Whatever rack system you decide on the one thing they all have in common is tie downs. Tie downs are used to secure your kayak to your rack or truck bed, and if used improperly can damage either of them. One of the biggest mistakes I often see is ratchet straps being used to tighten down the kayak to a roof rack or truck bed. While this type of tie down does hold the kayak down, it can damage the rack or the kayak when over-tightened - which is easily done when using this type of device.
My favorite type of straps to use is cam or pulls-style tie downs. These are made by many companies and available in several styles, but the ones I use are made by Thule. I’ve now been using the same Thule straps for almost five years with no wear shown to them at all. You can walk into any paddle sport shop to pick up a set.
Another mistake I commonly see when loading boats on to the top of a vehicle is not tying down the bow and stern. Many people make the excuse, “I’m not going that far, so I won’t tie it down…” I always like to take the extra few minutes to do this, for the sake of my kayak as well as the safety of others on the road.
I’ve also added a front tie down attachment point on my vehicle to make it easier. I’ve tried two types of attachment points that go under the hood of your car. The first one you can add and remove simply by opening and closing your hood on it. It has a rubber tube on the bottom that holds it in place under the hood. The other is semi permanently attached to a factory bolt location under the hood. I have chosen the style that bolts down, as I always seemed to misplace the ones that were easily removable.
With the front, back, and sides tied down properly, you should now be ready to transport your kayak to any destination safely, and without damaging your kayak or vehicle.