The Best Way to Load a Canoe Onto Your Roof Racks

Manufactured in a variety of sizes and materials, canoes are generally both cumbersome and heavy. Additionally, once you've positioned your canoe on top of your vehicle, mounting it securely to your roof racks becomes a priority. Improperly secured, your canoe may suffer structural damage and at worst can pose a serious safety hazard while you are driving. Foam block roof rack systems offer protection from both of these concerns at an affordable price. Easy to set up and secure, this system ensures your quick return to the river.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • 4 C-shaped foam blocks
  • 3 10-foot nylon load-bearing ties
  • 2 10-foot lengths of cord
Step 1
Mount the four C-shaped foam blocks onto the gunwales so there are two on each side of the canoe. Position the foam blocks so they are equal distance from the center of the canoe.
Step 2
Space the foam blocks far enough apart on each gunwale so that when the canoe is later placed on top of the roof the foam blocks rest at the edges of the front and rear of the roof.
Step 3
Roll the canoe gently so the bottom side is facing upward. Grab the bow end of the canoe and have a partner grab the stern end. Lift the canoe together in one motion until it is overhead. Place the canoe on top of the roof. Slide the foam blocks if necessary so they rest at the roof edge.
Step 4
Open the doors of your car. Throw the three nylon load-bearing straps over the canoe from side-to-side. Space the two outer straps as far forward and backward as possible and position the third strap so it rests in the middle of the roof.
Step 5
Connect the ends of the load-bearing straps inside your car. Pass the open ends through the fastener and pull until the straps are tight.
Step 6
Pass a length of cord through the stern end of the canoe. Tie the cord to the stern seat if no eyelet or hole is present. Tie the opposite end of the cord to the rear bumper of your car. Repeat this process on the bow end of the canoe. Tie these knots so there is no slack in the cords.

Tips & Warnings

Be sure your car doors are open before securing the nylon load-bearing straps inside the car or you will not be able to open the doors.
Some vehicles are manufactured with heavy duty metal eyelets that are attached directly to the engine chassis below the front and rear bumpers. If your vehicle is designed with these eyelets, consider securing the front and rear of the canoe to them. Pass a length of cord through each end of the boat and tie the two open ends to the eyelets, as opposed to the bumper, for increased stability.
Canoes can be heavy so enlist a partner to help you avoid injury.

Article Written By Mike Biscoe

Mike Biscoe has been writing since 2009. Focusing on travel, sports and entertainment topics, he has credits in various online publications including LIVESTRONG.COM and Trails. He often writes articles covering uncommon travel destinations from firsthand experience. Biscoe holds a Certificate of Completion in acting from the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts.

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