How does a one person canoe loader work?

Written by kevin ann reinhart
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How does a one person canoe loader work?
Solo paddling is no problem but loading a car-top canoe can be. (beached canoe image by Tanya McConnell from

A one-person canoe loader allows the solo paddler to load, transport and unload a canoe unassisted. You need a trailer hitch, bungee cord(s) and a car-top canoe carrier along with the canoe loader in order to load and properly secure a canoe for travel. You can load the canoe onto the rooftop of any car, truck or SUV.

Attaching the Canoe Loader

The canoe loader attaches to the ball portion of the trailer hitch or, if the ball is needed for towing, an adaptor may be installed parallel to the back bumper of the vehicle and the hitch ball reinstalled to hold the canoe loader bar. Slide the inner adjusting pole into the hitch mounting tube and secure it with a lynch pin. Place the outer adjusting pole over the inner pole. Slide the crossbar assembly into the outer adjusting pole and lock it into place with a lynch pin.

Adjusting the Canoe Loader

The canoe should centre over the canoe loader for proper loading. Adjust the width of the crossbar mounting tubes to fit the width of the canoe. Slide the outer adjustment pole upwards until the crossbar assembly is taller than the roof of the vehicle and just above the height of the car-top carrier. Secure the crossbar assembly with a lynch pin. The canoe is now ready for loading.

Loading the Canoe

Position the canoe upside down directly behind the rear of the vehicle. Lift the front end of the canoe and rest it on the crossbar of the canoe loader. Use a bungee cord lashed over the canoe and holder to keep the canoe in place on the crossbar. Pick up the end of the canoe that is on the ground and walk it around the vehicle until you are directly facing the front. The power of leverage and the rotating canoe loader will make this step easy for one person. Once the canoe is on the car top carrier, use tie-down straps front, middle and rear to secure the load.

Unloading the Canoe

Always unload a canoe at the front of the vehicle. Remove all tie-downs from the front, centre and rear of the vehicle. Leave the bungee cord connecting the canoe to the canoe loader in place. Lift the bow of the canoe and walk around the vehicle until you are directly behind it. Set the canoe bow on the ground behind the loader. Remove the bungee cord. Clean and dry the canoe loader to prevent oxidation. Remove the loader from the car for storage.

Canoe Loader Safety

Ensure that the canoe does not exceed the maximum rated capacity of the canoe loader and distribute the load evenly over the vehicle's roof. Never stand under the canoe while loading or unloading. Always secure the canoe to the loader using the bungee cord before loading or unloading. Load and unload in an area free from obstructions or overhead wiring. While driving with the canoe on your car, allow for the extra height of the loader and car top carrier, avoiding low-ceiling parking garages or low-hanging branches.

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