Securing kayak while camping/hiking

Unfortunately there’s not too many places within a 5 hour drive to paddle in solitude. Both my GF and I are medical professionals and don’t get a lot of time-off. A lot of our kayaking trips are 3-4 days, twice a month, so we can’t go too far from where we live in Pittsburgh.

We love to paddle but when we go on these trips we also like to take hikes from where we set up camp. I like to think that most of the people that are on the water are out there for the same reasons as we are: to enjoy nature and to let other people do the same. I’m not naive though and realize that having a nice kit sitting riverside unattended could very well be an invitation for someone else to help themselves to our stuff. Camping gear is one thing, but if someone was to float off with our yaks in-tow it would be a real inconvenience and one that could leave us stranded.

How do you keep your kayaks and other gear secure when you’re out?

Are you going to be camping in the same location as where you’ll be parking? I’ll admit that usually my crew and I just leave our boats but we lock up our valuables and paddles (which technically are our valuables!). They do sell cable locks if you wanted to be very secure and lock it to the rack of your car.

I do lock my boats when atop the truck, the night before leaving for a trip, and also in campgrounds if I’m leaving one unattended

best is to have a hole thru the hull (look up TugEyes)

do-it-yourself is to drill hole thru the hull that takes a 1/2" or whatever size PVC pipe (drill so the hole is the same as outside diameter of the pipe) - trip the pipe to precise fit and then epoxy in place

then you can run a cable thru the hole and lock to picnic bench, or tree or vehicle

there are “lasso” type cable locks also - loops go around both ends of the boat, then cabled to a tree or whatever, tight enough that neither loop can be slid off the boat without unlocking it

one of my boats does not have a thru the hull hole, so I just use two locks around two different thwarts, but that’s a canoe not a yak

not sure if tugeyes are still available, but google it and it will show you what I meant

In the wilderness, we just leave them
above the high water line.

In a more populated place we secure them to a tree or other immoveable object such as a tree using a cable and padlock.

I use one of those plastic coated cables that they sell for dog runs and have modified the ends with loops.

We just put the paddles and gear in the tent and hope for the best.

We have never had a problem yet except for one time when we were in sight of the boats.

We were in the process of taking some of the gear from our kayaks to our vehicle which was no more then 50 yards away, and a lady stopped us and started picking our brains about the gear.

On the final trip my wifes new expensive PFD and the lady were missing.

At camp grounds we always just leave them unattended and not secured.

Jack L

We don’t usually
…stay at campgrounds and never around the vehicles. A few of this years trips do require staying at campgrounds, though. I think the lasso-style locks are a good bet. That and pulling the boats away from rivers edge and not staying away from camp for too long.

locks and ID
I’ve paddled around the Pittsburgh area and remoter parts of the northern part of the state for the past 10 years and have never had trouble but I do lock the boats with a cable lock. I also have my name and phone number written inside the cockpit in Sharpie. both to establish ownership and for the benefit of the police or anyone who find the boat without me in it. The only time I have had anything stolen from a kayak was when we left our boats on a dock on the Housatonic River in Connecticut while eating at a restaurant – we lost a breakdown fishing rod set, a hat and some food – pretty sure it was young kids that we had seen loitering along the river.

If I was going to paddle somewhere that I had to leave the boat AND valuable gear in a remote place where I worried about vandals or thieves, I might consider getting one of those woven steel mesh security wraps that they sell for trekkers to encase their backpacks in. If one could padlock it wrapped over the coaming as well as running a cable lock to a fixed object, you could stash breakdown paddles, PFDs and camping gear in the cockpit and secure them and the boat from mischief.

At campsites, we generally don’t take any theft prevention steps. Thankfully stolen kayaks are pretty rare.

