6 Ways How to Lock Up a Kayak? (Tried and Tested Methods)

Kayaks are expensive, and unfortunately, kayak theft is common, so it’s wise to lock a kayak up in order to make sure it doesn’t get stolen. You’ll need a way to lock a kayak when you’re both at home and out on an adventure! 

When you’re outside, locking your kayak is more complicated than when you’re at home. To assist you in securing your valuable kayak, we will discuss some tried and tested methods of locking up your kayak.

I’ve been kayaking for as long as I can remember, and my current kayak is my third. My first two kayaks were both stolen, so I had to learn the hard way. Following these events, I decided to do whatever it took to keep my kayak secure.

Locking up a kayak isn’t rocket science, as you can secure various kayaks in different ways. In this article, we’ll go over each method of how to lock a kayak in great detail.

As a bonus, we’ve also included some pointers to improve your kayak’s general safety. So keep reading to say goodbye to the stress of having your valuable kayak stolen!

1. Secure Your Kayak to Your Car

If you leave your kayak unsecured in the back of your vehicle or on a kayak trailer, thieves can easily get their hands on it. To avoid this, you should properly lock the kayak onto your car’s roof rack or trailer.

Tie-downs with a locking system, such as cable locks, work well for this purpose. You do not need to buy a fancy lock since a simple bicycle cable lock will do the job.

Most simple locks come with two keys. You may want to leave one key in your vehicle and give the other to a friend or leave it at home. 

This way, you have a backup in case you lose one! An easy way to get around this is simply using a combination lock, which doesn’t need a key at all!

If thieves cannot get your kayak, their only option for making a quick buck may be attempting to steal your kayaking accessories. Therefore, you must be cautious and keep all of the accessories inside your vehicle.

If the items are too large to fit inside, secure them to your car rack using locking straps. A paddle lock, for example, can be used as a secure locking system for the paddles.

Securing Sit-On-Top Kayak

For a sit-on-top kayak, you can thread the end of the cable loop through the scupper holes. After that, pass the cable underneath the roof rack and into the other scupper hole at the kayak’s stern. 

Now, join both the loops at one end of the cable and lock it up. Try to eliminate excess cable by wrapping the kayak lock around and through the kayak and roof racks as much as possible.

Securing Sit-In Kayaks

Although sit-in kayaks usually do not have scupper holes, some are equipped with cable bars. If you do not have cable bars, you can use the kayak’s handles. 

You will need a kayak lock with a long cable that is capable of looping around the bow and stern of the kayak.

Locking a sit-in kayak to an anchor point will require you to place a cable with one end around the bow and the other over the stern. In this way, the cable’s center will wrap around the anchor point.

Ensure that the cable is tight, because if it is loose it will be easy for someone to untie it or use bolt cutters to break it.

Another option is to drill scupper holes in the kayak by yourself. Doing this can be tricky as you need to make sure the drain hole will not tamper with the watertight hull and exterior walls of the kayak. 

After making the scupper holes, you can follow the same tutorial as the sit-on-top kayak for locking.

You can also install two loops onto the deck of the kayak. These are somewhat common in fishing kayaks, but can be installed in any boat — not just a fishing kayak. 

Having something to loop the cable of your combination lock through will go a long way in making your boat more theft-proof. 

2. Lock Your Kayak at Home

Putting your kayak in your garage and locking it is a great way to keep your kayak safe. A locked shed or other permanent structure secured with a cable lock is another great option for securing your kayak.

But there is no denying that storing a kayak is a problem for many people. Due to this, some opt for inflatable kayaks that can be deflated and stored easily in small areas.

If you do not have enough room to keep your hard-shell kayak inside a garage or shed, it will be harder to protect it from thieves. In such cases, you will have to go the extra mile and get creative.

You can create a wall-mounted or freestanding kayak rack to keep your kayak locked to. Building the kayak rack near your house can offer an additional deterrent for would-be thieves.

You can even adapt a roof rack made for a vehicle by attaching it to a secure object and turn it into a stationary rack for your sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak. 

You can use the same lockable straps you use to secure your kayak to your roof rack to secure it to your freestanding rack. It’s always a good idea to use an additional cable or two to offer extra protection when storing your kayak for a long period of time.

Adding a motion-sensor light to the area where your kayak rack is located can also be a great deterrent for a potential thief. The minor extra cost of the light is a small price to pay when you consider how well a light can work for preventing thieves.  

The Alternative Way

Now, if the methods above won’t work for you, explore options already in your yard. Most stationary objects will work as an anchoring point to attach your kayak and lock system to. 

For example, you could use a tree as a solid anchoring point. All you have to do is wrap cable locks around the tree and then thread them through the plug holes or handles of your kayak. 

When using this method, make sure to cover it with a tarp or something similar. Keeping it out of sight of most thieves will help to keep your kayak safe. 

3. Lock Your Kayak Outdoors

Taking your sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak on camping trips can be problematic since you can’t exactly store it inside your tent! That might work with an inflatable kayak, but a hard-shell kayak is hard to fit anywhere. 

