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How To Tie A Canoe To A Car Without A Rack

Taking your canoe with you wherever you go shouldn’t have to be a hassle.

How To Tie A Canoe To A Car Without A Rack

There are lots of ways you can haul a canoe with you wherever you choose to but most of these methods involve you coughing up money for a trailer or roof rack for your car. 

If you don’t have the funds or time to go searching for a good roof rack for your car, then there are methods available for you to move your canoe around without using a roof rack.

Here, we are going to look at how you can tie a canoe to your car without using a roof rack. This way you can save yourself a lot of time and energy looking for a good roof rack. It’s a great way to save money if you rarely ever take your canoe anywhere else.

Materials That You Will Need 

First Things First – you need to gather all the things you will need to tie your canoe to the roof of your car.

Because you are not using a roof rack, there are a few materials you will definitely need to help secure your canoe without damaging your car. 

First up is something to protect your canoe and your car. Find some foam blocks or pool noodles to help prevent damage and also help hold your canoe in place while you are driving.

Foam blocks are designed to help carry canoes safely so they are ideal but if you have any pool noodles lying around, they will still work too. 

You will need straps to tie the canoe in place. Two types of straps you can buy are buckle straps or ratchet straps. There is a very simple difference between the two types of straps.

Buckle straps are easier to use, but ratchet straps are stronger and more stable. They are better for holding your canoe in place but both do an excellent job nonetheless. You will need at least 2 straps to tie down your canoe. 

If you don’t have any straps, then you can use some rope instead. Or, you can use both for extra security! 

Tie-down loops are also great for securing the canoe to the hood and trunk of your car as they help stop the canoe from sliding whenever you brake or accelerate your car.

How To Load Your Canoe Onto Your Car

Now, let’s get down to business. The first step to loading and tying down your canoe is to place the canoe on top of your car. 

Before you start, put the foam blocks in place along the gunwales of the canoe (if you’re not sure what the gunwale is, it’s the edges of the boat). If you are using pool noodles, then you will need to run a rope through each one. 

Roll down your car window and place the pool noodle on the roof of your car, tying the two ends of the rope inside your car to hold them in place.

Once they are securely in position, you can now start to lift the canoe on top of your car. 

This step is best done with two people but it is possible to do it alone. You will just have to lift one side at a time.

Place the canoe with the hull facing upwards on top of your car and adjust it so it is positioned in the center of the car roof. 

Next, you need to secure your canoe. 

Use your straps by passing them through your car and wrapping them around the yoke. Make sure that the straps are evenly distributed across the length of the canoe.

How To Tie A Canoe To A Car Without A Rack

This prevents the canoe from bouncing when driving and causing damage to the foam blocks. 

Now, you need to stop any lateral motion from the canoe while you are driving. Do this by tying the bow and stern attachment points to the front and back of your car using ropes or more straps.

Use the hood and trunk tie loops as suitable anchor points to help you safely tie the canoe in place. 

Now, your canoe should be securely in place. Try giving your car a test drive to make sure your canoe is fine and tug on the ropes to make sure they are taut and securely tied down.

Whatever you do – do not head for the main roads unless you are sure that your canoe is securely attached to your car. 

Driving on busy roads with an insecure canoe can cause serious accidents if the canoe were to slip out of place. 


And that’s all to it! 

If you don’t have a roof rack on your car, then you can just use foam blocks instead to protect the roof of your car and prevent any damage to your canoe.

They work just as well but over time, the foam will eventually begin to tear over time and need replacing. They are not very durable but work as a quick fix if you rarely ever need to take your canoe to far places.

If you find that you are driving back and forth with your canoe a lot, then perhaps you will be better off investing in a durable roof rack instead of having to constantly buy new foam blocks or pool noodles. 

No matter what you do, you will always have to buy the appropriate straps and rope, but these can be reused time and time again. 

The foam blocks are the only component that wears away quickly and this could lead to dents and scratches on your canoe and car roof if you do not replace them appropriately. 

This is why a roof rack might be the better option for those who are constantly driving with a canoe on top of their car.

However, if you rarely ever take your canoe anywhere else, then you can save yourself a lot of money by just using this easy method above!

Try it out and hopefully, you will be able to take your canoe anywhere with little effort and hassle.

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

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