Tie Down Your Kayak to Your Vehicle Quickly and Easily

5-minute read/watch

Unless you keep your kayak or paddle board at a cabin or you live on a lake or river, you’ll need to tie it down to your vehicle to transport it. This video from our friends at Aquabatics Alberta (AQ Outdoors) gives you clear steps on how to tie down your kayak to your vehicle:

The first step is to get your kayak or paddle board (either rigid or inflatable) on top of your vehicle and centered where you want it. It’s always a good idea to provide some padding between your boat and your vehicle. You can use old towels, pool noodles or foam blocks made for this purpose.

What To Use to Tie Down

Cam straps, ratchet straps and good ol’ rope are all options to tie down your boat. With rope you’ll want to learn your knots well for snugness and quick release. With the straps, knots aren’t as important, but you’ll want to take care anytime metal is in contact with your kayak or board.

Straps designed for this purpose will take less time, but usually cost more. It’s up to you. Joselyn uses cam straps in the video.

Steps to Tying Down Your Boat

First, you’ll run each cam strap under both crossbars on one side of your vehicle. Be sure the buckle end is shorter than the strap end. Then throw the ends of both straps over the boat to the other side.

On the other side of the vehicle, loop each strap end under those crossbars. Be sure the buckle on the other end is on top of your boat so you have plenty of room to tighten it.

Next, put the strap end through the bottom of the buckle and out the top and tighten it down slightly. (Hint: If you twist the strap end a couple times before bringing it through the buckle, you won’t get that high-pitched whine from the wind when you drive off.) Repeat with the other strap.

woman tying a kayak on top of a vehicle with cam straps

Cam straps are ideal for tying down your kayak securely

Once they’re both on, keep tightening each until it’s snug. Tie a knot with each strap end directly underneath the cam in case it should loosen.

Jocelyn then makes a series of knots called a daisy chain through the extra length of each strap to keep them from blowing around while driving.

Bow and Stern Lines

Next you’ll tie down the bow and stern lines to the front and back of your vehicle. This gives you extra security, especially if you’ll travel some distance and at highway speeds. The last thing you want is your kayak bouncing down the highway and, even worse, hitting another vehicle.

In the video, Jocelyn uses Thule’s Quick Loops and Quickdraw System. This system is nice because it works with your vehicle’s hood, which means you don’t have to crawl underneath to find something sturdy enough to tie off on.

woman using Thule's Quickdraw System to attach the bow line
Tying the bow line down adds extra security

Again, if you prefer not to make the investment in a system like this, sturdy rope will do fine, along with good knots and metal anchor points on your vehicle.

Tying down your kayak or paddle board is as simple as that! Once you’ve done it a few times it’ll be easy for you.

Happy paddling!

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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