Do you worry about your cam straps?

I’ve had more than one person say(all non-kayakers) “I wouldn’t trust your boat with cam straps” when strapping them to my carrier. Most of them are canoers who use a soft strong rope instead to tie their canoes down. I also always use bow and stern lines, and a Malone J carrier. Currently I’m using the cam straps that came with the carrier, but I think the straps and buckles look kind of flimsy so I was planning to get something different.

Is there anything more reliable than cam straps for this job? Where is a good place to get high quality ones that haven’t failed on you? NRS? The ones I have haven’t slipped at all yet, and the teeth and ridges look good, but they do make me nervous, but maybe I just need to work on my anxiety problem, lol.

What causes cam buckles to fail? The teeth getting worn down? The springs failing? Do you just periodically replace yours, even if they look OK?

good straps

– Last Updated: Jul-06-15 12:25 AM EST –

I've been using the original set of Thule cam straps that came with my j-racks that I bought 12 years ago for all this time. And I have a second pair that came used with a set of stackers that may be just as old. Never had them slip and they are still snug and firm. I keep them stored in a dark canvas sack so they don't get more UV exposure than they need and I periodically wash them in the washing machine (in a cotton sack) to get any grease or grit out of them.

I've picked up other straps over the years (like from L L Bean, which I believe are NRS) but the 4 Thules are my first choice for any hauling and I only use the others if I need more than 4. I like the design of the buckle and rubber guard and the thickness and weave texture of the strap itself.

I've driven thousands of highway miles using these straps and never worry about them. I should mention that mine are all a bit longer than I need and always pull tension down and away from the buckle and then securely tie the end around the car roof rack. I also always pinch the buckle open rather than just yank the strapping through it under pressure -- I expect this reduces wear on the cam.

UV degradation mostly
Sometimes the cam cam spring can get weak and need cleaning but mostly it’s UV degradation over years… $8-$15 every few years is very cheap security.

Just keep…
…the cams clean and well lubricated so they will get a good bite on the straps. I have never used anything else.

Use a backup method on the straps
Tighten as needed, then secure the free end with two half hitches.

I wash my straps after each use, to get rid of salt and sand. If a buckle’s spring starts to feel weak, I replace the strap. They actually last a pretty long time anyway.

nope don’t worry about them
don’t do anything special with them other than avoid dropping them in the mud.

Canoe and cams
I use both as my method…Ever seen what semi-trucks use to secure their loads…cams! ;o)

Ditto on the two half-hitches, makes good sense.

High quality straps (NRS, Thule) do last longer than inexpensive ones. I’ve retired some el-cheapos, the NRS just seem fine after many years.

I have been using them …
for the past twenty years.

I never worry about the metal cam buckles, but I use silicon lubricant or WD-40 on them several times a year or more to clean the salt off.

It is a good idea to after pulling them tight to give the latching portion a tug toward you to make sure the teeth bite into the fabric.

The only time I have ever had one break was one that I had retired from use due to age, and was using it to hold down a ladder. I was pulling it as tight as I could, (much tighter then I would if I was using it on the kayak/canoes), and the fabric broke.

I constantly check the fabric, and when I deem necessary, I take them out of service.

I always have a half dozen or more sets, and on several occasions have given a set away to some newbie that we meet at a put-in

Jack L

Invest in a decent set, and keep them clean. Don’t leave them laying outside.

If the cams get balky and dont move
there is ample forewarning. I transport long distance and have since 1996 with them ( thousands of miles per trip…just like some others here).

They don’t fail without warning… You can usually get many years out of a good set of straps… I have some that are well over 15 years old.

Just maintain as others have said.

And BTW the generalization about canoers is invalid… I am a canoer and transport canoes. I’m not alone.

