How to Tie Down a Kayak | A Complete Guide to Transport a Kayak

If you carry a kayak on the roof of your car, you might be wondering how to tie down a kayak. You must hold it correctly not to get damaged or fall out while you are traveling.

Tying down your kayak is simple when you have mastered it, but always take the time to make sure your kayak is acceptable to hold before you take off. When it is a beautiful day outside, it can be ideal for enjoying the weather while paddling your kayak. If this is how you enjoy spending time with Mother Nature, you are not alone.

According to the Outdoor Foundation, nearly 23 million Americans “took to rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans” to enjoy paddling in 2018 alone, with recreational kayaking growing in popularity.

However, to run the kayak, it is required to take the boat to your choice’s waterway. This process has inside put it in the truck and secures it carefully in place.

One of the most remarkable and expensive pieces to get to the water safely is the kayak. Countless times I have seen other kayakers incorrectly loading their kayaks on top of their transports, where it can be unsafe or damage the kayak.

Finding a safe system to transport and secure your kayak is something every kayaker must understand.

Whichever shelf system you decide on, the only similar thing is the tie downs.

Ties are used to secure the kayak to the grill or the truck interface, and if misused, they can damage one of them.

One of the most severe mistakes that several people make is the ratchet straps used to tie the kayak to the roof rack or the truck interface.

Although these kinds of straps keep the kayak attached, they can damage the grill or the kayak when they are tightened too much, which is simple to do when using this kind of gadget.

Tie-down a kayak: Using cam straps is the simplest and lightest way to secure the boat.

Before putting a kayak on top of its transport, it only requires a handful of essential things:

Frame/paddle: Specific kayak rack systems that attach to the crossbars and cradle the boat with a J or V appearance are the safest. 

Cam straps: The cam straps hold the kayak lightly and securely. You will need two straps, about 12 feet long or more.

Not only do side straps with cam straps matter, but when covering huge distances and at highway speeds, the bow and stern straps are still remarkable.

These straps will prevent the kayak from being pulled back or pushed forward in strong winds at highway speeds or assuming the brakes is hit.

WE want to use the rope on these occasions, but we have also seen longer cam straps being used.

How to Tie Down a Kayak

Part 1

Getting the right resources

Get padding for your roof rack. The padding will prevent your roof rack from damaging your kayak while driving.

You can use padding blocks placed on top of the roof rack bars or wrap-around padding and velcro over the bars. 

You can find roof bar padding online or at your local sporting goods store.

How to Tie Down a Kayak

Get kayak straps with cam buckles.

The use of specially designed straps to tie kayaks to cars will make securing your kayak simpler and safer.

Straps with cam buckles will allow you to change your kayak to your carrier without tightening it too much and probably damaging it.

how to tie down a kayak with rope

Buy stern lines.

The bow and severe lines will keep your kayak from lifting off your vehicle while you are driving.

Use a bow and stern lines with a cam buckle or ratchet attachment to adjust them into place easily.

how to tie down a kayak without a roof rack

Attaching your kayak to the roof rack

Raise your kayak on the roof bar of your car so that it is facing up

Center your kayak on the roof rack

Move the kayak forward or backward in the rack as essential until the middle of the kayak is centered between the two rack bars. 

It would help if you located the bare radical of the strap under the luggage rack bar. Leave the belt extreme with the attached cam buckle hanging on the other side of the car. When you have placed the strap radical under the carrier bar, pull the slack in the belt extreme by hand to pack it.

how to tie down a kayak on a j-rack

Throw the bare strap radical through the kayak to the other side

If someone assists you, they can stand on the other side and grab the strap when you throw it. Otherwise, walk to the other side of your car and grab the belt radical you just threw.

how to tie down a kayak in a truck bed

Place the bare radical you just threw under the same luggage rack.

It would help if you used the same roof bar but on the opposite side of the kayak. Wrap it underneath the same way you did on the opposite side of the car.

Pass the bare radical of the strap through the cam buckle

This will close the leash and secure your kayak to the carrier bar where you are doing a job. Insert the bare radical of the strap through the slot in the cam buckle and pull it out by hand. Continue to pull the belt until all the slack passes through the cam buckle.

Tighten the strap to secure

To tighten the strap, pull the belts bare radical to make it looser through the cam buckles. You want the leash to be tight enough so that your kayak does not move while driving, but not so close that it causes damage to your kayak.

Do the same with the other strap on the second bar.

Place the bare radical of the strap under the bar, pull it over the kayak to the other side, place it under the bar again, and then pass it through the cam buckle. Avoid damage by wrapping the ends of the straps around the bars of the carrier.

After wrapping the ends near the bars, tie numerous secure knots to hold them in place. If you drive with the stops loose, they could get caught in the tires and cause the kayak and the carrier to break off from your car.

Tie-down the bow and stern

Hook a bowline radical to your kayak’s forward radical. Put the bowline through the loop on the carrying handle at the end of your kayak. Make sure the theme is secure. Learn carrying the kayak.

