To tie down a kayak in a truck bed, ensure that you strap it down adequately to where it is secure but do not overtighten it. A ratchet strap can deform a kayak. If your kayak is longer than your truck bed, purchase a flag from a hardware store and tie it to the kayak.
- Invest in a truck bed extender if you plan for long rides.
- Use a safety flag on the back of the yak.
- Use a cargo net or ratchet straps to hold it down. Be wary of using ratchet straps and the potential damage they can cause to the kayak.
This is something to do as a courtesy to other drivers on the road, in addition to being a requirement by law. A roll of neon ribbon would suffice for this and should not be something that is expensive.
How To Tie Down a Kayak in a Truck Bed
Read on to learn about what goes into tying down a kayak in a truck bed.
The Bed Extender
Typically, tying a load flag to your kayak is something that is required if your load extends further than forty inches. You want to get a color that will get the attention of drivers, such as red or orange. Some states require a flag to be a specific size, such as 12×12, so make sure to check your states’ laws.
If you are concerned about having your kayak extending too far from your bed, you could get a truck bed extender.
Truck bed extenders can be expensive, but they fit a receiver hitch and can eliminate the need to buy a full roof rack to solve your kayak transportation problems.
An added benefit of the bed extender is that you would have an extra tie-down point. If you choose to buy a bed extender, try to buy a curved extender as that will keep you from hitting the ground if you are driving up or down an incline.
Suppose you are only needing to transport your kayak locally and won’t need to get on the highway. In that case, you might be fine forgoing the truck bed extender, but for long trips or if you plan on getting the highway and need to pack more gear because of camping or other outdoor activities, a truck bed extender can give you peace of mind.
You could get a cargo net for local trips to provide you with added security.
Instead of using ratchet straps to tie down your kayak, utilize cam straps.
Cam straps are reliable and secure your kayak but will not damage your kayak, unlike ratchet straps.
Besides the potential for damaging your kayak if overly tightened, ratchet straps should definitely not be used in the summer or on a hot day.
When ratchet straps and plastic are combined with heat, you are almost guaranteed to be surprised with a warped kayak.
Ratchet straps apply a ton of force, which is why many experienced kayakers might suggest them, but if misused, they can deform the plastic and split the mold.
When tying down your kayak, do not route straps through the scupper hole because it is one of the kayak’s weakest parts. If possible, purchase an inexpensive yoga mat so that you can slide your kayak into your truck bed without scraping your kayak.
If you can fit your kayak in your truck bed, consider purchasing thick foam to protect your truck bed and cab. Without the protection from the thick foam, after several trips with your kayak in your truck bed, you might notice your truck bed has a dent.
If you do not want to purchase a truck bed extender or any additional equipment to transport the kayak, you can sell an existing kayak and purchase one that will fit in your truck bed – such as an inflatable option. If you do not have a kayak yet, you should measure your truck bed prior to purchasing.
Having a kayak that already fits in the bed of your truck can make transporting your kayak a lot easier and saves you from having to deal with purchasing and utilizing a roof rack every time you want to go kayaking.
Tie-down your kayak by utilizing your cam straps to strap the front of the kayak to the front bed anchors and the back of the kayak to the back bed anchors.
If you decide against a bed extender, try to put your kayak on either the left or the right side of your bed. Then, start and end your strap in the same bed anchor.
If you try to strap the kayak in by going across the kayak, you will get a lot of movement from your kayak while driving regardless of the weight. Check out our blog on how much does a kayak weigh here.
This is not necessarily unsafe, but if one of the straps breaks, the trip can quickly become dangerous. Tying your kayak like this can also make other drivers uncomfortable. If you have a kayak that you are happy with and do not want to sell it, you can try experimenting with different ways to tie it in your truck bed until you find one you are comfortable with.
For example, you could try to close your bed with your kayak angled across the bed, then strap it in utilizing several straps around the boat. You could try using a ladder rack that has J-bars on it to make transporting your kayak easier. Be sure to take off your kayak seat before securing it to the truck bed.
Flip, Raise or Extend
You could try to flip your kayak upside down so that the flatter portion is against the tailgate and then strap them in. Another method for tying in your kayak is to use one strap through the back carry handle, a longer strap through the front carry handle, and then one around the rim of the cockpit. If it is necessary for you to raise the kayak in your bed, you can add a couple of wood pieces to your truck bed.
This is something to do, especially if you have a kayak with more soft and malleable plastic since you can flip the boat over instead of potentially damaging the bottom.
If you can get your tailgate closed with the kayak in the bed, you want to ensure that the kayak does not sway from side to side, is not sliding forward, and there is no downward pressure on the gate.
Suppose your kayak does extend out quite a bit. In that case, you might want to invest in an extender because if you do not provide enough support for your kayak when transporting it, you could potentially be causing unnecessary stress on the kayak’s hull. This can lead to safety issues when out on the water.