Canoe (& Kayak) Hoists & Pulley Systems

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Whether you’ve just purchased your first canoe, or have had one for decades, a good canoe hoist system can make storage much easier. Canoe hoists and pulleys allow you to store your craft safely suspended in your garage – rather than strewn around your garage or shed taking up valuable space.

A good hoist will let you suspend your canoe, kayak, SUP, or other small craft up and away from the floor. This will prevent accidental scuffing, dings, and more serious structural damage. They can also be used to suspend other bulky, heavy items like ladders, tables, bikes, and car roof boxes.

A high-quality hoist system will last a lifetime and make loading and storing your canoe far easier. I’ll break down some of the best hoist systems on the market, as well as how to pick the right one for your storage space and needs.

Quick Answer: 4 Best Canoe Hoists & Pulleys

Best Overall: Harken SUP, Canoe, and Kayak Garage Storage

Harken kayak hoist | overhead garage storage, lifts load evenly, safe anti-drop system, 2:1 mechanical advantage, smart garage organization for canoe, sup, paddle board, surfboard, wakeboard, kayak

Harken makes some of the best quality pulley systems on the planet, and this well-engineered canoe hoist is no exception. It comes in a wide variety of configurations – from a compact 10-foot lift 45-pound model up to an impressive 16-foot lift 145-pound model. It’s designed for easy one-armed operation with a single control rope and a 3:1 gearing ratio that makes lifting and lowering most canoes a breeze.

The 4-contact point hoist design makes lifting and lowering your craft smooth and safe. The hoist allows you to raise the craft within inches of the ceiling and is highly stable when fully lifted.

Installation is fairly straightforward, but keep in mind you’ll need to pick up two 6-foot long 2” x 6” wood boards and lag bolts for attaching the beams to the ceiling. These will make sure you hit at least three studs and create a rock-solid mounting platform. You can also mount it on angled ceilings by extending each line so its level to the floor.

Key Features

  • Well-engineered canoe hoist with Harken pulleys and components
  • Smooth one-armed operation with 3:1 gearing ratio
  • Wide variety of sizes and weight capacities
  • 4 contact point hoist with self-locking safety
  • Can be raised within inches of the ceiling
  • Made in the USA

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Runner Up: Attwood All-In-One Hoist System

Attwood 11953-4 all-in-one hoist system for kayaks, canoes and bikes, black finish

This all in one hoist system contains everything you need to lift and store your canoe high up and out of the way. Mounting hardware comes included, although the included lag bolts may need to be replaced with more sturdy hardware. The hoist can hold up to 120 pounds, so you’ll be able to store all but the heaviest kayaks and canoes out there.

Like the hoist above, you’ll want to use two 2” x 4” or 2” x 6” wood runners for mounting to the ceiling. The system includes two 8’3” hanging straps as well as 50’ of rope. 2-inch wide webbing hang straps evenly distribute the pressure on your craft – ensuring no scuffing or warping will occur.

A safety release mechanism prevents your boat from falling, while the two-rope system allows a single person to raise or lower the boat fairly easily. Keep in mind the pulley and gearing is not as good as more pricey models, so you’ll need to put a little effort into raising/lowering.

Key Features

  • Weight Capacity: 120 lbs
  • Works on ceilings up to 9 feet
  • All mounting hardware comes included
  • Includes 50-foot rope, 2 x hanging straps, safety release mechanism

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Also Consider: Suspenz Ceiling Hoister

Suspenz ceiling hoister, 90-pound

This precision American made hoist is the ideal for solution for raising and lowering canoes, kayaks, dinghies, and all kinds of large, bulky items. It features top-shelf butter-smooth Harken pulleys – and can be operated single-handed with a single control rope.

Available in several different weight capacities (90, 145, and 200 pounds) so you can easily find the right configuration for your needs. Depending on the model selected, you’ll get a mechanical advantage between 4:1 and 8:1, making lifting nearly effortless.

