Slide to Slide Slip of Canoe in Roof Rack

I just got a new to me canoe and am struggling to get it secure to my roof rack. I have used cam straps looping under the crossbar, over the boat, then back under the cross bar. I have tightened them down as much as I can. Then I used those toggles that go under the hood and rear hatch to secure a bow and stern line using a truckers hitch. Now intially the boat seems very attached to vehicle but if you go to ther stern you can actually move it side to side. I cannot figure out whay is going wrong here.

It is a 17’ clipper prospector in Kevlar Duraflex going on a 2011 Toyota Rav4 with factory rack

Hi, Captain_Seawolf91,

From the picture I’d say you need gunwale stops of some sort. It looks like the gunwales can just slide up and over the ends of your crossbars. You need to buy or make some stops that keep the canoe from moving side to side.

Here’s what I use with my Yakima round crossbars:
Yakima LoadStop brackets
yakima gunnel stops

But these might work for your crossbars:
Yakima KeelOver brackets
yakima keel over stops

Or you could make some of your own if you’re handy.


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Those do look very smart. I am wondering that since my canoe just barely fits on my roof rack (see photo on original post) if having these stops positioned on the inside of the gunwales would work just as well.

You don’t need gunwale stops though they are very useful… Your strap does not run under the cross bar in contact with the canoe. Try running it under the bar closer to the gunwale and snug up. To the other part of your statement yes the stops can work on the inside. Its a little harder to adjust.

Inside or outside will work equally as well. The problem with stops is if you are loading from the side you have to get up and over them.

If your cross bars are slippery and smooth and the gunwales are smooth and slippery maybe placing a piece of rubber in between would also help.

I’m a little surprised that the cam straps are not pulling down much tighter than yours are. I loop mine over the top and back as shown and then place the buckle on the side that lets me pull down to tighten and the canoe is stuck like glue. In fact I have to be careful to not pull too hard and deform the hull. I have them tight for the ride but if I’m leaving the boat on to maybe use it the next day or it will be sitting in the sun a while I take most of the tension off the straps and tighten them again before I hit the road.

After blowing your photo up it looks like you are not sitting down flat on the crossbars but one side is sitting up on the block that holds the crossbars.

Maybe shift the boat forward or back to where the width is a little less and see if that is possible. Otherwise you may need to get extended bars.

I’ve used gunwale stops on the inside edges of the gunwales and it works fine. Getting the stops set up is a bit of trial and error but it doesn’t take many tries before they snug up pretty well against the inside edges.

You have to lift a canoe up and over any gunwale stop regardless so it’s really not a problem, especially with a fairly lightweight Kevlar canoe.

Here’s an alternative that might work for a lot less money. You’d have to make sure they’d fit the width of your aero bars and that there’s enough clearance between the bolt and thumb nut and your roof. You could always cut the bolt to length.

Yakima Universal Mighty Mount

PS: I used to have a Clipper Prospector 17 in Duraflex and took that canoe on some fun adventures. (That’s it in my profile picture.) It’s a great canoe. I sold it a few years ago because I don’t go on whitewater trips anymore. Lakes and ponds and gentle rivers are more my speed these days. :slightly_smiling_face:

On the side closest to the side rail of the rack wrap the tail end of the strap back around the bar and under the rail before the you flip the tail end over the canoe. On the far side wrap the tail end of the strap once around the bar to create a cinch and then secure it to the buckle. This’ll create a bite (bight?) on the bar preventing the canoe from sliding around on the bar. The aluminum gun whales are going to do a number on the paint of the crossbars. Some bar wide surf pads would help on both fronts.

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I don’t use blocks - the canoe is an occasional thing compared to the kayaks - but it does not move.

I place the canoe so that one of the thwarts, usually the front one if I recall right, is lined up with a cross bar. I then add a strap around just the thwart and the crossbar, tighten it up and have that in addition to properly (and frequently checked) regular straps over the top and a triangulated bow line. The last means that I place a knot in the bow line where it hits the front of the boat, so that can’t move side to side significantly. And pf course the bow line runs to two points, one on each side, with the knot up top in the middle.

