Question Of The Week

Canoes, Kayaks, and Inflatable Boats – Part 2

For anyone who’s even remotely interested in possibly taking a canoe, kayak, or inflatable boat, this two part series is an absolute must.  Here are twenty-seven more responses showing exactly how to mount these versatile watercraft, and where to paddle.


“I bring my canoe with me camping.  We have put our canoe on the roof of our camper, but it is tough to get it up there, even though we have a pop-up.  Also, we would have to carry a ladder.  Instead, I added a canoe rack to our Polaris 570 UTV and put the canoe on top of that. Also, we can put our generator in the UTV’s bed.

Last year, when we went into remote country in a Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming, we left the trailer at a FS campground and Marcia drove the Polaris about twenty five miles back to Upper Medicine Lodge Campground and I followed in our rig.

We love to fish high mountain trout lakes in Wyoming.  Our favorites include Brooklyn Lake in the Snowy Range west of Laramie, Sibley Lake in Big Horn National Forest, and the best of all, Upper Medicine Lodge Lake in Big Horn National Forest, which is hard to get to, but worth it if you like to catch 18-inch Rainbows!” – Nick and Marcia Rukavina, 2006 Dodge Ram 2500, 2012 Northstar TC650, Radisson 16-foot pointed


“We attach a kayak to a roof rack.  We use a nylon rope with a clip on one end attached to the kayak.  To raise and lower the kayaks, one person is on the roof pulling it up, and another person is on the ground smoothly guiding the kayak.

We go to the Maine coast and lakes.  I only go downstream when paddling with the Androscoggin Trek to the Sea because they arrange a shuttle service back to your vehicle.  Otherwise, we paddle in the ocean, ponds, or lakes.” – Carol Bourque, 2003 Ford F350, 1999 Lance 1110, two Dirigo 120 kayaks


“I bring my kayak with me camping.  I pull a 12-foot cargo trailer with 7-feet of inside height and the V-nose.  I built shelves into the V-nose so I can carry my Weber Little Smokey grill, the wheeled kayak carrier, tackle box, and other things you need for biking, kayaking, and fishing.

Along one side, I have a 12-foot V-bottom aluminum boat.  Up at the ceiling there is a 12-foot kayak hung on each side.  On the other wall are two bicycles, a 6-foot folding table, and our folding chairs.  We also carry a 10’ x 13′ screen room that gives us more living space without being bothered by the bugs.

Down the middle of the ceiling I mounted a fishing rod holder.  And the outboard is secured to the floor under the bow of the boat.  As you can see, I am ready for everything we like to do!

We enjoy camping and kayaking in the north Georgia mountains.  We usually do more lake kayaking rather than on a river.  However, when we did the Buffalo River in Arkansas, we were camped at the pullout spot.  We had an outfitter take us upstream to drop us off and then they drove our vehicle back to our campsite.  That way we didn’t need to worry about what time we got back to camp.” – Larry Wiethop, 2007 Ford F250, 2002 Lance 920, Perception kayaks, aluminum V-hull 12-foot


“I bring my kayak with me camping.  We have a rack on top of the camper that takes two people to load.  One person uses a pull rope to get the bow up while standing on the camper.  Another person lifts the the back up and pushes to the balance point and up it goes.

We kayak anywhere in the Yukon.  There are too many places to list.  We mostly do lakes and ocean paddling, so we always return to where we start.  When we do a river trip, we hide our mountain bikes and then just peddle back to the truck.  Then we drive back to pick up the kayaks.” – Kirk, 2006 GMC 3500, 2006 Adventurer 8.6, 2007 Atlantis Titan Sea Kayak


“Our inflatable Sea Eagle is great for our trips.  It fits easily in the camper or rear seat of the truck while traveling to a destination.  We strap it on a luggage/briefcase dolly and take it to the chosen launch spot.  Have yet to do a one-way down-stream trip.

