Keeping Kayak on the Roof Rack...

I live in apartment and I keep my kayak in a storage facility. It’s kind of a pain to get the kayak in and out. I wondering about keeping my yak on the roof rack most of the time next summer. Right now I have an old hand me down Pungo, but I am thinking of picking up a new boat next spring.

I have Yakima Hull Raisers on my car.

– Jeremy

I think…

– Last Updated: Oct-04-06 3:26 PM EST –

Well, to make it a little more secure, I would lock it to the rack/vehicle with a nice flex-steel cable and a good outdoor-specific lock. Kryptonite makes some really good products. Will this make your kayak un-stealable? Not even close. But it will deter the opportunity theif (the kind of person who does not set out to steal something, but will steal it if it's "available").

Beyond security, I would also worry about it mis-shaping your kayak. It seems like any pressure points would begin to collapse under the constant stress of being strapped and tied down. I supposed, with the hull-risers, you could loosen some of the strap tension overnight, while you're parked. But then I'd worry about that one day that you neglect to retighten the straps before heading out.

I understand the pain of going out of your way to dig out the kayak. But I think I'd leave it in the storage space.

In addition
You don’t want your kayak exposed to the sun for extended periods day after day.

When I head to Florida in early Jan…
our two kayaks and one canoe stay on the vehicle for three months except when they are in the water.

Back home here in NC we leave them on the vehicle roof sometimes for a week at a time, since they are used so much.

I don’t think I would want to leave the vehicle parked on a public street day after day with them on it though.



Lots of sun day after day
might make you think about a kayak cover or religious application of 303 and a hommeade neoprene cockpit cover.

Lock? Absolutely.

Six months of the Year Pungo on Top
I use a foot stool and a bilge pump after it rains. Guess what I will be doing tonight?

Classes start for my seasonal second job, the month is nearly over, and it is about time to take the Pungo to the patio.

If I find I can’t get out paddling this weekend, I will take it off and put it on the patio with the smaller Pungo.

I kept the Pungo in the living room last winter but my cats got more time in it than I did. Enough said.

The shape comes back but it is best to try to park in protected areas.

During the daytime my van is behind locked gates and folks are watching from the floors above. “What is that handicapped lady doing with a kayak on her roof?” I tell them that if they want a good laugh they should see me try to get out of the boat with my bad knee and all.

Where I live isn’t exactly crime free. Babays and cracker brats roam the parking lots looking for open car doors and stealing stuff out of cars. When the patio isn’t locked the other Pungo seems unnoticed. In Ohio they have to be registered anyway.

The disadvantage is that everyone knows that van with the kayak on it is your van. A zillion vans all look alike but show up with a kayak on the roof and they can spot you. Or it could be an advantage, depending.

As for me I’m not going back to my favorite grocery store until I’ve got the Pungo off the roof.

Last month on my way to Mi to kayak and visit my dad I stopped in the grocery for lunch, cat litter, and cat food. When I came out this old looking man who doesn’t listen or take no for an answer was waiting for me. He wanted me to drop everything and go to lunch with him or to stand talk for awhile. I told him I was late and had my dear old cat in the car but he wouldn’t listen so I just threw everything in the back seat and took off. A month later, this same man followed me into that same parking lot again. I decided I didn’t need groceries from there right then. This issue will be resolved.

There are various lock systems available. I think it depends on your parking habits and life style choices.

Year round
My kayak stays on year round. i keep it 303ed,(difrent product but close) and the kayak is just fine. thats after 4+years of it being on the rack.

I will plan on treating with some 303 and I already have a cockpit cover. I will also get a lock… if for no other reason but to keep the honest people honest.

I don’t plan on keeping the kayak on the roof all summer and when I know it’s going to be really hot I will store it. I’d just like to be able to paddle after work a few nights a week. Maybe I can pull the yaks out on Thursday and store them again after a Monday or Tuesday night paddle.

– Jeremy

couple more points
Hi Jeremy.

Leaving it on your roof might lead to accidents if you or the other driver “forget” you have a kayak on top, like backing up or heading into a parking garage. That’s a “Doh” moment.

Also in windy conditions even a load like 50 pounds can make a difference in cornering, especially, again, if the driver “forgets” it’s there. Saw a canoe take a plunge and bounce awhile in a drainage ditch last weekend. Crunchy.

