There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: Kayaks are tricky pieces of equipment to store.
Their length, weight, and sometimes awkward shape can make it hard to find a suitable storage spot for them, especially if you’re short on space at home. Thankfully, if you have a garage, you can quickly and easily use a kayak hoist to store your boat.
We’ve reviewed the best kayak hoists on the market. For more information, check out our buying advice.
Our Top Picks
If you’re in a hurry, here are our top picks. Or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.
- Best Overall: Suspenz Ceiling Hoister
- Best Budget: Rad Sportz Kayak Hoist
- Best Motorized Kayak Hoist: Garage Gator 66064K Dual Kayak and Canoe Lift
Best Overall: Suspenz Ceiling Hoister
Load Capacities: 45, 60, 90, 145, and 200 lbs | Ceiling Height Compatibility: 10, 12, or 16 feet
The Suspenz Ceiling Hoister is a solid kayak pulley system if you simply won’t settle for second best.
With the Suspenz Ceiling Hoister kit, you get a full set of stainless steel precision pulleys and hardware that make lifting your kayak as easy as possible. This hoist is designed for use by one person, and it even has a self-locking safety cleat to prevent catastrophe if you lose control of your kayak.
Suspenz built its hoist to accommodate a wide range of kayaks. It’s available in several maximum weight capacities (45, 60, 90, 145, and 200 lbs). You can also choose between a kit that’s designed for 10, 12, or 16-foot ceilings.
Better yet, Suspenz’s Ceiling Hoister kit comes with a built-in mechanical advantage so that you can lift heavy kayaks with minimal effort. The company’s 45 lb hoist kit gives you a 2:1 mechanical advantage, while the 200 lb kit offers an impressive 8:1 leverage as you lift your kayak off the ground.
As is the case with premium gear like this, Suspenz’s hoist kit isn’t cheap. But other than that, it’s tough to find fault with this kayak storage system. If you’re willing to shell out for quality, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better all-around kayak hoist than what you can get with the Suspenz Ceiling Hoister.
Reasons to buy:
- Available in a wide range of weight capacities (up to 200 lbs)
- Can work with 10′, 12′, or 16′ ceilings
- Offers excellent mechanical advantage for hoisting kayaks
- Built-in self-locking safety cleat to prevent accidents
- Durable stainless steel precision pulleys can be operated by one person
Reasons to avoid:
- Expensive for a manual hoist kit
Best Budget: Rad Sportz Kayak Hoist
Load Capacity: 125 lbs | Ceiling Height Compatibility: up to 12 feet
If you need a kayak storage system that doesn’t blow your budget, the Rad Sportz Kayak Hoist is worth a closer look.
This system from Rad Sportz comes with 2 easy-to-mount hoists that can accommodate up to 125 lbs of kayaks and other gear. The hooks on this kayak hoist also have a rubber coating to help protect your kayak from scratches and damage during the lifting process.
Additionally, this set includes two durable smooth-running pulleys. These pulleys provide a 2:1 advantage as you raise your kayak to make the entire boat storage process as simple as possible. Rad Sportz also crafted this hoist system with a safety locking mechanism to limit the potential for accidents while you put your kayak into storage.
The Rad Sportz Kayak Hoist can also work in garages or storage sheds with up to 12 feet high ceilings. That said, the kayak itself hangs about 2 feet from your ceiling, so it’s not ideal for use in rooms with ceiling heights of less than 10 feet.
Besides its limited use in rooms with low ceiling heights, some paddlers often find installing this hoist tricky. In addition, some of the hardware that comes with the Rad Sportz Kayak Hoist isn’t the best quality. But if you want a kayak hoist that doesn’t break the bank, this option should be on your radar.
Reasons to buy:
- Excellent price point
- Solid 125 lb maximum kayak weight capacity
- Includes a safety locking mechanism while hoisting
- Offers 2:1 mechanical advantage
- Rubber-coated hooks protect kayaks from damage
Reasons to avoid:
- Not great in garages with low ceiling heights
- Some durability concerns
- Installation can be a bit tricky
Best Motorized Kayak Hoist: Garage Gator 66064K Dual Kayak and Canoe Lift
Load Capacity: 220 lbs | Ceiling Height Compatibility: 9 to 15 feet
Perfect for paddlers that prioritize convenience above all else, the Garage Gator 66064K Dual Kayak and Canoe Lift is a motorized hoist that makes boat storage a breeze.
The Garage Gator can support an impressive 220 lbs, including two kayaks simultaneously. It can also work in garages and storage sheds with ceilings up to 15 feet.
The Garage Gator’s best feature is easily its motorized hoisting system. This hoist can quickly and easily lower or raise your kayaks using a 120V electric motor. In addition, the motor can lift your kayaks up to your ceiling with just the push of a button, eliminating the need for heavy lifting during the storage process.