So, one of many options is to leave it secured to your car roof rack or trailer. For this, you can use the same tutorial as before.

However, you can also find a tree nearby if you want to keep it closer to your tent. Just as we mentioned before, you can use a cable lock to secure your kayak to the tree.

4. Lock Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable kayaks are in high demand these days due to their high portability. They’re also easy to lock and store, so they can save you a lot of trouble. 

You can just deflate the kayak and lock it inside your car, house, or tent if on a camping trip.

But if you are frequently on an adventure and use your kayak often, it may be easier to leave it inflated between paddling trips. So, instead of compressing your kayak every time, you can use a cable lock to secure it between its paddles.

Moreover, while transporting, you can lock your inflatable kayak on the roof rack with the same cable lock method that we mentioned earlier for sit-inside kayaks. You can purchase the same cable lock for either type of kayak.

When locking your kayak to an anchor point, make sure to choose a solid anchor point with not much slack on the cable to prevent it from unwinding.

Note: Do not lock two inflatable kayaks together for security as they are lightweight and are much easier to pick up and carry away. So instead of this being a method to prevent theft, it will just make it easier for a determined thief to steal two kayaks instead of one.

5. Lock Sit-On-Top Kayaks With Each Other

If you can’t find a good anchor point, then you can ask someone to let you lock your kayak to theirs. You can even secure several sit-on-top kayaks on top of each other, making them too heavy to carry. 

You will have to thread one end of the cable through the scupper plug holes of each kayak before connecting it back to the other end and locking it. If your cable is lengthy, you can pass it through multiple scupper holes on each kayak before connecting it back to the combination lock. 

Locking kayaks in this way, you can ensure top-notch security and it will be hard for anyone to untie your kayak.

6. Lock Sit-Inside Kayaks With Each Other

There might be a slight complication if you have a sit-inside kayak and want to lock it up with another kayak — the reason being that these kayaks don’t have a drain hole for threading the cable through. So you will have to pass the cable through a stationary object on the kayak, such as its handles.

Moreover, there are tiny metal loops as well on the floor at the stern. You can use these loops to lock two sit-inside kayaks together. 

But you will have to get a cable thinner than the one used for locking the kayak to the anchor point. Firstly, you must measure the area under the loops to ensure that your cable lock will fit in the opening.

In addition, if your kayak has bars, you can use a cable wrapped around the bars to have more flexibility in fastening sit-inside kayaks together. 

Secret Tips to Keep Your Kayak Safe Other Than Locking it

If, even after learning how to lock up a kayak, you are still anxious that your new kayak might get stolen, don’t worry! We will now talk about three additional ways to protect your kayak, which can even be beneficial for recovering stolen kayaks.

Get Specialist Kayak Insurance

To be prepared for unexpected circumstances, you can get insurance for your kayak. However, if you already have a homeowner’s insurance policy it will most likely cover your kayak and its accessories. 

To make sure, go through the details of your current policy and see whether it provides boat insurance.

Most of these policies only protect boats within a specific price range. If your kayak is over the price limit, you may need to look into kayak or watercraft insurance.

Register and Note Down HIN

Every kayak, unless it was manufactured before 1972, has a Hull Identification Number or HIN. It is a 12-digit code unique to every kayak, usually engraved close to the stern. 

If, despite your best efforts, your kayak gets stolen, this kayak ID could be your savior. You can contact the authorities and give them your hull identification number, and they will do their best to find and return your kayak to you. 

However, thieves nowadays have become highly crafty; they will likely remove the HIN soon after stealing your boat. So, you can outsmart them by engraving your HIN under the seat, deck, or even in the storage compartment.

Keep Your Kayak Out of Sight

This tip is applies when you’re keeping your kayak at home and want to be extra careful. If your kayak is just sitting out in the open, someone might be lured to it.

So, it is best to keep your kayak out of the sight of people.

To do this, you can store it in your basement, shed, or garage. If these are not options for you, you should at least cover the kayak with a tarp after locking it up.

No one will be able to identify what the object is from afar.


Does kayak insurance cover damages as well?

Yes, it does. Getting kayak insurance is a wise choice to provide extra security for your kayak and its accessories because even if it doesn’t get stolen, the insurance covers damages as well.

Why can’t I lock two inflatable kayaks together?

Inflatable kayaks are not heavy like hard-shelled ones. Instead, they are pretty light, and anyone can pick up 2 to 3 inflatable kayaks easily. 

So, you will end up losing not one but multiple kayaks in this way.

Final Words

Summing it up, there are several ways to lock your kayak, whether it is a sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak. 

Generally, hard-shell kayaks tend to be a bit tricky to lock or store. However, using the multiple methods listed above, you now have plenty of options for securing your kayak confidently. 

On the other hand, inflatable kayaks are much easier to lock and keep. But keep in mind that the option of locking two kayaks together does not work with inflatable models.