The Ultimate Guide to Transporting Your Kayak on a Prius

Have you ever wondered how to transport your kayak on a compact vehicle like a Prius? You’ll be surprised to know that it is possible, and we’re here to guide you through the process. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various options and provide step-by-step instructions on carrying your kayak on a Prius.

Can You Fit a Kayak in a Prius?

The short answer is no. A regular-sized kayak will not fit inside a Prius, unless you leave the hatchback open. Smaller kayaks, around 8-9 feet in length, may fit inside a Prius, but you will need to make additional space by folding down the seats or placing it between the passenger and driver seats (although this can be dangerous). If you prefer longer recreational kayaks, your best bet would be to use a small utility trailer or set up a roof rack.

How to Carry a Kayak on a Prius

Option 1: Install a Roof Rack

A roof rack is an accessory that attaches to the roof of your car, providing a convenient space to transport equipment like kayaks, snowboards, camping gear, and more. Installing a roof rack on your Prius ensures that your kayak stays securely in place while you drive. The cost of a roof rack can range from $150 to $600, depending on where you purchase it. If you’re a frequent kayaker, it’s worth the investment; otherwise, consider alternative options.

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Option 2: Tow a Lightweight Utility Trailer

A lightweight utility trailer is designed with a cargo area to transport goods or equipment. Since a Prius has limited towing capacity, you’ll need a lightweight trailer that your Prius can tow comfortably. Although this option can range from $1000 to $3000, it eliminates the need to lift the kayak above your head and allows you to transport multiple kayaks. However, keep in mind that fixing the trailer to your car may require professional assistance.

4 Steps to Transporting a Kayak on a Prius with a Roof Rack

Follow these steps to safely transport your kayak using a roof rack:

Step 1: Prepare Your Vehicle’s Roof

Start by cleaning the roof of your Prius and covering areas that could get scratched during the loading process.

Step 2: Choose and Install a Roof Rack

Choose a roof rack that fits your Prius perfectly and ensures durability. Some recommendations include the HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars, Amazon Basics Universal Cross Rail Roof Rack, Yakima – EasyTop Removable, Universal Roof Rack, Silver Cross Bars Roof Racks, and OMAC Roof Rack Cross Bar Set. Once you have your roof rack, clean the roof of your Prius and loosen the screws on the foot mounts. Insert the two crossbars between the mounts, ensuring the correct distance measurement. Fit caps to the crossbars and pads to the mount to seal and prevent scratches. Position the rack at the center of the roof, with the car doors open, and lock and tighten the rack using the product’s metal clips.

Step 3: Load Your Kayak

With the help of another person or alone, slide your kayak onto the roof rack. Ensure that the kayak is placed securely and upright. Use pads below the stern of the kayak to protect it from damage during loading.

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Step 4: Secure Your Kayak

Use ropes or straps to secure the kayak onto the roof rack. Attach the included straps to the front and rear of the kayak and run them through the eyelets on the roof rack. Tighten the straps until the kayak is securely fastened. Remember not to overtighten the straps to avoid damage to your kayak. Secure any excess strap or loose ends to prevent them from flying around while you’re driving.

Other Options for Kayak Transportation

If you’re not comfortable with the roof rack or utility trailer options, there are alternatives. Inflatable kayaks are flexible, easy to transport, and relatively inexpensive. Another option is to rent a kayak at your destination, but make sure to research availability in advance.


Transporting your kayak on a Prius is not as difficult as it may seem. By following the guidelines provided in this article, you’ll be able to enjoy your kayaking adventures without worrying about transportation. Whether you choose a roof rack, a utility trailer, or explore other options, always prioritize safety and secure your kayak properly before hitting the road.