When it comes time to hit the water, the Garage Gator also makes unloading your kayaks super straightforward. The hoist’s electric motor can swiftly bring your boats down to ground level, where the included kayak hook and strap system is simple to undo.
As you might imagine, with a motorized kayak hoist system, the Garage Gator is expensive. Installation can also be challenging because you need the right electrical wiring to power the motor. However, the Garage Gator is a sure bet if you want a kayak hoist that doesn’t require heavy lifting.
Reasons to buy:
- Fully motorized system doesn’t require heavy lifting
- Supports up to 220 lbs and has straps for two kayaks
- Can work with ceilings up to 15 feet high
- Easy to load and unload with included hooks and straps
Reasons to avoid:
- Very expensive for a kayak hoist
- Can be tricky to install
Kayak Hoist Buying Advice
Since hoists are tasked with carefully hanging your boats from the ceiling of your garage, they must be strong and reliable enough to trust with your kayaks.
Here are some of the most important things to consider as you shop for a hoisting system for your kayak.
- Types of Kayak Hoists
- Maximum Load Capacity
- Recommended Ceiling Height
- Vehicle Height
- Ease of Set-Up
Types of Kayak Hoists
The first thing you need to decide when shopping for a kayak hoist is what kind of model you want to buy. There are two broad categories of kayak hoists available today:
- Manual – The most common hoist type on the market, manual kayak hoists are designed to provide you with mechanical advantage through pulleys, so it’s easier to physically pull your kayaks off the ground. These models are cheaper than their competitors, but they require physical effort to store your kayaks.
- Motorized – With a motorized kayak hoist, you get an electric motor-powered system that mechanically raises your kayaks off the ground with the push of a button. The benefit of this type of hoist is that it requires minimal physical exertion. This is perfect for paddlers with limited mobility or anyone who doesn’t want to mess around with ropes and pulleys.
Generally, most people will find that a manual hoist kit is more than enough for their needs. But if you want to minimize the amount of physical effort that goes into raising and lowering your kayaks, an electric model is a worthwhile option.
Maximum Load Capacity
All kayak hoists come with a manufacturer-recommended maximum load capacity rating. These maximum load capacities can vary widely from model to model, but it’s imperative that you adhere to them at all times.
It’s best to give yourself a little buffer, too, when it comes to a hoist’s maximum load capacity. A good guideline to follow is that you don’t want to load your hoist system beyond about 80% of its stated capacity. So a system with a 60 lb limit shouldn’t be loaded with more than 48 lbs of boats and gear.
Recommended Ceiling Height
In addition to a maximum weight capacity, most kayak hoist manufacturers will list a recommended ceiling height. This recommended ceiling height gives you an idea of whether or not a given model will be compatible with your garage or gear shed.
Each hoist system includes a set length of rope to raise and lower your kayak. Therefore, if your ceiling is too high, you may not have enough rope to hoist your kayak.
In some cases, you may be able to swap out the rope included with your kayak hoist for a longer line so that a given system is compatible with a taller ceiling. However, we highly recommend contacting the manufacturer before doing so to ensure that this won’t cause any safety issues with your hoist.
Most people install a kayak hoist in their garage to reclaim some of their floor space for storing their vehicles. This is an excellent use of a kayak hoist, but it requires a bit of pre-planning to execute correctly.
Garages with low ceiling heights could pose some issues. For example, if you have 10-foot ceilings and a kayak that hangs down 4 feet once loaded onto its hoist, you may be unable to fit your vehicle underneath it. Alternatively, in a garage with a 12-foot ceiling, a kayak that hangs down only 3 feet will be fine.
Ease of Set-Up
Last but not least, it’s always important to consider how easy it is to set up a kayak hoist before you invest in any specific model.
All hoists require at least some assembly to get up and running. So, anyone buying a kayak hoist should be comfortable using power tools and standing on ladders.
But some hoists are easier to set up than others.
For example, electric models like the Garage Gator 66064K Dual Kayak and Canoe Lift need electricity access nearby to operate. With these models, you may also need to hire an electrician to set up the proper outlet and electrical system to power your hoist.
Additionally, hoists that provide you with more than a 2:1 mechanical advantage (3:1, 5:1, etc.) can be tricky to set up. These often come with several different pulleys that need to be oriented correctly to operate.
Our advice? Watch a few installation videos on YouTube or the manufacturer’s website before you buy a specific kayak hoist. These videos will give you a better idea of what’s involved in the set up process.
The right kayak hoist system can revolutionize how you store your most important piece of paddling equipment—your kayak. But when you start suspending your precious kayak from a ceiling, you need to know that you have a reliable hoist to protect your boat when you’re not on the water.
After reviewing the best kayak hoists available, it’s clear that the Suspenz Ceiling Hoister is one of the top options on the market. It might be a bit pricier than the competition, but Suspenz’s storage system is highly durable, and it’s versatile enough to use with a range of kayaks and ceiling heights.