straps vs. bungee on jracks for two kaya

1" straps are a pain to load and unload on two kayaks on roof of subie forrester. Will bungees do the job and make loading and unloading easier, yet secure at 75 mph hwy speeds? And, with bungees do I need front and rear rope security to car bumpers as rack instr. indicate?

thanks, Tim

Okay, I’ll bite

– Last Updated: Jul-24-13 8:43 PM EST –

Straps are a pain? I use straps to put kayaks on J-hooks and it takes about 30 seconds per strap. I never thought of it as a pain. Couldn't be much easier, IMHO.

Are bungies okay? Well, my dad used to secure a Jon boat to the roof of a car or van with bungies, but they were one inch in diameter and it took about 75 pounds of tension just to stretch them 4 or 5 inches. They were fine. Other examples of "bungies", I doubt it, and for most, I believe definitely not.

And yes, if you want some redundancy in what holds your boat to the roof, then you will want to use bow and stern tie-downs (I actually prefer the rear ropes to slope forward to somewhere forward of the stern so they pull the opposite direction as the bow tie-downs. That method actually WILL keep your boat on the roof if the rack fails). If you don't want such redundancy then you won't use them. This gets debated all the time, but that's what it boils down to.


– Last Updated: Jul-25-13 1:17 PM EST –

Step AWAY from the bungies!

Those 1" straps that are such a pain are almost de riguer, friend Tim. Put a small and/or folding stepstool in the Forrester if that makes it easier to strap your boats down, and hand tighten the cams, but please, please, cease and desist thinking bungies will adequately do the trick.

We strapped any of our 6 boats on top of our Jeep Grand Cherokee (without resorting to a stool, by the way), including dual 28" wide SOTs, as well as our Eclipse & Tracer SINKs, and the problem wasn't straps, it was the height of the Jeep.

When it came time to get a new vehicle, we went with a 2004 Mazda6 Wagon, with a nice, lower roofline, and it's been with us since, happy to tote our boats, and us happier to load them...

...and to STRAP them down, nice and snug and secure.

Hate to think of what the ramifications would be if we only bungied them down, drove off at 75, and one of the bungies loosened up... Flying boat(s), trashed boat(s), some car(s) behind us speared with an errant airborne kayak or two, attendant accident(s) and tickets and suits...

Just not worth it, no, nope, NOT!

It's a good idea to have fore & aft lines as well -some do, some don't, but we err on the side of caution -and so should YOU, Tim, and STRAP and not bungie your boats in as you load up and go to


-Frank in Miami

What Frank said times two
Take heed and do not use bungees

jack L

Yes…straps can be a pain…

– Last Updated: Jul-24-13 9:20 PM EST –

Cam straps especially drive me crazy after finding a twist that will make a whistle/humming sound while driving or getting a twisted strap stuck in the cam opening because you weren't paying attention (perhaps from getting eaten alive by mosquitoes)...but there really isn't a better alternative. Avoid Bungees like the plague. Not sure I would want to use a 1" bungee from the first reply, sounds like a lot of tension needed - might damage a kayak. Oh yeah avoid Ratchet straps!

Please use bow and stern lines, in the event something happens to a component of your rack, you will atleast be able to help prevent the kayaks from flying off your car. You can get ratcheting mechanisms that make it faster if you are bad at knots. Thule, Yakima and Malone use something very similar to what you can find in Home Depot in the rope/chain aisle.

I prefer straps,
as bungees stretch more as pressure is applied, and you can’t forsee what winds you may encounter on your trip. Both will weaken with age and UV exposure, but in my experience the nylon strap holds up better.