Favorite spots so far have been out around the islands of Bar Harbor right from Mount Desert Narrows Campground.  We also enjoy out the floating neighborhood on Lake Pend Orielle, Idaho.” – Kim and Larry Fine, 2012 Ford F450 , 2008 Host Everest, Sea Eagle Inflatable kayak 380

“I bring my kayak with me camping.  Kayak racks attached to the roof racks of the camper.  We carry an extra ladder which makes it much easier and safer to load the kayaks on to the roof.

Ontario Provencial Parks have great remote boating.  They’re among our favorite places.  We go flat water paddling only.” – Bruce Gamsby, 2008 Tundra, 2008 Lance 825, Old Town Dirigo

“I bring my canoe with me camping.  When I bought my camper I had the factory install tracks for a roof rack system.  I use a Thule system, but my tracks are Yakima and they work just fine.  I can carry my toys on the roof.  Fortunately, I have a pop-up camper which keeps the elevation within reason.

Also, I use a small, fold-up utility trailer with a few minor mods to carry all the boats, plus whatever else I might want to bring (but probably won’t use).  I always use the trailer with the pontoon boat because I like to leave it assembled.  It’s big and cumbersome and a pain to assemble.

As mentioned above, my camper is a pop-up so it keeps the elevation within limits.  I always have a three-step, and lately I’ve started carrying a Little Giant to help me get to the roof.

My kayak weighs about forty five pounds and it’s the most difficult to get up to the roof.  I balance it on my shoulder, holding it steady with my arm, and carefully climb my ladder.  When I get high enough, I slide it onto the saddle.  The canoe is easier.  I use a portage yolk to balance it on my shoulders, climb the ladder, then slide it onto the rack bars.  It helps that the canoe is made from Kevlar and weighs only thirty pounds.

I live on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State which is paddling nirvana.  There are lakes, Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and many rivers; something for every body.

Along the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula are the Straights of Juan de Fuca, which separates the United States from Canada.  This is a very large body of water with strong currents and changeable weather.  So far this year, nine people have died in boating accidents; five in canoes, kayaks, float tubes, and SUPs.  I don’t want to sound like a wet blanket, but forewarned is forearmed.  Wear those PFD’s and dress for immersion.

For maneuvering my canoe or kayak back to the launch point, I have a collapsible dolly with pneumatic tires that I’ve had for years.  It works great.  I just strap it under the hull and pull it along.  It acts like a kids wagon.

For my pontoon boat I’ve modified an old front bike fork that fits into a tube in the boat frame and is held in place by a hitch pin.  Buy a mountain bike wheel, tire, and axle and your Uncle Bob can push it around like a wheel barrow.

Also, on longer rivers like the Yakima, check with local fishing shops.  Some of them offer shuttle services.  For a fee they will drive your rig to the take out point” – Steve, 2003 Ford F350, 2013 Four Wheel Camper SC, We-No-Nah Vagabond Canoe, Easy Rider Eskimo Kayak, Dave Scaddon Skykomish Sunrise Pontoon boat


“I bring my canoe with me camping.  Ahh, the big question and the answer will vary with each application.

I didn’t have a roof rack on the camper when I bought it so I had to figure out what was available and worked for me.  Since I didn’t want to drill into the roof, I had to figure something out.  The pop-top of the Outfitter gave me a nice lip on the outside of the roof.  So, I used my existing Yakima 1A towers from my previously mounted cap.  The bars 78-inch bars I had were too short so I had to get the 86-inch bars along with the brackets to mount on the roof edge.  This worked well, but I was concerned about all the weight being supported on the lip.  To help support this weight, I built some supports under the bars.

Now how to get the canoe that weighs 72 pounds on and off the roof.  If I had a hard wall camper I’d go with the side cargo loader.  However, it weighed more than I liked for a pop-top, so I went with a Rhino rack side boat loader.  This weighed 55 pounds vs the 110 pounds of the loadit version.  It works quite well.

As my canoe weighs 72 pounds, I’m not going to try to manually haul it onto the roof.  A 42 pound Kevlar canoe is easier to manhandle.

Where do I like to go canoeing?  Holy cow, where to begin  The Adirondacks in New York are great.  And more rivers than I can list all over the United States.

