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How-To Guide

How to Tie Down a Kayak to a Vehicle

On a beautiful sunny day, getting out on the water might be the only thing on your mind. Before you grab your kayak and drive to the nearest body of water, take the time to properly load and tie-down your kayak onto the roof of your vehicle. Otherwise, you could create a dangerous situation for yourself and other drivers, as well as possibly damaging your kayak in transit

Tools

Neccessary

Optional Tools

  •  A willing friend
  •  Under-hood straps

Loading & Tying Down a Kayak

Load the kayak onto your roof rack
1

Load the kayak onto your roof rack

With or without a friend, lift up the kayak onto your roof rack and make sure it’s centered within the crossbars of your car. It should be running parallel to your vehicle for maximum wind resistance.


Load the kayak onto your roof rack
2

Load the kayak onto your roof rack

Use cam straps or ratchet straps to tighten the kayak to the roof rack, looping around the crossbars for additional support. Take care not to overtighten! Plastic hulls can get deformed; and much like most humans, composite/fiberglass hulls may crack under too much pressure.


Secure the bow to the front of your vehicle
3

Secure the bow to the front of your vehicle

Secure the bow with a sturdy line by connecting one end of the line to a secure part of the kayak and the other to a metal part on your vehicle, such as the front tow hooks. Never hook a line to plastic car components as it won’t be as secure and could cause damage to your vehicle. If you don’t have tow hooks on your car, consider using a hood strap, which attaches to a bolt under the side of your hood and can stay in place permanently when the hood is closed.


Secure the stern to the rear of your vehicle
4

Secure the stern to the rear of your vehicle

Secure the stern with a sturdy line just like the bow. The best connection point is the hitch of your vehicle. If you don’t have a hitch, quick-loop straps can be used instead. They can be placed at the base of your trunk, partially sticking out, and when you close the trunk firmly they can be used as a secure connection point.


Tighten any slack
5

Tighten any slack

Check that all the lines and straps are tight, and tie off any slack. The last thing you want is a loose strap whacking in the wind as you drive away, or catching in your tires. Knot up any slack, and it will provide an extra level of security in case the lines loosen in transit.


Periodically check all straps & tighten if necessary
6

Periodically check all straps & tighten if necessary

While driving, stop periodically to double-check your straps and lines. To make sure your kayak stays securely in place, stop after 5-15 miles of driving and inspect the connection points and tautness of the lines. Give everything a tug and shake, and re-tighten as needed. Then, continue to stop and check every 25 miles until you reach your destination.