The Proper Way to Load and Secure your Kayak or Canoe to Your Roof
There are two ways of loading kayaks and canoes onto your vehicle roof. There is the two-person method, and if you are strong enough (and have a back to handle it), the solo method. After that, it comes down to your tie down equipment. The lasing strap is recommended for innumerable reasons. Properly strapping your kayak to your vehicle can mean the difference between a fun-filled day at the lake and an instant disaster.
In this article, we will discuss both methods, solo loading, and loading with two people. We will also compare the two methods with a recommended conclusion.
Method #1: Basic Two-Person Procedure For Loading Kayaks & Canoes
- Lay out the lashing straps on top of your vehicle before putting the kayak in place. Placing the straps across the roof beforehand allows you to properly set the kayak in the proper place, and you won’t have to reach under the rack after settling the kayak.
- Place the kayak next to your automobile, parallel to the vehicle. This will allow you to access it quickly and lift it swiftly into position.
- Both persons grab the kayak at each end and use a standard two-person overhead lift, raising the kayak evenly and keeping it level.
- Position the kayak so it’s directly above the rack, then set it down gently on whatever rack attachment you’ve mounted. A roof rack or kayak rack is recommended so that the ratchet straps have something to secure the kayak to, and they will save your vehicle top from getting severely scratched.
- Remember the steps and unload the kayak in reverse. Reversing the procedure will ensure proper unloading and you do not risk damaging the boat.
It might come with a pretty hefty price tag, but the Thule Hullavator is a serious piece of ergonomic machinery to help with loading kayaks!
Method #2: Loading Kayaks & Canoes On Your Own
- Most kayak saddles come with mounted wheels, so the lone paddler can basically set the bow of the kayak against the back support, take hold of the stern, and roll the kayak forward into the front support of the rack.
- Another solo loading idea is having an Integrated lift system installed, such as the Thule Hullavator, and the lift will do all of the heavy lifting for you. This option is slightly costly but is worth it if you are going kayaking often to be alone.
Now to Properly Secure the Kayak to the Roof Rack
There is really only one way to go about securing the lashing strap around your kayak and rack.
This ProGrip XRT Rope Lock Tie Down is great solution to secure the bow & stern after loading kayaks.
We prefer lashing straps over ratcheting straps because they won’t get so tight as to crush your kayak. You can still get them tight enough so as to not let the kayak slide out while you’re going down the road. Give it a good solid tug when you tighten it, testing the strap by grabbing it and trying to slide it back and forth. Tighten until the strap no longer moves one way or the other.
Repeat the same procedure for the back strap. It is always best to go to the rear of the kayak and ,by using your weight, push and pull it back and forth, trying to pull the kayak from its mounting. You’ll also want to use either additional lashing straps or some rope lock tie-downs similar to the ones pictured in this article in order to secure the bow and stern (front & back) to the front & back of your vehicle. This will ensure the kayak or canoe won’t come loose if you have to accelerate or brake too suddenly.
After these steps are complete there is only one more thing to do – Enjoy your kayaking trip!
This graphic from eTrailer.com does an excellent job of showing what the finished product should look like!