Currently use an Outfitter if it’s just us.  If we have a group, we do our own shuttle.  I’m looking into getting a lightweight motorcycle to mount on the front of the truck so I can leave it at one end of the trip.  We often do multi day trips so motorized transport is needed to get back to the other end.” – Kevin Presson, 1997 Dodge Ram 2500, Outfitter 9.5 Apex, Mad River Explorer 17-foot


“I bring my canoe with me camping.  Our toys go on a utility trailer with racks.  I designed a coupler that locks the canoes together quickly and easily by installing a single pin so I can still enjoy the water.  I built a motor mount that puts a 2.5 horsepower motor between the canoes in a stable pontoon configuration.


It’s great for fishing.  When we get to small streams between lakes, or just want to paddle around, we just pull the pin and separate the canoes.

We go to the Saranac Lake Region of the Adirondack Mountains in New York, the Florida Keys, and The Everglades.


We have taken our truck to the canoe destination, bike or hike back to our camp, and then paddle our route.  We call that our triathlon day.

Sometimes we leave a second vehicle at the destination. Sometimes we get picked up days later by a friend with a trailer.  Now in our older age, we most often do short round trips.” – Ron Snell, 2012 GMC 3500, 1993 Shadow Cruiser, 17-foot, Old Town canoe,17-foot Gruman canoe and Perception kayak

“We store fishing kayaks on a 5×8 enclosed utility trailer.  I have fished from the Rogue River in Oregon to Sarasota Bay in Florida, but I mostly fish Colorado lakes.” – Philip Bolding, 2012 Ford F350, 2016 Northern Lite 8-11QSE, Native Ultimate Tegris, Ocean Kayak 12-foot

“I bring my kayak with me camping.  The kayak fits in the back seat of the truck and our four-piece paddles fit in the side compartments.  We like flat water kayaking and Lake Powel has many many side canyons to explore.” – Russell Berquam, 2014 Ford F350, 2015 Arctic Fox 1140, Inova Solar II , two-person kayak

“I bring my inflatable boat with me camping.  The deflated kayak stores in bag and is transported on the roof.  The paddles, foot pump, and lifejackets also have a bag and go on the roof.

I can climb the rear ladder holding the bag by its straps and lift it onto the roof from the top rung.  The bags sit on and are secured to adjustable roof rails.  The kayak weighs about thirty five pounds.

We enjoy the lakes and ponds in and around Baxter State Park in Maine.  If we are on a river, we usually rent a canoe and have outfitters pick us up downstream, or put us in upstream.” – Dave Thalman, 2014 Ram 2500, 2014 Northstar 850SC, Sea Eagle 385 FastTrack


“My kayak rides on top of the boat on a custom designed rack.  We can carry two kayaks or canoes on the rack.

The best overall place we’ve found for kayaking and canoeing is the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.  There are backwaters of the Snake River along with Jackson Lake and a number of other drive-to lakes that are perfect for kayaking or canoeing.

The kayaking we do is round trip from the point of entry back to the entry point.  We have on occasion launched the kayak from the swim step of the boat.  This gives us more possibilities and allows us to transport to a particular destination, launch and the retrieve the kayak, and return to the boat launch.” – Dave Riddle, 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500, 2006 HOST Tahoe 10.5, 15-foot ABS sea kayak

“I bring my inflatable boat with me camping.  It’s an inflatable, so it packs away in a bag that I store in my side storage area.  That’s the beauty of the inflatables.  The paddles, seats and foot pump all fit in the same bag.

Ideas on destinations?  Any is my answer.  No really, anywhere we camp near a lake or bigger river all I can think about is, “I cannot wait to get the kayak out there”.  For me, getting out on the water early in the morning is a great solitude and escape from the world.  It is just me and the peacefulness of paddling on the water.” – Rich Bain, 1999 Chevy c3500, 2010 Adventurer 810WS, Sea Eagle 370

“I bring my kayak with me camping.  I purchased a utility trailer and built a rack that will hold both kayaks and one canoe.  Since we purchased our kayaks, we seldom use the canoe, but it was easy to add that capability to the trailer if we ever wanted to take it.

