Kayaking can be a fun way to explore the world around you, spend time in the water, and get in some cardio exercise. Anyone who is not lucky enough to live right on the water will need to consider how they will transport their kayak to the water.
Some serious kayakers even consider kayak transportation when shopping for a vehicle! Although kayak racks can be affixed to most any type of vehicle, some vehicles make it simpler than others. While tying the kayak to a rooftop rack or top of a vehicle is not difficult, it is important to ensure the kayak is secured tightly before traveling.
TONS of Different Kayak Tie-down Methods
When loading a kayak, it is important to have a clear tie-down strategy. The most popular way to tie down a kayak is using the straps and clamps that come with most rooftop racks. Ropes can also be used, but are only recommended for those who are very confident in their knot-tying skills.
If you do choose to use ropes, be sure they are
Steps to Solo Kayak Loading
Although slightly more difficult, it is possible to load your kayak solo if you follow the steps below.
Step 1: Before beginning to tie the kayak down, check kayak rack’s crossbars. If they are loose, be sure to tighten them with an alien wrench.
Step 2: Lay the
Step 3: Lay the kayak straps over the bars of your rooftop rack. Then thread each strap around and underneath each bar. Once this is complete, allow the straps to lie flat against the side of your vehicle.
Step 4: Place the kayak on the rooftop rack. It will depend on what type of kayak you are transporting, but most kayaks, especially whitewater kayaks, fit better with the stern facing the front of the vehicle. If you’re going to be solo loading quite often, you may want to look into an integrated lift system that does the heavy lifting for you, such as the Thule Hullavator.
Step 5: When the kayak is on the rooftop rack, pull the straps over the kayak tightly to the other side of the rack. Although it may be tempting to throw the straps across the top of your vehicle, don’t. Due to the metal clamps on the end of the straps, that is a great way to damage your vehicle.
Step 6: Once the kayak and kayak straps are in place; the kayak is ready to be strapped in. Before beginning, make sure the straps are lying flat in all areas. Bring each kayak strap, so the buckle lays flat against the hull. Thread all the straps up through the clamps and pull tightly to eliminate slack. Once this is done, check the straps individually. If any of them seem loose, tighten them individually.
Step 7: When the kayak is secured, be sure to tie the remaining length of the straps together. By tying the straps together, you eliminate the possibility of them flapping in the wind and becoming an obstacle while driving.
Two Person Loading is Ideal
Two person kayak loading is very similar to solo loading but much simpler. Follow the steps below to safely load your kayak onto your vehicle using two or more loaders.
Step 1: Before starting to tie the kayak, secure your kayak rack on top of the vehicle. If the crossbars are loose, tighten them with an Allen wrench.
Step 2: Lay the
Step 3: Lift one end of the kayak, while your loading partner lifts the other end. Once you have lifted the kayak over your head, place the boat on the rooftop rack.
Step 4: Secure the kayak tightly, using straps and clamps. Thread all the straps up through the clamps and pull tightly to eliminate slack.
Step 5: Once the kayak is secured on the rooftop rack, adjust the length of the straps to ensure no dangling straps will obscure your view while driving. You can also perform a pre-drive safety check by grabbing the end of the kayak and shaking from side to side. If the kayak is secure, the vibrations will cause the whole vehicle to sway. If the kayak shifts even a slight amount, check the tightness of the straps and ensure your kayak is secure before hitting the road.
How to Tie Down a Kayak Without a Roof Rack
Although some paddlers may consider it unorthodox, it is possible to transport a kayak without purchasing a roof rack for your vehicle. The best and most popular method is using a set of foam blocks with straps and clamps. Foam blocks are cheap, relatively easy to use, and effective when you are in a pinch.
Though they are not suggested for often or everyday use, foam blocks can be handy for paddlers who are not transporting their kayak very often or for long distances. To transport your kayak using foam blocks, follow these steps below.
Step 1: Affix one foam block to the front of the kayak, near the stern. Then affix the other foam block to the rear of the kayak.
Step 2: Lift your kayak to the roof of your vehicle and position the foam blocks where you want the kayak to sit.
Step 3: Adjust and tighten the straps to secure the kayak to the roof of your vehicle. To ensure your kayak is secure, perform the pre-drive safety check as referenced in step 5 above.
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