Suction Cup Tie Downs for Canoe

Just bought one of the last Mohawk Odyssey 14s made of Royalex. I’ll be paddling the Rappahannock (class I - II) in early June and want to graduate from lashing gear to the thwarts, BUT I don’t want to gunk up the hull with permanent anchors. Has anyone used suction cups as tie down points (cooler, dry bags). I see products advertised for securing boat tarps, etc.


I would not think they would hold.
I bought a used MR Guide Solo that had vinyl suction cups with cord loops as tie points. Even though the previous owner had seemingly applied them properly. with Vynabond no less, they have been popping off one by one.

I made a roof rack based on suction cups. But the suction part of the rubber cups wasn’t sucking the things down onto the roof. The might as well have been near flat with no suction.

Sometimes you can reduce the need for glued in D-rings by triangulating downward from the gunwales and thwarts above. But I think you’re going to need to do what most of us have done for outfitting. We drill the hull for bag lacing, we bond d-rings to the hull for thigh straps, etc.

It’s hard to do it to a new boat, but look at it this way. It’s individualizing what is going to be a rare and unusual boat in your “name”. It won’t hurt resale if you’re neat about it. Talk to some friends whose outfitting you see is neatly done and well thought out. Check into for ideas.

Pblanc and others will be along soon with ideas.

Do it right, right from the start.

– Last Updated: Apr-29-14 8:38 PM EST –

I only have three canoes, and two of them have gear anchors attached to the bottom. I'll do the same to the third boat eventually, and the only reason I didn't do it right away is that that one is composite and I didn't know what adhesive to use.

If you do it right, they won't "gunk up" the bottom of your boat. I have an Odyssey 14 too. I put four anchors on the floor (positioned like four corners of a rectangle) in front of where my knees go, and put four more right behind the seat. The anchor points are right in the "corners" where hull curvature is greatest, so that a strong pull does not cause the hull to deflect at all. I can place a pack of any size at each of those two spots, and a diamond hitch holds the pack down.

I have never once found them to be in the way for anything else. After you do this, you will be amazed that you ever thought it was a bad idea. Even for non-whitewater use these anchors are great, because you can climb in and out at tricky places and/or slide/lift the boat through obstacles or up and down steep banks, and your gear doesn't end up sliding all around.

I just used basic vinyl patches with either a fabric loop attached, or a fabric loop with a metal D-ring. They are glued to the hull with Vyna-Bond.

That’s What I Thought
Thanks for your response. I suspected the suction cups were not good options and that I’m going to have to glue.

Regarding D rings, do you us plastic or stainless steel? Seems plastic is too vulnerable and if they or the fabric loops break, good luck with replacing with a new anchor. Thoughts?

Also, how do you like your Odyssey?

Thanks again.

Oh yeah, while I’ve got you, do you strap in a cooler? Thinking about a high-end yeti or igloo with secure lids that will largely keep out the river water, and was wondering what would fit in an Odyssey.



– Last Updated: Apr-27-14 3:12 PM EST –

One boat of mine has fabric loops, the other has stainless steel D-rings. Both are fine, but rope does not thread easily into the fabric loops so I added little loops of rope to them to make that easier, which I can also replace if there's wear and tear over the years. I haven't seen plastic D-rings, so I can't say they are bad. Stainless steel is nice though, and I'd have no doubts about them being better. The D-rings themselves are not very big at all - they won't get in the way of anything.

The fabric loops will not break, and it would take years of really hard use to wear them out. I don't know what brand of anchor patch I use, but I could find out.

You can always re-do them later if necessary. Very careful slicing with a razor blade in a suitable holder, or a sharp chisel should do the trick to remove an anchor patch. One trick with a chisel, which you could forget by the time you might need to know this years from now, is that you can get a flatter and safer cutting angle if the bevel side of the blade faces down, rather than up as people are prone to think is "right". You get the same blade sharpness either way, but with the bevel up, you can't get the lower surface of the blade flush with the hull (the handle gets in the way), and in that case there's a steeper slope on the cutting edge and the blade can go out of control and "dive" into the hull. With the bevel facing down, you can make that surface flush with the hull and thus get a more-effective cutting angle on the top surface of the blade while also eliminating any chance of accidentally gouging the hull, all while having the handle in a much easier-to-use position. So far, I've never had to worry about this, as the anchors are holding up fine (I learned this trick ages ago for doing fine chisel work, just not on boats).

How do I like my Odyssey 14? It's my main boat, the one I use more than any other, partly because a lot of my paddling is on small twisty creeks with lots of obstacles. I do a lot of mild whitewater with it too. I use my deeper and more strongly-rockered Nova Craft Supernova for more significant whitewater, but I've considered putting float bags in the Odyssey for that since even though it's not as maneuverable as the Supernova, there are some particular maneuvers that it actually does much better. It really is a very nimble boat. It will be a lot less nimble with a big load though, so plan accordingly. I paddle while kneeling, except for various "paddling rest breaks" when I'll be in all sorts of non-kneeling positions.

