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Loading Kayaks On Your Vehicle

Most kayaking adventures require a road trip. Safely loading kayaks on your vehicle’s roof rack is an important boater skill. Failure to do it right can result in them flying off and getting damaged or causing an accident. Team NRS paddler Leland Davis demonstrates methods for strapping on single and multiple kayaks.

The one-strap method is perfect if you have just one boat and one strap. You’ll need a long strap like a 15', or a 20' if you have a large creek boat. Toss the buckle end over the boat, wrap the strap around the rack bar, back to the other end of the boat, around that rack bar, over the boat, around the rack bar on the other side and back to the buckle end. If there’s a rescue loop on the boat, thread the strap through it before tightening it. Doing that is an extra safety step of securing the boat to the vehicle.

If you have two boats and only one strap, place the first boat on the rack, right-side up, then place the second boat on top of it, upside-down. Then thread the strap around the two boats and the rack like you did with the single boat.

If you have two shorter straps, use one on each end of the rack. Toss the straps over the boat, around the rack, back over the boat, around the rack and back to the buckle. You’ll want to tighten the two straps a little bit at a time to keep the two boats evenly together.

If you have kayak stackers on the racks, first thread the strap through the stacker. Lean the boats up against the stackers and tie them off like the two-straps-for-two-boats described above.

If you have multiple boats and no stackers you can put a single boat, or two nested boats on one side of the rack and lean the other boats up on edge against them. Then use two straps to go over the whole load of boats.

If you’re at all unsure of the load and strapping it’s a good idea to use bow and stern safety straps from the boats to the vehicle.