Strapping your Raft to its trailer - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-07-2017   #1
Dr.AndyDVM's Avatar
Nampa, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2014
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 386
Strapping your Raft to its trailer

How does everyone strap your raft to your trailer? I go with cam straps from D rings to trailer. I have heard a lot of different answers.

I am especially interested in how people strap multiple boats to a trailer, 2-3 boats high. I've been looking at 3-4" ratcheting straps like truckers use. I was thinking about going up and over all the boats. But, I'd need a better way to attach it than the hooks on trucker straps. Any ideas?

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Old 06-07-2017   #2
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Mar 2012
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I built my trailer with small D-rings around the perimeter. 3 across the front/back and 4 along each side - about 7'x12' in platform size

When my rig is inflated (for semi-local trips), I sling 2x 10' ratcheting camstraps from one of the most proximal d-rings up and around the oar tower and then back down as far as it'll reach distally toward the back end of the trailer. Once those are in place, we cinch it down and it really goes nowhere.

My trailer also has a bow winch, so I back it up with the winch.

If I'm going the distance, I throw my rolled up boat in its boat bag under the front end of the frame and strap the frame down in the same manor - 2x 10' straps along the lateral rails from front to back. I then put 1 or 2 more straps from the front rail of the frame to the leading edge of the trailer to ensure the boat goes nowhere. I then run one last strap from one corner of the trailing D-rings on the trailer, through the last pipe on the frame and over to the over D-ring on the ipsilateral side of the trailer. nothing moves at that point. Oars strap down to the frame as the access is easier than crawling up on top of my big pickup. Drybox/cooler either go into the bed of the truck or strap into the frame sans-tubes, depending on the amount of gear I/we have to haul. 6yrs+ on the road around Colorado & Utah, never an issue yet.

if we run multiple oar rigs on the trailer, we pull the towers on each of the boats from the bottom to n-1 top boat. the top boat gets the strap over the tower and down to the lateral edges of the trailer. We add 1 to the bow and 1 to the stern to ensure nothing goes anywhere or at least, we keep the boats close enough to quickly/effectively manage them should they go flying...

we've towed stacked boats from Boulder to Vernal with no issues, yet...
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Old 06-07-2017   #3
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 52
Always remember a bow line.
It is like that 3rd point of contact when you are on a ladder. Yeah, you can get away without it but when something goes wrong, you're going to wish you had one more point. The top boat's bow rope down thru all the boat's front D, around the trailer tongue and back up to a trucker's hitch.

As for strapping the rest, choose your flavor. Everybody has their own method to make it easier, cause less wear, stronger, or grand pappy's special knot.

Personally, I thought those big yellow trucker's straps looked so cool. That had to be my way. They sucked. Overkill on the size and weight of the ratchets and open hooks that got sloppy so quick coming down a pass two on one side just unhooked from the trailer. They don't fit in the standard 2"X4" holes. Horrible wear marks on the boats because you couldn't adjust the ratchet height. Ditched them. Went and got the 1.5" webbing and cams from NRS. Sewed loops in the ends and they worked great for years on those big 3 stacks. Everybody knew how to use them. Then a diamond plate frame edge cut into one. Nothing big, no disaster, even kept using time for a while. Eventually it needed to be replaced and the cost of ordering that much webbing just wasn't worth it.

I like using 4 straps of the right length to the frame on each corner, run under the chicken line. Some people go to D rings but even with well seated boats from the same company they alway create angles. Best when they are someone else's straps that get destroyed by hundreds of miles of flapping. Easy to check, adjust to pressure and feels right for the 2 boat stacks I usually do on longer trips.

Thinking about going to round 3/8" rope. Cheap option. Time will tell.

Personal preference is to always have the loose end/knot/buckle on the driver's side. I check that mirror more often if something was to get loose and straps are the first and last thing I touch every time I get in or out of the truck. It does put you on the road side if you are every pulling over on the highway.

Use what you will, disregard the rest.
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Old 06-08-2017   #4
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
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Yeah....ratchet straps are total overkill for securing rafts and I think they would be prone to causing damage. I do use one under the raft to keep my cooler and dry box secure though and it works great for that.