Self-locking cleats grip the line instantly if the pull rope is accidentally released, so you rest easy knowing you won’t drop your expensive watercraft.  The 4-point lifting system is designed for up to 10-foot ceilings but can be modified fairly easily for taller mounting scenarios.

Like many other hoists, you’ll want to use two 2” x 6” wood boards plus lag bolts to create a secure mounting surface.

Key Features

  • Weight Capacity: 90, 145 & 200 lbs
  • Superior Harken pulleys and mechanical gearing advantage makes raising a breeze
  • Self-locking safety cleat prevents accidental release
  • Made in the USA

2-Pack Canoe Hoist: Rad Sportz Garage Storage Hoists

Kayak hoist set – overhead pulley system with 125 lb capacity for kayaks, canoes, bikes, or ladder storage by rad sportz (2 pack)

If you’ve got multiple craft to store, then this convenient 2-pack of canoe hoists fits the bill nicely. The hoists can handle up to 125 pounds and can be used in garages and other storage spaces up to 12 feet high. A safety locking mechanism prevents accidental release – so you can feel completely safe parking your car underneath it.

Smooth pulleys and latches make raising and lowering your craft a breeze, while durable rubber coated hooks prevent scratching when attached directly to canoes, kayaks, and other items. You can mount the hoist directly to the joists in your garage ceiling, or you can use 2” x 4” wood runners screwed into the ceiling as a mounting surface.

As the straps tend to hang low even when the hoist is fully raised, you can attach the rubber-coated hooks directly to the craft, or alter the straps so they pull your craft high enough to provide sufficient clearance underneath.

Key Features

  • Weight Capacity: 125 lbs
  • 2-pack canoe or kayak hoists
  • Can be used with ceilings up to 12 feet high
  • Safety locking mechanism prevents accidental release
  • Rubber coated hooks protect from scratches

How to pick the right canoe hoist system

1 2022 08 best canoe and kayak hoists and pulley systems

There’s no one-size-fits-all canoe or kayak hoist system – which is why you’ll need to consider a few factors when picking one out. Let’s take a look at some of the things to consider when picking out a hoist system to store your canoe.

Garage Size

The first thing to consider when choosing a hoist is your garage, shed, or other storage space dimensions. You’ll need enough length to fit the size of your canoe, and you’ll also need enough ceiling height to create sufficient clearance to park your vehicle below.

Pay attention to the manufacturer’s stated ceiling height rating when picking a hoist. If your garage ceiling is higher than the stated one, you may not be able to drop it low enough to load/unload your canoe.

If your ceiling is lower than the manufacturer rating, the included pull rope may not be long enough, although this is generally easy to modify.

Also, consider any accessories that may extend out from your canoe when taking measurements. Bulky items like outriggers and stabilizers can take up a significant amount of garage space. 


Mounting canoe hoists to your garage ceiling will require a little work on your part, and you may need to pick up some additional mounting hardware as well. You’ll generally need a drill, drill bits, a stud finder, and a tape measure.

While you can typically screw the hoist mounts directly into the ceiling studs or rafters, setting up two 2’ x 4’ wooden runners with lag bolts will make your mount more secure. This will spread the canoe or kayak’s weight over a larger surface area – lowering the amount of stress placed on the mounting surface.

Weight Capacity

Manufacturers will typically give a maximum weight capacity a hoist can handle. When deciding on the right weight capacity, make sure to consider any additional accessories mounted to your canoe or kayak. Things like trolling motors, seats, and marine batteries can add a significant amount of weight to your boat, so going with a higher weight capacity than you think you need makes sense.

Ease of Use

Ease of use refers to how easy the hoist is to operate. There’s a significant difference in ease of use and overall performance between higher-priced and budget-priced hoists.

Higher-end canoe hoists will feature superior pulley quality and gearing – which makes raising and lowering a canoe much easier to do. They’ll also be safer than budget models, as they feature superior quality mounting hardware and self-locking safety mechanisms.

Much like roof racks, safety should be a top priority whenever your mounting anything heavy overhead. When you roll into your garage and start loading your canoe into the hoist, the last thing you want to happen is accidentally drop it on your car’s roof!

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