Locking up kayak at restaurant stops?

Does anyone lock up their kayak when they stop in towns along a river trail to eat or walk around? (Meaning you paddled up, you want to spend some time away from it, and you want to paddle on afterward)

I saw someone said in an old thread that they lock up their paddle … how can you lock up your paddle if it is 2-piece?

I see lots of advice to lock kayaks overnight, but is it necessary when stopping in towns along a river trail for an hour or two? It seems like someone could untie it and nudge it into the river and you would really be hurting.

The few times I have done something like this I have been able to see the kayak from where I was eating. As far as the paddle or any electronics they are small enough to take with you. I don’t usually have the equipment to lock my kayak up with me when I paddle so whether I would do something like this would depend on how comfortable I was with the area and if I could keep an eye on the kayak.

Note my kayak on the beach in the background here:


Depends on the location.

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Get a three piece take center section with you. :joy:


Lock two or three together with their snouts pointed in opposite directions and take paddles into the restaurant.

It would be situational. Group paddle, almost certainly not. Solo where I’m within watching distance, no. Sketchy area where I have to walk away from it, yes.

I have almost no concern about theft. There aren’t many people walking around looking to paddle away with someone else’s kayak. Mischief, is another matter: someone pushing it into the water as a prank might concern me depending on location.


I live in San Francisco, and for a while was parking on the street. My storage area where I kept kayaks was a half hour away without traffic, so often I would keep one or more kayaks on my roof on the car for weeks on end. I used either a Lasso lock or a thin bike cable (locked to a lock point). In years of doing this, twice people tried to take kayaks off the roof, but were stopped when they figured out it was locked (so I’d find the kayaks hanging by the locks on the side of the car). Pretty sure it was people who left the local bars a little tipsy and thought it might be fun to play with the kayak they saw on the roof.

Decent neighborhood (definitely not an area that would show up on the news under SF Doom Loop narrative) but still one where a lightly locked bike on a car likely would disappear if left too long.

My thought is that because kayaks are hard to transport (so not something a thief can easily walk away with) and sell, they are much less prone to theft as bikes. I think them being on cars is actually safer than sitting on a dock. Most of the thefts I have heard about were from docks or storage racks.

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I’m thinking of Michigan parks and water trails, where there aren’t other kayaks around. Looking at the cool pictures of kayak hot spots and beach restaurants, I’m sure there’s strength in numbers there.

I’ve always felt insecure with my primary kayak because it is 11.5’, so it seems like anyone with a pickup truck could zoom away with it very easily. But it’s the thought of someone kicking it off the shore that really gets me in the gut, as I envision coming back and it’s floating away … The rivers and lakes I paddle are not suitable for swimming after a kayak. I’m going to buy a cable lock.

One thing that may be effective is to carry and anchor and drop it to hold the kayak about 150 feet from land and swim in and out. Maybe that would deter most thieves. (???)


What serendipity. I’ve been mulling this ahead of an expedition where I might have to leave the kayak on the beach and climb a cliff to get to a campground or occasionally stay at a beachfront hotel.

My solution was to purchase a Suspenz kayak locking system. Not too expensive, lightweight enough to take with me and adaptable to different situations, including trees, driftwood and piling. On the rack I use Kanulock straps while overnight traveling with my kayak.

My take is that it would either be mischief - someone just throwing the boat in the water for the heck of it - or opportunistic. Neither of these types would be carrying bolt cutters so they can steal a kayak.

As to the paddle, a two piece isn’t too hard to take with you. A daypack with loops for hiking poles will hold all your valuables and a two piece paddle. Or you could put it in the cockpit and put a cover on. A three piece you could be stashed in a hatch. Neither of those will thwart someone intentionally wanting to steal kayak gear of course, but what isn’t seen usually avoids opportunistic theft.

One other thought. Pack wheels and move your kayak closer (but out of the way) to the restaurant where you can keep an eye on it.


I like the idea of hiding the paddle in the cockpit and putting on a cockpit cover. Carrying it in a backpack or day bag is good too, thanks.


In a few areas where we will be out of site of the boats for an extended length of time and there are a lot of people wandering around like a waterfront festival, we us a cable lock to connect the boats together and/or around a tree or pole. Our boats has a security fitting on the rear decks. Put the paddles and PFDs in the cockpit and use a cockpit cover. Take all electronics and small valuable items with us and put them in a small daypack.

On a vehicle use the same cable lock securing the boats and going around the rack and roof rails.


Park your rig where you can see it. Works at a restaurant or a motel on the way to the put in. There is only one place in the West I am really concerned about theft and that is the Sacramento River and Lake Shasta areas. Too many drugs and people looking to steal things to sell.

I lived in the Sacto area way back when and loved it, but as the years passed I had less and less desire to return. So sad.

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uh with tidal currents I can assure you that’s not a grest idea

On the truck? There are locks but 7.5 ft up it is too complicated for most people. If it takes work …

I carry a 15’ cable with loops at both ends and padlocks. I secure it to the lock points on our two kayaks and to whatever else is around to anchor it. I’ve even locked the kayacks to the roof rack on occasion, such as overnight when I’m stayin a motel.

What worries me is leaving the paddles and PFDs in the cockpit when going to a restaurant or into town. I don’t have covers, and I’m not so sure they’d be much of a deterrent anyway. Anyone think differently?

Line of sight, or on the truck with gear stowed in the locked truck.

My approach is based on what a police officer told me many years ago. If a professional thief KNOWS there is something of value in your home, he will obtain it no matter what alarm system you have. A casual thief, however, wants to grab and go. If it takes more than a minute or two to break in, he’s going to move on, especially if there are other targets close by. Soooo, leaving your stuff next to the shiny $5000 NDK might be a strategy?

If you are stopping for lunch at a busy waterfront where people know the value of gear and have a ready market to resell it, then locking your ‘yak to an immobile object and taking everything of value with you is probably smart. A day pack with trekking pole loops works well to carry everything if you’ll be out of sight of your gear.

If you are at a small boat launch or restaurant dock, it’s probably opportunistic theft you need to worry about, although I still wouldn’t leave my VHF of course. A cockpit cover will keep things out of sight. This is something we’ve all been told re: leaving stuff in cars - put it in the trunk so it’s out of sight. I’d still lock the kayak to something. This suggests that nothing of value has been left (assuming it’s all out of sight) since you were worried enough to lock the boat and it keeps bored kids from chucking your boat into the water just for the heck of it.

It’s all about sizing up the situation.


We take our chances but it could happen.

We leave ours on the rig overnight unlocked.

I’ve left it on the beach pulled up next to other boats overnight. (Austria)

I’m not sure if I’d leave the newest one overnight on the beach but < 1000 I do.

I’ve left the new one overnight in Prague outside on the truck by the hotel.

In Washington I’d probably put my bike lock on it.

I don’t ever want to not use my gear out of fear I’ll lose it or damage it.