Our last trip was to the Hocking River in South East Ohio. The Hocking area should not be missed if you are ever near Athens Ohio.  Our second last trip was to Grayson Lake State Park in Kentucky. The lake is in a beautiful area with rock formations and small waterfalls.

For the return trip, we go with other paddlers and work out car pools.” – Don Norris, 2003 Chevrolet Silverado K2500HD, 2005 Travel Lite 800SB, Perception Sundance and Perception Swifty

“I bring my kayak with me camping.  We just picked up a used 14-foot Perception Tandem Kayak (approximately 75 pounds) on the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

The condition of buying it was that the dealer had to be able to fasten it to our Lance while it was on the truck so that we could get home with it still there.  He put the kayak on the roof, upside down.  We put two foam blocks together to lift one end over the shower bubble and the front extended over the beginning of the slant of the overhang.

He tied it to the turnbuckles and the Yakima pod rack.  He also tied the rear (front of the kayak) to the ladder and the front (rear of the kayak) to the tow hook on the truck.  He put one final tie down from the Yakima rack to the support inside the rear wheel well.  He used 100-foot of nylon rope.  It made it 800 miles without moving an inch.  However, we haven’t tried to take it out on our own yet.

I’m not quite sure how we’re going to bring the kayak when we go truck camping.  Our tandem kayak is 14-feet tall, so it can sit on the ground and reach over the top of the camper by almost 2-inches when the camper is on the truck.  I think it’ll extend about 5-feet above if the camper is still on the ground and almost completely lowered.  The kayak weighs about 75 pounds so I’m not sure if I can pull/pivot it up or not by myself.” – Mark Nucker, 2005 Ford F350, 2003 Lance 1130, Perception 14′ Tandem Kayak

“I bring my inflatable boat with me camping.  I put the boat in a plastic storage bin and put the bin on the back seat floor.

We go to Kintla Lake in Glacier National Park.  When we’re camping, we boat mostly on lakes.” – Steve and Linda Hudson, 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, 2003 Lance 845, Sea Eagle Fasttrack

“I bring my canoe with me camping.  The canoe goes on top of the truck camper.  I attached a door handle on the roof to attach the center front of the canoe.  I do not want the wind to take the canoe.  I then strap the canoe down to the roof in two different locations with straps from side to side.

I also have door handles next to the canoe in two additional spots to further strap down the canoe.  It may seem like too much to some people but, 25 years ago, I had a canoe blow off of the roof and I do not want to experience that again.

To get the canoe on the roof, I lift up the front end onto the camper from the back of the camper onto the luggage rack.  I then stand on the tail gate of the pick up to push it up the rest of the way.  I then climb up on to the roof to tie it down.  I do this myself to minimize problems with different assistants.

I recommend any of the lakes in Minnesota or Wisconsin, and the rivers in northern Wisconsin or south eastern Minnesota.  As far as river trips, we normally have a vehicle at the end to get back to the starting point.” – Rag, 2003 Chevrolet Silverado, 1980 Sportsman 8SD, 1972 Alumacraft 17-foot


“My kayak sits in chalks on the camper’s roof rack.  The rear rack cross bar has a keel roller between the chalks.  I just slide it back and it tips rearward to the ground.  It’s always a good idea to have someone down below to catch and maneuver it to the ground.

Going up is a little more difficult.  The person on the ground tips the kayak on end and then lifts it straight up.  The person on top pulls the kayak from vertical to horizontal on to the keel roller.  The kayak is then strapped to the roof rack.  I also have an eye bolt through the campers roof (reinforced with a fender washer) to keep the bow of the kayak stable.

We go to the Russian River near the Northern California coast (Jenner), and Tolfino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.  We also go to Gull Lake and June Lake in the eastern Sierra Mountains of California.

