The need for Bow/Stern Tie Downs?

I recently purchased a couple of racks to put onto my truck which can hold two canoes. After straping these down with heavy duty cam buckle straps I find the canoes very stable without the need for bow and stern tie downs. So I was wondering how many disregard using tie downs in cases such as this.

recent discussion

Ah’ always use dem…

– Last Updated: Jul-10-09 9:47 AM EST –

an' ah' gots extra-heavy duty TracRac Van racks dat attach onto de welded rain gutters of me Jeep Cherokee. De whole roof would almost need ta git torn off before de racks demselves would fail. Ah' also use NRS 1.5" straps fer de belly straps.

But ah' still use rope bow an' stern tiedowns reeligiously jus' as a safety backup no matter how short a distance or how small a boat. Better play it safe than killin' de folks in de car in back o' me...


Any system can fail.
Redundancy is a good thing.

Despite years of debate, two camps still exist. Around P-Net campfires those two points of view tend to auto-segregate and arrange chairs accordingly.


belt and suspenders guy

tie down bow and stern
if you’re going to be traveling at speed.

And don’t use what came in the box. Use rope and tie knots.

Always use them
no matter what distance travelled - long or short. In fact if we have 3-4 boats together, we use 2 in the front and 2 in the back ! You can never be too careful when you are on the road with others travelling in front, beside, or behind you!!!

Sure Can’t Hurt
We use 'em all the time - rack components can fail, straps can fray, cam cleats can snap - and I really don’t want to see my boats tumbling down the road behind me while other drivers swerve and brake for their lives. Just plain old common sense, from where I sit…

A big net over the whole works, and
tied off to thirty or forty places.

Especially when you have your bikes up there or your skis, or your luggage carrier. - that is what the gang here usually want. Otherwise you will be a vicious killer in their eyes.

But since you asked the question: No I don’t always use them.

Just when I have the 18’6’ ultralight racing canoes on, and then I just use a front one to protect the long overhanging bow from cross wind shear, and when I am just going to the local lake at slow speed, I don’t even use them on those boats.



works for seakak1.

Best bet…
Read the thread that angstrom posted the link too.

Thoroughly discussed, and argued there, ad nauseam.


don’t use them
I generally carry 2 canoes on my truck, either a pair of 13’ Dagger encores, or a 15’ Dagger reflection and a 16’ Swift Dumoine. I use straps front and rear, then use the bow and stern lines to tie back to the cleats on the rack, and loop this line around a thwart and back to the cleat. I’ve done up to 5 hours interstate driving like this with no issues. One luxury we truck owners are afforded is the ability to leave the front of the canoe just behind the roofline, keeping the canoe out of the upward wind shear generated by the windshield.

second truck back…

oh yes!
I knew there was a voice of reason out there!

don’t always use bow/stern lines myself
… but I think it’s a better idea to do so regardless .

Originally used them exclusively to car top with foam blocks .

Have used a 2" ratchet strap from under chasis over the top to under chasis some of the time also (no I didn’t crush the canoe , but could if I wanted to) …

Maybe just because I’m old school , but I trust the lines more than any other way , strap or not .

I don’t believe you can use toooo many tie downs , the more the better , I think … I do believe you can use tooo few !!

A mishap happened just recently here!
A local well seasoned paddler - lost 2 of 3 kayaks due to strap failure…??.. I dont know the details but we were asked to keep an eye out for these 2 boats and if anyone had travelled his route after his mishap! He didnt notice them missing until he reached his destination at night. Wonder if they were on the road and hit by someone? - very dangerous situation.

If “needed” is the question…
the answer is probably not, given a good rack system, and proper use of it and the web straps. A loss of a boat would require multiple system failures to occur very rapidly.

A single strap, roof rack mount, etc. letting go would not launch a kayak airborne.

IE, a cam buckle lets go, did you not have the strap tied below it? Is the other web strap going to fail before you stop?

Frequent inspections of all parts would be needed.


Seat belts and spare tires are not “needed” either, but most folks would rather err on the side of caution.

It’s your ride…enjoy.


need for bow/ stern tie down lines
We have a Wilderness systems Tsunami 145 kayak. It has elastic cord handles.

What is the best method to secure a bow/stern tie down lines to the boat to transport it at highway speeds for long distances? It is secured to the vehicle with a Thule J rack on top of a 2004 Honda CRV.

You Don’t Just Use Them For Yourself
They are extra “Insurance.” Same reason I don’t tailgate and drive aggressively, not for just MY safety, but for other’s safety. Have had rack failure once in literally thousands of shuttles, and it’s good thing I used them. Just like car insurance, you might go a lifetime without using it, but you’re taking a chance; you’re possibly taking a chance with someone’s life. WW

I use double straps across the boats

– Last Updated: Jul-11-09 6:41 AM EST –

and no bow and stern tiedowns.

When I am not using a sectional kayak, that is. Sectional kayak--safest option for driver, paddler and others sharing our highways and byways.

a beltless and suspenderless jeans guy

I have knownof 3 incidents

– Last Updated: Jul-11-09 2:55 PM EST –

in which failure of a single strap, rope, or knot resulted in a broken rack and the boat flying off the car.

In each incident, a long boat was being transported at highway speed. The belly strap or rope securing the hull to the front crossbar failed in some way. In the absence of a front tiedown, the wind force lifted the leading edge of the boat which then acted like a sail, flying up in the air very quickly and shearing the rear crossbar off the tops of the rear towers.

The boat flew off with the rear crossbar still firmly attached to it by its belly strap or rope.

Granted, this type of thing probably happens rarely, but it clearly does happen.

I don’t use them
unless I’m traveling at speed

they’re not subject to many g’s in the kind of low speed, short distance driving I do around town