Also, it’s good to practice tieing up and unloading by streetlight, moonlight, in the rain, whatever. I’ve learned more by experiencing all this now, instead of in an emergency.

Practice does make perfect. For me that is three days a week but well worth it for the safety of my beautiful kayak!

You need to know…
Buckle your seatbelt, and hold on, cause this is gonna talk awhile.

Take this from a guys who’s put a whole lot of miles, replaces a whole lot of straps, covers, and learned a whole lot of lessons the hard way.

You do need to know that if you decide to leave your kayak on your vehicle for very long periods of time (weeks/months/years)…

A. Check those straps EVERY single time you go to get in your vehicle. Make it a golden rule to not start your vehicle unless you’ve checked.

  • When it rains, straps naturally stretch, thus become loose.

  • Over time, and especially if they do get loose straps will quickly wear out from the excessive forces of wind. Expect to replace your straps often, and use the best quality ones you can possibly get.

  • Straps, and buckles do break. Sometimes from no other reason than they just do. New ones, old ones, doesn’t matter.

  • People can be mean. Say that guy who was behind you a few miles back honking his horn, and mad as heck because you were going to slow, or wouldn’t take off at the light quick enough sees you at the gas station. “I’ll show that guy.” Like it or not, there are ppl out there like that, and you can’t afford to underestimate them.

    B. Check the rack, and where it attaches to the vehicle each time for the same reasons.

  • Although I’m sure some ppl might argue this fact, the average racks today are not designed, nor should they be expected to take that kind of load on them every single day. I’m sure there are ppl out there that may have done it for years, and never had a problem, but I can assure you that it’s a huge gamble they are taking. Never underestimate the power of the wind + leverage + time on average rack systems. It can be a deadly combination on the highway.

    C. Expect oilcanning to get worse as time goes on in most plastic kayaks if you leave them on your vehicle long periods of time.

  • For example, if it gets hot, the plastic will ofcourse get softer, and when you tighten the straps to compensate, that puts even more pressure on the boat, so when it cools back down at night, etc…unless you’ve taken the boat off the vehicle and allowed it to expand again you’re stuck with a kayak that will continue to bend more, and more each time you repeat this cycle. This could cause severe warping over time with most boats especially in hot climates.

    Thermoplast, which is one of, if not the best plastic on the market does have far better memory than most plastics, and is very good about popping right back into place, but even Thermo in extreme temps will oilcan further, and further each time the straps are tightened due to hot/cool/hot/cool. Not overtightening is almost as important as keeping straps tight.

    D. Effects of UV rays on plastic. ANY PLASTIC.

  • Protectants are great, but are no match for a plastic boat that is out in the sun day in, and day out. You wouldn’t keep your skin out in the sun every single hour of every single day if just because you wore sunscreen. If do decide to do this, keep your boat in the shade as much as possible. Use a tarp, or cover of some kind if/when you can.

    In short, I wouldn’t recommend keeping a PLASTIC boat on a vehicle all the time unless you:

  • Baby it, or replace it often.

  • Are willing to unload the boat each HOT day while it’s still hot enough outside to allow the plastic to go back to it’s original form. (Most roto plastic boats will not do this well over time) Then reload and restrap either in late evening, or early morning. This is very inconvenient, and most ppl wouldn’t find it feasible for any amount of time.

  • Leave it upside down is more than often best. If you don’t have a drainplug, or it isn’t located to where it will self drain expect on either draining it yourself after rains, snows, etc…or to have a cockpit cover which will definitely not wear well in highway winds, so you’d have to replace it often.

  • Check your straps, racks, and where it attaches to roof regularly for wear.

  • Have good insurance, and are willing to accept the added risk of the boat flying off going down the road due to the rack breaking, strap breaking due to wear, flying off going down the road and the ramifications of that.

    My recommendation is to find a way to store it. If space is a problem you can usually find a solution to that problem with a bit of thought and/or ingenuity. If all else fails work a deal out with a friend, family, or neighbor that might have a little extra space for letting you keep in their garage.

    Be safe. Paddle long.


Would like to add…
that if you get a high quality rack that fits the form of your hull, with good quality wide straps, alot of the issues I listed above will not be nearly as bad.