New guy with questions

We are going to be buying 2 10ft. Kayaks. I have a 2008 ford escape with side rails. The guy at the store said I can lay them side by side and strap them to the side rails. Will this work? And where do you anchor the bow and rear? Thanks for any advice!!

No, that guy is wrong
You should get a good set of cross bars and cam-lock buckle straps.

If you want tie downs (which I only use on my long boats), make two loops and attach them to the cross bars of the frame under the hood

Jack L

Ditto On The Cross Bars
Pad them with something. I use closed cell foam. Don’t worry about bow and stern lines. Attach them to the rack if you want to use them. The shape of your yak will hold them in place. Calico straps can loosen during transit. Use ratchets and don’t over tighten.

Straight on the roof?
You’ll end up putting dimples in the roof. The idea with siderails is that the weight of what you’re carrying is transferred to those rails and hard points in the roof. It might be possible to situate foam blocks ar the front and back of the roof near the windshield where the roof is solid but I doubt there would be room for two boats.

I would never use "ratchet straps"
they are fine for lumber and ladders, but they were not made for kayaks and canoes.

Use cam-lock buckle straps which were made for canoes and kayaks - Just check with any canoe and kayak shop, and they will confirm

Jack L

Good For You Jack
Don’t use ratchet style straps. If can’t learn how to safely tighten them then don’t use them.

I know for a fact that a bumpy road can’t shake camlocks to the point that they can’t loosen. Ratchets don’t release easily and don’t have to be tightened all that much.

Had a cam strap come loose.

Me neither
I also have never had a cam lock come loose.

And I always use bow and stern lines. It takes me 2 or 3 minutes to rig them on two kayaks, so why not add an extra measure of safety?

Me neither
But I’ve had plenty of jammed ratchets—moving parts get corroded, strap twists and gets stuck, metal parts damage kayak. A cam buckle is much simpler to tighten and especially easier to release. I’ve driven on plenty of bumpy roads and never had a cam strap come loose.

You must drive eighteen wheeler
flat beds !

Good luck!

Jack L

What store was that ?
… the auto - repair bodyshop ? (eyeroll…)

10’ kayaks are wide because they have to be, because they are short and you need “x” amount of boat touching the water (displacement) to support the weight of a human… the Ford Escape rails are not, no way far enough apart to fit 2 of these wider kayaks side by side in between those rails. This means some of the weight of the kayaks are going to be on the roof, and that car just does not have very much roof weight- bearing capacity AT ALL. The roof rails are rather ridiculous, too. (google search is not being forthcoming with easily finding just how much, but it is shockingly low for that size car. I looked this up for an earlier model about 3 years ago when I was contemplating getting racks and… to heck with Ford, I’m sticking with my truck. I might be able to get the one kayak on there but what good does that do for the shuttle when I need two. Yes, they are bigger than 10’ kayaks, but geez… Even with a good rack installed, for an SUV, the Escape really doesn’t have that much weight bearing capacity on top.) I would highly recommend that you either contact Ford and ask for the factory specs for how much the roof racks can hold when installed or just where to look this up on the internet, OR, go to a really good roof rack accessory dealer, and ask them to look it up.

Then add the weight of your two proposed kayaks together, and see if they can go on the top of the Escape, on racks, without denting the roof.

I see straps on the side of the road
all the time. I mentioned to my wife that I should start stopping for them and my wife said she didn’t like the idea of me using straps that came loose for somebody else.

He’d have to stack them
one on top of the other, perhaps on foam blocks in between the roof rails, but then you have the Escape roof to worry about.

It is possible from a theoretical standpoint, if you aren’t too tall and can still fit under the new dents overhead.

Of course, I doubt his 10’ footers weigh as much as our two big ol’ plastic fishing 13’ ers, when I last researched this. But I don’t even want to think about putting the eddy up there by itself ! Maybe the 2008 cross rails are not as pathetic.

The Salmon River Road Is Dirt
Where I paddled. Also I have found cam-locks lying along the road. Cam-locks are far easier to loosen. If you want to use them by all means do so. I have found them to be inefficient for my use.

If you feel you need some redundancy for your racks run a strap through your doors. They’ll still close but leak air. Once again, if you feel you need to attach lines from your bow and stern, by all means do so. I have found them to be unnecessary and a pain to deal with. I don’t like them in my field of vision.

My point is that there is no one way to attach boats to vehicles. If it works for you and you’re happy then go for it.

Agree, ratchet straps put too much
pressure on the hull. I left permanent dents in my America using ratchet straps. Cam straps might not seem to be reliable, especially if they get wet but they are.

There are some bridges that don’t allow cam straps.

And you are an “advanced” paddler
Most of the “advanced” paddlers I know use ropes.

Then most of the “intermediates” like myself use cam-lock double looped straps.

I notice some of the newbies who haven’t learned yet use ratchet straps until they learn a little

In 30 years of paddling and hauling yaks and canoes all over this country including just about every back gravel road in Alaska, I have never seen a cam lock buckle on the road. - Many ratchet ones and straps from the big rigs, but never a cam-lock buckle

So please don’t throw bad advice at the newbies

Jack L


– Last Updated: Jun-08-15 8:45 PM EST –

I could buy two ten foot recreational kayaks with change left over for what the rack on my truck costs, so I admit to being somewhat biased.

