Can A Kayak Fit In A Rav4? [Best Way to Carry It On A Small SUV]

Kayaks are a great way to get out on the water and enjoy nature. Unfortunately, they can be difficult to transport because of their size and weight. This article is about whether or not a kayak can fit inside a Rav4 and the different options for transporting it.

Can A Kayak Fit Inside A RAV4?

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 has about 69.8 cubic feet of total cargo with the seats folded. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough space to carry a hardshell plastic kayak, unless you leave the cargo gate open with the kayak sticking out. Trying to transport your kayak inside a RAV4 can prove very difficult, and can damage the inside of the vehicle.

Inflatable or foldable kayaks are the best types of kayaks to transport inside a Toyota RAV4. You won’t have to fold down the seats, meaning you can still carry occupants in the SUV leaving you plenty of room for more equipment.

If you own a RAV4, it doesn’t mean you can’t use it to transport a kayak. It just means you’ll need to carry it on on the roof of the car or tow a trailer.

Before we get into the different options of transporting a kayak, let’s first take a closer look at the interior space of the different models of the RAV4.

How Much Cargo Space Does A Toyota RAV4 Have?

Rav4 cargo space

The Toyota RAV4 is a roomy, compact SUV with plenty of seating area to carry up to five adults. There are several different models that range in cargo space.

Below are the different 2021 models along with the cargo space dimensions.

Toyota Crossover with Two Row SeatingCargo Space Behind Second RowTotal Cargo Space
RAV437.6 Cubic Ft.69.8 Cubic ft.
RAV4 Hybrid37.6 Cubic Ft.69.8 Cubic ft.
RAV4 Prime33.5 Cubic Feet69.8 Cubic ft.

How Do You Transport A Kayak On A RAV4?

If you own a Rav4, you have two options for transporting your kayaks from point A to point B.

Utility Trailer

The base-level 2.5L 4 cylinder engine has a towing capacity of up to 1,500 pounds. A Hybrid 2.5L 4cylinder engine is paired with an Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission, which can tow a maximum capacity of 1,750. Which is 250 pounds more than the stand gas engine.

An upgrade to the AWD-equipped models, such as the TRD Off-Road and Toyota RAV4 Adventure both have a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. If you’re considering buying one, here’s everything you need to know about the Hybrid towing capacity.

All newer RAV4 models won’t have any issue pulling a small lightweight utility trailer to carry your kayak. Since most kayak trailers weigh about 200 pounds unloaded.

Before pulling a heavier trailer, make sure your vehicle is properly equipped to tow it. Towing a trailer that is too heavy, adds extra strain to your engine and transmission, that won’t be covered under the warranty.

If you have an older model RAV4, refer to the owner’s manual to find out what the towing capacity is.

Using a trailer to transport your kayak, is the most expensive option. Unless you have a newer model, you’ll have to add a hitch to your SUV. Expect to spend $800-$1500 or more on a small utility trailer, depending on where you live.

Roof Rack

Most compact SUV owners will opt to install a roof rack. It is the most economical method for transporting canoes, kayaks, bicycles, paddleboards, and other bulky equipment.

The newer model SUVs come with pre-installed roof rails, making it easy to install an aftermarket roof rack.

Roof racks for SUVs come in several different styles including foldable and removable racks making them easy to remove when not in use. The kind you get will depend on the make and model of your vehicle, type, and the number of kayaks you have.

Can You Put A Roof Rack On A RAV4?

Yes, the RAV4 comes with pre-installed factory roof rails, making it extremely easy to install a roof rack. The Toyota RAV4 has a rooftop weight limit or capacity of 165 pounds, which is more than enough to carry two kayaks.

How to Install A Roof Rack on a Toyota RAV4?

Installing a kayak on a RAV4 is no different than installing it on any other SUV. Most after-market roof racks will install easily onto the factory-installed crossbars. The RAV4 crossbars are wide enough to carry two kayaks if you install a J-rack carrier.

You can also install a Seawing Stinger Combo rack that makes it easier for one person to load the kayak onto the car. The combo kayak with a padded V-block frame is the perfect option for those that don’t have anyone to help them load the kayak.

This video from Headwaters Kayak will show you how to install both types of kayak racks on a RAV4.

The video above will also walk you through how to load the kayak on the RAV4.

Can You Carry A Kayak On A RAV4 Without A Roof Rack?

While not recommended, it is possible to carry a kayak without a roof rack. Use durable foam pads, or pool noodles to help secure the kayak and keep it off the roof of the vehicle. It will protect the roof of the vehicle from dings and scratches.

Transporting a Kayak in a Toyota RAV4

Even though a kayak won’t fit comfortably inside a RAV4, some people will still transport it with the kayak hanging out the back. We’ve all seen vehicles with smaller cars and SUVs with kayaks hanging out the back or window.

It’s not recommended carrying a hardshell kayak inside a RAV4. Doing so can scratch or damage the interior of the vehicle. It can also affect the driver if it is pushed too far to the front of the SUV.

If it is transported inside the SUV, use a sturdy rope to properly secure the vessel so it doesn’t shift during transport. If it sticks out more than three feet from the rear, tie a red or orange warning flag to the protruding end to warn other drivers.

Several states have overhang laws that prevent items from hanging out over the end of the vehicle, so check the laws in your area.

Other Options for RAV4 Owners

If you’re scared a roof rack will damage your vehicle and you don’t want to pull a trailer, consider renting a kayak. Several popular kayaking spots offer kayak rentals, so you don’t have to carry your own.

Renting a kayak allows you to test out different kayaks. It’s also a great option if you’re just starting out and not sure if kayaking is for you.

Kayak rental prices will vary depending on the place you’re visiting. When you rent a kayak, they provide the kayak, paddles, and life jacket.

Kayaking Equipment to Carry Inside A RAV4

The spacious interior of the RAV4 will have no issues carrying coolers, life jackets, paddles, and other essential kayaking gear. As mentioned above, foldable and inflatable kayaks can be stored in the cargo area, without folding the seats.

Final Word

To sum it up, a hardshell kayak won’t fit inside a Toyota RAV4. If you own a compact SUV, your best option is to use a trailer or roof rack.

Before towing a utility trailer, make sure you know the towing capacity of your vehicle. Never pull a trailer too heavy, as it can damage the vehicle. The best and most convenient method to transport a kayak with a RAV4 is to invest in an OEM roof rack.

If you’re thinking about buying a RAV4 or other compact SUV, there are plenty of different aftermarket kayak accessories available, making it easy for you to carry your kayak from your house to the water.

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