There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: Kayaks are tricky pieces of equipment to store.
The length, weight, and sometimes awkward shape of kayaks make it hard to find a suitable storage spot for them, especially if you’re short on space at home. Thankfully, keen paddlers with a garage or shed can quickly and easily use a kayak hoist system to store their boats when they’re not on the water.
That said, kayak hoists come in many shapes and sizes, and not all models will be suitable for your needs. So we’ve reviewed the best kayak hoist systems for all situations.
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
“With the Suspenz Ceiling Hoister, you get a versatile, high-performing kayak hoist that puts durability and functionality above all else.”
- Best Budget: Rad Sportz Kayak Hoist
“A no-nonsense storage unit that doesn’t cost a fortune, the Rad Sportz Kayak Hoist is a solid choice for the cost-conscious kayaker.”
- Best for Lightweight Kayaks: StoreYourBoard Kayak Ceiling Storage Hoist
“An ideal option for paddlers with lightweight kayaks, StoreYourBoard’s Kayak Ceiling Storage Hoist offers a simplified, no-frills boat storage system for any garage.”
- Best Motorized Kayak Hoist: Garage Gator 66064K Dual Kayak and Canoe Lift
“The Garage Gator 66064K Dual Kayak and Canoe Lift is a fully electric kayak hoist that makes putting your boats in storage as easy and convenient as possible.”
Best Overall: Suspenz Ceiling Hoister
Load Capacity: 45, 60, 90, 145, and 200 lbs | Ceiling Height Compatibility: 10 or 12 ft
Taking home gold in our review, the Suspenz Ceiling Hoister is a solid choice 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 can be. 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 get a set that’s designed for either a 10 or 12 foot ceiling for added customizability in your garage.
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. Ultimately, 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.
Best Budget: Rad Sportz Kayak Hoist
Load Capacity: 125 lbs | Ceiling Height Compatibility: up to 12 ft
If you need a kayak storage system that doesn’t blow your budget, the Rad Sportz Kayak Hoist is worth a closer look.
This hoist system from Rad Sportz comes with a set of 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 you with a 2:1 advantage as you raise your kayak to make the entire boat storage process as simple as can be. 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 ceilings up to 12 feet high. 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 can be tricky. In addition, some of the hardware that comes with the Rad Sportz Kayak Hoist isn’t the best quality, and you may want to replace the included rope after a few years. But if you want a kayak hoist that doesn’t break the bank, this is one option that should be on your list.
Best for Lightweight Kayaks: StoreYourBoard Kayak Ceiling Storage Hoist
Load Capacity: 60 lbs | Ceiling Height Compatibility: up to 12 ft
Designed specifically for use with lightweight kayaks, the StoreYourBoard Kayak Ceiling Storage Hoist is a simple, low-cost solution for keen paddlers.
StoreYourBoard engineered this hoist system to accommodate kayaks of up to 60 lbs in weight. While this is low by kayak hoist standards, it’s suitable for use with a wide range of lightweight boats. This hoist also comes with a set of versatile straps and hooks that make it easy to load and unload your kayak.
As far as storage goes, StoreYourBoard states that this hoist can work with ceilings up to 12 feet high. It also comes with a wall tie-down cleat so you can quickly stash away any excess rope that you have after lifting your kayak.
For safety purposes, this hoist includes a locking mechanism that prevents your kayak from falling to the ground while it’s suspended from the ceiling. It also features a set of pulleys that provide you with a 2:1 advantage as you place your kayak into storage.
Although this system is functional for light kayaks, some paddlers find that the plastic pulleys that come with it aren’t very durable. Others note that the included rope is thin and uncomfortable to hoist with. That said, if you need a simple storage solution for a lightweight boat, the StoreYourBoard Kayak Ceiling Storage Hoist is a worthy choice.
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 worth of boats, including two kayaks at the same time. It can also work in garages and storage sheds with ceilings up to 15 feet tall for maximum versatility.
That said, the Garage Gator’s best feature is easily its motorized hoisting system. With this hoist, you can quickly and easily lower or raise your kayaks using a 120V electric motor. 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 enough to undo on your own.
As you might imagine, with a motorized kayak hoist system, the Garage Gator is both expensive and heavy. Installation can also be a challenge because you need to have the right electrical wiring to power the hoist’s motor. However, if you want a simple kayak hoist that doesn’t require heavy lifting, the Garage Gator is a sure bet.
Kayak Hoist Buying Guide
Since hoists are tasked with carefully hanging your boats from the ceiling of a garage or storage shed, they must be strong and reliable enough to trust with your kayaks.
Finding the best kayak hoist, however, is no easy task. To help you out, here are some of the most important things to consider as you shop for a hoisting system for your kayak.
Type of Kayak Hoist
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 for you to physically pull your kayaks off the ground. These models tend to be cheaper than their competitors, but they require physical effort on your part to put your kayaks into storage.
- Electric – With an electric 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 to this kind of hoist is that it requires minimal physical exertion. This is perfect for paddlers with limited mobility or anyone that simply doesn’t want to mess around with ropes and pulleys.
There’s no one type of kayak storage system that’s right for everyone. Generally, most paddlers will probably 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 from their storage space, 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 for maximum performance. So a system with a 60 lb limit shouldn’t be loaded with more than 48 lbs of boats and gear.
Why, you might ask?
Well, since using a kayak hoist requires that you suspend your boats from the ceiling, the last thing you want is for the hoist to break and send your kayak tumbling to the ground. An event like this could damage your kayak and anything else in your garage, like your car. It could also seriously injure anyone that happened to be standing under your kayak.
So, when possible, it’s good to play things safe and always follow a hoist’s maximum load capacity rating.
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.
There are several reasons why a manufacturer will list a recommended ceiling height for their hoist. The most common reason is that each hoist system includes a set length of rope used to raise and lower your kayak. Therefore, if your ceiling is too high, you may not have enough rope for hoisting your kayak.
In some cases, you may be able to swap out the rope that’s 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 kayak hoists in their garage in the hopes that they can reclaim some of their garage’s floor space for storing their vehicles. This is an excellent use of a kayak hoist, but it’s something that requires a bit of pre-planning to execute correctly.
That’s because all hoists are designed to hang your kayaks from the ceiling and, in garages with low ceiling heights, this could pose issues for your vehicle.
For example, if you have 10 foot ceilings and a kayak that hangs down to about 6 feet once it’s loaded onto its hoist, you may not be able to fit your vehicle underneath it. Alternatively, in a garage with 12 foot ceilings, a kayak that hangs down to only 9 feet may not be a problem.
That said, even though the majority of manufacturers list a maximum ceiling height for their hoists, few tell you how low the hoist hangs from your ceiling once your kayaks are locked and loaded. So if you’re concerned about fitting your vehicle underneath a kayak hoist, contact the manufacturer directly for more information.
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.
The truth is that all hoists require at least some assembly to get up and running. 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 to have 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 fairly tricky to set up. These often come with a number of 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 hoist model. These videos will give you a better idea of what’s involved in the set up process so you can ensure that you’re not getting in over your head with your new kayak storage system.
The right kayak hoist system can truly 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 in place to protect your boat when you’re not on the water.
After reviewing the best kayak hoist models 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. Plus, it’s also thoughtfully designed with safety in mind.