If the worry is someone passing by on boat, we may try to put the kayaks out of sight from the water.

near the ranger with a burglar alarm shock sensor at the hull area.

bring camo if leaving streamside. Carry off n locate with GPS. Chain…chain not cable.Cables are kinda weenie.

coaming cable?
I have not tried this, but what about a vinyl coated cable with swedged end loops, cut to a custom length to just fit around underneath the cockpit coaming. Connect the ends with a padlock, and also grab the end loop from another cable, which is wrapped around a secure object. It may require two padlocks, but possibly all four loops could be secured with one lock.

Today’s society does not allow one to leave anything out of sight unless you really trust the area and even then … you never know for sure. My kayaks never leave my eyesight when I’m out. I’ve even had the wind try to rip my kayak away on a couple of occasions when I thought it was safely parked on the beach. You can’t even trust Mother Nature. Cables, chains, locks etc. are no challenge to a determined thief.

start with situational awareness

– Last Updated: Jan-06-16 12:27 PM EST –

Leaving your kayak and gear some places is just asking for trouble. OTOH I never give it a second thought when I'm paddling less accessible places because I figure everyone else had to hike or paddle to get there.
I've done a two day loop at Pictured Rocks where I paddle one way and cycle the other. I leave my bike at the campground, drive to the other end of the park, leave my car, paddle to camp, leave my boat locked to a tree, and my gear in the tent.
There is a local loop I do downstream, and then cycle back to the launch. I lock my bike up at the takeout, drive to the launch, fill a backpack with my bike gear, paddle, take out, lock up my kayak, stash my paddle inside it, and pack the gear into my backpack after putting the cycling stuff on. I'm minimizing my risks and so far so good.

Alas, you’re probably correct.
I keep two boats down at my beach in the summer. One is secured to a deck with a thick chain and good padlock. My touring boat sits on low stands, using a heavy marine chain and keyed padlock to attach it my dock.

Both boats are fully insured just to be on the safe side.

The best thing is to never leave the boats. When we stop at a beach near a town, we usually leave someone behind to watch everything.

Taking the paddles sometimes helps. There are some cable systems to deter theft. I park my truck in front of my motel window if traveling on long trips to keep an eye on it.

travel camouflage
I often travel out of state with one or more sea kayaks on the roof rack. If I will be parked overnight at a motel or campground, I always have a lightweight canvas 5’ x 20’ painters’ tarp or two with me. Wrapping it around the boat and lashing it with straps disguises it sufficiently that I doubt many would be thieves would bother with it. The tarps are useful for other things as well, like covering bird poop stained picnic tables and to lay out on the ground for a clean surface for sorting and repacking gear.

Use a chain and heavy lock to attach
the kayak to a tree or some other solid immovable structure. As other posts said, cable might be fine if thick enough but chain is better. Install a U-bolt on your boat through which the chain can pass.

Take your paddles with you on your hike. Don’t stash or leave inside the boat. try to conceal your boat away from a trailhead, even if it means walking an extra mile or so. Don’t invite/tempt the thief-wannabe. Don’t leave equipment overnight.

And realize that if you leave your gear unattended it may be stolen, just that way unfortunately. Most people are honest but its the unfortunate few that may catch up to you at some point.

out on the water
a dark color canoe off the beach is difficult to find even if you are the hider.

for example imagine a trailhead leading into an interesting arroyo

if the hull is hidden away from the trailhead…who would wander over there ?

A. the aho who stole your canoe…

unfortunately, both dark colored royalex hulls here are getting a dayglo blocked stripe, white red white yellow white red along gunwales and one down the keel so I can find the…

dude, that’s a lotta masking.

one solution
but difficult on switchbacks

tie it up
the most threat we have is high tide. I don’t have enough fingers to count the lost boats owned from people from away that have no clue about Maine tides.

Our camp used to be on the Coast Guard call list. If there was a boat found we were the first to call as we had renters…

cable vs. chain
Cable cutters are far more rare than chain cutters and much more expensive. Takes a couple seconds to cut a link of chain off, takes several minutes at best without a cable cutter to hack through a decent sized cable. I’d always pick a cable for security over a chain.

Bill H.

I don’t get that either
I think people who are worried about cable are thinking maybe 3/16" cable.