How to Strap a Kayak to a Roof Rack – Easy 5 Step Guide!


Even though it may seem simple, getting your kayak securely strapped to your roof can take some time to get right. If you don’t do it right your expensive piece of gear can get damaged or even destroyed. Understanding how to strap a kayak to a roof rack will not only save you time but also ensure you get there safely.

Strapping a Kayak to a Roof Rack

1. Gather Your Gear

This may seem rather obvious, but it will help you in the long run. Instead of having to run around your house while your gear is laying outside we suggest gathering your gear before you start.

2. Straps

Once you have everything you need, you will want to focus on your straps. We find that if you position your straps ahead of time securing your kayak to your roof will be easy. To do this you will want to thread the straps through the base of the roof rack. Most systems use two channels at the base of their rack and allow the straps to come up and around the kayak.

If you are using a ratchet strap system, let the ends dangle against the side of your car. Be sure to not let them bash the side of your car.

3. Kayak

Now comes the time when you should put your kayak on the roof rack. Take your time, there is no reason to rush this step. If you are laying your kayak directly on a roof rack, you will want to add padding. This can block you get from your local store or an extra rolled-up blanket.

If you are lifting this by yourself you will want to start at the back of your car. You can rest it on the rear roof rack and gently slide it forward. We find it easiest to do this with the kayak facing down. This gives you a complete surface to strap to. Try and make sure that the straps will be as centered as possible. You don’t want the straps to shift which can make them loosen.

4. Tighten the Straps

This is the most important step. The key is to have the straps tight without flexing or bending the body of the kayak. Start with the rear strap. Get it started but not completely tight. Move to the front one and do the same. Once you have them positioned and nearly tight take a step back and see if they are positioned directly above the base, in a straight line.

If it looks like they are where you want them you can go ahead and tighten them. You will be able to feel when the strap gets to a point where the kayak won’t move. Test this by grabbing the nose of the kayak and try to push it back and forth. If it doesn’t move it is tight enough.

5. Tidy up

This step involves more than just cleaning up your area. You should make sure the ends of the straps are not going to flap in the wind while you’re driving. This can be dangerous for you and other drivers. It may even get you a fine. You can tuck your straps into the doors of your car or tie them around your car’s bumper.

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Simplifying Your Project


While strapping your kayak to your roof rack is not a very hard task, there are a couple of things you can do to make it even easier.


For those with kayaks on the heavier side, having a dolly around will make your experience much easier. Taking the weight of your kayak, the wheels of your Dollie will take all the weight from you.


Having foam or other buffers around will help preserve the life of your kayak. Providing a protective layer between your kayak and any hard surface will reduce the chances of scratches and other damage. A simple summertime pool noodle will work well for this. Simply add a slit to the noodle so you can slip it over your roof rack. Secure it one with some duct tape and you will have yourself a cushioned area to keep your kayak safe. This will reduce a lot of headaches later as you can strap your kayaks tight without concern for damage.

Extra Straps

Straps tend to get lost. This can happen for many reasons, but you may end up needing a second, or third, pair just in case. If you have a cradle you can search their website to find another set or you can get a set of ratchet straps at your local hardware store.

Kayak Cradle

There are specially designed racking systems that can help you with securing your kayak to your roof. Each cradle will have a rating for the size and type of the kayak they can hold. Essentially all you have to do is slip your kayak into the arms of this rack and secure your boat with the included straps.

What’s great about these contraptions is that the companies have included padding so you don’t have to worry about protecting your kayak. Everything from the strapping system to the cradle’s design has been thought through to make your life easier.

Globo Surf Overview

It’s one thing to know how to securely fasten your kayak to your roof, it’s another thing to be able to do it with confidence. You may have to do this while it’s raining or in adverse conditions. Being able to combine speed and efficiency will be key to getting you to and from your ideal kayaking location. You spent a lot of money on your kayak so ensuring that it stays safe and secure is important. This will help with the lifespan of the kayak and make it so that it will last for many years to come.

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