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How To Strap Two Kayaks To A Roof Rack? (7 Easy Steps)

As a kayak enthusiast, there may be times when you need to transport more than one kayak at a time on the roof of your vehicle.

Believe it or not, doing this is a lot easier than it looks.

This process includes a few simple steps: make sure you have plenty of straps, load the first kayak, and strap it down. Then do the same with the second kayak, and tighten all of the straps. You’ll also need to familiarize yourself with local regulations when it comes to traveling with kayaks on your vehicle’s roof.

You might not realize it, but most roof racks can comfortably hold two kayaks at the same time.

It takes a little bit of practice to ensure that you strap both kayaks down properly.

If you’re wondering how to strap two kayaks to a roof rack, keep reading!

Before Getting Started

Multiple kayaks on a rack outdoors

Before we get to the actual process of securing two kayaks on a roof rack, a few things need to be taken into consideration.

First, load each kayak separately, and partially strap each one down using separate straps, one at a time.

You need to use separate kayak straps for each boat.

If you try to use the same tie-down straps, or even one single strap, to hold down both kayaks, this won’t keep them in place, since it will be easy for them to move around and slip out of the straps as you drive.

You can use straps of varying sizes – the important thing is that the straps are long enough to wrap around each kayak and then be secured tightly to the roof rack.

If there is an excess strap left after tying down each kayak, wrap the end of the strap around the knot, or tuck it underneath the other straps.

You don’t want a bunch of loose ends flapping in the wind as you drive.

You will want to use a minimum of two straps to tie down each kayak.

Using both front and rear straps will keep your kayaks secure on the roof rack, ensuring that they don’t rotate and slide off.

You should also double-check the straps before using them to ensure they’re strong enough to hold two kayaks in place.

Most straps have a weight capacity, so pay attention to this when you’re purchasing them.

7 Easy Steps For Strapping Two Kayaks To A Roof Rack

Step 1: Put The Straps In Place

Red straps on wooden pallets stack

Before you try to load two kayaks onto your roof rack, you need to measure the rack to make sure it can accommodate both boats.

Since you’ll be transporting two kayaks, you’ll need four sturdy and durable straps to get the job done right.

Place two straps on each side of the roof rack – one in the front and one in the back.

Make sure to wrap the tie-down straps underneath both the rack’s rear and front crossbars, and make sure the length of the strap is even on both sides.

Step 2: Load The First Kayak

Start by lifting the first kayak onto one side of the roof rack.

Make sure it’s not sitting in the middle – it should be as far to the left or right as possible.

You also need to ensure that any extra length of the boat is balanced evenly over the front and back of the car.

You can try out different positions until you find the one that offers the most secure fit.

Step 3: Strap The First Kayak Down

To secure the first kayak, place the straps you set on the rack over the bow and stern of the boat.

Begin to tie the straps, and make sure they’re secure enough to keep the kayak on the roof, but don’t tighten them completely just yet.

One of the most common mistakes when loading kayaks is tightening the first boat down without making sure the second one has enough available space on the other side of the rack.

Step 4: Load The Second Kayak

After getting the first boat onto the roof rack, place the other kayak on the rack so that it lies next to the first one.

Depending on the type of roof racks on your vehicle, you may have enough space to leave a little room between them.

However, if there is little to no room on your rack, load the kayaks so they lie side by side next to each other.

You may need to practice with a few different positions to figure out how to best fit your kayaks next to each other in the right position.

Make sure they’re both balanced in the middle of the crossbar spread, not to one side, so that the racks can easily support the weight of each boat.

Step 5: Secure The Second Kayak

Place the second strap set over kayak number two and strap the boat down by tying the straps.

Step 6: Secure The First Kayak

Now go back to kayak number one, and check its balance and position.

If loading the second kayak has not moved it out of place, tighten the straps and secure it.

After confirming that the first kayak is in the best position, go back to kayak number two and properly strap it down tightly.

However, if the position of the first kayak has become unbalanced, there may be a need to start over again.

To do so, loosen kayak number two, fix the position of the first one, secure it, reload number two, and strap it in.

Step 7: Double-Check Your Work

After loading and securing both kayaks on the roof, check to ensure they’re positioned correctly.

The kayaks should be centered on your crossbars so they don’t cause your vehicle to pull to either the driver or passenger side.

Then, check the straps to ensure that they’re securely fastened and able to hold the kayaks tightly in place.

They must fit in such a way that the kayaks don’t have any wiggle room to move while the vehicle is in motion.

A common mistake made by some novice kayakers is rushing and forgetting to double check their tie-downs.

It’s vital to take your time to prevent either kayak from flying off the top of the vehicle as you drive down the road!

Factors To Consider Before Strapping Your Kayaks To A Roof Rack

Local Law

Not every state or city permits transporting one or more kayaks, on the roof of a car.

Therefore, be sure to check with local authorities to find out the kayak transportation rules and guidelines in that area.

Some locations also have a law that says your load can only be so many feet longer than your vehicle in either direction.

If your kayak is going to be sticking out past your windshield and rear window, it’s worth looking into these laws before loading your kayak onto the roof.

You can also check with your local roof rack shop to get all the information you need regarding local laws and regulations.

Vehicle Capacity

White vehicle with a big roof rack

The type of vehicle you drive will determine the total weight you can carry. 

For most cars, no matter the style, the total weight they can carry on average is 165 pounds, including the roof rack weight. 

Be sure to calculate the weight of both kayaks combined with the aftermarket roof rack, and the permissible weight capacity of your car.

Roof Rack Capacity

No matter how broad and sturdy your roof rack is, there is a weight limit.

It’s always better to keep the load a bit under the weight capacity, and make sure the load is always centered in the middle of the rack.

Roof Rack Space

Twenty-four inches between crossbars is the minimum space you need in order to properly load, strap down, and transport a kayak on a roof rack.

Be sure to check the distance between the rear crossbar and front crossbar on your vehicle.

You also need to check the distance between the rear crossbar and the side rails.

Can you strap two kayaks to a roof rack?

Two kayaks locked up on top of a white car

Yes, you can strap two kayaks to a roof rack, but there are factors to consider.

Think about the capacity of the car, the roof rack, the distance you are traveling, and the type of car.

More importantly, check with authorities for rules about transporting kayaks on your car roof.

If you know you’ll be transporting two boats at one time frequently, look for a kayak roof rack that is designed for two kayaks.

Can a strapped-in kayak slip from a roof rack?

A kayak that is strapped-in can still slip from a roof rack if it hasn’t been secured tightly.

You must use the correct type of straps, and to learn how to secure them properly.

Afterward, check the balance and safety of the kayak before moving.

After all, it’s both extremely dangerous, and against the law, for any objects to fall from a moving vehicle.


Hopefully, after reviewing the steps laid out above, loading two kayaks onto a car roof rack doesn’t seem overly daunting.

If you position the kayaks securely and strap them down tightly, you’ll be ready for a safe and fun adventure!

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