Locking Kayaks to Roof

My family and I are planning on camping across NY for 2 weeks this summer. Mounting the 3 kayaks to my van is not the issue. But I am wondering if there is a way to lock them down somehow? What does everyone else do to secure their kayaks? Is it safe to just leave them up there or should I really be worried that someone may steal one or all 3? Or am I just paranoid? We are just beinner rec kayakers and have 2 OT Otters & one Walden Scout. Is something made to solve this problem? Yhanks for all you help.

Just to keep the honest people honest
I put a cable lock around the seat and a rack bar.

Yes - cable locks
Given the boats you are carrying, I would suggest is that you label them in some obvious way so that, if you are at a campsite or beach somewhere, they won’t be mistaken for boats available for common use. And don’t leave the paddles with them if unattended. Someone may think they can borrow them, no intention to steal.

There are fancy kayak locks, which are plasticized metal cables. They run around each end of the boat and under the rack. But - these are targeted at touring boats. They won’t work for your boats as well because they are so long - you’d spend half the day winding them around something take up the slack so they were effective.

The above suggestion of running a cable lock, like you’d get from a bike store, from under the seat to around the racks is a perfect lower-cost solution.

We live in upstate, and we haven’t found kayak security to be a problem. In general I’d say you shouldn’t have to be terribly concerned. But our boats are composite touring boats, much more difficult for someone to just run down the street with than yours, and since we got these we’ve been using the fancy locks. It is possible we may have foiled an attempt of which we are unaware.


years ago
Aquaterra (now Perception) via Harmony Gear offered a nice cable that WW yakkers installed onto their boats. I’ve got several boats with this cable mounted behind the cockpit. In the boats I ordered I had this feature ‘glassed’ in.

The wire is stiff enough to ‘hassle’ the would be thief but flexible enough to bend when leaning onto the deck in a roll.

Another piece of coated cable connects the Harmony cable to the Thule Bars which are locked down.

DIY Cable Lock
Go to a hardware store and buy plastic covered cable to the length you think you need to hook through the seats of two or three kayaks and then around the car rack. You can get approximate idea of how much cable by running a rope through the kayaks and rack first to see how long. When you buy the cable, you’ll need to add on at least 12" since each end will have to be made into small loops for locking. There will be aluminum thingie-ma-jiggie (that’s a technical term) that you insert the cable through and then back into again create the loop. You crimp this aluminum piece either with a vice, or pound it with a hammer to lock the loop in.

Doing it yourself ensures the length of cable you need and it’s probably at least 50% cheaper than store bought locking cable which, addditionally, is a real PITA because how tightly coiled they come. The coil is in the cable’s “memory.” It makes running through the kayaks really difficult. I store my DIY cables very loosely to avoil coil memory.


DIY Cable locks
I travel alot with my Boat and I customized locks using coated wire. I think the " thing a ma gigis" are called furrels.(My spelling sucks)


Perception locking point
I have not seen a Perception loop-anchor for several years. You can add a substitute by going to a marine supply store (or West Marine on the web) and buying a 1/4" or 5/16" U-bolt and hardware. Back it up with stainless fender washers, and use RED LOCTITE on the nuts. Removing the nuts will be nearly impossible, and sawing through the stainless steel U-bolt will be time consuming. Not a perfect solution, but every little bit helps.


Make your own

– Last Updated: Jan-31-05 4:50 PM EST –

I made my own cable locks. Each boat has 2 cables. One end of the cable has a large loop that will fit snugly around the boat just before the cross bar of the cartop rack for the front cable, just behind the cartop rack cross bar for the rear cable. The other ends each have a small loop to put a padlock through. You want the cables to fit snugly when connected, this keeps someone from slipping the large loop off the end of the boat.

When storing the boats off of the racks, the cable locks can be used to attach the boats to each other, or can be hooked together, and attached to another cable like you would use for a bicycle, to secure the boat to a tree, camper, picnic table, whatever.

Most hardware stores carry plastic coated cable and the ferrules to swedge an eyelet on them. many will swedge the eyelet for you. Accurate measurments are a must. use a piece of sting or small rope to estimate the size you need.

Here's a couple of pictures (unfortunatly the kayak is not on a cartop rack):

Kayak Locking Ideas
Hi All, Thank you very much for the boat load of ideas. They’re all great. I’m going to print and keep them and peruse the local hardware store and see what jumps out at me. And, I will definetly keep the paddles locked in my van or away from the kayaks. That was a handy tip too…Have a great rest of winter. - Larry