Learn How to Strap Two Kayaks to a Car Roof Rack

Woman packing kayak on roof of car
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Trying to strap two kayaks to a factory-installed roof rack, or to an aftermarket roof rack that doesn't have roof rack attachments, can be a challenge. If you use the proper method, though, most roof racks will easily support and carry two kayaks at a time. This article will explain the steps for safely and securely strapping two kayaks to a roof rack. 

Understanding the Procedure

A common mistake is to first hoist both kayaks onto the roof rack and then to try and position the straps around the roof rack and kayaks.

This will prove frustrating, as the proper way to do this is to place the straps in place first, then strap each kayak in place individually with separate straps. Whenever two or more kayaks are strapped using the same straps, you run the risk of them shifting during the drive and having the kayaks slip out.


  • Purchase straps that are just a couple of feet longer than you need. Straps that are too long are difficult to secure while driving. 
  • Have straps of different lengths on hand. In the event you carry kayaks of different sizes, you may need straps of different lengths. 
  • Inspect the straps regularly to make sure they are not frayed and that any buckles are in good shape. 

How to Strap Two Kayaks to a Roof Rack

  1. Place the straps on the kayak roof rackPlace two straps on each cross bar of the roof rack, then bring both straps to the middle of the each crossbar. The two straps that are on the front crossbar should be resting down across the middle of the windshield, while the two straps that are on the rear crossbar should be resting against the middle of the rear window. Make sure they are not twisted and that you can reach them easily—particularly the ones on the front windshield
  1. Place the first kayak on the roof rack. Place a kayak on one side of the roof rack. You may need to try it in different positions to find the best way for your kayak to sit on the car. Keep the kayak as far toward one side (the driver's or passenger's side) as you can.
  2. Strap the first kayak down to the roof rack. Throw the straps over the kayak and secure the straps. Leave the straps loose at this point, as you may need to adjust this kayak after the second one is placed.
  1. Place the second kayak on the roof rack. Place the second kayak on the roof rack and push it up against the other one. If there is plenty of room on the rack, you can leave a gap between this kayak and the first one. If you are tight on space, adjust the other kayak so that you make room for both kayaks to fit side by side centered on the rack. 
  2. Strap the second kayak down.Throw the straps over the kayak and secure them. Cinch these straps down so that this kayak is securely fastened to the roof rack
  3. Tighten down the first kayak. Go back to the first kayak, ensure its position is still good, and cinch the straps down securely. If its position is off or if it's not sitting on the rack correctly, you may need to loosen up the other kayak and reset them both.
  4. Wrap up the kayak straps and recheck for tightness. Give both kayaks and the roof rack a check to make sure you’re happy with how they are sitting. Wrap the straps up around the cross bars of the rack to ensure they don’t blow in the wind.