How to Tie Down a Canoe to a Roof Rack

Written by andrea griffith
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How to Tie Down a Canoe to a Roof Rack
Enjoy your canoe trip safely. (beached canoe image by Tanya McConnell from

The most important thing to keep in mind when tying down your canoe to a roof rack is safety. The canoe needs to be properly tied down by professional straps in four different places--the stern and the bow are tied down using ratchet straps and two load straps tie down the middle of the canoe--to ensure the canoe is tied safely and securely to your car. When you're finished tying down your canoe to your roof rack, you can safely transport your canoe.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 2 load straps
  • 2 ratchet strap systems

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  1. 1

    Place the canoe carefully onto the roof rack on the top of your car. Adjust the canoe so the bow and stern hang over the front and the back of your car equally to keep the canoe balanced. The stern--or rear--of the canoe should be hanging over the back of your car; the bow--or front--of the canoe should be hanging over the front of your car.

  2. 2

    Thread one load strap through the back, left L-bracket of the roof rack. Pull the load strap over the top of the canoe, and slide it across the canoe so it reaches the other side. Keep in mind that one end of the load strap will have ratcheting buckle.

  3. 3

    Thread the non-buckle side of the load strap under the back, right L-bracket of the roof rack. Thread the non-buckle side through the ratcheting buckle of the load strap. Pull down on the non-buckle end to tighten the load strap.

  4. 4

    Adjust the buckle so it rests on top of the canoe, then pull the non-buckle end again to completely tighten the strap. Wrap the excess end of the load strap around the L-bracket and tie it into a knot.

  5. 5

    Repeat steps two through four for the second middle tie down. However, for the second strap the load strap is threaded through the front, left L-bracket, then across to the front, right L-bracket where it's buckled and secured.

  6. 6

    Take the looped nylon rope of the ratchet strap system and "tie" it to the stern's handle. The stern's handle is located on the inside of the canoe, in front of the rear seat. To "tie" the rope, wrap the front end of the rope around the handle, then pull the rope through its own loop.

  7. 7

    Hook one end of the hooked nylon rope of the ratchet strap system to the underneath of your car. Pull the other hooked end up and hook it to the bottom of the looped nylon rope. Pull tightly on the excess rope to tighten the ropes together and secure the stern of the canoe to your car.

  8. 8

    Repeat steps six and seven with second set of ratchet strap systems. This time, you'll hook the bow of the canoe to the front end of your car.

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