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Safety Tips for Hauling Bikes, Kayaks, and Skis

There’s nothing quite like the first lake trip of the summer or heading to the slopes once there’s finally enough snow. With seasonal activities comes the need to haul gear, such as bikes, kayaks and skis. The last thing you want to do is damage these items, your car or your garage in the process, so here are some tips for hauling this equipment safely and securely.

Bicycles

For cars and SUVs, bike racks can be installed permanently on the roof or in two ways to the rear of the car

  • Roof racks provide the most stable and secure transportation, but they substantially heighten your car and may make it impossible to park in your garage or parking garage without removing the bikes.
  • Trunk racks tend to be less expensive than other hauling options, but they are also less secure, making your bikes more susceptible to theft. Removing the rack can scuff your car’s paint, and rear-end auto accidents would most likely damage your bikes.
  • Hitch racks keep bikes secure while driving, but they’re not as secure from theft when you’re gone. They require installation of a hitch, which can help haul other recreational equipment, too.

Truck bed hauling requires only bungee cords or soft straps to keep the bikes securely in place. Secure both the front and rear of the bike to avoid movement while driving.

The excitement of your trip may cause you to forget the bikes on top of your car before pulling into your garage. Putting a note that says “BIKES” in bright colors on the garage door could help you remember to stop before it’s too late. If you don’t want to put anything on your garage door, you could put a note beside the garage door opener in your car instead.

Make sure the hauling option you choose complies with local rules about obstruction of license plates.

Kayaks

If possible, haul your kayaks in a truck bed by putting the tailgate down and securing the equipment using cam straps. Bed extension pieces can provide more stability for the part of the kayak that extends outside of your truck. Hauling kayaks with a car is relatively easy, too.

  • Crossbars can be attached to factory-installed bars on the top of your car. To keep these stable, use two cam straps that are at least 12 feet each to secure the kayak in place. Simple knots will keep them secure but adding a twist can prevent the straps from vibrating while you drive.
  • J-cradles and stackers allow you to transport multiple kayaks at once. They can be installed on top of factory-installed bars.

If you have help putting a kayak on top of your car, each person should grab one of the handles and hold the kayak parallel to the side of the car. Then, grab either end of the boat and gently place the kayak on top of the rack.

If transporting the kayak by yourself, use a towel on the top of the rear of your car to slide the kayak into the rack without chipping the paint.

After 15 minutes of driving, pull over and check to make sure that everything is still secure and intact.

Skis

Although transporting skis inside of a vehicle is the easiest option, a packed car may not be able to fit skis inside, too. If they do fit inside the car, cover them with a large blanket or towel so potential thieves can’t see them. There are three popular options for hauling skis outside of your car, too.

  • Cargo boxes may require installation of roof rack bars, but they offer efficient storage and keep your skis safe from weathering and potential theft since they can be locked.
  • Roof mounted ski racks can be cheaper and easier to install than cargo boxes, but they’re not as secure, and your skis can get dirty as you drive.
  • Ski and snowboard carriers attach to a hitch on the back of a car, which could save installation time and money if you already haul bikes using a hitch. They are also susceptible to weathering and theft.

Damage or theft of this recreational equipment is covered by Mutual Benefit’s Standard Program Homeowners Policy. For high-value equipment, though, another tier of homeowners insurance could better protect your gear by offering higher limits of coverage. Contact your local agent to determine which policy best protects what’s important to you.