How to Securely Attach a Kayak to Roof Racks

With the summer season in full swing, many of us are eager to hit the water with our kayaks and canoes securely fastened to our vehicles. Transporting these watercraft can be a challenge, but fear not! We have compiled a list of expert tips to help you safely load your kayak onto a roof rack. Say goodbye to outdated methods and welcome the ease and efficiency of modern techniques.

Utilize Cam Straps for Easy and Secure Fastening

Gone are the days of struggling with hemp ropes and complicated knots. Cam straps are the answer to your prayers when it comes to attaching your kayak to a roof rack. These straps are not only quick and easy to use but also provide a secure hold. Simply loop the strap around the bars on either side of the kayak, position the buckle, tighten, and secure any excess strap. Unlike cumbersome knots, cam straps offer an automatic fastening mechanism that ensures easy release when needed. Let’s leave the era of tangled knots behind!

Strapped Kayak
Image: A kayak securely strapped onto a roof rack

The Importance of the Lemon Pip Principle

When it comes to tying down round or awkwardly shaped objects like kayaks and canoes, the positioning is crucial. Imagine holding a lemon pip between your fingers – if you apply too much pressure towards the front or back, it might slip away. Similarly, your kayak’s widest part should always be placed between the two straps. Failing to do so may cause your watercraft to shift and potentially come loose during your journey. Remember, a small adjustment in positioning can make a huge difference in maintaining stability.

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Properly Positioned Kayak
Image: A correctly positioned kayak between two straps

Uprights for Multiple Kayaks Provide Stability

If you’re transporting more than one kayak, consider using upright bars for your roof rack. These bars make the process of strapping multiple boats much easier and allow you to rest them on their sides. This technique not only provides stability but also safeguards the bottom of your kayaks, preventing any warping or damage. Say goodbye to precarious stacking and embrace the convenience and safety of uprights!

Stable Kayaks with Uprights
Image: Multiple kayaks securely fastened with the help of uprights

J-Bars for Alternative Kayak Shapes

Sea kayaks and open canoes often pose a challenge due to their unique shapes. The narrowing ends of a sea kayak, for example, make it difficult to achieve a solid contact area between the boat and the roof bars. Similarly, open canoes and composite sea kayaks are not as strong in compression when placed on their sides. To overcome these issues, consider using J-bars. These bars cradle your watercraft, providing increased contact area and ensuring a secure hold. Preserve the integrity of your precious kayak or canoe by opting for J-bars.

Protect Your Kayak with Padding

Not only does padding safeguard your kayak from potential damage, but it also enhances the grip between the boats and the roof bars. Investing in soft foam pads for your roof rack will increase friction and provide a more secure hold for your watercraft. By reducing any potential slipping or sliding, padding gives you peace of mind during transportation.

Secure Straps to Grab Handles

We’ve all heard horror stories of kayaks coming loose and falling off racks mid-journey. To avoid such mishaps, it’s wise to attach the straps or any loose ends to a grab handle. This ensures that even if a kayak were to come loose, it remains connected to the car and prevents it from becoming a hazard to other drivers. Safety should always be a top priority.

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Tied Strap Ends on a Grab Handle
Image: Strap ends tied to a grab handle for added security

The Dangers of Relying on a Single Strap

While it may seem convenient to wrap a single strap around both roof bars, this approach can be risky. Cross tensioning the bars, especially when using uprights, puts excessive strain on the roof rack attachment points, potentially causing damage or even detachment. To ensure maximum safety, always use two straps – one for each roof bar. Don’t compromise on security when transporting your kayak.

Avoid Cross Tensioning Bars
Image: Avoid cross tensioning bars, particularly with uprights

Prevent Wind Noise with a Simple Twist

As you speed down the motorway, you may notice an annoying humming noise emanating from your kayak straps. This annoying phenomenon occurs when the airflow over the straps reaches its resonant frequency. However, fear not! By incorporating a twist or two into the strap where it crosses over the top of the kayaks, you can disrupt the airflow and silence the hum. Enjoy a peaceful and uninterrupted journey with this simple trick.

Twisted Strap
Image: A twisted strap to prevent noise

Additional Precautions for Overhanging Loads

When carrying touring boats on your roof, it’s important to consider any overhang at the rear. For added safety, consider tying the front and/or rear ends of your kayaks to your car’s towing loop. Additionally, if the overhang extends more than one meter to the rear, make it highly visible by attaching something bright and obvious to the end. A brightly colored empty drybag is an excellent choice for this purpose.

Marker for Overhanging Loads
Image: A bright drybag serves as a marker for overhanging loads

As the driver, it is your responsibility to ensure that everything is securely attached. Even if you trust your companion’s tying skills, it’s crucial to double-check the load just before you embark on your journey. Safety should always be your top priority.

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Ready to Go
Image: All set and ready to go

Remember, proper and secure attachment of your kayak to a roof rack is essential to ensure a smooth and worry-free journey. By following these expert tips, you can enjoy your kayaking adventures with the confidence that your watercraft is safely secured. Happy paddling!


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