How to Strap Two Kayaks to a Roof Rack

It can be challenging to strap two kayaks onto a roof rack without attachments. But if you know the right method for how to strap two kayaks to a roof rack, most roof rack systems can carry and support multiple kayaks for a single trip.

This article will talk about how to strap two kayaks to a roof rack, so you can easily take multiple kayaks with you on your next adventure.

How to Strap Two Kayaks to a Roof Rack

how to strap two kayaks to a roof rack
Source: Shutterstock

Understand the Procedure

One of the most common mistakes made by kayakers is hoisting both of the kayaks onto your vehicle’s roof rack system and then trying to position straps around the kayaks and the rack.

This can be frustrating because the correct procedure is to put the straps on first, then use separate straps to secure each kayak in place separately. Whenever you have multiple kayaks strapped in place using one strap, you risk the chance of them shifting when you’re driving or having the two kayaks slip out from under the strap completely.  


  • To make easy work of strapping two kayaks in place, buy straps that are a bit longer than you need but not too long that there is excess you need to wrap up before driving.
  • Ensure that you have straps of different sizes on hand when you’re trying to strap two kayaks to a roof rack. This is because if your kayaks are of different sizes, you’ll need different-sized straps.
  • Inspect your straps regularly to ensure they aren’t frayed, and the buckles are in good shape.

Materials Needed

When it comes to knowing how to strap two kayaks to a roof rack, there are some materials that you’ll need to have:

  • Roof rack: The most important thing you need to strap two kayaks in place is a roof rack or roof rails. This can be a factory-installed or aftermarket roof rack, but it should have two side rails and crossbars.
  • Accessories for your roof rack: Your roof rack is just the foundation; you’ll also need roof rack accessories to make the process of strapping two kayaks in place easier. Two J racks or a stacker can come in handy when you’re trying to strap two kayaks in place.
  • Two straps: Ratchet straps are your best bet when trying to secure two kayaks on a roof rack. You want them to be a couple of extra feet in length, and you might want to have a couple of different sizes on hand.

Another great thing to have is someone else to work with you. This isn’t necessary, but it can be extremely helpful having someone else help you lift your kayaks onto the roof rack and secure them in place.

how to strap two kayaks to a roof rack
Source: Shutterstock

How to Strap Two Kayaks to a Roof Rack

  1. Place your straps on the roof rack. Place two of your straps on the roof rack crossbars, then bring the straps to the middle of the crossbars. The two straps located on the front crossbar should be lying down in the middle of your windshield, while the straps on the rear crossbar should be lying against the middle of the back window. Make sure that the straps aren’t twisted and that you can easily reach them, especially those on the front of your car.
  2. Place your first kayak on the rack. Place one of your kayaks on one side of your vehicle’s roof rack. You might need to try different positions to get the kayak to sit on your car correctly. Keep your first kayak more toward one side of the rack (the passenger or driver’s side).
  3. Strap the first kayak in place. Throw the straps over the first kayak and secure those straps. Make sure that you leave the straps loose because you might have to adjust the kayak when placing the second kayak.
  4. Place the second kayak. Put the second kayak on the roof rack and push it against the first kayak. If there’s enough room on the roof rack, then you can leave a gap between the two kayaks. But if you’re tight on space, the kayaks need to be pushed together and centered on the rack.
  5. Strap down the second kayak. Put the straps over your second kayak and follow the steps you did to secure the first kayak. Tighten the heavy duty strap down so that the second kayak is firmly fastened in place on the roof rack.
  6. Tighten the first set of kayak straps. Working on your first kayak again, make sure that its position is good, then tighten the straps to secure them. If the position of the first kayak is off or it’s not centered on the rack, you might need to loosen the second kayak and reposition both of them.
  7. Tie the straps and check tightness. Check both the car roof rack and the kayaks to make sure you’re happy with their position. Tie up the straps around the rack’s crossbars, so they aren’t flapping in the wind as you drive.

Here’s a video to help you learn how to strap two kayaks to a roof rack.

Common Mistakes

There are two common mistakes that people make when they’re learning how to strap two kayaks to roof racks:

  1. People will load both kayaks onto the roof rack and then secure them in place with the ratchet strap, and this can make things much more complicated than it needs to be. First, you should get the ratchet strap in place and then tie down each kayak separately.
  2. Some people will use one set of straps to secure their kayaks in place, and this is a big mistake because, as we mentioned earlier, the kayaks can shift or slip out from the strap.

Bottom Line

It doesn’t seem as complicated now that you know how to strap two kayaks to a roof rack.

The trick to multiple strapping kayaks to a roof rack is to position your kayaks and secure them individually. Other than that, the steps are pretty much the same as if you were strapping one kayak to a roof rack.

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