, you’ll see a lot of advice around how to stack kayaks and whether it’s ok or not. Some mention the top kayak brands and how they often stack to transport or store – they want to read this article! 

Stacking kayaks on top of each other becomes ‘bad’ when one kayak is undergoing a disproportionate amount of stress from the weight of the two kayaks. For example, if the weight of the top kayak is mainly pressing on one end of the kayak beneath it. 

You want to make sure that whenever transporting or storing a kayak, that its hull is adequately supported along the length of the kayak to distribute the weight. Stacking kayaks creates imbalance and a risk of warping or deforming the kayak.

Also, avoid just laying the bottom kayak on the floor and then placing the other kayak on top of it – this could cause warping of the hull of the bottom kayak with prolonged pressure. 

An alternative would be to store your kayaks vertically. Click here for our article on whether you can stack kayaks vertically.

Can you stack kayaks like this stack of kayaks on a storage shelf?
Photo by Bruno on Unsplash

Stacking your kayaks on each other. Be warned! What top kayak brand experts say …

I contacted 5 of the most popular high-end kayak brands out there to see what they had to say about stacking your kayaks when either transporting or storing your kayaks.

I was really interested to hear their advice. If anyone should know how to look after, store and transport their kayaks, it should be them!

Click here for a spreadsheet with the surprising results.

Their advice goes against common wisdom! So don’t get caught out accidentally doing the wrong thing when storing your kayak! 

Can you transport kayaks on top of each other?

A popular method to transport two kayaks on top of each other is for each kayak to be placed cockpit-to-cockpit so they interlock together and then can be strapped together securely. This can be done before they are then strapped to a roof rack.

But again, it’s not advised by the experts – the major kayak brands themselves. 

The other risk to consider is whether you have the ability and equipment to properly secure the kayaks when transporting them. When driving at speed, a loose kayak becomes a real danger. 

Not only must you secure the bodies of the kayaks mid-way, but also strap the bow of the kayaks to the front of the car, and the stern to the back of the car (or whichever way each kayak is pointing). 

Can you stack two kayaks on top of each other on a roof rack?

Yes, you can stack two kayaks on top of each other on a roof rack easily. You may find that you don’t need to have each kayak completely resting on top of the other, and that one will fit face down on the roof rack, with the other leaned on one side facing downward too. 

This method helps answer the question of how to fit two kayaks on a roof rack. 

Here’s a Youtube video that’s a good example 

And here are two articles that some of the customer support people shared with me about properly transporting and storing your kayaks.

How to Tie Down & Transport a Kayak | REI Co-op

How to Store a Kayak: Tips & Solutions | REI Co-op

How do you fit two kayaks on a roof rack?

There are a few options to do this.

You could follow the method above, where you lay one kayak down and another leaning against it to make the most of the roof rack space. This has the kayaks resting directly on the bars of the roof rack itself. 

That said, to protect the kayaks even further you could secure a blanket to the roof rack bars as well, just make sure it is very secure to avoid the risk of them flying off while driving. 

The most recommended other option is to invest in some roof rack systems that are designed to hold two kayaks, following the experts’ advice in this spreadsheet (CLICK HERE)

Rhino Rack system – these are a good option for most because they are universal and fit most roof rack bars. Rhino-Rack is a very popular brand of roof rack because the gear they make is very good quality and they are easy to use and adjust. If you had a couple of kayaks, you’d need to buy two of these systems. 

J-bar system – the other alternative to fit a couple of kayaks on a roof rack is to install a ‘J-bar’. My friend has a J-bar system like this for his two kayaks, which are really easy to load, and you can change the angle of the ‘J’, to ensure your kayak fits the top f your car and is tucked in nicely.

If you’re really not keen on a roof transport solution for your kayak, you might consider trying to fit it inside your vehicle. Click here to read our article on whether you can fit a 10ft kayak in an SUV.

Or click here for our guide on the best racks for truck tonneau covers and kayaks.

Can you stack kayaks on top of each other? Summary.

When searching for advice on the internet – be careful of the advice you might find on forums. Sometimes it is incredibly useful to hear from the experiences of others. But when the advice is about something as valuable and irreparable as damaging an expensive kayak, we prefer to listen to the experts!

I hope you’ve found this article helpful and it provides a longer lifetime for you and your kayak.