How to Tie Down a Kayak to a Vehicle

It is important when transporting a kayak or canoe to correctly secure it to the roof of your vehicle with a carrier rack to prevent it from causing wind resistance or even flying off. The following video is designed to show you how to safely tie your kayak to the roof of your vehicle, and the video transcript can be found below.

For information on how air flow can affect rooftop cargo, as well as a guide on properly securing other cargo to your vehicle’s roof, please see our article on How to Tie Down Roof Cargo. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us.

Video Transcript

Today we're going to show you techniques on how to properly tie down the bow and stern of a canoe or kayak on the roof of your vehicle.

To reduce the chance of serious damage to vehicles and/or cargo, it is imperative to tie down any type of cargo extending past your vehicle’s windshield and rear window.

Before using bow and stern tie-downs, it is important to properly secure the canoe or kayak to your vehicle’s roof rack system. Please note that bow and stern tie-downs are not to be used as a standalone tie-down system. For this demonstration, we will be tying down a kayak with ratcheting bow and stern tie-downs.

When tying down the bow, use a secure point on the front of your canoe or kayak and a secure point on the front of the vehicle. We will be using the grab handles on the front of our kayak and the tow hooks on the front of our vehicle.

Please note that you should never attach the tie-downs to plastic parts of your vehicle.

Keep the tie-downs loose yet snug. Over tightening can damage your vehicle and/or kayak.

If you don’t have a secure point on the front of your vehicle to tie down to, hood loop straps can be used as an alternative solution.

Each hood loop simply attaches to an available bolt head located under your hood.

An advantage to using hood loop straps is that they can be permanently attached to your vehicle.

Once properly installed, close the hood with the loop strap exposed. Now you can use the hood loop as your secure bow tie down point.

When tying down the stern, use a secure point on the rear of your canoe or kayak and a secure point on the rear of the vehicle. We will be using the grab handles on the rear of our kayak and the chain loops on the hitch of our vehicle.

Keep the tie-downs loose yet snug. Over tightening can damage your vehicle and/or kayak.

Once secure, tie up any extra slack.

If you don’t have a secure point on the rear of your vehicle to tie down to, quick loop straps can be used as an alternative solution.

Simply pop the hatch or trunk and lay the rubber side of the quick loop inside. Close the hatch or trunk and the quick loop strap is installed.

Now, secure the stern tie-down strap, tie up any extra slack, and you’re ready for the road.

For added safety, check the tie-downs after driving the first 5-15 miles and every 25 miles after to ensure that they are still properly secured and that the kayak or canoe hasn’t moved.

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