How fast do you drive w/ kayak on cartop

-- Last Updated: Jun-04-07 5:08 PM EST --

Suppose your kayak is tied down (securely) with straps.
How fast would you usually go on freeway if you have a long way to go?

Would it be too fast to drive, say, 75 mph?

I just did that.
Two sea kayaks in cradles on a rack tied down with straps with both bow and stern safety lines. I drove about 73 all the way.

Kayaks are aerodynamic
compared to canoes. With yaks atop I can drive above teh legal speed quite easily and confidantly. With canoes, teh air drag is such that I do not want to drive fast!


Same as without
If they’re tied securely, it doesn’t matter.

The thing that will change is your gas mileage! It’ll drop as you drive faster, esp. with kayaks on top.

I’m just curious
If some stranger on an internet message board told me he drove 1,000 miles at 80 mph with a kayak on his roof — what would that tell me about my chance of doing the same???

Fast enough to out-run the cops.

it’s better to drive fast than slow
If you drive slow (usually the legal speed limit) it freaks everyone out behind you. They think your boat is ready to fly off the roof of your car at any moment.

But, if you drive like 80, everyone behind you chills right out. They stay tucked right in behind you, practically tied to your rear bumper.

Driving with boats on top
I’ve probably driven close to 100,000 miles with boats on top of my cars over a period of 30 years These have included canoes (3 at a time sometimes), kayaks (4 at a time) and a Sunfish. I’ve never changed my driving habits to account for the boats. I’ve tied them securely to the rack and at the bow and stern. I’ve never had a boat come off and my wife once rolled our FJ 55 Land Cruiser with our OT Tripper on top on I-80 in Wyoming and it was still on the rack when we landed back upright on our wheels. Could see the impression of the canoe in the dirt where the truck landed on top of it.

Rolling the car?
To the original poster: Don’t drive as fast as this guy does! :slight_smile:

tucked in right behind you at 80

i read a story about a girl who had a surfboard come off her roof rack and smash through the windshield of another car, killing the driver. he was a doctor. she was getting sued.

you can do whatever
i get better mileage and a relaxed feel1ng by driving the speed limit or less. i like about 60 mph with boats.

I agree with Pika…
and am astonished at what passes for the “logic” of “it’s better to drive fast…”


Driver, secure your load
I make sure my rack is tight, first, then the boat straps. If I am going to do extended periods of time on the freeway, I dfintely put on a bow tie (not bow tie, bow tie! On the kayak, silly, not on me! sheesh), and sometimes a stearn tie. The shorter the bar spread, the more likely the end ties go on.

Then, I drive the same as I normally drive.

Check the load at every stop along the way. Things can get loose sometimes.

Interesting numbers
My 2007 Toyota Matrix with 5-speed manual (great kayaking/camping car, BTW) usually gets about 31-32 MPG at 75 MPH when commuting solo.

Yesterday, we drove 300 miles with two boats on the roof, a total of four passengers, and all our gear, at about 60-65.

The mileage: 30 MPG.

Evidently, the slightly lower speed was nearly enough to offset all the extra weight and drag, and our trip cost each person something like 3 cents per mile.

So afterwards I splurged and got the DOUBLE cheeseburger and an EXTRA nut brown ale …

honda civic
with two tempest 165s on top, 70 to 80 no problem, I use J saddles with straps resonable snug but not overly tight as my cross bars are under the bulkheads and front and rear tie downs snug but not tight.

The only problem is I have thule square bars and they are noisy above about 60 ( no problem just take the hearing aids out ha ha) when the kayaks are on the factory Subaru cross bars they are quieter.

I will have to exsperment with the square bars as the civic still gets 38 mph with the kayaks on it, so we us it more.


Scion XB
with two 17’ kayaks on the roof… 70 - 75 mph isn’t out of the question.

Lots depends on the vehicle too.
With a canoe and kayak on my F150 at an average of 70 mph I get 17.3 mpg. Take them off and I get 17.8.

No Problem!!!
I loaded Missy’s Carolina 13.5 on my Tracker and drove to California and back at speeds that sometimes exceeded 80 MPH WITHOUT any fore or aft tiedowns.

Just shows you how stable the Malone racks are.

Any day on the water is a great day,


I’ve noticed that, actually. NM

74 mph
More for keeping less than 10 mph over the speed limit of 65.

That’s been fast enough to blow most of the stickum letters of my Wilderness. Now it says “WILD” on one side and nothing on the other :).

It really has to do with whether your boat is still stable up there, the bow not bobbing around too much.

Re your boat flying off your car and your getting sued, a good measure is to always use safety tie downs at the ends. They make a good tell tale on whether the boat has shifted, and help demonstrate reasonable effort to keep your boat on your car (for legal purposes) in the event that an accident does happen.

Paul S.