Strap A Kayak To A Roof Rack

How to Strap a Kayak to a Roof Rack (Updated Guide 2023)

Transporting boats may be difficult, and now that summer is here, many of us are going out with kayaks & canoes stacked high on our roofs. Here are some points for transporting kayaks safely onto a roof rack.

Although moving kayaks is not difficult, it is critical to ensure that your boat is correctly loaded into your car to guarantee that it remains safe. That’s why it’s critical to strap a kayak to a roof rack is quite important. Fortunately, after you’ve performed it a few times, it’s an easy procedure. We’ll take you to step by step through the process of how to strap a kayak to a roof rack. Let’s get this party started!

Get Your Equipment Ready

It’s usually a good idea to be prepared before you begin. That way, you won’t have to leave the car and kayak alone while you go retrieve that rope and strap from your garage! The following are the tie-down necessities:

  • Roof racking works.
  • Padding for your kayak and your car’s roof.
  • x2 specially designed tie-down straps.
  • x2 rope lengths to be used as bow or stern lines.
  • x2 additional tie-down straps.

Check out our post How to carry the Kayak for a thorough review of the items mentioned above.

What is the best way to carry a kayak?

There are many best to carry a kayak but let me explain here a few methods.

It’s easy to transport a kayak with 2 persons:

  • Each person grips the bow or rear of the boat via the grab handle.
  • The boat must be lifted. Instead of having one guy backpedal, both individuals might face the same way.
  • You may carry two kayaks this way, one in each hand, by taking a holding handle from each boat.
Unless your kayak is huge and heavy, you should be able to carry it alone. How to hold a kayak by yourself is as follows:
  • Face the boat from the left side of the kayak.
  • Squat down and hold the nearest end of the cockpit with both hands, pulling the end of the kayak up onto the thighs.
  • With your right arm, reach across the kayak and hold the interior of the kayak by the cockpit’s underside.
  • Lift the kayak onto the right shoulder as you stand up.
  • Allow the cockpit’s rim to rest on the shoulder. Find a balanced posture for the boat so that it does not tip forward or back.

“Start on the right side of the kayak using the opposite arm as in the instructions above if you want to hold the boat with your”. 

Alerting: Kayaks are big and bulky, so if you have a history of physical discomfort or any related issue, don’t try to lift or hold one by yourself. Please visit a physician if you are worried about your capacity to raise a kayak securely on your own. Carrying a kayak, like any other lifting activity, necessitates the correct lifting technique, which includes lifting through your legs rather than your back.

Carts for Kayak

Strap A Kayak To A Roof Rack

If you’re kayaking alone and don’t want to carry your kayak around, a kayak cart could be a good option. Kayak carts are a pair of wheels that can connect to the stern of your kayak to make transportation easier.

Because each kayak’s cart is unique, Most carts, are constructed such that all you have to do is lift the stern of the kayak and attach it to the cart. You’ll stroll over toward the front of the kayak, pick it up, and drag it to where you want to go after the kayak is secure.

Important to remember that kayak carts aren’t ideal for transporting a kayak over really difficult terrain. After folks attempt to utilize kayak carts in rocky terrain, we’ve witnessed bent wheels spokes, and similar forms of damage.

If you’re attempting to transfer your kayaks along with parking at a boat launch, a kayak cart is a fantastic solution. A two-person carry is frequently the preferred option if you need to transfer your boat over a 1-mile portage through the woods.

Best Kayak Carts is a related article.

Correctly Load Your Kayak

It’s critical to distribute your kayak’s weight equally throughout the length of the vehicle. This will help keep the kayak steady when you’re tying it down and driving. Place the kayak’s largest portions over the locations where you’ll be tied down. You can prevent the kayak from sliding back &  forth while traveling by fastening it at its broadest places.

Tie Your Kayak Down

You’ll need to secure your kayak with your tie-down straps after you’ve loaded it. Cam straps are the perfect tie-down since they eliminate the need to know certain knots. They also make it simple to change the strength of your fastening. The sort of roof rack you use will determine how that secures your kayak.

The straps are simply fed through buckles and cinched down:

  • Make sure the kayak is positioned fore & aft between your car’s crossbars and parallel to the vehicle.
  • Take a cam strap and place the buckle a few inches above as well as to the one side of the crossbars on the side of the kayak. Toss the strap’s other end over your kayak.
  • Walk around to the opposite side of your car, grab the strap’s end, loop it underneath the crossbar, and sling it back over the boat. Ensure the strap is on the inside of the crossbar’s vehicle attachment point. This prevents the strap from falling off the crossbar’s end.
  • Return to the first side and loop the strap’s end below the crossbar, then up into the cam buckle & tighten it down. Assure the strap is on the inside of the crossbar’s vehicle attachment point.
  • Rep on either crossbar with the other strap.
  • Adjust both straps until they’re snug but not too tight. Plastic hulls can bend and fiberglass can split if there is too much force.
  • Just below the cam cams, knot off the loose ends of the straps, then bind any leftover slack to the crossbars. This reinforces the cam buckles and keeps the slack from flopping about when driving.
  • To make sure the kayak is secure, grab each end and shake it from side to side.