As to your last question, I don't ever take a cooler on canoe trips, except that I often have a small soft-sided one. When the day comes that I need more cooler capacity, I'm likely to get a north-woods style "food pack" instead (looks like a traditional canoe pack but has a closed-cell foam liner). There's no reason you couldn't strap in a big, hard-sided cooler though. With the four-corner square of anchor points, you could run ropes crosswise along each end of the cooler too (down near floor level) to keep the thing from sliding out from beneath the ropes that hold it down. I'd wrap a separate rope or strap around the thing too, so that more than just the latch and tie-downs hold the lid shut in case things go haywire.

For what it's worth, I always tie things down with a single diamond hitch. It's fast and easy, and it cinches tight with a "pulley action" so there's no fussing around with rope tension, but of course it's possible to accomplish the same thing with other rope arrangements.

Just to Pique your interest

– Last Updated: Apr-27-14 3:03 PM EST –

Your profile says you are a beginner, which of course may not mean much - I usually say the same thing about myself and I seem to take care of myself okay. But considering that you may be new to solo canoes or what your new boat can do, here are a couple of clips of the Odyssey 14 in action. Nothing fancy, just kind of fun.

Okay, here's the last clip of that "simulated swiftwater landing" series. I wasn't watching the true direction of the current and ended up looking sloppy the whole way.

While I'm at it, here's an easy backferry to avoid flushing downstream with the main flow into a bunch of fallen trees and some side-slipping to negotiate the turn.

All easy stuff, but probably pretty cool if you are getting started at this.

Do yourself a flavor and glue D Rings
to the floor. You’ll thank yourself every time you paddle. Can’t have enough IMO, and provided they’re not just randomly plunked down I think they make a canoe look even cooler, not gunkier. To each his own. I will say when I trip out of my big boat I put a large watershed style bag (military surplus waterproof bag that zips like a drysuit) in the middle and run two cam straps across it from thwart to yoke in an X. It never budges, even in a flip, until I take it out at camp. As for a cooler, I really like soft sides in a canoe. They’re easier to secure and conform to the shape of the boat when you shove em in the bow or stern, plus they cost about fifteen percent as much as a comparably sized Yeti. Nothing against the rotomolded boxes; I have a 120 quart Yeti myself, but for canoe camping I prefer several softsides. The NRS thirty can size is a dandy IMO and paired with a decent sized satchel style cooler (think Polar Bear) will give you all the cold storage you need. Congrats on the sweet new ride!

Great responses to all questions!

I’m now leaning toward gluing in the anchors. I’m on the fence about the cooler. There will be many beer sightings on my next group adventure and softies don’t keep cold long enough in my experience.

The videos are great! I hope can pull off one or two of those maneuvers. I also appreciated seeing a grown man in the Odyssey - gives me a sense of scale.

Thanks so much!

Great answer, thanks. You’ve all got me leaning toward gluing.

Regarding soft coolers, how well does yours keep the ice?

Quite well, especially for a softie.
Of course they’re inferior to quality hard coolers, but if properly managed they’ll hold their own for three or four days. Having two (or more) along helps. You can use one exclusively for drinks and the

other(s) for food. I keep small frozen water bottles (I prefer square ones but they all work) in the food cooler and cubed ice in the drink cooler. After a few days if the cubed ice has melted I drain half the water and transfer some of the frozen bottles from the food cooler. Works like a charm, and since they’re so easy to stash you needn’t necessarily limit yourself to one or two coolers.

Definitely get a Polar Bear
I have the 24-pack (perfect size for carrying beer):

I’m not a big beer drinker, but last trip I froze 2 six packs and put them in the cooler with two plastic half gallon containers of ice. On the 4th night they were still ice cold. The rest of the crew really enjoyed them. I know it’s heresy, but next trip I plan to use the waterproof liner and carry food instead of beer:

I have a bunch of D-rings in my boat, but I use them for tying in float bags, not gear. For tripping I have two big dry bags for my gear (one in the bow, one in the stern) and I tie those to the thwarts. Add my cooler, my chair and my yoke or cart, and I’m good to go.

If you are going to be doing class I/II whitewater, you might consider adding float bags. Wouldn’t want that nice new boat to end up like this:

or this

It’s amazing how quick it can happen.

Um, I went with AO
It was a tough call, Polar Bear vs AO. I went with AO because I liked their fishing version with the vinyl exterior - will clean up nicer - at least I think it will.

