Kayaking is a great way to get out of the house and enjoy a day with the family. However, transporting a kayak can be challenging, especially, with a compact vehicle like a Toyota Prius. So can a kayak fit in a Prius?
Can A Kayak Fit In A Toyota Prius?
No, a kayak of any size won’t fit inside the Prius, without having to leave the hatchback open. A 10-foot kayak measures about 370 cubic feet, making it too long to fit in the back.
Children’s and smaller kayaks of 8-9 feet long can fit inside, but you’ll need to move the seats down to make more room. That said, you will still have a hard time closing the hatchback unless you position the kayaks to fit in between the driver and passenger, which can be dangerous.
If you prefer the longer recreational kayaks, you may want to consider towing a small utility trailer or installing a roof rack to transport your kayak. Otherwise, you may want to look at purchasing a foldable or inflatable kayak, which will fit in the cargo area without issues.
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How Much Cargo Space Does A Prius Have?
The 2021 Toyota Prius has 27.4 cubic feet and 50.7 cubic feet with the back seats folded. Making it the Toyota car with the most cargo space. That said, it still won’t comfortably hold a kayak without damaging the kayak or the vehicle.
How Do You Transport A Kayak On A Prius?
The easiest way to transport a kayak with a Prius is to install a roof rack or tow a lightweight utility trailer. Let’s take a closer look at both options, to help you decide which method is best for you.
The Toyota Prius is not a big vehicle, therefore, don’t expect to be able to tow a lot like other vehicles. Below you’ll find the towing capacity based on the model and year of the vehicle.
The New-Gen Prius has a maximum towing capacity of 2,500 pounds. Meaning they won’t have any trouble towing a lightweight kayak trailer which ranges from about 800-900 pounds fully loaded.
Older Prius’s were not engineered with towing in mind. Therefore, they have a lower towing capacity than the newer models.
Check the owner’s manual to find out the maximum towing capacity for your specific model. If you can’t find it, you can contact your local Toyota dealer to ask them.
They may want you to bring the vehicle in to make sure it is working properly and doesn’t require any maintenance before towing a kayak trailer.
A roof rack is a carrier that enables you to load up your vehicle and carry bulky equipment from camping gear, luggage, bicycles, kayaks, canoes, snowboards, etc.
This is the best option for vehicles like the Prius which don’t have a lot of tow capacity. You won’t have to worry about pulling too much weight and possibly damaging your vehicle.
Can I Put A Roof Rack On A Toyota Prius?
You can put a roof rack on a Prius, but it’s not as easy as other vehicles.
The Prius has an aerodynamic shape that makes it challenging to mount a rack to the top of the car. That said, it’s possible and you can see from the image above, we mounted one to our 2008 Prius.
There are many brands such as Yakima, Thule, and etc that can be mounted to the top of the vehicle. Unlike other vehicles, the Prius does not come with factory rails, but it does have a groove at the top making it easy to install an after-market carrier.
Due to the small size of the Prius, I’d recommend carrying no more than two kayaks. Anything more than that will make them harder to load and may not fit due to the width.
Best Roof Racks for A Prius
Regardless of what type of vehicle you drive, there are literally tons of OEM roof racks to choose from. When we were in the market for one, we decided to go with the Yakima roof rack and Yakima JayLow J-Style Carriers.
The racks themselves were extremely easy to mount and as you can see from the image above, it was able to hold two kayaks without any issues. The J-style carriers have a maximum weight capacity of 110 lbs, which is more than enough for any kayak.
The system comes with everything you need, including straps, and hardware. You can even purchase a locking key (sold separately) to prevent the kayaks from being stolen.
The best part about the Yakima rack is it is interchangeable. Meaning you can also purchase the FrontLoader Upright Bike Carrier, cargo basket and etc. You won’t have to worry about replacing it anytime soon, as we’ve had ours on our vehicle for about eight years.
We’ve even taken the rack itself (without accessories on top) through a car wash and it’s still working great!
It’s one of the best roof racks for a Toyota Prius and will last for a very long time.
How to Install A Roof Rack On A Prius?
Installing a roof rack on a Prius is no different than any other vehicle. The biggest difference is you have less room and a more aerodynamic design than other vehicles.
To install an OEM roof rack, you’ll need an Allen wrench to tighten and loosen the bolts on the rack. The Prius comes with factory rubber holes or covers that will support the rack and prevent moisture or rain from entering the vehicle.
This video will walk you through how to install a roof rack on your vehicle.
This video will help you install a rack on any Toyota vehicle such as the Corolla, Camry, and etc.
If you don’t want to install it yourself, you can have Toyota install it for a fee. According to this forum, they will charge you around $65 to install it.
Make sure you contact them before as the prices are subject to change depending on where you live.
How to Load A Kayak On A Prius?
Loading a kayak on a Prius is no different than any other vehicle. If you have more than one person, you can both grab one end of the kayak and slide it into the j-slot. On the other hand, if you’re loading the kayak by yourself, you’ll want to cover the hatchback window with a towel or blanket to prevent scratches scuff marks.
Lift one end of the kayak so it is sitting perpendicular to the vehicle. Line it up to the kayak carrier. Using the bottom of the kayak, slide the top into the carrier until it is lined up evenly.
Once it is sitting evenly on the carrier, you can strap it down using rope or straps that are included with most carriers. Ensure the kayak is in place, by pulling down on either the front or back.
If the kayak doesn’t budge, then you know it’s safe to drive on the highway or any other road.
Can You Carry A Kayak On The Roof Of A Prius Without A Roof Rack?
No, the Prius by default does not come with any factory bars, meaning if you want to carry something on the roof, you’ll need to add a roof rack. The aerodynamic design makes it impossible to carry something such as a kayak strapped to the roof.
Trying to carry one without a roof rack, can cause severe damage to your vehicle, or other drivers during transport. Which can cause more headaches and higher insurance premiums for you.
Other Options for Prius Owners
If you don’t feel comfortable using the Prius to haul your kayak, the other option is to rent a kayak when you get to your destination. Kayaking is a popular activity and many places offer rentals or work with an outfitter that does.
Before planning your trip, look for destinations such as kayaking at Mammoth Cave, Yellowstone, etc which offer kayak rentals for the day. You’ll get to enjoy being on the water, without having to worry about transporting the water vessel.
Most recreational, sea, ocean, or fishing kayaks won’t fit inside a Toyota Prius. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a Prius to haul a kayak. You’ll just have to find another way to transport it, with a roof rack being the best option.
After reading this article, you now know how to transport your kayak safely while driving a smaller vehicle with less tow capacity than a Ford Escape, Toyota Highlander and etc.
Now it’s time to load up the kayaks and head out to the water!