I've had good luck just using the tried and true cam strap. I have Tuff River Stuff straps to attach my frame to the boat, and they have a D-ring sewn into them. I've been using that d-ring to secure the boat the trailer, with the theory that it will distribute the load over the whole frame rather then to an individual d-ring. I've gone around the frame itself too.

I have a hand crank winch too, and it works great to secure the front. I'll add two cams to the other end of the boat to keep it from sliding forward or sideways. Just that does a pretty good job. The front of the boat likes to jump up and down over bumps though, so I took to adding another cam strap to the front d-ring and around the winch mount loosely to keep that from happening.

Lots of ways to skin this cat (as with any strap job.... I've always called it Strap-Fu or Strapology). I do need to add some d-rings to the trailer. I've been going around the uprights and I think its wearing my straps prematurely.

Oh, and as far as multiple boats. I usually usually strap the bottom raft to the trailer and the top boat to the bottom boat, rather then having both sets of straps go to the trailer or trying to do both boats with the same set of straps. Tried it both of those ways and it felt like there was too much pressure on the bottom boat and as they inflate and deflate it just got kind weird and insecure so I do boat to boat now. If its just a short trip, I'm sure it would be fine to do a couple long ones over the top of both boats though. I'm more talking about long haul stuff.
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Old 06-08-2017   #5
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Trailer straps (2″ w/ 2 buckles) | Whitewater Worthy

These straps will accomadate 1-3 boats. They are constructed with 2" polyester webbing and two 2" buckles on each strap. The two buckle feature allows you to equalize the tension on a stack of boats.

They may be overkill but there is no kill like overkill. I have personally seen boats fly off trailers at hightway speeds and it aint pretty for the giver or reciver. $60 a set is pretty cheap insurance for a $10-30K stack or gear.
May the water be under your boat and the wind at your back.
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Old 06-08-2017   #6
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Up shites creek, Colorado
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If you are driving thru elevation changes or big temp changes, don't use ratchet straps. From experience - if the boat shrinks even just a little, that ratchet strap will pop free and then you have nothing holding your boat(and you may not notice it until too late).

I like the caribiner attachment on WWE's $60 job. I might use that.
[email protected]$% 2016!!!
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Old 06-08-2017   #7
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Mar 2015
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1.5" cam strap looped through each corner of the frame, attached at the corners of the trailer. No worrying about hooks loosening with pressure changes, and no need for a bowline attachment since each corner is guyed out enough that the boat doesn't wiggle.

I haven't run multiple rafts on my trailer, but the same system has worked well for friends in the past, the key is the fully looped strap to avoid any accidental loosening and dislodging of straps.
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Old 06-08-2017   #8
NE, Oregon
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 168
We have used cam straps in the past. Around frame of top boat, through d rings or handles of bottom boat then to trailer. Preferred around the frame of top boat to save d rings from the stress of bouncing and jerking. Getting an equal pull from all sides is important for how the boats ride. Either both front straps pulling forward and back straps pulling backward or vice versa.

Recently switched to a 2 ropes over the top of the stack and a strap through the front d rings. Rope is easier IMHO.

Road grime and flapping eats up cam straps on trailers.

Second the knot side being on the driver side.
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Old 06-08-2017   #9
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Belgrade, Montana
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I've always done 4 cam straps at the corners from frame to trailer plus the winch strap to front D-ring. Then from frame to frame as the stack gets higher. If the upper boat(s) don't have frames I use long straps through the D-rings and over the top boat. I also always tie the bows of all the boats to the trailer varies based on what's available. Usually a menagerie of straps to D rings...
"If you dont do it this year, you will be one year older when you do"
-Warren Miller
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Old 06-08-2017   #10
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salmon, Idaho
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I like to strap the bottom boat all 4 corners to the trailer.. then boats on top of that get strapped to each other.. Sometimes if going over 2 high I like to strap the top boat to the trailer also.. and always when stacking more than two boats strap a bow line down. once they get up there they catch a ton of wind and want to peal back.
Here is a fun picture of our riverfest caravan a few years back.. don't ask me how the 16' lion ended up on top. this was for running our day stretch. about a 30 mile drive. I did find some leaves and branches in my boat (top boat).
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