How to Lock a Kayak to a Roof Rack?

Kayak security is worth planning for when you’re traveling for several days with your boating companion.

If you’re going on a kayak tour, you’ll need to find a way to haul all your gear to the next body of water.

Besides towing your kayak by car (you’ll need a kayak trailer for this), you can also attach it to the roof rack to transport it safely.

Even though it can be quite a hassle for someone to steal your kayak from your car, it does happen. That’s why you should also securely lock the kayak to your car when you park and leave it there.

In this article, we’ll provide you with the basics of locking a kayak to your roof rack, including:

  • The various locking methods available to you.
  • Quality locks that you can rely on.

What Types Of Kayak Carriers Are There?

How you lock a kayak to a roof rack depends on the type of roof rack you use. Let’s take a look at the most common types of kayak carriers:

  • Crossbars
    If your car doesn’t already have a roof rack, crossbars are the first accessory you must attach to it. Afterward, you can mount a kayak carrier to the crossbars using fitting clamps and lock the kayak in place.
  • Saddles
    These pieces of equipment consist of a left and a right part that you attach to the crossbars to form a “cradle” and place the kayak between them.
  • Pads
    An even more practical type of saddle — you can attach these inflatable pads directly to your car roof. But be advised, they may not be as stable and reliable as sturdy carriers.
  • J-hooks
    Extra strong and durable steel kayak carriers that you attach to your roof rack. They look like the letter J, with one side higher to serve as kayak support. The other side is shorter so you can easily slide the kayak onto it from the side of your car.
Pro-tip: Have a friend help you hold the kayak at both ends and lift it onto the roof rack.

How to Lock A Kayak To A Roof Rack

Once you’ve mounted the kayak on the carrier, the next step is to take care of kayak security. Properly locking the kayak prevents it from shifting on the rack, sliding off the car, or being stolen.

These are the three best methods we recommend for locking a kayak to a roof rack:


Cable Loop

This system works with a series of loops. You slip a cable loop through each end of the kayak, wrap the long cable around a solid object (for example the crossbar), and lock the cable loops together.

Cable loop — kayak security.

To lock both loops together, you can use a padlock or a small bike lock.

To make your mounting even more stable, you can pull the cable through the scupper holes.

Be careful though — the cable loop only prevents theft, it doesn’t secure the kayak to the roof rack for transport! So in addition to it, make sure to buy appropriate tie-down straps.


Lockable Tie-Downs

Locking straps on the other hand are multi-purpose. They serve to tie down the kayak to the roof rack and to protect it against theft.

Lockable tie-downs — kayak security

You wrap the straps around the kayak from side to side, threading them once around the crossbars for extra stability. After tightening them, you lock them so no one can loosen them without a key.

Most straps are reinforced with stainless steel so they can’t be easily cut through.


Bike Lock

A simple bicycle cable lock will do the job too, and perfectly well at that. As long as you get a good-quality, heavy-duty bike lock, you won’t need to worry about kayak theft.

Some bike locks come with their own steel loop (like the Kryptonite). Thus, you can attach the loop to the roof rack directly and secure it with the bike lock.

This comes in handy when you camp out for a few days and want to lock your kayak to a pole near your tent.


Which Locks Are Best for Locking Your Kayak?

1. DocksLocks Anti-Theft Weatherproof Coiled Security Cable

DocksLocks Anti-Theft Security Cable — kayak security.

This lock is waterproof, which is an advantage as we’re dealing with water here. It has a resettable combination lock and is available in lengths from 5 to 25 feet.

The material is stainless steel so it’s rustproof, and the lock itself is weather-resistant. If however, it comes into contact with salt water, be sure to rinse it off with fresh water and oil it regularly.

2. Seattle Sports Cradle Cable Lock for Kayaks

Seattle Sports Cradle Cable Lock For Kayaks.

At 20 feet long and 1/4″ thick, this device is the perfect theft protection for kayaks, canoes, surfboards, and other light watercraft.

It comes with its own lock and a set of two keys to connect the loops together. No need for an additional padlock.

The vinyl coating of the loop protects the stainless steel core from corrosion and protects your car and kayak from scratches.

3. Lovinouse 2 Pack Lockable Tie Down Straps

Lovinouse 2 Pack Lockable Tie Down Straps — kayak security.

Each strap is 10ft long and 1 inch wide and is equipped with 2 keys.

The strap fabric is a dense waterproof, UV resistant, cut-resistant nylon with three stainless steel wires inside.

4. Thule Lockable Strap

Thule Lock Strap.

The double pack of straps in 10-ft or 13-ft lengths is theft-proof as they are made of nylon sleeves with steel cables inside.

The aluminum buckles are lightweight and corrosion-resistant. Meanwhile, rubber-coated lock housing prevents scratches to the car and the gear.

Excellent kayak security from a well-known brand with stainless steel One-Key lock cylinders on each strap.

5. Kryptonite Evolution Mini 7 Lock with 4 Foot Kryptoflex Cable Combo

Kryptonite Mini Lock for kayaks.

The makeshift way to lock your kayak is with a good, old bike lock, but of the highest quality.

This includes a 4 foot long Kryptoflex double loop cable with a protective vinyl coating. Attach it to the crossbar, pull it through the scupper hole and lock it in place.

The hardened steel shackle comes with anti-rattle bumpers to reduce noise during transport.

Fun fact: The company offers optional anti-theft protection that pays out a certain amount in the event of theft, depending on the security value of the product. Also, keys are shipped worldwide in case you lose yours. 

Final Thoughts On Kayak Security

Locking the kayak securely onto your car is absolutely essential when you travel with it.

Don’t do it and you risk damage to your kayak — not to mention an extremely dangerous incident if you drive with a loose kayak on the highway!

While there are many DIY solutions, it’s better to invest in a proper kayak lock. This way you’ll get good materials, durable quality, and high-end kayak security.

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