Tying Yaks to Racks

Yaks to Racks - A Step by Step Guide

Tying Yaks to Racks


A simple topic today – tying yaks to racks! But it’s one that I know for a fact drives some people raving nuts every time they take their yak out for a spin. But fear no longer because it truly doesn’t have to be hard. After five years of selling kayaks for a living, I do believe I have found the absolute easiest way to do this safely.

Of course we don’t need reminding why this topic is actually very important – that inconvenient old fact that if you stuff it up you could kill someone. Or yourself, or both. Not pretty. Anyway, moving on!

Tying yaks to racks can be done in so many different ways. I’ve seen hundreds of customers drive off from the warehouses of Dream Kayaks with a yak up top, and I don’t think any two of them tied them down the same way. And whats more very few of them tied them down the easy way!

So what is the easy way? What is the secret sauce for tying yaks to racks?


Of course the best way to tie something down is with good ole-fashioned rope, right? Well, if you’re one of those very rare people who can tie a killer truckie’s hitch and you’ve got the confidence and experience to tie it hard and fast every time, then good luck to you! You need nothing more. If you want to learn how to tie a truckies knot, don’t ask me ‘cus I don’t know! I’ve tried to learn a few times but I always forget when it comes to the crunch. And I’ve got a much simpler solution I’ll explain in detail below. But seriously if you want to learn the good ‘ole truckies hitch – much kudos to you! Once you’ve finished reading below, have a look at this site, which does it’s best to explain it. It ain’t easy folks, and if you forget how to tie it, that rope in the back of the ute may as well be a mascara applicator.

Ratchet Straps

So what is the answer? Ratchet straps!??? Head to Bunnings and bask in the glory of 2000kg ratchet straps that will flatten a plastic kayak into a pancake before you can say “this-is-not-what-i-thought-would-happen!”? No. No. No.

Ratchet straps have their uses, but they are not ideal for tying yaks to racks. Yes you can get away with it. I did it for years I must confess. But it’s not ideal. Believe me. Especially if you are tying two yaks down. This creates the potential for movement in the system, which can spell disaster for ratchet straps. If a kayak moves an inch, and creates a bit of slack in your ratchet straps, the hook on the end can easily fly off, and the kayaks will go with it. Plus, who wants to sit there cranking up a ratchet up above your head so high you can hardly reach it, as it scratches the hell out of your brand new kayak?

The Answer

So enough of all that – I’ll tell you what that secret sauce is. It’s this: A cam-buckle tie down strap rated to 200kg or more. Don’t buy the crappy ones at very cheap auto shops. Buy a good one. You can buy a pair of them made by legendary Sea to Summit right here for $29.95 and they are rated to 300kg! They are 3.5m in length, which I find to be perfect for tying one 80cm wide fishing kayak. They have a silicone cover for the cam buckle so it doesn’t scratch your car if you throw it over the kayak a bit too hard. Use coupon code YAKSTORACKS for a 10% discount (offer expires 01 July 2016). These straps are just so easy to use. Tie one at the front, one at the back. You simply pass the loose end through the cam buckle and pull. Then tie off the end, check, re-check, and you’re done!

Sea to Summit Cam Buckle Tie Down Straps

Cam Buckle Tie Down Straps 300kg.
Pass the strap under the rack and throw both ends gently over the top past the centreline. Go around the other side and grab the ends, pass the free end under the rack and through the cam buckle from the back.
yaks to racks step by step
Then pull it tight! You must be pulling DOWN toward you here, not trying to push it up away from you like an un-co ballerina! A pull toward you is many times more powerful. Make sure the straps are straight with no twists or kinks.
yaks to racks
And tie it off! This step is very important and if done properly will save your load even in the event that the cam buckle failed.
yaks to racks tie off

You’ll need one strap at the front and also one at the back. Before you take off give the whole rig a mighty push. It shouldn’t budge. If it does – start again!

And it’s very important that you don’t rely on things you read – be sure before you drive off that you are fully confident that your yak is tied securely to your racks, and also that your racks are secured strongly to the roof of your car. Yes many people forget that part. Weakest link theory! Remember? Might need to Google the make of your racks and check thoroughly that they are still attached to your car!!!

At the end of the day – the driver must be sure their load is tied well.

And once you take off – don’t simply forget about the yaks. It’s definitely worth checking after the first 1km or so, definitely within the first 5 mins, because things can wriggle and vibrate and loosen if not done properly and it’s so much better to find them before they go haywire!

Thanks for reading people! Good luck & Happy Paddling!

by rusty

3 thoughts on “Tying Yaks to Racks

  1. Lyn says:

    I have the soft racks for mine which the straps go through the car and they have straps that go over the kayak and I tie them back on themselves then I have the sea to summit tie downs going over the kayak as well as through the inside of the car and it don’t budge.

    • rusty says:

      Thanks for the question! Racks on a ute cabin are no different to any other racks. Just a little closer together maybe, which might reduce the load they can take. If you mean racks coming up from the tray they are great- although sometimes they are too far apart for shorter yaks. The same tie downs should be fine though. Thanks! Rusty

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