20 October 2009

Kayak carry straps

After witnessing several injuries and sustained the odd one myself while carrying loaded kayaks up the beach I decided that there must be a better way of doing things.
While some kayaks are strong enough by construction and are fitted with very decent carry handles that could easily sustain the load others are not.
I have been taught to carry loaded kayaks by grabbing them with my arm wrapped around the bow or stern.
Wrapping my arm around the deck and hull of the kayak is relatively a good position to carry such kayak however picking it up from the ground and bringing it to waist level is not.
If the kayak is loaded with gear for an overnighter (or for a longer trip) it tends to be rather heavy.
I can hear you say: unload the kayak then carry it up the beach to camp.
While that sounds the smart thing to do often under peer pressure some kayakers carry a loaded kayak "just up the beach".
Other times kayaks have to be fully loaded on the beach far enough from the water's edge to accommodate for an incoming tide (or vice versa, tide ebbing and leaving the kayak on dry land).
It does not take much to injure your back while twisting your spine in a curve and applying the lifting load.
To aggravate things most kayaks are shaped so that if 4 people are helping to transfer the load chances are the persons helping at the cockpit are bending over (rockered kayaks) or bending their arms trying to elevate the load.

"cockpit helpers" having a hard time
Most times carrying a kayak on the beach might also involve going over sand dunes where uneven grounds is encountered.
The image below shows the problem I am describing

source* Seamongrels

I have seen people use carry straps to transfer the loaded kayak.
I liked that idea.
You slip the strap under the hull and two people at each end can lift the kayak without twisting their spine.
The traps however have to be wrapped around the wrist and often constrict the hand.
Carrying a loaded kayak for any distance results in a "blue" hand.
I have therefore modified the carry straps and added some handles.
Using a PVC conduit of suitable diameter (not too small or it does not distribute the load on your hand well) I have cut 4 sections of 11cm.

Using a nylon webbing strap I have sewn loops that thread through the PVC handle to come up with a strap with handles of approx 85 cm.
Now 4 people can carry a fully loaded kayak without risking a back injury.

my preferred way of carrying a loaded kayak

* published under Copyright Act 1968, section 41


  1. cool idea man.Having a bum leg I tend to do a two person carry on a empty.this would be a great alternative if a portage is needed along a long trip such as up here on the Ottawa River On Can.Would be much better with a group than taking turns on kayak karts that tend to slip off on rough ground.


  2. OCT emailed:
    Better yet- is just to use slings or straps – in one long length. You sling the sling on to your out side shoulder, - your body behind –or inside the sling.
    The sling goes under the kayak, to other person on the other sides – place the sling outside shoulder. The shoulder bare the weight- even smaller/less stronger members can carry a load better with their shoulder than hands. – Full boats. They can use both of their arms to lift as well as the upper body.

  3. Nice. A big help for everyone like me since I'm always having a hard time to carry my kayak after doing Kayak Philippines, but now after reading your post I know what to do regarding my concern. Thanks for posting this one. Have a great day!


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