Master the Art of Kayak Transport: How to Ship a Kayak Easily & Safety

shipping kayak
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Shipping a kayak can seem daunting, but with the right preparation and shipping method, you can get your kayak to its destination safely and affordably. This comprehensive guide will provide everything you need to know about how to properly package and ship your kayak.


Whether you’re moving across the country or need to return a kayak you purchased online, you’ll likely need to box up your kayak and ship it at some point. Standard carriers like UPSUSPS or FedEx don’t specialize in oversized packages and often charge excessive fees. Shipping companies that transport freight and large packages are a better option.

This guide covers how to properly prepare and package your kayak for shipping, choose the right carrier, estimate shipping costs, deal with documentation, and more. Follow these tips to ensure your kayak arrives safely at its destination.

Key Takeaways on Shipping a Kayak

  • Measure your kayak’s dimensions and weight to determine the best shipping options
  • Pack your kayak securely with padding and crating materials to ensure the kayak is shipped safely
  • Choose a freight company or shipping service specializing in shipping larger items like kayaks
  • Insure your kayak shipment and inspect for damage before accepting delivery to ensure the kayak is not damaged
  • The cost of shipping a kayak can range anywhere from $100-$500 for ground shipping nationally

How to Prepare Your Kayak for Shipping

To ship your kayak safely, you’ll need to take some time to properly prepare and package it. Follow these steps:

Get Your Kayak’s Dimensions

First, carefully measure your kayak’s lengthwidth, and height. This allows you to determine the correct box or crate size you’ll need to pack and ship it in.

Be sure to measure at the tallest and widest points to ensure your kayak will fit. Leave 2-3 extra inches of space all around for padding.

Weigh Your Kayak

Next, weigh your kayak. Use a shipping scale or bathroom scale to get an accurate weight.

This allows you to calculate shipping costs and ensure you stay within any weight limits set by the carrier. Weighing the kayak also determines whether standard or oversize shipping rates apply.

Assemble Packing Supplies

Gather packing supplies like bubble wrap, foam blocks, a sturdy cardboard box or wooden crate, and packing tape. You may also need straps or tie-downs to secure the kayak inside.

Use bubble wrap or thick padding to protect the kayak’s exterior from dents, scratches, and scuffs during transit.

Wrap Your Kayak

Wrap your kayak fully in bubble wrap or plastic sheeting. Pay extra attention to the bow and stern. Use 2-3 layers secured with packing tape.

You can also wrap the cockpit rim with bubble wrap to prevent damage to the spray skirt connection point.

Use a Shipping Crate or Cardboard

Place your wrapped kayak inside a rigid wooden crate or sturdy cardboard box lined with foam padding for maximum protection. Secure the kayak with straps or tie-downs so it doesn’t shift.

Apply Shipping Labels

Clearly label the package as fragile and include your contact info, the delivery address, and return address. Attach shipping labels securely.

Choosing a Kayak Shipping Carrier

Choosing the right carrier ensures your kayak arrives intact. Consider these tips when selecting a service:

Avoid Standard Carriers

Avoid shipping small packages via standard carriers like UPSUSPS or FedEx. They often charge much more for oversize or overweight items like kayaks and have a higher risk of damage.

Use Freight Shipping Companies

Freight companies specialize in shipping larger, heavy, awkward items. They have the equipment and experience to securely transport kayaks and other sporting goods.

Compare Rates

Contact companies like FedEx Freight, Forward Air, or US Ship and get rate quotes. Compare costs between motor freight, air freight, and sea freight options.

Shipping Process and Delivery

Follow these tips for smooth shipping and delivery:

Schedule Pickup

Book a shipping pickup at least a few days in advance with your chosen freight company. Communicate any special requirements.

Drop Off at Terminal

Dropping your packaged kayak off at the shipping terminal often saves money compared to residential pickup.

