How To Tie Down A Kayak

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Tying down a kayak is not a very difficult task. However, it’s important to tie your kayak properly onto your vehicle to ensure it stays secure.

Here, you will learn the different ways for tying down a kayak on a vehicle with or without a roof rack. Let’s get started:

Getting the right equipment

Before you start tying a kayak, it is always good to be prepared. Here are few things you need to tie down a kayak:

Cam straps

The easiest way to tie down your watercraft to your vehicle is with cam straps. They are constructed from polyester webbing which is resistant to heat, rain, and scratching. Cam straps are easy to use and adjust.

Padding or foam blocks

If your vehicle doesn’t have factory racks, you will need padding or foam blocks to protect your kayak. These padding and foam blocks create a buffer with the roof of the vehicle.

Bow and stern lines

These straps or ropes are used to secure the bow and stern of your kayak to your vehicle. We recommend using a non-stretch, water-resistant rope. Moreover, bow and stern lines prevent detaching your vessel from your car while driving.

Method to tie your kayak without the roof rack

Here’s how you can tie your kayak without the roof rack:

  • Firstly, you will need cam straps and foam blocks. Cam straps are meant for tying down your kayak. Foam blocks will protect your car roof and the bottom of your kayak.  
  • You must ensure that your watercraft is centered fore and aft between the crossbars on your car and running parallel with the car.
  • Tie off the loose ends of the straps just below the cam buckle.
  • It’s always better that you secure the bow and stern straps of your kayak to your vehicle. This is particularly significant if you’ll be driving on the highway or in high winds.
  • Hold either end of the watercraft and shake it from side to side. This will help you to make sure it is secure.
  • This method applies to recreational kayaks, whitewater kayaks, as well as sea kayaks. 

Method to tie your kayak with a roof rack

The roof rack gives you the possibility of transporting your kayak and gives you more storage space. It can also carry other large items like your luggage or water containers.

Here’s how you can tie your kayak with the roof rack:

  • If your roof rack is already installed, lift your kayak onto your vehicle roof.
  • The front of the kayak should be facing forward and it should be centered on your vehicle roof.
  • Loop the strap around one crossbar. Then, toss both ends of the strap to the other side.
  • Loop the strap under the other side of the crossbar. Now secure it with the buckle.
  • Now pull the strap tight enough to be secure.
  • Secure any excess strap just below the buckle. This will prevent these straps from flying around in the wind while you drive.
  • Next, repeat the above steps with the second strap on the other crossbar.
  • To secure the front and back of your kayak, you will need a set of bow and stern lines. These ropes or straps will run front to back across your vessel. This will keep it from sliding off the end of your vehicle.
  • Now, bundle and secure any excess strap.
  • Hold and shake either end of the kayak from side to side to make sure it is secure.
  • This method applies to recreational kayaks, whitewater kayaks, as well as sea kayaks.

Method to tie down a kayak in a truck bed

The easiest way to transport a kayak on the truck is simply throwing the kayak in the back of a pickup truck. You just need to secure it with a couple of tie-downs.

There are different truck mounts on the market as well. They act as extra support out the back of the truck. With a truck mount, it is safe and easy to load and unload the kayak.

Tips for tying down a kayak

It is your responsibility to ensure the safe and proper loading of a kayak on your vehicle. Here are some tips for tying down a kayak:

  • Keep it simple: There is no need for fancy knots and wrapping straps. Just make sure that the straps and buckles are strong and durable. Often the simple things give you the most secure way to go.
  • Use a ladder: For tall vehicles, it’s sometimes difficult for you to tie down the kayak on the roof. You can use a small step ladder and keep it in the back of your car. This will make reaching the straps a whole lot easier.
  • Add a twist: You can put a simple twist in the cam straps. This will help prevent annoying strap vibration while you are driving on the highway.
  • Tighten the straps: Always choose the right amount of tension for your kayak. Tighten both straps but not overtighten. Too much tension can deform the straps or buckles.
  • Lock the straps: For long-distance driving, you might need to leave your kayak for an extended time. Using locking cam straps will give you peace of mind when leaving your kayak on your vehicle.
  • Stop and check: For long-distance driving on a highway, make regular stops to complete your final checks to ensure it is still secure. Sometimes the straps might loosen up while driving.

Final checks

Tying your kayak properly to your vehicle and securing it in place is very important. If it’s not properly tied to the roof, it may fly off the roof on the highway. It may result in damage to your vehicle, other autos around you, and the kayak itself.

Remember, when driving with an added load, leave plenty of space between yourself and other vehicles. Avoid braking or accelerating your vehicle harshly. You will only put unnecessary pressure on your straps and fastenings. 

If you have any questions or further suggestions, please contact us. We would be happy to help you!

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