locking kayaks to the car when traveling

Hi, need suggestions on what to get for traveling with my kayaks and lodging in hotels while on the road or just hiking or sightseeing. What if anything can I use to lock them to the roof rack of my Toyota Highlander? I have kayak cradles mounted on the roof rack of my Toyota Highlander (Thule J kayaks and can put one of the three inside the Highlander but let’s face it I don’t want to have to haul all three into the hotel or take them off if I’m parking and sightseeing. Is there anything I can do to make them more secure and if so, what do you suggest?

cable locks
I bought a set of three cable locks (the colored plastic over steel with the keyed locks on the end) and wrap them around the kayak seat structure and then around the factory rack of the vehicle. Another thing I do when leaving them on the car in a hotel parking lot overnight is drape them completely in a lightweight canvas painting tarp, tied on with rope and bungee cords, to conceal what kind of boats they are. I figure the nuisance of unwrapping them is not worth the trouble for casual thieves, and the pros will want to scan for boats of value in a drive by before committing to a grab.

You should also write your name and phone number inside all your boats in Sharpie or other indelible marker. This won’t stop a thief but could help in recovery. Also, law enforcement is grateful when people do this. If they find a boat floating or stranded somewhere, they want to be able to rule out whether they need to search for an injured or missing paddler.

DIY alarms are easily wired to an auto horn.

I’m using a Dorman mounted under the rack


wired to an Omega alarm system.

DIY an extension of four alarm wires, buying spools of the correct colors, tie the ends down, twist and cover with 3M electrical tape.

Hook the extension to one or more shock sensors mounted on rack. All Connections are water proofed and strengthened with liquid electrical tape with the sensor mounted inside something like a pint isopropyl alcohol bottle as a roof and walls.

Horn runs thru a flasher unit or directly to alarm brain.

The alarm systems are searchable thru Google Images.

Sonix Electonics has Omega’s and others.

This winter, I’ll add a strobe.

The equipment/theft paranoia and reality is a PITA when traveling to the point I rent a storage area garage to unload then bring only necessary equipment to mtns or river.

The roadside crew are thieves and cutthroats as they have always.

plastic coated guy wire is available in small diameters of 4-5mm

Loops of ground wire around hull suggest security.

Hang a couple for us.

Lasso Lock
No alarm. If there had been I expect my car would have been removed from the Newark Airport Parking lot ( I forget which)

Car and canoes were there for two weeks.


sensors are dioded to the brain for individual isolation then powered thru thru vehicle’s electrical system

New Ark

– Last Updated: Sep-23-14 9:07 PM EST –

I don't know where you were but with bicycle experience no lasso Lock or any of the other really weenie hull lock offerings I've seen protects the boat from thieves stealing the boat.

These canoe/kayak 'industry' lock devices may prevent children from stealing your boat but not thieves.

Thieves have power cutters run with a compressed air tank backpack.

more juice



– Last Updated: Sep-23-14 9:48 PM EST –

About Lasso Locks.


Also like Willowleaf's method of using a tarp cover.

What part of New Ark
did you not understand?

I use a plastic coated cable with a …
pad lock.

It is one of those dog run cables that are relatively inexpensive. There is already a loop in one end, and then I use the metal connecting loop minus the clip at the other end.

You can get them in the pet department at Wally World

Jack L

Be cheaper…
to let the bad guys steal the kayak, and then just buy a new one.

Jack L

Marysville ?

What I wrote is accurate, lacking information on number of roof mounted stuff stolen, then number of kayaks stolen. And where ?

Yet stats do not replace your new Epic vanished in the night.

My one observed incident was at a motel at Belton home of …Fort Hood. Alarm siren brought out the manager and threatened the thieves. Close call.

I use a simple lock around the seat to my roof rack. I figure a pro that wants my boat is going to steal it anyway. My preferred method is to park next to someone with a better kayak, the oppertunistic theif would probaly steal theirs instead of mine.

GPS locator?
With electronic gizmos and security/spy hardware becoming so cheap any more, I’ve often wondered if one could place some sort of small battery driven locator device discreetly into the hull of a valuable boat (or bike) so it could tracked if stolen. “OnStar” for kayaks, so to speak.

Total security is very hard
Car alarms go off all the time and hardly draw a glance most of the time. And so the alarm is going off while the kayak is already gone. So what.

I run a sheathed steel cable around the seat structure and lock it to the racks. This is more for visually discouraging thieves than anything. Like Mutan writes, a determined thief can get the boat. Cut the cable or cut the roof rack. It’s a lot better than nothing, but it is far short of certainty. It stops the lazy thief and would at least slow down a determined thief, but that’s about all.

Still, I’ve stayed at many hotels and left the car parked with the boat on it at trail heads, airports and inner city locations, sometimes for days at a time, and the boat was always there when I came back.


Find my kayak
Imagine SpyBike could be used on a kayak, maybe hidden in a hatch where it would be protected from water.


No guarantee, but every little bit helps
Also, I get the feeling that a lot of the risk is whether thieves are targeting a specific make/model, possibly a coveted discontinued model.

Use cable lock(s), park as close to your sleeping spot as possible and well-lit, and avoid motels right along busy Interstates. Traffic noise masks stealing noise, and it’s too easy for a thief to grab and run.

There’s also the standard precaution of just not staying in hinky areas, period.

Consider camping instead, when you can
Tents don’t block any sound, so if you rig up a low-tech “alarm” to your cable-locked boat (a hidden bag of jingle bells that would crash down if the boat is moved, for example), you’re likely to know something is wrong. Unlike in a motel room with all kinds of other noise around, not to mention walls and doors.

alarm continued


The relay diagram comes from a booklet sent from Crutchfield electronics online mail order.

Sensor input flows from a shock sensor, ground interrupt switch as a pin type door jamb switch, ground loop sensor, or a metal to metal contact pulled apart when hull is lifted.

A shock sensor, for example, powered from the vehicle’s 12V, runs both alarm wires to the relay with the warning or outside sensor output dioded into the interior alarm wire…

One sure way is to buy a van and lock it
up inside