How to tie down a kayak on a J-rack

Welcome to Paddle n Reel

How to tie down a kayak on a J-rack

Let’s get straight down to business!

Before starting to tie down your kayak, make sure your j-racks are firmly and properly installed on your cross bars. Also make sure you have a good pair of tie down straps such as the tried and tested NRS buckle bumper tie downs which have a protective layer over the cam minimising the chance of damage.

(Don’t forget to check out our tutorial on how to load a kayak on a j-rack by yourself.)

how to tie down a kayak on a j rack - strap position before loading kayak

Before loading your kayak, position your tie down straps through the top loop of your j-racks so that they are all ready to go once your kayak is in position. Some j-style racks come with an attachment for keeping your strap located at the top.

Take both ends of the tie down strap which is threaded through the upright portion of the j-rack.
Draw them out towards the end of the kayak then flick them over the end of the kayak and work them until they are inline with the j-rack, keeping some tension on them so the strap stays in the position at the top of the vertical j-rack loop.
If you ‘see-saw’ them, they move across much easier. (See-saw – keeping hold of each end of your tie down, one in each hand, pull down on one end of the strap then the other whilst moving them laterally into position.)
Side note: This part of the process is helpful if you use longer straps.

how to tie down a kayak on a j rack - step 4

Once you have them lined up with the rack, pull the tag end down so that the buckle is drawn up to about the mid point of the kayak. This is twofold. Firstly, it allows room for the buckle to travel when tighening it and it also makes it eaisier to tighten as you are working with gravity not against.

Loop the tag end down through the j-rack and under the crossbar then back to the buckle and thread it through the buckle.

how to tie down a kayak on a j rack - step 8

Tension the tie down to take up the slack. Before cinching down, double check that the strap is still at the top of the loop behind the kayak. Now cinch it down tight. (Not so tight that it deforms your kayak! Also be aware, this is a greater issue in hot weather)

Tie a couple of ‘half hitch’ knots in front of the buckle as a safeguard in case it starts to work loose. Finally, tie off any excess strap to stop it from flapping about during travel. You can achieve this by tying multiple half hitches if needed.

how to tie down a kayak on a j rack - step 12

Repeat the process on the other j-rack and you’re nearly there.
Be sure to give it a shake and test it to make sure it is secure.

how to tie down a kayak on a j rack - step 13

Once the kayak is tied off at both j-racks, tie a bow and stern strap.

Are bow and stern straps necessary?

With longer kayaks I would highly recommend using them.
Even with shorter and wider fishing kayaks I would recommend using one on the front as it will be taking the brunt of the wind as you travel.

Also as an extra precaution, in the unlikely event that a strap or bracket fails and your kayak slips back in the j-racks whilst driving, it will prevent the kayak from sliding off the back of your vehicle.

Now you’re all set!

Check out our tutorial on how to load a kayak on a j-rack by yourself.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *