7 Easy Steps How to Strap Two Kayaks to a Roof Rack

As a kayak enthusiast, there may be times when you want to transport more than one kayak on your car’s roof rack. Believe it or not, it’s a lot easier than it looks.

The process goes like this: get plenty of straps, load the first kayak and strap it down, do the same with the second kayak, and tighten all of the straps.

You might not realize it, but most roof racks can comfortably hold two kayaks. Properly strapping them down in a safe manner simply takes a little bit of practice.

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

Before Getting Started

Before we get to the actual process, a few things need to be taken into consideration. First, load each kayak separately and partially strap them down with separate straps one at a time.

You should use different kayak straps for each boat. Trying to use the same tie-down straps, or even a single strap, to hold down both kayaks won’t keep the kayaks in place, and 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 the kayak and then be secured tightly to the roof rack.

If there is excess strap left after you tie 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 the kayaks on the roof rack and stop them from rotating and sliding off.

You should also double-check the straps before using them to ensure they’re strong enough to hold the kayaks. Most straps have a weight capacity, so pay attention to this when you’re purchasing them. 

Strapping Two Kayaks to a Roof Rack in 7 Easy Steps

Here is a set of step-by-step instructions to help you strap your kayaks to your roof rack:

Step 1: Set the Straps in Place

Before you try to load two kayaks, measure your roof racks and make sure that they have enough room to 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 the rear crossbar and front crossbar of the roof rack and have even lengths of strap left on each side of the bars.

Step 2: Load the First Kayak

Now, lift the first kayak onto one side of the roof racks. Make sure it’s not sitting in the middle; it should be as far to the left or right as feasible. 

Make sure that any extra length of the boat is balanced evenly between hanging 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 Kayak Down

To secure the 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 the straps just yet. 

One of the most common mistakes when kayak loading is to tighten the first kayak down without making sure that the second kayak has enough available space on the other side of the racks. When loading the second kayak, you may need to make some adjustments.

Step 4: Load the Second Kayak

After you get the first boat on the roof rack, place the other kayak on the rack so that it lies next to the first kayak. Depending on the type of kayak 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 the 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 fit the kayaks together in the right position. 

Make sure they are balanced in the middle of the crossbar spread, not to one side, so that the racks can easily support the weight. 

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

Head 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 the kayak.

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

But if the position of the first kayak has become unbalanced, there may be a need to start over again. 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 are correctly positioned. 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 are securely fastened and tightly holding the kayaks. They must fit in such a way that the kayaks don’t have any wiggle room to move while you are in motion. 

A common mistake made by some novice kayakers is to get in a hurry and forget to double check their tie-downs. It’s vital to take your time because you don’t want a kayak flying off as you drive down the road!

Factors to Consider Before Strapping your Kayaks to a Roof Rack

Before thinking more about how to strap two kayaks to a roof rack, consider the following ground rules:

Local Law

Not every state and city allows for transporting a kayak, or two or more kayaks, on the roof of a car. Therefore, check with local authorities to find out the kayak transportation rules and guidelines.

Some areas also have a law that your load can only be so many feet longer than your vehicle. 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 on the roof. 

Feel free to check with your local roof rack place to get all the information you need regarding local laws and regulations. 

Vehicle Capacity

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. 

So, know the weight of both kayaks combined with the aftermarket roof rack and the capacity of your car.

Roof Rack Capacity

No matter how broad and sturdy the rack is, there is a weight limit. It is 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 to load, strap down, and transport a kayak on a roof rack. Therefore, check the distance between the rear crossbar and front crossbar on your vehicle.

Alternatively, check the distance between the rear crossbar and the side rails.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 Can you strap two kayaks to a roof rack?

You can strap two kayaks to a roof rack, but there are considerations. 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 on transporting kayaks on your car roof. If you know you will often be transporting two boats at one time, look for a kayak roof rack that is designed for two kayaks.

Can a strapped kayak slip from a roof rack?

A strapped kayak can slip from a roof rack if you don’t secure it tightly. You must use the correct type of straps and to learn how to secure them. 

Afterward, check the balance and safety of the kayak before moving. After all, it is both extremely dangerous and against the law for things to fall from a moving car.


Hopefully, after seeing the steps laid out simply, loading two kayaks onto a car roof rack does not seem overly daunting.

If you position the kayaks securely and strap them down tightly, you will have a safe and fun adventure!