My canoe is an ultralight, frankly it’d love to go sailing. But adding the direct secure point between thwart and crossbar on the car and creating a stop point in the middle of the bow line seems to handle most sins.

As @Marshall pointed out, you definitely need to have some padding where the aluminum gunnels rest on the crossbars. Four short sections of closed cell presplit pipe insulation would work.

Most hardware and plumbing supply stores stock it in 6’ lengths of various diameters for just a few dollars. I use it on the custom ladder rack on my truck and on the wheeled rack in my shop. Lasts for years even when exposed to UV. Can be tie-wrapped on for a relatively permanent installation or just popped off when not needed. Can go on the gunnels or crossbars.

I was just going to make a similar recommendation. Go buy 3 feet of 1 1/4 inch (1 inch will work too) clear flexible plumbing tubing at your hardware store, cut it into 6 inch lengths and slit lengthwise with a utility knife. Put 4 on gunwales where they meet the rack. They provide a lot of friction (and a little cushion) between boat and rack and really help the boat stick in place.


Pool noodles.

Okay tonight we tried the pool noodle since we had some around. Definitely helped alot, but a little bit of movement now(no bow or stern lines on). I think we will try the rubber tubing next as I think the gunnels could still slide a bit in thw noodle.

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No bow line with a boat (especially canoe) on top?

Wasnt driving anywhere. Just sorting this issue out

Oh, OK. Thanks for clearing that up.

Personally I don’t like real spongy stuff like pool noodles or pipe insulation sandwiched in the stack. Reason being is the cam straps will stretch a very small amount and that is what you are relying on to keep it all under tension during the whole journey. If you pull down on the straps you want the tension in them to be the holding force not the expansion of the foam being what is keeping things tight. The foam only has to relax just a little and you lose all the tension in the straps. That’s just my theory on the subject.

If you look at your first photo as I mentioned above as a blowup you will see the canoe is riding up on the support and is not sitting down on the cross rail. You can even see how it is chipping away at the paint.

I don’t like how that is in contact and would want to pad out the rails height to get the gunwales above those supports. Something like the clear flex tube might do the trick and be stiff enough to give a little but not too much.

Always run a bow and stern line as well. I call that belt and suspenders type safety.

I will attach a blow up of the area from your photo.

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Tom, is spot on with the clear plastic tubing. That would defintely help keep it from sliding, but I suspect that the bars on a RAV are too close together for a 17’ canoe. I have a similar issue on my Dodge Caravan and I end up have to end up having to depend on the bow and stern tie downs to cut the side to side motion. But since it is a composite hull, you do not want to over stress the ends either.

Hello Captn’

I carry a 15’ prospector on racks on a 2004 Ranger. Being an old cowboy/sailor I’m more comfortable with ropes than straps. The crossbars on my rack are wrapped in old waterproof carpet. The ropes are 1/2" double braid nylon repurposed dock lines (soft—wash your ropes in the washing machine and put fabric softener in the rinse) with a simple knot in one end. The lines should have a little stretch in them. On the driver’s side, wrap the knotted end once around the crossbar and secure with a simple knot around the standing part of your rope. Pull that as tight as you can and as close as you can get it to the gunnel. Toss the standing part over the canoe. Now, on the passenger side, instead of using the ever popular Trucker’s Hitch, tie a Single Bowline on a Bight where you want your loop.

This knot will not slip around and cause loss of tension. Pass the running end around your cross bar, back up to the loop and down to the cross bar again where you tie it round the bar with a couple of half hitches. That is all I do for a back road run down to the creek. If you want to insure against slipping forward or backward lines from the rack to the ends of the canoe work as well or better than trying to tie to the ends of your car. When traveling on the highway I add rachet straps over the canoe and hooked on the cleats on the rack. Maybe I can add some pictures when my camera gets charged up and this storm is over.

It works for me, the ropes stay tight and the canoe stays in place. Hope this helps,


That last loop is to lock the half hitches and secure the tail end of the rope. RNSparky’s solution looks even simpler.