Too much bungie tension

– Last Updated: Jul-24-13 10:29 PM EST –

As to the old bungies I spoke of having too much tension to use with kayaks, they were adjustable by having a length of rope on one end (once that length of rope was the right length, THEN you could just pull and engage the hook at whatever tension you desired). These weren't, and aren't, something you might go the the hardware store and buy, much less acquire in tailor-made lengths. However, for a kayak, a much shorter length of that fat bungie would be needed, making the rope-length adjustment extremely critical since there wouldn't be much stretch in such a strong bungie so unusually short (yeah, it takes an "unusally short" tie-down to secure "unusually narrow" boats ;) ), so they really wouldn't be any good for kayaks for THAT reason, not the other.

maybe rope is the thing
I have not seen bungees that would work for about on a roof but with the right ones it might be doable. You would need back ups of rope or webbing straps because bungees fail without looking old.

I use rope or webbing straps. It amazes me that the webbing straps are so popular, because they cost more than rope and are not that much easier. In some instances type is easier and it is quieter too.

…to bungie or not to bungie…
Thanks to my experienced friends here! All replies were pretty much anti-bungie; I understand the physics involved and lousy consequences of a busted bungie, as well. OK, will stick with straps…and have learned to carry a stool aboard the car. BTW, my other vehicle is a Ford Ranger, in which I can toss the yaks and use one bungie stap down.On vacation here in NH this week, the strap-downs were noisy and yet very very secure. Being a safety conscious guy, I will stay w/ straps and try to figger a better way of keeping them on the j-hooks, when yaks are at home. Thanks, all!

Straps storage
If I read you correctly, you are suggesting you keep your straps on the jhooks when the boats are not on the roof. That isn’t recommended. Why subject them to sun and water damage when they are not being used? Plus they are noisy and probably decrease your mileage.

To decrease wind noise w/straps, I
will put a ‘twist’ or two on each strap prior to tightening. It keeps the wind vibration down a lot.

I learned this from the first time I brought a boat home. It also doesn’t pay to use cheap straps as the vibration can eventually cause them to separate when being used. Think–like they have been cut, and there may go your boat.

You will deserve the drubbing…

– Last Updated: Jul-26-13 9:14 AM EST –

No, bungies are not acceptable as an alternative to straps or ropes nor is lack of at least a bow line.

But it appears that you got the drubbing above...

5 minutes
is what it takes me to cartop and strap two boats down.

Look at it in relation to the length of your paddling trip.

Driving Down the Highway
with my canoe bungeed down, this was years ago, and the wind was up. Big gust hit the Bronco and I watched the front of my canoe lift, literally, off the rack and go sideways. The gust lifted and the canoe dropped onto the sides of the racks with one side dangling in the wind! Just about gave me a heart attack as well as the guy behind me! I stopped and bought clothesline for the rest of the trip! Never looked at a bungee again for securing my hulls, never! Personally I like using rope over straps but if I ever got some straps I would use those as well.

create a system
You just need to develop a consistent system for tie down and it goes swiftly. I use J-racks on Subie Outback (and have used the same on Volvo wagons and a taller Hyundai Santa Fe.) I prefer Thule blue straps as they handle well, are durable and tighten easily. I thread the straps through the loop on the J-rack BEFORE loading the boats, laying the strap ends over the car hood and tail-gate.

Then once each boat is in position on racks, I grab the strap ends and lift them over the bow or stern and buckle them around the rack cross bar (not the lower j-rack loop). Then I add the bow and stern lines to the bumpers, using the ratcheting perlon cord type with s-hooks. By the way, I don’t use just the s-hook attached to the kayak == I run the non-ratchet hook end through the handle and hook it to an overhand loop I have tied about a foot from the hook. This is more secure than hooking directly to the handle.

If I will be traveling at high speed I also add a third long strap looped over each boat and through the car doors for added insurance.

I have this down to such an automatic routine it never takes more than 5 minutes – I could do it in my sleep. Add two minutes for the high-speed belly strap. Once you have the habit established you do it all automatically with no fuss. BTW I am only 5’ 5" and only a moderately strong 63 year old woman. I can solo load an 80 lb canoe with the same efficiency.

I will never use bungees for anything except a light load on the back of a bicycle – not since a friend was blinded years ago n one eye when the hook on a taut bungee he was using to haul some building materials on a car roof rack broke off and hit him in the face.