We paddle upstream first, then float back to camp.  Or, we travel with other campers and share the duty.” – Jim and Cindi Goodrich, 2006 Chevy 3500 Dually, 2008 Lance 1191, Wilderness Systems Paradice double sit-on kayak


“I bring my canoe with me camping.  The first mod to the camper was to add a ladder and roof rack.  To the roof rack I added four 14-foot 2x4s.  The kayaks ride on top of the 2x4s on the one side and the canoe on the roof rack next to a 2×4.  One of the canoes and the two kayaks travel with us ninety-percent of the time.

To load the canoe, I place the bow on the rear roof rack.  If one of my children is with me, they will go on the roof and pull the canoe up as I push.  If I am with my wife, sometimes she will lift as I pull, otherwise I just go on the roof and pull it up.  With the kayaks, same techniques if there are two people otherwise I just lean them against the ladder and then climb up and pull them up.

The Bowron Lakes are situated on the western slopes of the Cariboo Mountain Range. This world-renowned canoe circuit encompasses a 116 kilometer chain of lakes, waterways, and connecting portages.  We did this with two canoes when our children were twelve and fourteen.  It will take six or more days, so you need to leave the comforts of the camper, but it is well worth it.  You also need to reserve, or take your chances on getting on.

Having the motorcycle, we can drop it off along side a river where we plan to disembark, but we mostly do lakes and just paddle back to camp.” – Eckhart Franz, 2006 Chevy Silverado 3500, 2005 Adventurer 90FWS, Home made 16.5′ Cedar Strip canoe, 16.5′ fiberglass Clipper, two Costco play Kayaks


“We have four kayaks and usually carry two at a time.  Or, we bring a 14-foot Porta-Bote that goes up on the roof lashed down to the Maggie rack using cargo straps.  I am very thorough when carrying stuff up top of the camper.  The last thing I want is an accident.

It is actually pretty easy to get boats on the roof.  Have a good bow line, lean the boat against rear of the camper (we have a rear awning which I cover with an old towel so as not to abrade it), and then I climb up and pull the boat up using the bow line.  If help is available they can push from below, but I can do it alone.  Our single kayaks are about 50 pounds.  The tandems are 60 to 70 pounds.  The Porta-Bote is 100 pounds.

If we have canoes along it likely means we are on a Boy Scout trip.  In this case we have a dedicated canoe trailer that we tow.  There are so many places all over the Northeast, From lakes and ponds, to rivers, bays, and the ocean!

If it is a point-to-point trip, we may be with friends that have another vehicle that we coordinate.  If it’s just us, we will pay a local guide for shuttle service.  The fee is usuall between $20 and $25.” – Bill Tex, 2006 Chevy CC Duramax/Alli, 2013 EC 850, Canoes, kayaks, and 14′ porta-bote

“I bring my inflatable boat with me camping.  I deflate it, roll it up, and put it in the cab of my four door truck.

I go on the San Juan River.  I’ll put my inflatable boat in at Sand Island, Bluff, Utah, and go to Mexican Hat, or all the way to Clay Hill Crossing.  That would be a multi-day camping trip to the Green River in Utah.  I’ll drive to the end and float back to Swayzey Landing.  I’ll also go on the Colorado River (Lees Ferry) up river to the Glen Canyon Dam, and float back (camping the on banks).

My wife will shuttle me up or I’ll drop off the motorcycle when I’m alone.  I’ll pay for the shuttle when there’s no other option.” – Harvey Stallings, 2010 GMC 2500, Travel Lite 890 SBRX, Airs Tomcat tandum self-bailing for white water

“I bring my inflatable boat with me camping.  Being inflatable, it folds up into a carry bag which I haul on the back seat of my super cab truck.

I go to Kueka Lake, New York, which is in the Finger Lakes region.  I always stay in close proximity of my put in area.” – Donald Gill, 2004 Ford F250, 2011 Travel Lite 890SB, inflatable Seabreeze kayak, two person

“Because the kayaks are inflatable, and come in a large suitcase container, we carry them inside the camper.  We’ll move them into the back seat of the truck if they’re not used and we need the foot space in the camper.

From Bend, Oregon, Hosmer Lake is a must, but there are numerous lakes to kayak along the High Cascades Lakes Highway.  The Little and Big Deschutes are great in and around Sunriver Resort just South of Bend, Oregon.

