The Perfect Sport Buyers Guide

How To Tie Down A Kayak? [4 Types + Methods]

how to tie down a kayak

When it comes to safety on the road, knowing how to secure a kayak on a roof rack is crucial. It may also assist you in avoiding damage to your kayak and vehicle. 

Before you go on your road trip, double-check that your boat is secure. Your yak’s straps should be snug enough that it doesn’t slide around on the road, and there should be no loose straps swinging around.

It can be difficult to secure a kayak to a car roof rack. However, doing it right can help you avoid damage to your boat or automobile, as well as accidents while on the road. 

We’ve put up a simple how-to guide with some pointers to assist you how to tie down a kayak so you may securely arrive at your destination.

What is the best way to transport a kayak?

Although transporting a kayak is not difficult, it is critical to ensure that your kayak is correctly loaded onto your car to guarantee that it remains secure. The steps below demonstrate how to move a kayak.

  • Bring a kayak:

Each individual in a two-person team grips a grab handle and lifts. You can get the kayak onto a shoulder if you’re on your own.

It’s easy to transport a kayak with two persons if you follow the procedures below:

  • The grab handle at the bow or stern of the boat is grabbed by each participant.
  • The boat must be raised. Instead of one person backpedalling, both people can face the same direction.
  • Taking a grab handle from each boat in each hand, you can carry two boats this manner.

Unless your kayak is extremely huge and heavy, you should be able to carry it alone. How to carry a kayak by yourself is as follows:

  • Face the boat and stand on the left side of the kayak.
  • Squat down and grip the closest edge of the cockpit with both hands, pulling it up onto your thighs.
  • Grab the inside of the boat on the underside of the cockpit with your right arm as you reach across the boat.
  • Raise the kayak to your right shoulder as you stand up.
  • Start on the right side of your kayak and use the opposite arm in the steps above if you prefer to carry the kayak with your left arm.
  • Place a kayak on the a vehicle:

The most straightforward method is to enlist the assistance of a buddy. Pick up the boat at either end and place it on the rack. 

If you’re working alone, you have a few options based on your rack setup.

Only a few things are required before strapping a kayak to the roof of your vehicle:

? Cross bar: 

Crossbars run the length of your vehicle’s roof. Most crossbars connect to factory-installed front-to-back bars on your automobile, however this varies by vehicle type. Crossbars for a truck’s bed are also available.

? Rack:

The most secure kayak rack solutions are those that attach to the crossbars and cradle the boat in a J- or V-shaped configuration.

? Cam Straps:

Cam straps hold your kayak down swiftly and securely. Two straps, each about 12 feet long or longer, are required.

? Bow and Stern Line:

A non-stretched, water-resistant rope can be used (the rope will vibrate less than nylon webbing), but specific ratcheting lines help the process go faster and easier. 

One line for the bow and one for the stern is normally required, though this might vary depending on the length of your boat and vehicle.

You may now place your kayak on top of your vehicle with the crossbars, rack/padding, and straps/lines in place. Two individuals are the simplest way to load a kayak onto a car:

  • Carry the kayak using the grab grips with one person at each end. Place it parallel to your vehicle, with the bow pointing towards the front.
  • Lift the kayak upward by grabbing the hull at each end. Lifting with your legs rather than your back is recommended.
  • Place the boat directly above the rack with the boat overhead, then carefully set it down on the rack. The sort of rack you have determines the optimum position for the boat.

Some people have the strength and height to raise a kayak onto their vehicle by themselves, but if that isn’t you, here are some ideas for loading a kayak by yourself:

  • Kayak racks with integrated lift systems are available, making loading the boat a breeze. They usually slide from the top of your vehicle to the side, allowing you to lift your kayak more easily. 
  • Lift the rack system up on top of your vehicle once the boat is securely loaded and strapped down. These racks are expensive, but they work well.
  • Another option is to utilise a rack that has rolling wheels. Simply place the bow of the kayak in the rear rack cradle, take up the stern end, and roll the kayak forward into the front cradle with these. These racks are less expensive than those with built-in lift mechanisms.
  • Try placing a towel or blanket on top of the back of your truck and then setting the bow of the boat on the towel or blanket for a low-tech, low-cost solution. Pick up the stern of the boat and push it up and forward onto the rack.

