Tips On Tie Down Straps for Canoeists and Kayakers

Blog Kayak

Author: Dale Harris

I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss tie down straps. Specifically straps used to secure canoes and kayaks to car top carriers and trailers. Straps are strong and safe and easy to use and due to their design they do not easily come undone.

Considering using different tie down straps for different uses – do not try and make a 16ft or 20ft strap fit all of your different boats and vehicles. Cut your straps to length + 1ft. A strap that is 4 ft or 5 ft to long can get caught under the cars tire if it comes loose - which will damage your boat or car top carrier. Sear the end of the strap with a lighter to make it easier to go through the buckle.

Secure the end of the strap after securing your canoe or kayak to prevent the strap from flapping as you go down the road. This will help save the paint on your car from a strap constantly beating on it. Check your straps periodically for wear and tear – they will wear out over time and start to fray. Replace them before they fail.

Most canoeist and kayakers use one of two types of straps, the ratchet strap and the cam buckle strap. For securing boats to cars, trucks and trailers I use the cam buckle strap. The strap is tightened by pulling the strap through the cam buckle and tightening is limited by your strength which makes it difficult to over tighten.

Tie Down Straps 1

Cam Buckle Strap

Ratchet straps can multiply the amount of pressure you put on the strap. This can damage your canoe or kayak putting stress cracks in Kevlar or carbon fiber boats. Over tightening the straps on a plastic boat can cause the bottom of the canoe or kayak to intend – most of the time permanently. This is often referred to as “oil canning”.

Tie Down Straps 2

Ratchet Strap

The best way to use a strap is try to avoid any twists in the strap, go over the boat, under the crossbar on the other side and back over the boat before running the strap tie down through the cam buckle. Position the cam buckle so you are pulling down on the strap. It is much easier to pull down on the strap to tighten it than pulling up.

Personally I prefer the Chinook strap with the Velcro cover for the cam buckle which also stores the excess strap.

Tie Down Straps 3

Chinook Cam Buckle Strap