Securing your new interest

Part Six: Transporting your kayak using straps

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette My kayak secured to the luggage rack of my car using simple cam straps.

This is one in a series of staff writer Graham Jaehnig’s personal experiences as a

beginner kayaker.

You’ve selected a kayak, an appropriate life preserver for the kind of kayaking you envision doing; you’ve selected the best paddle for your kayaking; now it is time to think about how you will secure the kayak to your vehicle to get it home from the store, then to the water and home again.

A large number of people do not have a partner to share the enjoyment of kayaking. That is why the recreational kayaks are so popular: they are light and can be easily lifted onto the roof of a car. In many instances, because most sit-inside recreational kayaks are only 10 feet long, many people transport them by loading them into the back of their SUVs. In other instances, they can be placed in the back of a pickup truck and quickly secured with bungee chords. Most of us, however, must make do with securing our kayaks to the roofs of our cars using the luggage rack using ratchet straps or cam straps.

Ratchet straps are tie-down straps used for securing cargo. Usually intended for heavy loads, ratchet straps are two-pieces; one piece has a hook on one end and a large ratchet on the other, with the strap being made of a heavy-duty polyester or nylon webbing that has very little stretch. these are the types of straps generally used by truck drivers to tiedown loads wieghing several hundred pounds to flatbed trailers.

I have used ratchet straps for tying down loads of hay bales in pickup truck beds and flatbed trailers, but I found that they do not lend themselves well to tying down things as small as a kayak.

What does work well, at least for me, are what are called cam straps. As the Shipper Supplies’ website says, “The main difference between these straps is that Ratchet Straps are used for much heavier and tighter duty security, whereas Cam Buckle Straps are used for applications around the house or professional movers. One of the benefits of using Cam Buckle Straps is the ability to rarely ever overtighten cargo that could cause potential damage over time.”

Roller Cam, a manufacturer of cam straps, points out that the most important part of both terms (cam and strap) is ‘cam.’ The word designates how the buckle actually works.

“For comparison purposes,” states rollercam.com, “a ratchet strap is a tie-down that utilizes a ratchet buckle to keep the strap secure. You thread the strap through the ratchet and pull it to take up the initial slack. Then you engage a ratchet to tighten the strap in small sections at a time. The more times you ratchet, the tighter the strap gets. This takes time and eliminates the ability to control how tight a strap gets around your gear.”

My own experience with using ratchet straps for tying down a kayak is that it requires tightening the straps to the point that so much of the strap gets wound up in the buckle mechanisms that the buckle can’t be released properly to loosen the strap. They just aren’t designed for something so small in diameter as a kayak. On the other hand, using cam straps, the average time it takes me to secure my kayak to the roof of my car is under 10 minutes.

Using straps, whether cam straps or ratchet straps, is not really necessary, if you prefer to use ropes. Ropes, though, require that you have a very good knowledge of how to tie various knots to keep the tension snug. With straps, you don’t have to worry about knots.


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