For two wide rec boats, the lowest cost practical solution IMO is cross bars for your rails and low price "J" racks and good cam straps. "J" racks set the boats on their sides so there is plenty of room on the roof for two. The speed and ease of loading, will get you on the water more often to enjoy your boats than a lesser solution will.

This is the cheapest I've seen, but I do not know the brand, so buyer beware. $29.24 per boat.

I’ ve had them come loose
But only ones from Walmart or harbor freight. I use them for hanging boats from the racters and every so often one lets go.

The Thule ones that came with my J cradle are solid.

I also use ratchet straps all the time and don’t damage the boats.

Using bow lines let’s me know how the load is riding. If I were to see them shift I would know I had a problem hopefully soon enough to do something about it before killing someone on the highway.

I don’t know how to properly weigh the convenience of not using them vs the low risk of killing a stranger but I opt to use them.

crossbars, no question

– Last Updated: Jun-08-15 11:52 PM EST –

(I may catch flak for being so opinionated, and feel free to take my advice or not -- I just qualified for Medicare last week so maybe I feel entitled to be a curmudgeon. But I'll offer you one one old paddler's experience and step by step tips for loading).

You absolutely need crossbars, and either wide enough ones so that you can lay the boats down side by side OR you will have to invest in stackers or J-racks to mount them on an angle. This is likely going to run you at least $200 but it is a necessary expense if you are going to haul kayaks. Loss of the boats would be minimal but the damage you could do to fellow motorists or pedestrians with a flying kayak makes this mandatory.

As to the fore and aft lines, feel around under the bumpers -- some wagons have metal loops or holes in the framing past all that damned plastic into which you can attach a metal hook with nylon braided line attached to guy the stern and bow. There are also gadgets that can be affixed under the hood and inside the tailgate to which the lines can be attached. You can also use ratchet straps as well as braided rope (nylon, not polypropolene twisted rope) to fasten the safety lines.

Why anyone uses ratchet straps is a mystery to me -- a pain to adjust and release and there is a risk of overtightening. There may be somebody who makes quality ratchet straps but I have yet to see them in any store. The straps are always slick and flimsy and eventually fray. I have had to buy them a few times when nothing else was available and always ended up throwing them away.

Stick with GOOD simple but quality cam straps, like from Thule (or NRS brand, but only the standard blue type with yellow logo), made of heavy rough-textured weave with strong cast buckles, preferably with the rubber slide on covers. Have 4 of them, at least 9 or 10' long each. Before loading the boats, loop two straps around each crossbar and slide then to the middle of the rack, laying the loose ends toward the hood from the front rack and back over the tailgate from the back rack. Then lay the boats on the rack, preferably deck down and hull up, with the cockpit centered between the cross rails and the bow towards the front of the vehicle. Now grab both ends of the straps closest to one of the boats and bring both completely over the boat by walking them around or tossing them over the boat.

To picture this, you will have two lengths of each strap going OVER the boat, side by side, and none going under the boat. You want the straps to be forcing the boat down onto the rack.

Then, standing beside the car, tug on the plain end (without the buckle) until the buckle end is positioned about 6 inches above the rack and resting on the side of the kayak about eye level. Take the loose (and now longest) end of the strap and wrap it first around the crossbar and then around the factory lateral bar on that side of the car. Bring the end up to the buckle and thread it through, then pull down until the strap is snug around the boat. Go around the car and repeat with all 4 straps, 2 per kayak. Grab the boats and yank them to make sure they are snugly attached and then tighten each strap a bit more if it needs it, pull the loose end down towards the car and rack again (away from the buckle) and wrap it around the racks until there is none left to flap and tie it off. Now tie off the bows and sterns firmly with rope or straps to the bumpers or other tie points. Grab the kayaks again and give them a good wiggle to make sure they are tightly fastened. You'll be good to go. Always follow the same routine in the same order each time you load and it will become efficient and automatic.

Store the straps when not in use in a zipped duffel bag, not laying in the back of the vehicle. Though Thule's polypro/nylon combo is advertised as resistant to UV deterioration there is no point in subjecting it to sunlight and various junk in your trunk when possible. Machine wash them every few years to get crud and abrasives out. Some of my Thule straps are 15 years old and still trustworthy -- well worth the initial investment.

I have hauled far heavier and bulkier materials than kayaks, like bundles of steel pipe and stacks of sheet metal and lumber, using my Thule cam straps. Also have hauled kayaks and canoes weighing as much as 95 lbs on countless long high speed highway trips and high wind conditions and never had one fail or loosen. They are the one fastener I completely trust.

New guy with questions
I mounted Yakima and Thule racks at a major Northwest outdoor retailer for years and have some experience. Foam blocks work well for a short trip thru town but a dedicated kayak carrier is the best and safest option. Explore the web, find out what fits your rig and then figure out what you can afford. Yakima, Thule, Inno are major players and there are minor Chinese made things the may work, but remember, you get what you pay for. Talk to independent rack shops, get some free advice and don’t be afraid to ask for used stuff. As for tying down the bow and stern, most new cars are plastic all over and under, so look for tie-down loops that hook under the hood of your car–they’re secure and don’t rub the paint off of your classic Camaro or not so classic Outback. The site you’re on now is a great idea mill…just type in kayak racks or rack accessories and you’ll have an entire evening of reading. Go for the good stuff.