I have never had the buckels fail
on a good set of straps. I have had two occasions where

where the strap itself failed when transporting the boat on the vehicle. It just shredded without warning. One of several reasons why I always use bow and stern tie downs. The straps that shredded were one Thule; one Yakima. I always keep a spare set in the car in addition to some rope. UV will definitely degrade a strap over time. As I do not live near saltwater I do not have an issue with salt.

for the reassurance. I think I’ll buy some new and better buckles/straps and then just continue to keep them clean and out of the sun. I store mine in one of my hatches(stored with the lid off) in our dark basement, and we don’t have any salt exposure either. But I’d rather have more substantial buckles and straps than what I have.

And I wasn’t trying to generalize anything about canoers, I guess it just sounded that way, sorry. I meant that the couple people that have commented on my cam straps were all canoers, and their choice of strapping for their canoes was a soft strong rope and knots instead. Not that all canoers feel that way.

Anyway, good to know you guys don’t have cam buckle horror stories. I’ll just make sure to keep a good eye on them. I always tie them down well onto the rack below the buckles as well, so hopefully that is extra insurance as well as the tie downs.

I’d go with a good reputable dealer
like NRS.

WalMart is not the place to go for things that cause mayhem if they fail.

no Thules here
Walmart, Wheeleze, NRS, Seattle Fabrics.

Gray cams may coat a white film from salt exposure, plated cams ie NRS/Seattle Fabrics may not.

The film is not soluble in penetrating oil, kerosene …

Lubing the cam pivots/spring needs avoid lubing the strap. I’m using Finish Line Teflon Wax Dry Lube used for bicycle cables. FLTWDL is solvent then lube perfect for cable ends…a drop or 2 and the works are free.

On cams, use an artist’s brush also good for PC Blaster where the valve is thumbed side to side not straight down. Wal has a brush package for the shop in arts and crafts.

My NRS straps are short (OOS), unexposed. My Seattle fabrics parts are unused as the Wal and Wheeleze cam straps are at 10 years with 6 solid exposure coast to coast were on and now nearing the end. Wal had a good deal here on the beach for some time with a soft but durable green strap at ? 16’ for a coupla bucks.

Seattle Fabric parts seem superior to NRS but incrementally so. With SF there’s a choice of color and material. Sew with SF needles/thread and a maple club.

All these straps are durable. should be cleaned inspected and lubed.

Right, tie down the loose ends tight backing the cam with good sense. OK tieing strap either way into and out of cam as long as the end is tied down tight. If you sort this out please give us that info.

Checking the entire rig at every gas/pit stop is good form…do a walk around and tug/pull/shove hull.

Cam straps are thrown over with a weight maybe a tennis ball/light bean bag attached to cord attached to strap.

I’m trying a roof top 3 hull double triangle for the next trip across with cam straps.

Just like everyone else has already said
NRS, Keep them clean and lubed up, last for years. A few things: If the straps buzz when you go down the highway, just give them a couple of twists. Always tie the extra to something to keep it from flapping around. Police look for stuff like that. Some bridges do not allow cam straps in high wind conditions.

I stumbled upon Riverside cam straps at a local kayak shop. Owner had a basket full of them near the register, for a fair price. Fabric is very thick, hardware thick and strong and an excellent large thick rubber shell. I like them better then my Thules.

whap whap whap zzzzzzg zzzzg whap
3M colored 33 electrical tape tie down the loose loose ends. Tape tapes to itself, stretch and wrap loop.

No noise

whap whap whap zzzzzzg zzzzg whap
3M colored 33 electrical tape tie down the loose loose ends. Tape tapes to itself, stretch and wrap loop.

No noise

Just Bought Pair of 20 Footers From

– Last Updated: Jul-06-15 7:37 PM EST –

Go Bananas Hawaii ( to secure my 21 foot surfski to an Altima Sedan that will be heading for the Blackburn Challenge in Gloucester, MA. Go Bananas gets their cam straps from Watersports Warehouse, Inc. Anderson, SC. (

Been using these straps for over 25 years. Sure, the salt and sunlight will deteriorate them in no time, if you don't take care. So for $20.95 a pair, I get a new set or more every two years. Yes, these are super premium straps, which are better than most.

No worries: see you on the I-95 going 55mph. Give a honk...

ps: will have two straps up front and one at the rear. Orange flag on the tail.