How To: Tie-Down Bow & Stern

Today we’re going to show you techniques on
how to properly tie-down the bow & stern of a canoe or kayak on the roof of your vehicle. To reduce the chance of serious damage to
vehicles and/or cargo, it is imperative to tie-down any type of cargo extending past
your vehicles windshield and rear window. Before using bow & stern tie-downs, it is
important to properly secure the canoe or kayak to your vehicles roof rack system. Please
Note that Bow & Stern tie downs are NOT to be used as a stand alone tie down system.For
this demonstration we will be tying down a kayak with ratcheting bow & stern tie downs. When tying down the bow, use a secure point
on the front of your canoe or kayak and a secure point on the front of the vehicle.
We will be using the grab handles on the front of our kayak and the tow hooks on the front
of our vehicle. Please Note that you should NEVER attach the
tie downs to plastic parts of your vehicle. Keep the tie downs loose yet snug. Over tightening
can damage your vehicle and/or kayak. If you don’t have a secure point on the
front of your vehicle to tie down to, Hood Loop Straps can be used as an alternative
solution. Each hood loop simply attaches to an available
bolt head located under your hood. An advantage to using Hood Loop Straps is
that they can be permanently attached to your vehicle. Once properly installed, close the hood with
the loop strap exposed. Now you can use the hood loop as your secure bow tie down point. When tying down the stern, use a secure point
on the rear of your canoe or kayak and a secure point on the rear of the vehicle. We will
be using the grab handles on the rear of our kayak and the chain loops on the hitch of
our vehicle. Keep the tie downs loose yet snug. Over tightening
can damage your vehicle and/or kayak. Once secure, tie up any extra slack. If you don’t have a secure point on the
rear of your vehicle to tie down to, Quick Loop Straps can be used as an alternative
solution. Simply pop the hatch or trunk and lay the
Rubber side of the Quick Loop inside. Close the hatch or trunk and the Quick Loop Strap
is installed. Now, secure the Stern tie down strap, tie
up any extra slack, and your ready for the road. For added safety check the tie-downs after
driving the first 5 to 15 miles and every 25 miles after to ensure that they are still
properly secured and that the kayak or canoe hasn’t moved.

20 thoughts on “How To: Tie-Down Bow & Stern

  • My AeroBlades are up, my Hull a Port Pro comes this week, and this video gives me chills just thinking about getting the yak up there! A little concerned with the S hooks coming undone in high winds.

  • Hi Spot Manduex, The tie-downs used were the Thule 855XT Quick Draw kit. You can find them on our website under the Boat Tie Down Straps category page

  • Pay attention to local laws regarding flags and lights at night on loads that extend beyond the vehicle. In my experience, 4 feet or 1.5 meters are common.

  • Excellent video.  Very helpful and complete.  Thank you.  I also am wondering what knot you used to secure the extra line.  

  • This video needs to show the straps more clearly, particulary the end that attaches to the bow and stern of the kayak.

  • Thanks for sharing this. I'm trying to figure out the best way to tie down a 19' kayak to a Prius V. I knew about the bolted hood loops, but didn't know they could be purchased. Good to know. I've been hauling lumber for longer than your grandmother would care to admit and long kayaks for 11+ years. I know a couple of things.
    Every kayak/canoe vehicle rack disaster I know of-was caused by no front and/or rear tie down. In many cases the kayak and rack were just plucked right off the roof. (Bicyclists and short load folks, don't sweat, it's the long things that this happens to. 8' lumber, usually not long enough to be a problem. Sheet goods? Now we're into a branch of aviation….)
    Today, I guess I was sleepy (or getting senile), I completely forgot to connect the rack straps. Fore and aft? Tied right. Freeway speeds, no problem. (On my old soccer-mom van, not the Prius) The hood loops are a great way to go.
    If I had two front attachment points as you do in this video, I think I'd want to complete the 'loop', up across and then down. Single kayak this would be a triangle, with two 'yaks, an extra line going across would take care of it. Maybe belt and suspenders, maybe completely unnecessary. Just a thought. If something came loose the kayaks would stay on the roof until you could pull off.
    And we all know when we see the new car/truck commercials with the kayak on the roof. Skip the new car, get a kayak. I've never seen a kayak ad where they show it sitting on a vehicle.

  • Not every vehicle has tow hooks unfortunately (e.g., my VW sportwagen) so you will not be able to do a bow and stern tie down.

  • Good to see you advocating bow and stern tiedowns. I would like to add that I use an inverted V arrangement on the bow to
    keep the boat from shifting in gusting winds and near large trucks. Triangulation is good rigging practice. On my vehicles I use
    French Links on the undercarriage attachment point to prevent cutting of the straps on sharp edges. As well I will never use open
    hooks since they can bounce free of the anchor on rough streets or offroad. However you fasten your boat to your car, extra care will ensure your boat remains in one piece and no lawsuit from the poor family you injure that was following you when your boat became airborne. Remember to check your rigging after driving through rain for loosening. Always watch your bow ropes, they will alert you to the load shifting.

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