Proper Way To Tie Down A Kayak

Last Updated on July 21, 2022 by Ecorf

Strapping your kayak successfully to your car is a very important step in making a kayaking trip. Many people have had to either cancel trips or spent a lot of unnecessary repairs of their kayaks, and sometimes, their cars because they tie their kayaks wrongly on the roof of their cars. To avoid being in such situations, you need to learn how to properly tie down a kayak.

Strapping Gears

Strapping down a kayak properly requires the use of some essential gears that guarantees your safety and those behind you.

  • Roof Rack: The roof rack comes with your car. It consists mainly of crossbars which your kayak can be attached to. Most cars come with a factory-installed roof rack. They serve as a very secure mechanism for transporting relatively large objects, kayak included.

Proper Way to Tie Down a Kayak

  • Kayak Carriers: These are specific rack systems for kayaks. They come in different types based on different functionalities and car structure, but the most secure ones are those with rack. They are attached directly to the car roof racks.
  • Cam Buckles: Cam buckles or ratchet straps acts as a belt to securely hold down your kayak. Ratchet straps are quite difficult to use but generally offers more security.
  • Bow and Stern Lines: These are ropes that are used to secure the stern as well as the bow of your kayak on your car. They stop your kayak from moving or detaching from your car while you are driving.

Proper Way to Tie Down a Kayak On a Car with Roof Racks

Having cars with roof racks offers one of the most secure options for transporting your kayak. Follow the steps to tie down your kayak on a roof rack.

  1. Lift the kayak and place it onto the roof rack on the car and make sure the kayak is at the center of the rack. This is easily done by two people, but one person should still be able to pull it off.
  2. Pull one end of the cam buckles or strap over the kayak and pass it under the bar of your car roof rack, such that it appears as a loop. Leave the other end of the strap with the cam buckle hanging on the other end of the car.
  3. If you are alone, move the bare end of the strap across the kayak to the other end. If you have somebody helping you, you can just throw it to the other end and they will grab it.
  4. Pass the bare end you just threw under the roof racks forming another loop. Use the bar, opposite to the one you used earlier. Loop the bare end exactly the way you did on the other side. 
  5. Pass the bare end through the cam buckle. This process closes the strap off and secures your kayak to the bar you used for the loop. Insert the bar end of the strap through the slot in the cam buckle and pull it towards the end, kind of like working your belt. Pull until its firm.
  6. Try and tighten the strap more with the cam buckle so as to secure the kayak. Pull-on the slack of the strap such that more of it goes through the cam buckle. This ensures the kayak does not move when you are driving. Don’t over tighten it, you might damage the kayak.
  7. Perform the same process on the second roof rack bar. Loop twice at opposite bars and tighten through the cam buckle.
  8. Wrap the loose ends of the strap around the roof rack and tie it in a knot to prevent the strap from getting caught under your tires while driving.
  9. Do a final check to make sure your kayak is well mounted on the roof. For long-distance drive, you can make pit stops to check if your kayak is still secure

Proper Way to Tie Down a Kayak On a Car without Roof Racks

Not all cars come with a factory-installed roof rack. If you have such a car and you wish to transport your kayak, then your best bet would be to use foam blocks. These ensure that the kayak does not dent the roof of your car.

These foam blocks should be placed at different contact points, such that the kayak doesn’t directly rest on the roof. Then, the same processes can be used to secure the kayak on the roof, using cam buckles and straps.

The only problem might be in the loops. Since there are no bars to pass them through, you can use the inside of the car as bars and pass the straps. It’s also efficient and really secure.

Using Bow and Stern Straps

Bow and stern straps are very important and highly recommended especially if you are going through a highway. With winds stronger in such conditions, it’s only wise you use an additional strap to secure your kayak.

  1. Hook the front of your kayak with one end of the strap with the ratchet. Some kayaks have a special tie-down point, but if your kayak doesn’t have any, you can always use the grab handle. 
  2. Attach the other end of the strap to a strong point on your car. It can be attached to an anchor point or in the car roof rack. If your car has none of these, then a hood loop strap might be a better option. This end should not be attached to any weak part of the car, like plastic or glass components.
  3. Pull the loose end of the strap in order to secure the kayak. Do not overtighten the straps over the hull as it could damage it. Components made with plastic could be deformed and those made with fiberglass could break.
  4. Tie off the loose end of the line just below the ratchet.
  5. Carry out the same process with the stern straps for added security.

Wrapping it All Up

No matter the type of car you use, there is always a right way to tie down your kayak. All strapping gears can be gotten from hardware stores. Ensure you take all possible precautions that’ll guarantee your safety and that of others.