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Hey folks, I've got a 2018 Hobie Outback, and I've always heard you're not supposed to put weight on the front/rear handle. I fish a lot of rivers with steep banks, and getting the kayak out requires me to pull it straight up sometimes, putting all the weight on that front handle. I'm thinking (to save my back) I'll just start using my winch on my truck to pull it up and out, but I don't want to damage the kayak. Where do y'all think would be the best place to attach the winch?

I've searched the internet and can't really find anything that helps me out. Looking forward to y'all's replies!
I'll show my composite Kestrel factory lift handles as an example for you.
I'm sure these are designed so you don't lift the boat by a small area on the bow, which could crack the thin lay-up - rather, the lift load from either end is distributed over a third of the hull.
When you lift the T-shaped handle, the tension is distributed between the three hard points in the triangulated line.
The far points from the bow also correspond to the first bulkhead inside the hull.
Should be easy enough to rig something similar for your boat using high-strength braided line, so you don't just pull on the bow, but pull on half the hull.

Think of this as acting like a really long suitcase handle. Instead of putting tension and the weight of the boat directly on the bow, everything between the hard points is in compression.
The lines essentially form a trapeze so the lift is distributed between 3 hard points on each end of the boat
I'm lifting 2/3 of the boat here - the front third is resting on foam blocks
Last edited by Ron Mc on Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
The problem with using your truck or a winch is that, unlike your back, there is no overload indicator. Get into a bind, or hung up on a snag and you may do some real damage to a lot more than the handle. Imagine getting a tiny stump stuck in one of the scupper holes for an example... Your back won't let you tear the bottom out. Your truck or a winch will let you tear the bottom right out.

I like Ron Mc's setup, but I'd also make sure that the connections are backed up on the underside with some large diameter SST fender washers. Your goal is to distribute the pulling load over as many square inches as possible, to reduce the stress on the plastic.
I guess it depends on the terrain, I would give it try.

When I do my overnight camping trips I probably have 120 lbs of gear, water, ice, beer, etc in my kayak (I cook meals from scratch so my camp kitchen setup is heavy compared to a jet boil and dehydrated meals) plus the weight of the kayaks, so around 200 lbs of weight. We'll have to portage occasionally and have to lift that weight with just the front and rear handles, probably 40% on the front and 60% on the rear. We may take the cooler out depending on the length of portage.

I've also drug my fully loaded kayak when it's too shallow to paddle (like hitting the flutes of the Llano) just from the front handle alone.

That's my experience with using the handles to pull heavy weights. I think if you're observant through the process it'll be OK. Hobie lays up a thicker hull than most kayak manufacturers. If you want to be more cautious add more backing material to the bolts of the front handle (if you can, not sure if they're well nuts).
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