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How-To Guide

How to Tie Down a Kayak to a Vehicle

Because of their shape and somewhat unwieldy bulk, kayaks need to be securely mounted and tied down for safe transit. Follow these steps to ensure that your kayak stays put while traveling to and from your adventures:



Optional Tools

Loading & Tying Down a Kayak

Step 1

With or without a friend, load the kayak onto your padded roof rack and make sure it’s centered within the crossbars of your car. It should be running parallel to your vehicle.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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.