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Thule Locking Straps Review

Posted by on November 14, 2013

Overview:

The Thule Locking Straps enclose a steel cable within theft-resistant nylon to provide a dual layer of security while transporting your boats and boards! – Kayak Dave

Thule Locking Straps (Image Courtesy of Thule)

Thule Locking Straps (Image Courtesy of Thule)

The Deet:

  • Materials: Steel Cable in Nylon Sleeve
  • Locking Mechanism: Keyed Lock
  • Length: 10ft (Thule Part # 832), 13ft (Thule Part # 831)
  • Cost: $69.95 (10ft), $79.95 (13ft)

The Review:

Thule’s Locking Straps offer a new spin on rooftop security for your boat or board! These are not your standard roof rack straps…they’re SUPER STRAPS constructed of two layers of theft-resistant nylon webbing that encase a thin, steel security cable. The aluminum buckle is quite a bit beefier than your standard strap buckle. The buckle also lives within a lockable housing that neatly covers up the buckle release to prevent that would-be crook from loosening up the strap. These locking straps come in two lengths (10ft and 13ft) in order to provide appropriate sizing for your situation. They may seem a bit pricy to some (a pair costs $70-$80) but they’re actually well in-line with what a good set of straps and a decent kayak lock would cost if purchased separately.

Thule Locking Straps 2

I’ve been more vigilant to the possibility of my kayak being stolen off of my car ever since a rash of kayak theft swept along the South Shore of Massachusetts in 2011. Employing a sturdy lock is one of the keys to protecting against kayak theft. The thing that drew me to the Thule Locking Straps was that idea that they could kill two birds with one stone by serving to secure my kayak to my roof rack as straps and as a security lock. I have to admit that my experience with “hybrid” items in the past has left me a bit jaded. Typically, one can expect a hybrid to do an OK job at both of its designed tasks but rarely are they stellar at one or the other. After using these locking straps throughout the season I’m pleased to report that they actually served me well in both roles!

Thule Locking Straps 3

In essence, these locking straps are basically two standard Thule straps sewn together to enclose the securing cable.  The upside is these straps are at least twice as strong as the standard straps when it comes to keeping your kayak on your roof while barreling down the highway! The down-side is that the double thickness makes them a bit less supple than the standard straps. For example, the locking straps don’t slide as easily through the strap-guide loops on the Thule Hull-a-Port cradles. The metal security cable also prevents one from tying a stop-knot beneath the buckle to further protect against the possibility of the strap loosening in transit. I don’t see this being an issue as the steel cable prevents the strap from stretching and the aluminum buckle is quite stout but it’s worth noting none-the-less. Finally, it can be a bit challenging to deal with the excess strap once your boat or board is tied down. I’ve had success running the straps directly into the door but I recommend against doing this if rain is in the forecast. These straps really wick the water in!

Thule Locking Straps 4

I’m also impressed with the locking mechanism on the Thule Locking straps. As I mentioned earlier, the aluminum buckle is quite a bit beefier than the one found on the standard straps. Not only that, but the housing slides over the buckle and locks down to provide a neat, protective package. I’ve attempted to yank, pry, and twist my way into this thing all to no avail! Does this mean that the buckle housing is impervious?? Surely not but I’d venture to say that no lock is truly theft-proof against somebody with the right tools and malaise in their heart. However, there’s no doubt in my mind that these straps are sturdy enough to offer a level of theft-prevention suitable to most instances and will deter the opportunistic thief from running off with your prized paddling possession!

Thule Locking Straps 5

One more note about the buckle housing: If you’re like me then you’re probably used to throwing straps around your car with reckless abandon. Please take care when tossing the buckles around. The locking buckle housings are fairly large/ heavy and have the potential to do some damage to your car or a bystander despite being coated in a protective rubber case!

Overall, I’m very impressed with how well the Thule Locking Straps have worked out! Their superior strength and security features have left me confident that my kayak will stay on the roof in transit and safe from an opportunistic thief. Granted, their thickness takes some getting used to and you may have to augment your tie-down methods slightly to accommodate this. In the end, the piece of mind that these straps offer makes adapting them well worth it in my opinion.

Happy Paddling!

-Kayak Dave

 

Pros: Strong, Multi-purpose, Well-designed

Cons: Thickness prevents tying knots. Buckle housing is large enough to cause damage if one is careless.

Notes: We recommend that you choose the appropriate length strap to cut down on the amount of excess that you’ll have to deal with. One way to know for sure is to place your boat/board on your roof rack system and tie the item down with a piece of rope just like you would with a strap. Measuring the piece of rope will give you a sense for how long the strap should be.

Kayak Dave Rating:

3 and a half paddles

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