Locking your boat to a rack?

Will be taking a vacation soon and the kayaks will be on the roof of my car for a number of days, often unattended. My car has an alarm that would probably go off if someone tried to remove the boats quickly, but I'd like to have some insurance. Anyone tried just bike cables with locks or anything like that to lock the boats? Not 100% secure I figure, but something at least.

I've seen the ads for www.kayaklock.com, but that seems a little pricey!

I don’t know
what kind of boat you have. I have W.S. Tempests.I went to Home Depot,and bought some heavy duty vynl covered cables,and pad locks.I fish one end between the side of the seat and the hull and loop it around the rack on my truck and pad lock it. If you have enough clearance between the hull and the seat it will work. I hope this helps.


good idea

I didn’t think to loop it around the seat, but that’d definitely be better than just going around the hull.

I have a perception and the other boat is a Walden, both big touring boats. I can definitely get a cable around my seat, not sure about hers.

Nothing to fancy
but I bought a long Kryptonite cable and a all weather master lock. I run the cable through the seats of the kayaks and then the rack. The cable I have is long enough for 4 boats. It is not 100% secure, but then again nothing really is.

You will never beat a professional thief
my kayak shop swaged some cables for me (put those crimps over the cable to make loops. and I use a lock between the fiberglass seat and the hull or through a lock fitting. Some people (QCC for example) use winchard fittngs and put them on the boat. Not so prety but very effective as you would have to cut throught the fitting or damage the deck.

It’s all about stopping the more casual thief. You can always drop a motion sensitive travel alarm in the cockpit (with a delay) as well.

A professional thief has astonding ways and means.

I know it’s a pain, but the only piece of mind I get is from removing my canoe whenever I’m away from the car. Otherwise, I use a vinyl coated cable looped around the seat and park in the most conspicuous spot available. It helps to have a big dog in the back of the SUV with the windows down!!

I use the same thing as Bryan does
and at best it is a deterrant to theft.

just curious

How long is the cable you got? Most of the ones I’ve seen are 5’ or shorter, which seems like long enough for one boat, but not more.

I lock 'em
Whenever I’m away for a while. The msot secure set-up I’ve seen uses two cabls with an eye at each end of them. One eye is passed through the other, then slipped over the bow of the boat. The other is slipped over the stern, then the ends of the two are brought together under the racks and locked together. If the cables are done right, they cannot be slipped off the ends of the boat without unlocking the assembly. No worries about cutting out a seat or a padeye. The whole boat would have to be chainsawed to get at it … unless the thief just cut the racks…

locking your boat to a rack
I use cables purchased at Home Depot thru the seat and around the roof rack. I sometimes thread it thru the bumper hitch on my Jeep. The cable is secured with a pad lock. I only use this setup at night or when I’ll be away from the car for an extended period of time. Normal rest stops and food breaks I’ll just park in a high traffic or easy to see area. To avoid damage to the boats or car I don’t use the cable or locks while the car is moving. Lastly, when we’re at a paddling destination and the boats are unloaded we cable lock them to the bumper hitch if we’re going to leave them unattended for any length of time. No bumper hitch? Try using a bumper support or other part of the car. No need to be constantly lifting your boats onto a roof rack.

I sleep better when our yaks …
…are locked to the vehicle.

You can buy vinyl coated cable at Lowes.

I welded each end in an eye, and use a padlock.

I have two different lengths and several locks, (keyed the same).

I use it on the bikes also, and lots of times when camping, I’ll use it to lock the bikes and or boats to a tree.



On the note of a thief will really get your boat if they want it a handy deterrent that’s convenient is the RackGuard Cable from Shred Ready. It’s a vinyl coated cable with a large loop, a small loop and a 3" lucite ball with the cable passing through it. Loop the cable through a handy point on the kayak, fit the ball and small loop through the big loop, cinch and stick the ball end of the cable into the car and lock the car. No combinations or keys to lose. Well if you lose the car keys, can’t help you there.

See you on the water,



good idea

That’s a great idea, pretty cheap too, but my car has frameless windows, which means pulling that little ball out from the car probably wouldn’t be too hard without breaking the glass. But, it’d almost certainly set the alarm off if someone tried to pull it out… so might be an option.

Handy Lock
I bought a Master cable lock at Lowes for $16 that has two interchangable cables. Neat feature is that the free end of the cable does not have a loop - just a blunt termination that is same diameter as the cable. This threads easily through the U bolts on my QCC, and I imagine that it would also pass through some of the security bars on other manufacturer’s boats.


… or easier, cut the cable.
I have one of those. It works well, but would be easy to cut. My fat 30’ Kryptonite cable is a bit more intimidating and would need more serious cutters or hacksaw - but it’s heavier and more work to use - and can still be cut.

A TieYak two loop type set up, but with fat cables would be nice. Nothing is unbeatable. Most racks can be popped off with a rather small crow/pry bar in seconds. Even cross bars can be cut pretty quickly (except maybe Saris) but luckily serious thieves that plan ahead are rare.

I like the cable locks
I bought a pair of the advertised cable locks and am very pleased. They are out in the weather most of the time so the stainless steel should be good. You can adjust the combination. The cable length on the canoe version is 15’. What is really nice is that you can pull the cable up tight and lock it there. I am thinking about installing a pad eye on one of my hatches so I can wrap the cable around the boat through the pad eye and then pull it up tight to be able to lock a compartment.

through the doors
Might work on many vehicles, but not all, if the cable went around the racks and boats as mentioned above, and then open a door on each side, run the cable in and lock together, then close and lock the doors. If the cable is not too heavy, it shouldn’t damage the rubber door seal.

Be careful on some cars though, not much room between the door and roof.

Into the car, YES
That’s exactly what I do, but no real special set ups. I have a nice thick bike cable with looped ends. I run it through the seat post on my Perceptions and open both doors. One end goes in the back door and the other in the front. Lock with a padlock and close the doors. As mentioned, Racks can be removed and some cars can’t take this set-up. But as an added feature, rather than have it conspicuous, I try to hide the cable. Then if they cut the ropes, the kayak grabs on the cable, flops out of their hands and makes a lot of noise and hopefully chases the casual thief away. Most people, unless they are that determined, won’t have a pair of cutters on a spur of the moment theft. I’m thinking like, parking lot thieves who see you go in the store and decide, Hey, let’s grab that! Or in the dark, people who won’t see the cables and end up making a lot of noise.