Hook the other bow line radical to the towing hook

Do not hook the bowline to the plastic part of your bumper, or you could damage your vehicle.

Hood straps attach to the bolt heads under the hood. After bolting, close the hood so that the belt’s fabric loop portion extends beyond the hood.

Hook the bowline to that loop

Tighten the bowline

If your bowline has a cam buckle, pull the line through the cam buckle to tighten it. If your bowline has a ratchet, rotate it up and down until the line is tight.

With a bowline repeat on the car’s back

Hook the stern line radical to the carrying handle on the back of your kayak. Then, hook the other line extreme to the tow hook under your rear bumper or to your car’s hitch. 

Secure loose ends

  • When you have finished with the slack, tie the knots, so that the loose ends do not come apart.

Do this

Two straps are required to tie the boat down, running parallel to the rear hatch and perpendicular to the kayak. They have to be tight enough to secure the ship but not so close that they can damage it. Although it may be interesting to use elastic ropes, could you not do it?

While they are stretched, the hooks can come apart, and the boat can slide into the path, causing inconvenience. Close the hatchback, cushioning it, as essential.

If the kayak stands out from the bed, put a red flag or cloth on the boat’s radical so that the other drivers can see it easily. You have any questions about the overhang and check the traffic laws in the geographic locations where you will be driving to comply with them.

If the kayak is well over 11 feet long, you will probably have to secure the boat on top of the cabin using a frame system.

Take your time to secure the kayak to the bed and keep an eye on it while you are getting to your destination, continuing to be okay driving agility at all times.

The system that fits most modern cars on the road involves three components.

A system like this will raise the kayak above the roof enough to clear most of the roof-mounted antennas and results in an excellent assembly with no flexing in the frame, which is a massive virtue over the previously named soft-frame systems.

With some add-ons, a rigid mount system can also be used for more than just kayaks.

In addition to the crossbars and the foot pack, there must also be an adjustment kit for the particular transport in which it is installed in this situation, the Aero Foot.

The adjustment kit is easy, and small metal support is mounted on the bottom of each foot pack with the correct dimensions and angles to hold it to the particular transport door frame.

Once installed in the door context, it does not affect closing the doors or their usability in any way.

There are many adjustment kits available for many private means of transportation. Some stores that sell cars will have a limited number of frequent tuning kits in stock, but the rest will be shipped overnight from Thule because it would not be possible for most stores that sell cars to hold all the probable tuning kits in stock at all times.

Securing your kayak

You can place your kayak directly on the upside-down struts and secure them with hand-tightened tie-down straps.

Holding the tie-down strap buckle radical in your non-pulling hand and standing with one of the crossbars, pull the tag extreme over the kayak from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side (or vice versa). Place the buckle on the carrier’s roof near the crossbar and walk to the other side of the page.

Wrap the label radical under the crossbar (as before) and insert it into the buckle. Positioning the 8-12 fasteners above the crossbar will allow you to pull it down to tighten it instead of up, which can be tricky on the top of an SUV.

kayak bow and stern tie downs


The development for the second crossbar and you’re done. The strap under the cross beam must be as close to the edge of the kayak as possible. If you pass it through the side rails or some attachment point where the cross beams is with the side rail, it will create a high angle in the strap that could accept the kayak slipping under the straps.

By looping under the crossbar precisely at the edge of the kayak, the kayak’s soccer ball shape will not let it slip through the straps.

The most intensive load assistance product on the market is the Hullavator.

This contraption unfolds from the roof rack halfway up the trail on the side of the transport, where the kayak is loaded into mounts just a few meters off the ground.

The system is then folded back into place (with hydraulic assistance) and disabled.

It’s spectacular, it’s expensive, and it’s the highlight, especially if you’re loading a large, heavy fishing kayak into a van or a high-bay van.

How to Tie Down a Kayak: FAQ

Do you need bow and stern tie-downs for kayaks?

Bow and stern ties are as remarkable as the ties used to secure the kayak to the shelf. If you choose to purchase your straps, consider the cam straps. It fit entirely without damaging your kayak and are simple to use.

How do you tie down a kayak on an SUV?

Some carriers, primarily some Nissans, have incredibly thick crossbars that do not accept multiple attachments or even roof rack pads. Your configurations are limited with these crossbars unless Nissan offers its add-ons. But at the moment, there are accessible configurations to transport a kayak safely.

Should a kayak be transported upside down?

The most notable procedure for transporting a kayak is a crossbar carrier (or “sport carrier”). Rotomoulded kayaks have the possibility of being transported on their edge or upside down (with the hull up) safely using kayak stackers. However, composite kayaks must always be transported on their underside using cradles to avoid deformation.


Transporting your kayak may seem like a simple matter, but it is not. Tying your kayak to your car in the wrong way can cause some incidents, so you must follow our rules. The best thing is your safety and that of your loved ones.

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