Tightness of straps

I just brought my new Prijon Calabria home from the dealer and stopped for a short paddle on the way. Coming home from the usual paddling locale, I car-topped the yak with the cockpit upward because it was only 1 1/2 miles home. I made the straps fairly tight. The hull near the bow was somewhat caved in when I got home. This hadn’t happened before on our other yak when I had fastened the straps equally as tight with the cockpit facing upward. The hull regained it’s shape shortly after I took it off the car. How usual is this? Is it a flaw in the molding process? Did I just do the wrong thing and should make the straps looser with the cockpit facing downward?

Most people WAY overtighten their straps. They should be snug, but not so tight that you oilcan your hull or deck.

Make them so that they are one-hand tight (The amount you can pull with one had without putting your weight into it), and use bow & stern lines. You shouldn’t have any problems.

I assume you were using saddles, or some kind of boat carrier, yes?


Thanks Wayne
I wasn’t using saddles. Just a flat Yakima rack (two bars across the roof) with those rubbery pads around them to prevent scratching. Contrary to your advice, I did use two hands.

I think your problem was…
…that you did not have saddles.


I have always tightened my poly yaks and my kevlar ones as tight as I can get them and they are always nested nicely in their saddles.

I disagree with not tightening them down tight.

Several years ago they were on and off the truck daily for four months with no oilcanning.

I also tighten my canoe down as hard as I can get the straps, but the canoe is upside down on the gunnels.



Flat bars of a roof rack are not the
best way to carry your poly kayak. The flat bars do not conform to the shape of the hull and put a lot of pressure on small areas. The flat bars also require tighter strapping to help keep the kayak from sliding around. You should get some saddles, or make your own out of foam blocks. Any base that is closer to the ‘shallow V’ shape of the kayak hull will help prevent the oil-canning. Carrying the kayak upside down will also help prevent oilcanning on the hull.

I use ‘stackers’ which are bars that stand straight up from the roof rack. I put the kayak on edge and strap it to the stackers and rack. With this system, the weight of the boat and the pressure of the straps is exerted on the strongest axis of the boat. The 90 degree angle created by the rack and stackers is a very secure resting place for the kayak. I also use a bow line to the front bumper for safety.

By flat I meant
that they are parallel with the car roof and perpendicular to the car doors. The actual bars are rounded. Does that make any difference? I thought these were fairly standard Yakima racks.

kayaks need support
…around the contour of the hull in order to carry well. Pick up some saddles, or even some foam kayak blocks that have been routed to wrap around the Yakima bar and provide upright carrying support (they’re available at any decent sized paddle shop) and you won’t have to worry about denting your hull again.

Rounded are even worse than flat
Love your boat? Get or make saddles. you cna at least slip foam blocks on your rack wo you give real support to your boat… You can get stackers and put you boat on its side.

Absolutely as above, especialy if you already have the Yakima crossbars. Stronger and more secure carry for plastic boats.

As to oil-canning - even on stackers, depending on how rigid and thick the plastic is, you may find some oil-canning if the boat is sitting out in the sun on a warm day. Probably not much though - as I recall Prijon plastic is not the lightest weight stuff out there. It’ll usually pop out in water, or once off the stackers out of the sun. I would guess that you didn’t notice it before because the tandem was fairly thick to bear weight over a greater length.

We Are Learning
about all aspects of kayaking and car topping is included.

I had read about tightening and not and the need for fore and aft straps and not. I installed Thule cross bars on my factory roof rails and then Thule kayak cradle assys. The adj rubber type on the front and the carpeted ones on the rear.

I tighten the straps at each cradle assy fairly tight and I watch the hull to make sure I am not disfiguring it. I dont know if I am over tightening them but the boat both stay put and there is no indication that I am disfiguring the hulls.

So far, I have only car topped locally and I have not installed the bow and stern lines. Most folks say that these are mandatory, but things seem to work well so far without them for me. I may use the two extra lines on longer trips.

So far so good,


Bow and stern lines
are so easy to put on as additional security, especially if you get some with ratcheting pulleys. Yakima sells them, but you can get identical ones at Walmart or a good hardware store for much less money. I use to think bow/stern lines were too much of a bother, but with the ratcheting pulleys they take only a minute to put on or take off. And they will give you great peace of mind. Among other things, the rope in front of you and the one in the rear view mirror give are instant ways to assure you as you’re driving that everything is okay up there.

A great way to take the paint finish…
…off the hood of your vehicle too !



I have
the advantage of a moon roof. I have left the inside door open during cartopping and I can see how the yaks are ridding by just looking up.


Thanks to all
My take away from all of this is that I will purchase saddles and make the straps somewhat less tight and use additional straps for bow and stern when I am going more than a few miles (my usual places are very near to my home and in the past I had never used straps for the bow and stern; just two very tight straps across the hull).

Most tupperware kayaks will ride better when mounted on the rack up-side down. Having the keel of the hull resting on the rack bar is not a good thing.

The proper way to store or cartop a plastic hull is on it’s side. A yakima hullraiser or kayak stacker is made to do this well.

in the long run transporting the kayak on it’s side in j-saddles or stackers has less potential for distorting the hull with any kayak tossed on the roof compared to saddles that have to be configured exactly for ONE kayak. Folks still seem to be able to distort the bottom of hulls by overtightening on saddles.

I’m confused
(no surprise to those who know me.) How will bow/stern lines take paint on your car roof? My lines don’t come close to touching the roof–they only touch along the bumpers. What kayak/vehicle combo results in bow/stern lines scraping the roof?

Hood, hood, hood !

– Last Updated: Apr-17-05 6:43 PM EST –

who said anything about a roof?


To prevent that
Just wrap the excess strap around the ratchet. This pads it up and prevents scratching.

two Prijons
I have the Calabria and a Catalina, both purchased last summer. I made a custom set of racks to fit my truck,($100.00 worth of materials from Home Depot), and made the horizontal bars on which the boats rest, 4" wide at the points where the boats sit. Also added some custom shaped foam to cradle the boat, and in this arrangement, have been able to crank the boats down with ratchet straps, without any signs of warping/misshaping. Never the less this thread points out that I need to remember to exercise due caution and not get carried away when ratcheting up. Bruce…looking forward to seeing a review of your boat in Products Reviews dept. Have fun!