Should A Kayak Be Transported Upside Down? (Solved)

There are a lot of debates about how to transport a kayak. For example, should a kayak be transported upside down or right-side up?

Well, the answer isn’t black and white. There are pros and cons to both methods.

Ultimately the answer depends on your specific situation. This blog post will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of transporting a kayak upside down.

We will also provide some tips on how to safely transport your kayak regardless of which way you choose to do it.

Should A Kayak Be Transported Upside Down?

Most modern kayaks are rotomolded polyethylene kayaks that can be transported upside down or on their side without damaging the hull. However, composite kayaks (fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon fiber) should always be transported with the hull down using cradles to prevent cracking or other damage. 

The Benefits Of Transporting A Kayak Upside Down

There are a few benefits to transporting your kayak upside down. First, it will help keep your cockpit dry if you travel in the rain.

No point in your kayak seat getting soaked or filling your kayak up with water before you are even on the water. If your kayak becomes heavy with water, it can be more dangerous to transport with water sloshing around.

In addition, transporting your kayak upside down can reduce the drag as you drive. You just have to remember to empty any loose objects from the kayak before you place it upside down on your car.

Transporting your kayak upside down also means there is less risk of kayak oil canning or deforming the hull.

The Drawbacks Of Transporting A Kayak Upside Down

One of the most common ways to transport a kayak is by attaching it upside down to the crossbars on your car.

However, this method has its drawbacks. One of the biggest problems is that the hatches or other equipment might not line up with your crossbars, meaning your hatch sits right on top of the crossbar.

Depending on the size of your kayak and the spacing of your crossbars, it can be tough to get the right fit.

Ways To Transport A Kayak Upside Down

Kayaks upside downPin
Source: Paddle About

There are plenty of ways to transport your kayak upside down.


One way to transport a kayak is to place it upside down on crossbars. Using this method, you don’t need to invest in J-cradles or another roof rack system, so it’s more cost-effective.

Many vehicles come with crossbars; if not, you can add them.

You can also invest in crossbar pads to protect the kayak deck and the crossbars. Crossbar pads will also help prevent the kayak from sliding around during transport.

Kayak Trailer

Another option is to use a kayak trailer. This is a specialized lightweight trailer that is designed to carry kayaks.

Kayak trailers can be towed behind most cars and SUVs. Some trailers have built-in crossbars, and you can transport your kayak upside on those.

You can modify a utility trailer, like a Harbor Freight trailer and make it into a kayak trailer. You can add crossbars or use foam blocks to transport the kayak upside down with a utility trailer.

When loading a kayak onto a trailer, it is important to evenly distribute the weight on the crossbars.

For added security, trailers typically come equipped with anchor points that can be used to secure the kayaks in place.

Other Ways To Transport A Kayak

If you have a plastic (polyethylene) kayak and don’t need to worry about transporting your kayak upside down, there are several ways to get the job done.

Bed Of A Truck

If you are lucky enough to own a pick-up truck, you can transport your kayak (s) in the bed of your truck. Here is a complete guide to transporting kayaks in the back of a truck.

Here’s the short version. You can toss one or multiple kayaks in the truck bed. Make sure the kayaks aren’t insanely long and stick out too far past the end of your truck bed.

Depending on your situation, you can transport the kayaks with the tailgate up or down. If you own long kayaks or a heavy fishing kayak, you can invest in a hitch mount for your truck to support the end of the kayak.

No matter how your transport a kayak in a truck, make sure you tie it down well before you hit the road.


Transporting a kayak can be a bit of a challenge, but with the right equipment, it’s definitely doable.

J-cradles are an excellent option for transporting kayaks, as they allow you to strap the kayak down securely without damaging the hull (unless you overtighten the straps).

You can load plastic kayaks on J-cradles.

When loading the kayak onto the J-cradles, center it evenly. Once the kayak is secured, you’re ready to hit the road.

RELATED==> Guide to loading a kayak on a J-Rack

You can use J-cradles on a roof rack or on a kayak trailer.

Transporting A Plastic Kayak

We touched on this earlier, but you can transport a plastic thermoform or polyethylene kayak on its side, upside or right side up.

Be careful if the hull side is down on crossbars, especially with bow and stern lines.

If the bow and stern lines are too tight, you can deform the kayak hull, something called “oil canning.” It’s not a huge deal, as most of these indentations will pop out pretty easily.

There are many different ways to transport a plastic kayak without worrying too much about damaging the boat.

One of the reasons you can be more creative with transporting a plastic kayak is because the plastic is durable, somewhat flexible, and more forgiving than composite.

Transporting A Composite Kayak

Wilderness Systems and other kayak manufacturers recommend transporting composite kayaks on their hull using cradles to prevent deformation.

But with any type of kayak, be sure you don’t overtighten the straps as this can also cause damage.

Composite kayaks are much more rigid than plastic kayaks and should be treated with a bit more care when transporting them.

The bottom line is that you have a few different options for transporting your kayak, depending on the type of kayak you own.

Final Thoughts

So, should a kayak be transported upside down? If you own a rotomolded kayak, you can transport the kayak how you see fit, depending on your setup.

You can transport a plastic kayak right side up, upside down, or on its side. J-cradles are an excellent option for plastic kayaks. If you own a composite kayak, take a bit more care and transport the kayak on its bottom.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.