One of the important prerequisites to being a paddler is the ability to get your gear to the water without damaging it, your car, or yourself. Here is some equipment that will help make light work of that part of your day.
Make sure they are rated to carry the weight of your boat. Some sporty racks look cool but they may not be up to the job. If you plan on carrying more than one boat, it is better to get bars that are wider than the roof. This type of rack can also help with loading. Simply rest the front of your craft on the side of your car behind the point where the front bar protrudes outside the roof, then lift the back of the craft and slide it on top. A well placed towel will protect your paintwork from scratches. This process can be made even easier by getting removable or retractable roof rack extension bars.
Roof rack cradles and pillars
There are a variety of roof rack attachments that can be used to help transport your boats. If you have a SUP or one sit-on-top kayak, you probably won’t need cradles as they rest nicely on racks alone. For a single kayak, it’s hard to go past adjustable or multi-fit cradles. These do the job perfectly and don’t have to be removed every time you drive into somewhere with low clearance. For more than one kayak, there are systems with upright pillars against which one or more boats can be stacked on their sides across the car, and secured using tie-down attachment points at the end of each one. When not in use, they can be folded down out of the way.
These are webbing straps that can be used to secure your watercraft onto your roof racks. They are secured using cam fasteners, saving you from having to learn tricky knots. Go for quality. After all, your tie-downs are the only thing preventing your boat from flying off the car at high speed. Octopus straps are not recommended because the stretch in them means they are unable to hold a heavy load securely. Lockable tie-downs are really handy. They give you the extra comfort of knowing your boat isn’t being stolen while you aren’t looking.
Also known as a trolley. This will save you the pain of a long carry when you aren’t able to park right next to a launch site. The size of the wheels is important. Wide wheels are better on the sand and tall wheels let you position the trolley closer to the centre of the boat (lengthwise), thereby reducing the weight you have to support.
Big plastic tub
These are great for putting all your wet gear in after a paddle, not to mention storing it between trips. Many people have learned the hard way that throwing your saltwater-soaked equipment straight in the boot leads to a rusty floor in no time at all.
Two litres of fresh water
There’s a really good reason for this. Saltwater and cars do not go well together, so it is preferable that none drips off your boat while in transit. A bottle of fresh water will let you wash the boat before you put it on the roof racks.