How To Lock Up A Kayak – Keeping Your Kayak Safe

You probably spent a decent amount of money on your kayak, and the last thing you want is for someone to steal it.  This article will discuss how to lock up a kayak to help keep your boat safe from thieves.

Kayaks come in various shapes and sizes, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for locking up a kayak. The purpose of this article is to help you find a good way to lock your boat. The purpose of this post is to give you some ideas that you can apply to your specific kayak.

Just remember, if a determined thief wants your boat bad enough, they will figure out a way to get it. By locking up your kayak, you hope it’s not worth the effort, and they will move down the line. People can get very creative, so it’s best to be prepared.

What type of kayak are you locking up?

Depending on the type of kayak you own, like a sit-inside or a sit on top, locking up your boat will be different. If you own an inflatable kayak, securing it is pretty easy when it’s deflated, but you are limited when it’s inflated.

How to lock up a sit-inside kayak

Sit inside kayaks can be challenging to lock up. One option is to install a drain hole for a sit-in kayak to make your life easier. Check out the video below for more information.  I like this video because it shows exactly how to cut and install a drain hole.  

You can also lock two kayaks together using the drain hole method. It would be difficult and cumbersome for a thief to take both kayaks at once.  So maybe an ounce of prevention is a good idea in this case.

You can also use the handles on your kayak to run a cable lock through. Sometimes there are existing holes for the handles that you could use. The handles might be a viable option, but not in all cases.  It depends on the type of handle and how it’s connected to the boat.

Another option is to use a loop style cable. You wrap one loop around the bow and one loop around the stern and connect the loops with a tight locking cable.  This gives you a snug fit on the kayak’s front and rear so someone can’t just slip the loops off the ends.

Your kayak might come equipped with cleats or metal loops installed. You can use these to lock up your kayak using a smaller cable lock.  If your kayak has rails, you can also install a metal eyelet to run a cable lock through.

There are a lot of different ways to lock a sit-inside kayak. You might need to get a little creative!

How to lock a sit on top kayak

A sit on top kayaks offer the luxury of built-in mechanisms like scupper holes or possibly a drive well you can use to lock up your kayak. You can thread a cable through one of these holes and lock your kayak. Check out the video below to give you an idea.

Of course, you can always apply the sit-inside kayak methods to a sit on top kayak.

How to lock up an inflatable kayak

One of the main reasons to buy an inflatable kayak is they are easy to transport and store.  You can lock a deflated kayak in your garage, apartment, or inside your car when you are on the road.  An inflated kayak is a different story. 

If you must lock your inflatable kayak, you can use the cable loop method, similar to a sit-inside kayak. Put one loop over each end of the kayak and attach a cable underneath to lock the loops together. Of course, you need to lock everything up to a solid object.

You can also use the handles on an inflatable kayak since these are typically attached and sewn together very securely. Your best bet with an inflatable is to deflate it and lock it inside your car, garage, or somewhere else secure like that.

How to lock up a kayak at home

If you don’t have a garage or a shed to lock your boat at home, you are in luck.  Now that you are familiar with different ways to lock up a kayak, you can apply these methods outside your home.

If you plan to store your kayak outdoors all the time, try to find a place that is out of direct sunlight. UV rays can be harmful to different kayak materials.

Try to keep your boat out of plain sight when you lock it up. Using a quality kayak cover or tarp will not only help protect your boat from the elements but help keep it hidden.

How to lock up a sit inside kayakPin

Using the methods outlined in this article, for different styles of kayaks, lock your kayak to a tree, a post, or other solid objects. The idea is to make it difficult for a thief to steal your kayak, and hopefully, they will move on.

How to lock up a kayak to your car or trailer

Chances are, you will need to lock your kayak to your roof rack or trailer when you are on the road.  You might stop along the way to grab a bite to eat, or depending on where you are going, stay in a hotel overnight.

If you own a sit-on-top kayak, you can run a cable lock through the scupper plug holes and secure the lock to a roof rack or trailer.  You can use an existing drain plug or add one yourself to run a cable lock through with a sit-inside kayak. Then lock the boat to your roof rack or kayak trailer.

How to lock up a kayakPin

You can also use a loop style cable by putting one loop over each end of the kayak. Then pull the loops tight and lock them together underneath. 

How to secure your kayak when camping

The last thing you want is for someone to steal your kayak when you are camping.  If you drove to your campsite, you can lock your kayak to your vehicle or trailer as previously described.  If you are on a camping trip and had to leave your vehicle behind, never fear.

You can use the methods described in this post to secure your kayak to a tree (upright or fallen), a dock, a picnic table, etc. Choose a solid, stable object that a thief isn’t going to be able to move or easily move.

Use the scupper holes, drain plug, handles, or a loop style cable lock. Whatever works for your kayak, make sure your boat is nice and snug to a heavy, secure object.

When to lock your kayak

There are several different situations when you will need to lock up your kayak, including:

  • You are in a busy area with lots of people
  • You need to leave your kayak to get your car when you are done paddling for the day
  • After you launch your kayak and need to park your car
  • When you are traveling, if you go to a restaurant or stop for the night

Take caution. Thieves can be very brazen, even in areas where there are a lot of people.  You would be surprised how quickly a kayak can disappear when you are not paying attention.

Why is it important to lock up your kayak?

Kayaks are expensive, and it’s worth taking the time to lock it up.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a cable lock, which can help prevent theft.

Like I said earlier, if a thief wants your boat bad enough, they will find a way to get it, but you might as well make it as difficult as possible for someone to steal it.

Take the time to learn how to lock your kayak to your roof rack or trailer. If you don’t have an easy way to loop a cable lock through your boat, consider adding a drain hole.  You can also explore options like using the handles.  Some kayaks come with pre-drilled holes for rope-style handles.  You can temporarily remove the handles to run a cable lock through.

How to prevent someone from stealing your kayak

Some ways to help prevent kayak theft or reduce the chances include:

  • Keep your boat covered and out of sight
  • Take a picture of your Hull Identification Number. This won’t help prevent a thief from taking your kayak but can help in recovering it.
  • Lock it up!
  • Buy insurance.  This will not prevent theft but will help and give you peace of mind if your kayak is stolen.
  • Don’t leave your kayak on top of your car for an extended period of time, especially if you live in one of these areas. You may find that your car and your kayak are gone.


Image of a cable lock used to lock up a kayakPin

In this post, you have learned how to lock up a kayak.  There are different methods for different styles of kayaks.  You can use the existing, or built-in features of the kayak, like scupper holes in some cases. If your kayak doesn’t have scupper holes, you can get creative with other methods.

If a thief wants your shiny new kayak bad enough, he or she will find a way.  Locking your boat up will hopefully be enough of a deterrent to make it not worth their while.

Photo of author
About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.