Why we hate ratchet straps!

June 01, 2014

     Between helping with rentals, purchases and our own personal paddling, we tie down a lot of kayaks, canoes and sup’s. Because of this, we like to think that we’ve developed a pretty good idea of what works to properly secure a boat on top of a vehicle. So what makes us cringe more than anything??? Ratchet straps!
Now before we get carried away we should state that ratchet straps do have a place with tying down certain loads in certain situations, but boats on top of a car is not one of them.

Why we don’t suggest them:

- Ratchet buckles are very bulky, heavy and rarely properly padded, this means potential damage to your boat and vehicle.

- Ratchet straps use a mechanical advantage to tighten, this means it’s easy to over-tighten the strap and damage the boat.

- The majority of ratchet straps have hooks on the ends, these hooks are rarely large enough to fully go around roof rack cross bars. This leaves two options; partially hooking onto the bar or going under the bar and hooking back onto the webbing. Now look closely at the following photo:

Would you feel comfortable driving behind someone who had their 70lb. projectile “secured” by this? A bit of vibration or a wind gust and that strap could easily come off.

What are the better options?

1) Rope
 If you have a good knowledge of knots and some quality rope then there’s nothing wrong with tying down your load with rope. A well-executed trucker’s hitch allows for enough tension to secure a boat without overtightening.

2) Camstraps
At under $10 each, “belly” camstraps could be your new best friend. These are 1” webbing straps with a cambuckle at one end. As with the rope option, your boat can be secured with a continuous loop of rope/webbing with no possible opportunity for it to come off. Camstraps also hold tight without overdoing it. 

Don’t forget the bow/stern lines.

There’s a lot of lift generated when driving with a boat on your roof. In addition to the “belly” straps, make sure you secure the front and back of your boat especially for highway and long distance travel.

There’s nothing to attach to underneath?

In the name of better fuel economy, many newer vehicles are coming with smooth plastic underneath the car that leaves no space to secure bow and stern lines. If your vehicle is like this, consider hood-loops; small pieces of webbing that bolt under the hood or trunk to which the bow and stern lines attach.