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How to Tie Down a Kayak (Without a Roof Rack or Pool Noodles)

If you're hauling a kayak just a short distance, or if you don't carry it often, you may not want to invest in a roof rack and carrier system for your vehicle.Fortunately, there are other ways to carry a kayak on your vehicle roof without breaking the bank. Even better, there are ways to do it without breaking your kayak or vehicle. Check out our suggestion on how to inexpensively carry your kayak, below (spoilers: it's not a pool noodle).
Kayak Carrier on Roof Rack
Kayak on Pool Noodles

Why You Shouldn't Use Pool Noodles

This is certainly a cost-effective DIY method of carrying your kayak. However, it's not a method we recommend. Firstly, when using pool noodles, you run the risk of scratching your roof paint. If the kayak compresses the noodles too much, or if dust or dirt collect in the noodle's porous material, this can result in damage to your vehicle or watercraft.Secondly, the best thing about pool noodles—their price—is also their drawback. Pool noodles are cheap. They deteriorate quickly in the elements and are meant to be easily replaceable. This may not cost much, but it does mean that you're entrusting your vehicle and kayak to a three-dollar "rack" that's not built to last.Thirdly, pool noodles simply aren't designed to carry kayaks. We're big believers in the skills of DIYers, but sometimes it pays to go with a product designed for a specific purpose. In this case, you've probably invested a substantial amount of money in your kayak and vehicle. So why trust your investment to a product designed to float in a pool, rather than carry a 20-80 lb kayak down the highway?
Foam Pads on Roof

The Pool Noodle Alternative

Fortunately, there are solutions for carrying a kayak on a naked roof that don't involve dollar store pool noodles.If you're not ready to invest in a roof rack, we instead recommend a set of foam block carriers designed for kayaks. Although the idea is similar to the pool noodle trick—using foam to distance the kayak from the rooftop—these foam block carriers are actually designed for the specific purpose of supporting the hull of a watercraft, with several inches of anti-skid foam cradling your kayak. Many also include the necessary tie-down straps.What's more, these pads can generally be used on naked roofs or crossbars. So if down the road you decide to invest in a roof rack and carrier, these foam blocks will still come in handy.
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Written by: Amber S.Updated on: 6/28/19



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