How to Tie a Kayak on Top of a Car

While kayaking is a fun and challenging activity, biting your nails and worrying that your 80-pound kayak will crash onto a highway is not so fun. Luckily there's really no reason to fret about such a thing happening so long as you use the right kind of tools, such as a kayak rack/block and cam buckle tie-down straps, and you take your time making sure that everything is secure before you drive away.

Things You'll Need

  • Kayak rack or kayak blocks
  • Kayak
  • Cam buckle tie-down straps


    • 1

      Get a roof rack or kayak blocks. The easiest and safest way to tie a kayak onto a roof is with a roof rack. Two popular kayak rack manufacturers are Thule and Yakima. If you don't have a rack, it is advisable to get a pair of kayak blocks, placing one on each end of the roof to support the kayak. Kayak blocks can be purchased at any good kayak supply store. Or you could make your own kayak blocks by cutting up an old boogie board into strips 16 inches long and 4 inches wide.

    • 2

      Position the kayak on top of the car. You may need to have someone help you to lift the kayak up. If you have a roof rack, position the kayak according to the roof rack instructions. Otherwise, simply position the kayak with the hull facing up.

    • 3

      Run cam buckle tie-down straps through the kayak. You'll need, at the very least, two straps; four if you want to make it really secure. Run one strap through the scupper holes at one end of the car and through the car doors and secure with the cam buckle. Don't worry about tightening the strap just yet. Do the same on the other end of your car. However, if you have a rack, you won't need to pass the straps through the car door and can simply tie the straps to the rack itself. To really make sure the kayak doesn't go anywhere, use two more straps and loop one strap through the bow end of your kayak and down to your bumper, securing each strap to one side of the bumper so that the strap forms an inverted "V" shape. Do the same at the stern end.

    • 4

      Tighten the straps. Now that the kayak is in place and you have run the straps through, you can tighten them down by simply pressing the button down on the cam buckle and pulling more of the strap through the buckle. The straps should now feel taut. Tie off any excess strap.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't tie down too tight, otherwise you could dent your car.
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  • Photo Credit Photo courtesy

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