Beginner Questions - Buying Used, Mounting on Roof Rack, Transport and Storage

Hi everyone. I’m looking to purchase my 1st Canoe. I’m set on buying used and have actually found plenty on craigslist alone. Though I do intend to take plenty of Solo camping trips with this Canoe, I also have a young son and friends who love to travel with me. I don’t want to limit myself for trips in the future and based on recommendation I saw in this forum I am looking at these two models:

Mad River Adventure 16
Old Town Discovery 169

My trips will mainly be Lake/River camping trips with my camera gear (anything else I should look for let me know)

I have SEVERAL questions, but the first is: can you give me some things to look for when examining a used canoe? what are signs I should look for that will help me avoid something that needs expensive or extensive repair?

here are the other questions in bullet point form. I tried finding these all on the forums but was just getting lost

I have a 2007 Toyota Sequoia with a Roof Rack including the cross bars. Can anyone recommend their favorite brands of the following:

  • Foam Padding or blocks for the cross bars?

  • Tie Down Straps

  • Bow and Stern Straps

  • Hood Loops (I saw these in another post and they looked smart)

  • best dolly/transport tool?

  • Favorite Wall Mount or are sawhorses OK?

  • I have a huge basement but its a bit humid down there. will this be an issue with a Royalex or similar boat? I live in North Jersey so big temp swings from summer to winter

I think that’s it for now. the biggest questions are about car mounting because If I buy used, I will need to go pick one up soon. oof. my truck is super tall too. can’t wait to load a 17ft boat onto on my own. :wink:


You could start out with a look at Kayak Racks and Loading at for a general overview. Geared toward kayaks, but many of the concepts apply. I’m sure that others will have a lot of suggestions.

Wall mount or saw horses with work fine. I wold pad any hard surfaces with carpet or split foam or closed cell rubber pipe insulation. With a canoe, store it upside down on sawhorses.

A damp basement will generally not harm a canoe, but you may get mold or mildew. If this is a problem, consider a dehumidifier.

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Thule cam straps have been the undisputed winner in most discussions on them. Take half decent care of them and they will last a long time. Low stretch overall, minimal wet expansion. Very reliable grip by the cam mechanism.

Second in line was… North Water, maybe?

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Both of the canoes you mention are good.
Best to have a proper roof rack. I much prefer rope for tie downs with a trucker hitch, plenty of friction.
Put your boat centered on the rack. Secure the bow and stern to the bumpers of you vehicle.
Royalex is okay in a basement. Saw horses will do.

Definitely going to want waterproof hard cases for the camera and gear or a waterproof camera. I have a snorkeling camera rated for shallow water that I take kayaking and swimming with the family. My life jacket has a pocket that’s easy to access. I keep my phone and keys in an OtterBox case in a hatch that’s easy to reach.

Yeah I was just looking at those too. I have a ton of gesr, mostly vintage film stuff so looking for a couple sizes for different trips

Yeah i have the propper roofrack. When you secure it do I need to go through the windows then? Or can I just go under the roof rack?

Thanks for this

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Regarding the boats both of your choices are plastic so virtually indestructible. Just use common sense and look them over inside and out and look for damage. Both of those are very heavy boats…make sure you can lift them. Even if you are strong they will be awkward to load. Personally I’d look for something lighter. If you hate loading the canoe you won’t use it as much. The Old Town is huge for solo use.

I like NRS straps because they are wider than the one inch wide straps from Thule or Yakima. But I have NRS, Thule and Yakima straps and all work great and last a long time in my experience.

Your rack doesn’t need any padding. I use pieces of clear plumbing tubing to protect the canoe and add a little friction between boat and rack. Some people use foam pipe insulation or a pool noodle to pad their bars. You do not need or want to run the straps inside the vehicle. You can see how I use the strap…throw one end over the boat, wrap it around the far bar right next to the boat, throw it back over the boat and tighten around the near end of the bar. It’s fine to center the boat on the rack. I have my load stops all the way towards the driver’s side and then use the straps to pull the boat towards that side since it keeps the boat firmly in place and may work a little better to keep the boat from wiggling in strong wind. But with well secured bow and stern lines centering the canoe works fine too.

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Now that @TomL has mentioned it, I’m recalling that NRS and Thule got high marks.

I’m more about kayaks, so don’t have much else to offer here. :grin:

Take what @ppine says with a pound or two of salt.

You can also just tie ropes into a loop for the hood loops. Used them for years and I have never paid for them from anyone. Just use deck line left over from rerigging the boats.

Carts, something like this if you can afford it - solid. Tubeless tires I believe. Seattle Sports Paddleboy ATC All-Terrain Center Kayak and Canoe Dolly Carrier Cart

You can pound salt.
Straps slip, rope doesn’t.

