Though not difficult, it's important that you load and secure your kayak or canoe safely onto your car. Watch our video example for basic instruction, and read on for more details.
Most mounting attachments come with the nylon straps necessary to secure your kayak. These straps feature self-locking cam buckles that are easy to use and quick to cinch down, providing excellent overall grip.
Most of these straps will have some sort of padding directly underneath the buckle (where it contacts the kayak hull) to minimize hull damage during transport.
Tie off the extra length of strap directly above the buckle once it's been cinched tight for added security in case the buckle releases while you're driving.
Unless you're super-confident in your knot-tying ability, use nylon tie-down straps with cam-buckles for their ease of use and reliability. If rope is all you have, make sure it's non-stretch and water-resistant. It should be "seasoned" (brand new ropes tend to stretch), non-slick (slippery ropes tend to come untied), and non-elastic (even when pulled tight, elastic lines and bungee cords can expand under pressure and let go of a boat).
No matter what type of tie-downs you use, follow these basic procedures whenever you secure your kayak to a roof rack.
Note: Avoid over-tightening any of the straps holding your kayak in place. Too much tension can deform plastic hulls and crack fiberglass.
Always make sure your boat is securely fastened to your rack before heading out. Check it occasionally throughout your drive. Road vibrations can cause straps to loosen slightly and some boats soften up when exposed to the heat of the sun.
To check your kayak, grab hold of either end of the boat and shake it from side to side. If the kayak is truly secure, the entire car should shift instead of just the boat. Inspect both bumper lines each time you check your boat.
Drive cautiously when transporting your kayak. Kayaks can affect the handling of some cars in high winds or at high speeds, so keep your speed down.
Make sure your boat is centered on your vehicle properly so that it doesn't impair your view of the road. And always be mindful of your spacing between other cars if the ends of your kayak extend beyond the ends of your vehicle.
Shop REI's selection of canoe and kayak racks.
Contributors: Judy Moyer, REI Seattle store kayak specialist.
By Steve Tischler
Read Author Bio
Last updated: 08/09/2013
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