Receive and Inspect

Have someone available to receive and immediately inspect the kayak upon delivery before signing. Look for any damage that may have occurred during shipping.

Shipping Documentation

Have a bill of lading, commercial invoice, and packing list to accompany the kayak shipment and clear customs.

Shipping a Kayak Overseas

International shipping involves extra steps:

International Regulations

Adhere to import/export regulations, customs duties, and security screening requirements when shipping kayaks internationally.

Hire Customs Broker

Hiring a customs broker will ensure smooth customs clearance and assist with import taxes, duties, and documentation when shipping a kayak overseas.

Purchase Insurance

Purchase cargo insurance to protect against loss or damage when shipping a kayak internationally.

What Does It Cost to Ship a Kayak?

What can you expect to pay to ship your kayak? Here are some key cost factors:

Cost Considerations

The kayak’s size, weight, and distance it needs to travel are the biggest factors impacting cost. Also consider residential vs commercial delivery.

Average Cost

For standard ground shipping within the contiguous US, expect to pay $100-$500. Costs are higher for expedited, overseas, or oversize shipments.

Larger Kayaks

Shipping longer, heavier kayaks (over 12 feet and 75 pounds) often costs $600+ depending on distance.

FAQ About Shipping Kayaks

Answers to common questions on kayak shipping:

Shipping Large Kayaks

Use extra padding, a rigid crate, and a freight company experienced in oversize items to ship an extra large kayak safely.

Typical Kayak Shipping Cost

The average cost to ship a typical kayak ground nationally runs $200-$300 varying by exact size, route, and carrier.

Shipping Kayaks Cross Country

Use a specialized freight carrier for shipping a kayak across the country – avoid standard parcel carriers. Proper crating is essential.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I ship my kayak?

To ship your kayak, you have a few options. You can use a shipping company, like FedEx or a freight company, to transport your kayak for you. Alternatively, you can ship it yourself by packaging it properly and arranging for transportation.

2. What is the cost to ship a kayak?

The cost to ship a kayak will vary based on factors such as the size and weight of your kayak, the distance it needs to travel, and the shipping service you choose. It is best to get a quote from a shipping company or freight company to determine the exact cost.

3. How do I safely ship my kayak?

To safely ship your kayak, you should wrap it in bubble wrap or similar protective material. If possible, place your kayak in a crate to provide extra protection. Secure all loose parts, such as your paddle, and consider using a reliable shipping service to ensure that your kayak arrives undamaged.

4. Can I ship my kayak via FedEx?

Yes, FedEx offers shipping services for kayaks and other large items. You can contact FedEx directly or visit their website to get more information on how to ship your kayak with them.

5. What should I do if my kayak is damaged during shipping?

If your kayak is damaged during shipping, you should contact the shipping company or freight company immediately. Take photos of the damage and document any visible signs of mishandling. The shipping company should assist you with filing a claim and resolving the issue.

6. Can I ship a large kayak?

Yes, you can ship a large kayak. However, you may need to use a freight company or specialized shipping service to handle the larger size and weight of your kayak. They will be able to advise you on the best way to transport your kayak safely.

7. How do I wrap my kayak for shipping?

To wrap your kayak for shipping, start by cleaning it thoroughly and removing any detachable parts. Use bubble wrap or foam padding to protect the kayak from scratches and impact. Secure the wrap with tape or shrink wrap to hold it in place.

8. Is it better to use a shipping crate or a box for shipping a kayak?

Using a shipping crate is usually recommended for shipping a kayak, especially if it is a larger


  • Measure dimensions and weight to choose ideal shipping method
  • Pack with padding in rigid crate and label as fragile
  • Select a freight company or specialized kayak shipping service
  • Inspect for damage and have proper docs for customs
  • Expect to spend $100-$500+ to ship a kayak

Following this comprehensive guide will ensure you package your kayak securely and choose an experienced shipping provider. This will give you peace of mind that your kayak will arrive safely at its destination intact and ready for the water!