Bow and stern straps

 If you’ll be traveling in strong winds and on the motorway, it’s also a great idea to attach the bow or stern of the kayaks to the car. It’s simple with adjusting the bow & stern lines. Installing ratcheting bow or stern lines is as follows:

  • Use the ratchet to connect the line’s end to a secure position on the kayak’s front, as the grab handle.
  • Connect the line’s other end to a safe location on the car. You can use a hood loop strap to provide a secure point if you don’t have one already, including a tow hook. Never tie down the car’s tie-down straps on plastic items.
  • Tighten the line by pulling the free end down until it is snug. Make sure you don’t overtighten.
  • Just below the ratchet, tie it off the loose finishing line.
  • Replace the stern line with a new one.

Tips to tie down a kayak

  • Maintain a straightforward approach: While using complex knots and looping straps in various directions may seem interesting, trying to keep things simple is typically the quickest and safest option.
  • If you’re short and/or have a big vehicle, have a little stepladder in the rear of your car to help you reach the straps.
  • Put a positive spin on the cam straps: Adding a modest twist to the cam straps can assist reduce unpleasant strap vibration while driving.
  • Lock the straps: Securing cam strap that can be loosened with a key can be purchased. Whether leaving the boat in the car for a brief trip to the shop or restaurant, they might provide you peace of mind. If you’re going to leave the kayak for a long period, a more secure option, such as a securing cable, is required.
  • You may use rope instead of a cam strap and ratcheting bow & stern lines if you don’t have either. It should be non-stretch and water-resistant. You should also learn to tie a trucker’s hitch so that the lines are smooth and snug.
  • Move aside after 15 mins of driving & tug on the kayak to ensure it is also reliable. While driving, the straps may become unfastened.

Uprights are ideal for several kayaks

When transporting more than one boat, upright bars make it much easier to strap them on and allow you to lay them on their sides. This is a more durable approach than staking claims on top of one another, and it avoids the kayaks’ bottoms from distorting or being damaged.


How an ocean kayak is limited at the closures makes it difficult to get a decent contact region between your boat and bars. Open kayaks as well, except if stacked onto your rooftop gunwales down (which can occupy a great deal of room) don’t sit well on a rooftop rack. 

Both open kayaks and composite ocean kayaks are not so solid in pressure when on their sides. So get yourself some J-bars, which will support your valuable open kayak or ocean kayak, increment the contact region to spread the heap, and hold them solidly set up on their side.


A padded roof rack cushion will increase friction between the kayak and the roof rack, helping them to be kept in place much more securely while also preventing damage to the watercraft.

Ropes Vs. Straps:

Kayak lashing straps among a built-in camming system are regarded as the gold standard for transporting kayaks. This ratcheting strap enables securing the kayak as simply as possible, although they’re sturdy enough to use on extended road rides.

However, because kayak straps may be costly, many people wonder if they might save money by using rope instead.

When we’re not saying that you should not use a rope to tie down the kayak, we would strongly advise against it whenever feasible.

Utilizing normal rope to connect the kayak to a car is far more difficult than using ratchet straps. On lengthy drives, the rope’s tiny diameter makes it more likely to harm the kayak. Kayak straps are also a lot easier to use, which means you’ll save time and stress.

However, there is one instance in which ropes are useful: binding both the bow & stern of the kayak. A pretty thick rope (below 8mm) will ideal for this task.


1. What type of straps should I use to secure a kayak to rooftop racks?

To fasten the kayak, use a cam buckle and ratchet straps. These straps will cross across the kayak to the front, with smaller hooks, passing through the bigger J Hooks (pointing to the back of a kayak). Not only should they be looped under the J hook, but they must also be wrapped under the rack itself.

2. Are the fastener lashes awful for kayaks?

Ratchet lashes are the most famous kind of tie to utilize but at the same time are the most hazardous for your kayak. They’re extremely secure because you can fix them down truly close, yet it’s excessively simple for you to fix them down excessively close and twist (and in the end break) your kayak.

3. Without a rack, how do you secure a kayak to a roof?

You can secure a Kayak on the Road Without the need for a Roof Rack.
Step 1: Place the pool noodles on the roof of the car and secure them.
Step 2: Lift the kayak & placed it on top of the metal poles.
Step 3: Use Straps to secure the Kayak. 
Step 4: Assure the bow & stern are secure.

4. What size ratchet ties for a kayak?

Solid webbing that doesn’t separate after some time, that is UV-safe, water-safe, and stretch-safe is ideal. Continuously utilize a tie that is somewhere around 1″ width to hold kayaks, kayaks, and pontoons.


Before going, you’ll need to double-check the cross straps, bow & stern lines, and a few other things. To begin, make sure that any extra strapping is properly tucked away, as unsecured straps might obstruct your vision while driving. After that, go around the car and double-check that all of your fastenings are in place.

Make sure to leave enough room between yourself and another car when driving with cargo. Avoid slamming on the brakes or accelerating too quickly, as this may put undue strain on your fastenings. Make several pauses to finish your final checks if you’re driving a long distance. Best kayak racks for trucks is a related article

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