Regarding your pics, those are awesome! Nothing quite that bad where I’m headed, but then again it depends on the water level. Most of our group will be renting from a local outfitter, so if it’s too dangerous for us knuckleheads, they won’t put us on the river.

D-Ring: 1 inch or 2 inch?
I have several NRS straps (I collect them it seems), all 1 inch. Are 1-inch d rings really 1 inch? Meaning will they easily accomodate 1-inch webbing or should I go with 2 inches?

Not sure, but how about using rope?

– Last Updated: Apr-29-14 1:07 PM EST –

I would expect any D-ring that's about the same designated size as the width of the straps you are using to cause the strap to be pretty "tight" and curled where it goes through the ring. But I myself wouldn't put up with the difficulty of straps for tying down gear. Rope is so much better, faster, and easier IF you know some basic knots. One fairly long rope can be threaded both directly from ring to ring and over the gear in any path or pattern you choose, and be finished off with an adjustable knot to set tension, extremely quickly and easily. You simply can't do that with a single strap. You can also finish off a tie-down with rope and use the extra to continue with another tie-down job. You can't do that with a strap either, or least not "well", and not easily. I'd sure encourage you to ditch the strap idea. Strapping is really a single-purpose item which is only good in a few very specific situations, while rope (along with appropriate, function-specific knots) can do anything at all.

Difficulty of straps?

– Last Updated: Apr-29-14 1:57 PM EST –

I find straps very easy to use for securing stuff. A pull of the tag end until it's as taut as I want or a push of the cam buckle release to gain some slack is pretty easy in my book. In fact, I find them so expeditious that every time I cinch one up, whether it's over a boat on the rack, a table on the raft frame or a load in the canoe I wonder aloud what I ever did without them. Not knocking rope. I use it too and will concede that if forced to choose only one or the other it would be rope, but I love my cam straps. To each his own.

AO is good too.
I looked at those. My Polar Bears were gifts.

An example

– Last Updated: Apr-29-14 2:56 PM EST –

Well, none of that cinching and un-cinching you mention with a camlock is actually faster than what can be done with various proper knots. It's actually slower when you consider the doubling-over of material that's needed ahead of time, along with getting the strap into the buckle and threading the extra material to start with (I'll race you). Straps are okay for point-to-point anchorage, and I sometimes like the idea of having greater area of surface contact on boat hulls, but they are just plain poor for anything else.

What's not a point-to-point anchorage? Consider tying a "pattern" arrangement to hold something down in your boat, where you end up with a four-directional tension arrangement that encloses the item, perhaps along with some side-enclosing lines as well. With that setup, even the most irregularly shaped item can't shift around, even if barely any tension is applied. With a single length of rope you can create that arrangement in about 15 seconds. Even threading a lot of extra strapping through through a buckle will probably take one-third that amount of time, never mind all the other stuff you'd have to when attempting to match the job as it can be easily done with rope.

I sometimes use straps, but not in situations where tailoring the tie-down method to a particular situation is best. And there's not a single application where I can't do the job faster with rope, so rope is what I prefer for in-boat jobs of tying things down. But then again, I can do all the knot-tying as easily as tying my shoes, and can insert "fixed-point" anchorages at various points along the way with hardly a thought as I thread the rope where I want it to go, but for a lot of people, rope work isn't exactly a well-learned of a skill. But in my opinion, that's not necessarily an excuse to consider a less-flexible method to be better. Straps are only "easier" until the day that working with rope becomes second nature. After that, they become more of a specialty item to use in certain situations.

You’ve lost me.
My cam straps require neither doubling over nor threading. You stick the tag end through the cam buckle and pull on it (the tag end that is). That’s it. Pretty quick and easy. Maybe we’re not talking about the same thing. There’s a reason they and not ropes are used to secure frames to rafts, coolers and boxes to frames, boats to racks (usually), etc. and it’s not because the people who use them don’t know how to tie knots although I’m confident your knot skills far exceed mine. You obviously prefer ropes which is fine, but I don’t think you’re giving cam straps a fair shake. My respect for your skills is immense, but again, to each his own. Also, I have a bunch of cam straps laying around. :slight_smile:

Quick clarification
The “doubling” refers to the way the strap wraps around an anchor point at each end of your work, so that two pieces of strap go between those points (for example, when tying your boat to the roof, you end up laying each strap across the boat twice. It’s a small extra step, but an extra step nonetheless, more inconvenient in some situations than others, but not too bad for tying down the boat). The “threading” is what you do with whatever extra material you have (and it’s often a lot) once one end has been tucked into the buckle of the cam lock.

As to straps being preferred in some special situations, I acknowledged that and have no argument.

As to the rest of it, we are fine. I thought I’d try to point out that “easy” is relative, and if relative to a well-learned skill, may be “less easy”. It’s just hard to say that in few words and have it mean anything.