You can transport more than one kayak on top of your car if you have adequate space. Here are some suggestions for transporting many boats:

  • You may be able to transport a second kayak in the same manner as the first by adding another rack to the crossbars, but this will depend on the width of your boats and crossbars.
  • Stacker bars may be the answer if you’re trying to fit two, three, or even more boats on top. These allow you to turn the boats on their sides to save room. 
  • Stacker bars are most commonly found on lighter, shorter whitewater kayaks, although they can also be seen on recreational and touring boats.
  • A kayak should be tied down:

The simplest and quickest way to secure the boat is to use cam straps.

When transporting a kayak, what safety precautions should be taken?

When transporting a kayak, consider the following safety precautions:

? Take care of your back:

When reaching down to pick up your kayak, bend your knees and keep your back straight.

? Put on your PFD:

If you’re carrying your kayak alone, you can wear your PFD to provide a cushion for the kayak to rest on.

? Using a cart is recommended:

If carrying a kayak by hand is too tough, opt in a kayak cart.

How to tie down a kayak?

The method for tying a kayak to a roof rack varies based on the type of rack you have, but the idea is the same: the kayak’s weight should be uniformly distributed across your car for safety. It’s also a good idea to secure it at its broadest point.

Type 1: Hard Racks

  1. Pass the buckle of your cam strap through the crossbar of your rack’s crossbar. 
  2. Form a U with the strap on either side of the bar and pass both ends over the top of the boat. To pass the strap across in most autos, you’ll need more height. 
  3. For increased stability, we recommend using a small step stool, but you can simply stand in the footwell of your vehicle by opening the door.
  4. Carry on with the second crossbar in the same manner.
  5. Walk around to the other side of your vehicle once you’ve passed both straps over. When you pass your straps over the top of your boat, be sure they weren’t twisted or crossed. The top edge of your kayak should be where your buckle rests.
  6. Next, pass the end of the strap without the buckle below the crossbar, ensuring that it is passed within the fixture. 
  7. Bring the end of the cam strap up to the buckle, open it, and feed the strap through. Pull the end of the strap gently down and cinch it until it is secure.

Type 2: Soft Racks

The tie-downs will be looped through fastening points on soft-racks, such as the traveller soft roof racks. Carry on as you would with a hard rack, but pass your straps through these attaching points.

Type 3: Inflatable Racks

Because there are no attachment places to loop the straps through, inflatable roof racks require a slightly different tie-down process than hard and soft racks. The steps for tying kayak to inflatable racks are as follows:

  1. Open all of your car doors once your kayak is secured on the roof of your vehicle. Take your cam strap’s buckle and pass it over the top of your boat.
  2. Rep with the other strap. Each strap should run parallel to the inflatable racks. 
  3. Grab the buckle and pass it through the open door of your automobile as you go around the vehicle. You can also pass your straps through the windows if your automobile doesn’t have back doors.
  4. Pass the loose end of your straps through the buckle and cinch until it is snug.

Type 4: Lack of rack

If you don’t have a roof rack, you can still transport your kayak on your roof using DIY solutions like pool noodles as a padded platform. 

The noodles can be used in the same way as an inflatable roof rack, with the kayak attached with straps that go through your car.

You can read our buying guide to pick best kayak for kayaking

When tying a kayak, what should be kept in mind?

The appropriate amount of tension for your boat is critical. You may pull your cam straps as hard as you wish on plastic boats since they are forgiving. It’s a little more difficult to build a composite or fibreglass boat. 

You want just enough tension to keep your kayak from warping, but not too much.

Finally, you’ll want to secure your boat’s bow and stern. You can achieve this by using two more tie-down straps. 

Take your strap or rope and thread it through the front handle of your kayak, then tuck it under the front bumper. 

Attach a second strap or rope to the back bumper by passing it through the back handle. The bow and stern lines, unlike the cross straps, do not require tensioning. 

They will keep the boat from being lifted aloft by the wind. In the event of an accident, they will also keep the kayak from flying off the truck.

Before departing, you’ll need to double-check your cross straps, bow and stern lines, and a few other things. 

To begin, make sure that any excess strapping is properly tucked away, as unsecured straps can obstruct your vision while driving. After that, walk around your car and double-check that all of your fastenings are in place.

Remember to leave enough space between yourself and other vehicles when driving with a cargo. 

Avoid slamming on the brakes or accelerating too quickly, as this will put undue strain on your fastenings. Make several pauses to finish your final inspection if you’re driving a long distance.


Kayaks, while they glide smoothly on the water, can be a handful on land. After you’ve manoeuvred your boat onto the roof of your car, double-check that everything is secure before embarking on your voyage. 

It doesn’t have to be difficult to transport a kayak on the roof of your car. 

Check out our best recommendations for securing your kayak so you can drive away with confidence.