Can You Transport Your Kayak With Ease in a Jeep Wrangler?

The Jeep Wrangler is renowned for its off-road capabilities, making it a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts. But what about transporting your kayak? If you’re in the market for a vehicle that can effortlessly carry your kayak or other outdoor equipment, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about transporting kayaks in a Jeep.

The Perfect Fit for Your Kayak

Can a kayak fit inside a Jeep Wrangler? The answer is a resounding yes, but there are a few factors to consider. In a 4-door model, you can fit a kayak up to 10 feet in length inside the cargo area. To do so, simply fold down the back seats, place some towels to protect both the kayak and the interior, and carefully slide the kayak through the back window until it rests over the passenger side of the vehicle.

While this method is convenient, it does come with limitations. You won’t be able to have passengers ride inside the vehicle, and there is a risk of damaging the brake light on the back window or the kayak itself if you’re not cautious.

Exploring Cargo Space in the Jeep Wrangler

The amount of cargo space in a Jeep Wrangler depends on the body type. With 11 different styles to choose from, the cargo area varies. The 2-door models have the smallest cargo space, with 12.9 cubic feet with all seats up and 31.72 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. On the other hand, the Unlimited model boasts a whopping 31.72 cubic feet with all seats up and an impressive 70.60 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down.

As you can see, the available space differs significantly depending on the model. If you frequently kayak or plan to transport larger items, investing in a Jeep Wrangler with more cargo space might be worth considering.

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Options for Hassle-Free Kayak Transport

Whether you own a 2-door or 4-door Jeep Wrangler, there are alternative options for transporting your kayak that are safer and maximize space.

Roof Rack: A Trusty Companion

One alternative is to install a set of roof racks and secure the kayak on top of the vehicle. Reputable manufacturers like Thule, Yakima, and Rhino Rack offer high-quality roof rack cross bars and racks suitable for most Jeep Wranglers. Crossbar-style kayak cargo carriers, such as the popular ones used for hardtop Jeeps like the Gladiator JT, have a maximum load capacity of 88 pounds, making them suitable for various kayak types.

It’s crucial to ensure compatibility between the roof rack and your Jeep model, as well as consider the size and weight of your kayak. Many roof racks can accommodate multiple kayaks, making them ideal for trips with friends or family.

Hitch Mounted Carrier: Convenience Redefined

Another option is to invest in a hitch rack, also known as a hitch “basket.” These carriers make it effortless to transport bulky camping, fishing, and kayaking equipment. Available in different sizes, make sure to find one that fits your needs.

eTrailer offers an excellent hitch basket that suits most Jeep Wranglers. The complete kit allows easy access to the back hatch. Check out the video below to see how the cargo basket can add extra room to any Wrangler model.


Towing a Kayak Trailer: Maximum Versatility

For utmost convenience, consider investing in a small kayak or utility trailer, measuring about 134 inches wide and 58 inches wide, with a weight of approximately 800 pounds (without cargo). The maximum towing capacity for 2-door configurations is 2,000 pounds, while 4-door models can tow up to 3,500 pounds. If needed, an additional towing package with a more powerful engine and transmission is available for an extra cost.

While towing a kayak or utility trailer is possible with a Jeep Wrangler, keep in mind that it may limit your speed and maneuverability. Additionally, ensure that you have the proper hitch and wiring harness installed before attempting to tow anything. Towing a trailer is the most expensive option but offers the most versatility, requiring proper setup and caution.

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Installing a Roof Rack on a Jeep Wrangler

Installing a roof rack on your Jeep Wrangler is a straightforward process that shouldn’t take more than an hour or two. Begin by ensuring you have the correct crossbar size for your Jeep. Attach the brackets provided in your roof rack kit onto the crossbars, following the instructions that come with it. Use a ratchet and socket set, drill, screwdriver, drill bit, tape measure, and an impact wrench (optional) to secure the brackets in place.

If you require guidance during the installation process, numerous YouTube tutorials demonstrate how to install a kayak rack on a Jeep Wrangler. Alternatively, you can always take your Jeep to a nearby auto shop and have professionals install the roof rack for you.

Loading Your Kayak onto a Jeep Wrangler

After successfully installing the roof rack, it’s time to load your kayak onto your Jeep Wrangler. Begin by lifting the kayak onto the rack, ensuring it is centered on the crossbars. Secure the kayak in place using the provided straps or bungee cords. If needed, additional straps or rope can be used to enhance security.

Be cautious not to overtighten the straps, as this could damage the kayak. Avoid attaching the ropes to anything that may harm the vehicle, such as antennas or mirrors. The vehicle’s bumper can be utilized to help secure the kayak in place.

No Roof Rack? No Kayak Transport

It’s important to note that transporting a kayak on top of a Jeep Wrangler without the proper equipment is not recommended. Most Jeeps come with a soft top, hard top, or dual top, but not with factory crossbars, which are necessary for attaching a kayak carrier. Attempting to transport a kayak without the proper equipment can pose hazards, potentially resulting in damage to your Jeep or even the kayak falling off while in motion. Liability for any damages caused by a falling kayak would fall squarely on the owner.

To ensure safety and security during transport, it is strongly advised to use a roof rack and carrier system, providing peace of mind and worry-free travel.

What About Hard Shell Kayaks?

While hard shell kayaks may not fit inside a Jeep Wrangler, you still have options. The cargo area is spacious enough to transport inflatable kayaks, which can be deflated and easily fit inside. Additionally, you can utilize the generous cargo space to transport other essential equipment such as life jackets, paddles, coolers, and more.

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Exploring Alternative Options for Kayaking

Don’t worry if you don’t own a Jeep Wrangler or a vehicle capable of conquering multiple terrains, or if you simply prefer not to haul your kayaks. There are still plenty of ways to enjoy kayaking without owning a kayak or a vehicle.

Many popular kayaking locations offer rental services, allowing you to show up with just your swimsuit and sunscreen. This option is great, especially if you’re new to kayaking or don’t want to invest in equipment. However, it’s advisable to call ahead and inquire about rental availability, as some places may have limited offerings.

Another fantastic option is to join a kayaking club. Not only does this provide an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who share your passion for the sport, but clubs often charge a modest annual membership fee that includes access to kayaks and all necessary equipment. Let the club handle the trip planning while you simply show up and enjoy kayaking to the fullest.

In Conclusion

While a 4-door Jeep Wrangler can accommodate a kayak within its cargo space, it’s essential to weigh the risks associated with potential damage to the vehicle and the kayak. Transporting a kayak using alternative methods, such as roof racks, hitch-mounted carriers, or towing a trailer, offers a safer and more efficient solution.

Remember, always ensure compatibility between your chosen transport method and your Jeep model. With the right equipment and careful installation, your Wrangler can become a reliable companion for all your kayaking adventures.


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