I go with friends when on the river and leave one car to get back in, which means there’s extra shuttle time, but the views and outdoors are great.” – Monte Dahlman, 2006 Dodge Ram 2500HD, 1995 Skyline Weekender 10-foot, Advanced Elements inflatable kayaks

“I bring my canoe with me camping.  My wife and I use four ratchet straps to securely haul the canoe upside down on top of foam blocks on top of the camper.  I installed eye bolts on top of my camper at each corner.  Each end of the canoe is attached to a bumper with a strap.

We carefully lift it up over the driver’s side to avoid antennas.  Wind is challenging.  A cable hoist is in the R&D process.

Bur Oak lake State Park in Ohio has good fishing and calm waters.  A campground, lodge and docks are available.” – Kurt Reiselt, 2002 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD, unknown year fiberglass cap, Grumman 17 ft


“I bring my inflatable boat with me camping.  We have a hitch extender that allows us to tow our raft/cataraft trailer.  A cataraft trailer is a special trailer type that has a flat bed, winch, and a roller on the back to facilitate loading.  When we get to our campsite, we simply drop the camper and use the trailer as we would if we were close to home.

We live fairly close to the Arkansas River in Colorado, which is our favorite destination. The state parks have a good network of dry camping locations.

We normally go with a group of friends and shuttle our vehicles as needed.” – Michael Apps, 2012 Ram 3500, Arctic Fox 865, Aire Wave Destroyer and Jacks Plastic Welding, Royal Flush

“I put my inflatable boats in my bike trailer.  I go to the Red Deer River in Alberta, Canada.  I deflate it, fold it back up and put it in the bike trailer.  I stay within the bike path system.  I have floated twice in one day.” – Kevin Wilton, 2007 Chrysler Pacifica, 2007 SUV Tentz, 2008 Advanced Elements Convertible, 2008 Tiger Shark Inflatables

“We store our kayak in back of the driver’s seat in its bag.  It weighs 53 pounds and inflates and deflates quickly.  We have had it now for seven years and paddled in 32 states, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Sea of Cortez, and the Gulf of Mexico.  We have also paddled in the bayous of Louisiana, and Alabama.  We just made a major mistake by not having it with us on this two month trip to Alaska.

We do have a number of kayaking buddies who make getting back easy.  If we are by ourselves we look for a kayaking company that may be running the same river so we can buy our way back or up-river.  We did this awhile back so that we could paddle Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.” – Joel and Louise Goodman, 1997 Dodge 4×4 dually 3500, 2001 Snowriver slide, Advanced Element tandum inflatable


“I bring my inflatable boat with me camping.  We carry both pontoons on a swing out rack I made that attaches to the rear truck camper jack mounts.  This allows easy entry to the truck camper and keeps the pontoons protected as we travel.  I tried mounting it on the roof, and then a trailer.  The trailer became a great problem turning around on a narrow FSR.  We found the wind created on the roof was too hard on the pontoons.  There are many lakes in the Pacific Northwest for both types.  We only lake flyfish with the pontoons as they are not rated for most the rivers here in British Columbia.” – Brian Brown, 2000 Ford F550, 2000 Lance 1010, 2 – 7 foot Scout pontoons

“I bring my inflatable boat with me camping.  I typically tow my raft rigged on a trailer.  Just add water.
I also put my canoe on the rack on top of my camper.

My canoe is Kevlar so it’s really light.  I put the bow of the canoe on the roof rack, rest it on the other end on the ground, climb the ladder and pull it up on the rack.  I tie it to the rack with cam straps.  Forget using rope to tie your stuff down.  Cam straps are the way to go and are a main stay of the white water world.

I go on the Colorado River in Colorado or Utah.  I look for shuttle companies in the section of river I am boating.  If it is on Public land the managing agency keeps a list of shuttle companies.  Sometimes I will use my bike to run shuttle or go with a second vehicle with friend, or hitch hike.” – Bruce Norring, 2003 Ford F250, 2003 Halmark Guanella, Raft, DRE 13′ Pro, and a canoe

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