Canoes + Sedans

I have a sedan and I’m buying my first canoe.
My car does not have roof racks/rails. I planned on buying the field&stream kit to strap it to the roof and a bow and stern line to keep it steady.

Are there any possibilities I havent thought of?

Any methods that have been proven more successful?

The foam block systems work OK but I’d certainly use two stern lines and two bow lines to secure the canoe if you’ll be driving at highway speeds.

In the end, if you find you really enjoy taking your canoe out fairly often, you’ll probably want to invest in a good roof rack system. I use Yakima racks and gunnel stops but Thule and Malone make some good rack systems as well. They aren’t inexpensive though so if you want something more affordable you can sometimes find a good used rack system for sale on Craigslist and other online classifieds.



You don’t need factory roof rails…Thule and Yakima make racks that attach with clips that are designed to fit your car, just go to their website and enter your vehicle information.


We recently bought a second canoe and were able to put it on my Wifes Camry by splitting a couple of pool noodle lengthwise. It worked out pretty well for our first test drive but we didn’t go anywhere at high speed. We used two tie down buckle straps over the middle section and two ratchet tie downs at each the bow and stern. It felt pretty secure.

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Like you I’m new to buying my first canoe and doing rooftop transport. My car is a little KIA Soul and came with no kind of roof rails or rack. I investigated a little and found that in the trim strip on the roof there were 4 little plastic covers that when the cover is snapped out exposed four 6mm threaded holes for attachment of aftermarket rails and racks.

The rails and racks I found were kind of pricey and the ones more reasonably priced were not what I would call something I wanted to trust having my canoe strapped to. I thought about the foam blocks and straps also and they seemed like they would be hard on the roof both weight and scuffing and I didn’t see what I could strap around without going inside the car thru windows.

I built my own out of a couple PT 2x4s and painted them black and they look good enough for me. I bolted them down with 6mm bolts and the whole thing cost under 20 bucks and I know it is much stronger than anything I could have bought. I bought 2 cam lock loop straps for the center and 4 cam lock hook straps for the bow and stern. Under the hood I used 2 blot on strap loops that tuck inside when not in use and in the back 2 loops that you close the lift back on to lock them in. I attached them to the grab loops I added to the canoe.

I have eight very strong and secure mounting points and a sturdy rack below. The canoe is part of the car when attached and I feel fine taking it up to 60MPH, although 50MPH is fast enough for anyplace I’m going. I have a safety red flag for the back.

If taking the boat out is going to be a regular thing I suggest doing it right and having zero worries if everything is staying attached.

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among the drawbacks to foam blocks or any non-rack system is what happens when it rains. As the straps need to be threaded through the car, the rain will drip along the straps into the car. That’s when you’ll finally grit your teeth and buy a rack. Best $500 you’ll spend.


Along with what @jeffski posted above anything foam be it blocks or pool noodles is compressible. IMO I want the gunwales of the canoe a hard surface seated against another hard surface, along with the straps being pulled on against a hard surface. The only point of movement should be the stretch in the straps and when locked tensioned they will remain in tension. Putting anything compressible into the mix will possibly allow movement and then the straps will very quickly lose their tension.

Going thru a car window along with letting in water and annoying air sounds the straps will bind against the window trim and could possibly be another point of loosening tension in the straps.

I just felt like that method I would be stopping a lot to check if my straps were still tight. :canoe:

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I tend to agree that using foam blocks or pool noodles are not the way to go for the long term. Any dirt or grit on your car’s roof and you will eventually start to scuff the paint. It can be a fine solution for occasional use like getting the boat home from the shop for the first time. The problem gets worse with high speeds or long trips. Water dripping off a wet boat can make it difficult to insure that the boat is really secure, especially with compressible pool noodles.

Never run straps through the windows. It creates a safety hazard as you cannot open the doors without unfastening the straps. Run them though the doors if you have to, but I’d strongly suggest spending the money on a properly fitted rack system.

Great point about the windows. That shows that I never tried it even, as I would quickly figure out if the front doors were used that you couldn’t get in to drive.

I really like the idea of the strap going over the boat twice when strapping to a rack bar. Each strap is actually 2 straps so two loop straps is like having 4.

I noticed on my little KIA I could really tell it’s up there with a side wind. Acts like a giant spoiler on the room. If you can feel it thru the car you know it is putting force thru the strapping.

I used the foam blocks and tied it down front and back. Worked great. The biggest thing with those tho is to figure out how to put the canoe on top of your vehicle w/o scratching the paint. I’d put the foam pads on the canoe first, then put the canoe up and adjust.

I use the foam blocks and they work really well. Two ratchet straps through the car and bow and Stern lines.

Unlike the other poster, I think thelat the compression in the foam blocks actually helps. The elasticity of the compression in the foam serves to keep tension.

The drawback is wear and tear on paint and in the weather stripping in the doors. However, I only paid 1000 for the car, so that’s not a big issue.

On our sprinter van, I have a rack .


Two days ago I met a young man with an old pickup with his newly purchased canoe. He was out in front of the store. The canoe was right side up, sitting on the roof and camper shell. He was using large cargo straps all the way around the truck cab.

He was a cheerful fellow, and obviously very happy about owning a canoe. I convinced him to try to turn the canoe over with the gunwales on the roof. He climbed up on the roof of the truck and turned the canoe over with a loud crash.

After awhile it all became amusing. I gave him the thumbs up. It makes me happy just thinking about it.