You’re probably right about the ropes for someone who has learned how to properly tie knots.

My comment was intended to be more general.

Rope is nice, ends fray, have to remember the knots (I do), sometimes tough with cold hands.
Throwing two half-hitches on an NRS strap after cinching the cam prevents slipping, 14 years, no slips.
I remember steel bumpers, I liked having those…

I’ve been using cam buckle straps from REI and NRS among others for over 20 years transporting two kayaks as far as Maine and Key West. Also used them on my work truck to carry lumber, pipe, and 40’ extension ladders for over 40 years. Never had a one of those straps slip. I have worn several out.

Quick and easy to use with a tensile strength of well over 1000 lbs. Nothing wrong with rope if you know your knots and use the right kind of rope.

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Never run straps through the windows. The front strap will present a safety issue as you will be unable to open the doors without removing the strap. TomL has the correct method.

For people who have a car with no factory or added rack crossbars and are using foam blocks directly on the roof, you can run flat straps though the doors, not windows. I don’t recommend this for several reasons. The foam blocks are hard to get really secure. The blocks will eventually wear the paint off of the roof. Most car roofs are not designed to carry a load. This method is often fine for a temporary solution or a short distance.

If using factory rails and crossbars check with the car manufacturer for the maximum load carrying capacity. Some are more decorative than practical.

Appreciate this detail. I took a better look at my truck and the rack today. The Thule Portage is back-ordered till Aug 1 but I put it in my cart anyway, as it looks to be the best. heads-up tip on the plumbing tubing. I’ll be picking some of that up.

Yes I think the 16 footers I’m looking at will be a bitch & a half t load. the roof rack on my Sequoia sits almost 7’ off the ground. looking at some other options, but everything I like is between 70 and 90lbs.

I co-owned an Adventure 16 with an ex boyfriend for 3 years and solo loaded it on my own cars a couple of times. Bear in mind that I am a 5’ 5" woman and was in my 60’s at the time. Yeah, it was a bear and there was a lot of grunting involved. Much of heavy boat loading is just getting used to the weight and learning how to balance it using the most effective and safe body language – spare your arms, shoulders and lower back by using your legs as much as possible and keeping the weight centered over your body.

But one thing about long boats is you can roll them up behind the vehicle with the cart and then just lift one end up onto the back of the car (I used a rubber backed rug to protect the paint) and then walk to the other end of the boat and lift that and shove it forward. I also carry a compact folding step stool in the car so I can get up easily and adjust the boat onto the rack and be able to reach the straps. (An important step is to loop the straps over the rack bars BEFORE loading the boat if you are going to mount more than one. But if you are only hauling the one canoe that is not necessary).

Since I recently added a canoe to my own kayak fleet I got the hard foam gunwale protectors. The lower opening slots over the Thule bars and the gunwales of the canoe drop into the upper slot. I find it easiest to stick them on the rack and slide to where needed on the canoe once i get it up there. I have both NRS and Thule straps and they are both excellent. I have one pair of Thule straps that are at least 20 years old and still work fine (I do periodically hand wash them to get grit out and I keep them stored in a duffel bag in the car when not in use so they are not overly exposed to UV.)

I have a pair of those rubber hood loops but misplaced one so I just replaced the one with heavy braided dacron rope double looped and tied to a structural part of the car under the hood. I tie the stern lines (which are also braided dacron rope) to my tow hitch, since my 2015 Mazda wagon has nothing but one of those useless plastic bumpers with nothing tangible underneath for tie off.

I have had some nylon straps deteriorate from sun exposure and fail. I have had them slip even with a couple of half hitches. Rope tied properly has never failed and long as it is nylon and not manilla.


I use double straps for long trips to start with. l also toss and replace them if they look like they have taken too much of a beating. But if l have missed a weak spot double strapping means the boat is still secure.

My husband and l acted similarly with roof rack systems. Generally the wear point was the tower or foot. Replaced then if they started to be harder to get good and tight.

I am taking a hard look at the Thule footpacks on my Hullivator cradle side, and suspect they will get replaced sooner than the other side.

I don’t recall ever reading of a rack failure or loss of a boat that did not start because of parts that had been showing age, or inadequate redundancy. Like trying long trips without double strapping, a worn foot, or a WW friend who got home without a boat on her roof because she had the WW habit of only using a single strap.

I passed one of my star tests using ropes, specifically learned to fully secure the boat that way w/o any straps for the good of the nation. And of course with paddling near the ocean use the heck out of bow line.

But l really do not buy the idea that ropes are better than straps unless the user is not checking their equipment well or they have inadequate redundancy to handle a problem.