How to Properly Strap a Boat to a Roof Rack

How to Properly Strap a Boat to a Roof Rack

Come summer, we are all ready to go on some adventure and to soak some sun! Yes, it is that time of the year, when being out on the sand and beach seems such an appealing option. May it be boating, surfing or kayaking, we all love to enjoy the outdoors.

But as much as we love these activities, we must also know how to carry our precious boats or kayaks. While transporting a boat/kayak is not difficult but we must know how to properly secure them on to the roof rack of our vehicle. That is why we have come up with some tips on how to properly strap a boat to the roof rack of your car.

Before we get into the ‘how to’s’ of boat strapping, let us first look at what kind of material/gear is needed to properly strap the boat.

I] Accessories to strap a boat onto the roof rack

A] A good car rack

How to Properly Strap a Boat to a Roof Rack

A good quality roof rack is an absolute must for an adventurer. There are plenty of options on the market – with multiple brands offering basic rack bars and components that are compatible with almost any vehicle. Also, pack in good installation gear inventory.

There is a large range of roof racks on the market which offers pretty interesting choices. For those of you worried about finding a roof rack to accommodate the smaller roof of your car (such as the HiLux), you may want to try out Hilux roof racks which fit in perfectly.

How to Properly Strap a Boat to a Roof Rack

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And you could think of some other options as well. For instance, if you have a bike, say a Honda Africa Twin, you can easily attach a gear trailer to it. This will help you carry your boat in a very convenient way whenever you want!

B] Ropes and Straps

You can tie your boat onto the roof using ropes. Usually, non-stretch water-resistant ropes hold better. However, canoe straps are also equally useful and reliable. These nylon cam straps are easy to use as they don’t slip or stretch. You will need two straps which are about 12 feet long or longer.

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C] Crossbars

Crossbars run across the roof of the vehicle. Every crossbar is different and designed specifically for different cars. Do check out the one that holds and fits properly onto the roof of your car.

II] Tips to strap your boat onto a roof rack:

i) Using the straps over the bars of the roof rack

When you plan to strap your boat onto the roof rack, remember to first lay the straps onto each bar of the roof rack. Secure each strap properly underneath and around each bar. While doing so, make sure that the racks are neatly secured and tight enough to hold on to the vehicle. Lay the straps over the roof in a flat position, so that it is easier to tie them when you place your boat over them.

ii) Placing Your Boat on the Roof Rack

There are two ways to tie the boat directly to the crossbars of the roof rack –

  1. It is wise to place the boat upside down on the rack. However, you need to be careful as it may cause indentions rs damage to the hull – that is why keeping the hull separate is also a good idea.
  2. Another option is to use hooks or rollers if you wish to keep the boat right-side-up.

Once the boat is comfortably sitting on the roof rack, in one hand hold the buckle of the strap and with the other hand throw the leftover strap over the boat to the other side. Be careful that the strap buckle does not scratch your car.

iii) Bringing the Canoe Straps Over the Canoe

When you place the boat on the roof of the car pull the straps over the boat. Make sure that you do it gently so that you don’t damage the boat or the car. 

iv) Securing the Straps

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Secure the straps neatly yet tightly over the boat. The straps must lay flat against the boat. Slide each strap over and underneath the crossbar. Then pull it back upside again to meet the buckle. Tighten the straps in such a way that they can be easily loosened up when needed.

III] Safe ways to load the boat onto the roof of the rack:

  1. Using a lift system

These days, many items can be found on the market that makes loading boats and other heavy items much simpler. You don’t need to pull up the boat. Rather use integrated lift systems! These can make the loading easier as they slide from the top of your vehicle down to the side. In this way, you don’t have to lift your boat. After strapping the boat, all you need to do is to lift the rack system up on top of your vehicle.

2) Rolling wheels

Apart from the lift-up system, you can also try out the rolling wheels. The rolling wheels enable you to set the bow of the boat into the rear rack cradle and then guide the boat into the front rack cradle. 

3) Using a towel/ blanket

Another DIY option is to use a towel or a blanket for lifting up the boat onto the roof of your car. Place the towel or blanket on top of the rear of your vehicle and set the bow of the boat on the towel or blanket. Then simply pick up the stern and push the boat onto the rack.


From now on loading a boat on the roof rack of your car won’t be a problem anymore!

So go ahead and get going with these pointers to enjoy your little adventure!