2012 Honda Odyssey - two touring kayaks

-- Last Updated: May-21-12 10:24 PM EST --

Looking for a solution to transport 2 touring kayaks (13 and 16 feet) on top of my mini-van. I already have Thule crossbars that will mount to the rails we had installed on the van when we bought it. Thinking of a solution that will allow me to load the boats on from the back of the van. Maybe set and go saddles or possibly the new 884 roll model cradles ($$)! Looked at the Yakima hully-rollers as well but i dont like the idea of cranking down my straps on that little of surface area. My boats are both Eddylines, so they are thermorformed plastic. Would appreciate any suggestions from folks how are loading their boats on from the rear of their mini van or SUV.

Forget the Hully Rollers and get Mako

– Last Updated: May-21-12 11:02 PM EST –

saddles front and back. i don't understand "cranking down straps"? Are you talking about ratchet straps? If you use NRS straps they are very secure and you would have to be Godzilla to hurt your boats.
i think i get it now. The Hully Rollers won't hurt your boats except mine had a nasty habit of rolling on the bar while loading and unloading.The exposed bolt scratched my hull.

Reason for rear loading?
I’m curious why you are intent on rear loading. I’ve loaded multiple 15’ to 18’ kayaks for 10 years on a range of tall vehicles including Dodge minivans and SUV’s and have always found side loading to be easier and to cause less damage to boat and vehicle. This is whether I have someone helping me or doing it solo (and at 5’ 5" and 61 years old with a couple of my “loaner” kayaks running around 60 lbs, I definitely seek the easiest method.)

For local trips (anything under 50 miles) I prefer J-racks because I can angle one end into the first rack and then walk back and lift the other end into the second. For longer or extended high speed highway trips, where I want the load to be more aerodynamic, I load the boats inverted on foam pads over the Thule bars and, again, walk the boat to the side of the car and slide it laterally onto the rack.

The problems I’ve encountered with rear loading are that, if you are sliding the boat on with the hull up, the cockpit and other deck protuberances hang up on the bars and it is a pain to get the boat centered right longitudinally. I have a couple of friends who have purchased costly and elaborate gizmos to enable rear loading and every time I have helped them with this the methods struck me as awkward and frustrating (and on one occasion the boat slid off and hit the pavement - ouch!) I have yet to witness anyone gracefully solo load long boats from the rear, though I conceed it is likely possible (I mostly paddle in areas where there are not a lot of high-end kayaks nor kayakers.)

I admit I cringe at the prospect of someone sliding lovely Eddyline thermoformed hulls any distance over any kind of hardware.

I also conceed that my loading preferences may have something to do with the fact that most of my boats have Greenland type profiles with upswept bows and sterns, which render rear loading with deck down well nigh impossible, and I also load soft hulled folders, which I would not want to shove over a rack fore to aft.

Ironically, my boyfriend (a born tinkerer with two barns full of scrap, hardware, workshops and welding rigs)has frequently mused out loud about how he would build some sort of cradles with free-rolling casters on them so our various watercraft could be quickly rolled onto the roof from the rear. Not holding my breath for those to materialize (too many projects ahead of that one.)

Anyway, just my two cents. And I will be watching future responses with interest to hear what other’s preferred loading methods are. Maybe I am missing something.

Two Boats
Suggest you get a tow hitch and an extend a truck, side load is a lot easier and the boats are better secured.


There are just too many variables to say that side-loading is always easier than rear-loading.

Loading kayak from the rear
Go to


for posting of my 5 '2" 120 lb wife loading our 20 ft tandem kayak on her Honda Element using a Rollerloader

The Honda has a semi permanently installed TPS rack which is probably higher off the ground than your Odessy

I have used the Rollerloader with her Element and on my VWJetta diesel wagon to load long kayaks Sirenia and a rowing shell

all from the rear

I do prefer Yakima land shark saddles for rear loading

Foam backed bath mats
I use bathroom floor mats thrown on any surface I want to protect from damage and they work well, they allow the boat to slide and do not move around on the surface of the car.

thanks for the replies. Currently I lift these two kayaks up on J racks on my Outback. I use a small step stool to get up high enough to set the boats into the hooks and strap them in. I would rather not have to carry around a taller step stool to do the same thing on my Odyssey. Also, I have some problems with my shoulder and am concerned I may over-reach loading from the sides. It would certainly be cheaper if I just went with a set of Thule 881 top decks (4 simple saddles) and hefted the kayak up from the side though. Also, I have had a number of situations where folks park on either side of the car which makes side loading challenging. So that is why I’m looking for a rear loading solution. Still mulling this one over.

Rear Slide-On to Bars
I rear-load my 17’ VOLKSKAYAKs by lifting the bow (deck-up)and resting it on the rear hatch of my Saturn wagon, then pick the stern up and slide the kayak forward. If I want to carry it inverted, I just flip it over on the racks once it’s up there. You can use a soft pad to protrect the vehicles paint if you want - my '99 Saturn SW1 is long past caring about that! I’ve never used anything but plain foam-padded crossbars.

Thule Slipstream
You’ll need 2 of them. Works great with my 17 and 18 foot kayaks on our 2006 Honda Minivan. You already have the crossbars. Tim

I prefer rear loading on a tall
vehicle. We use Yakima saddles and just slide it up from behind. It’s a tall reach to get it up there onto a J cradle from the side on a Chevy Tahoe. My wife pads the saddles for her boat with terry cloth covers designed for use on a rotary buffing machine.

Personally, what I do the the poor boat on oyster rocks and limestone is enough that I don’t worry about scratching the gelcoat on a plastic saddle.

If we take the car, we side load. Easiest of all.


slipstream works great
Cause it will extend to the very back of vehicle in most cases and you can actually use the roller. Just loaded a heavy Sot a few hours ago without any strain or risk of another hernia.

Went with the Thule 844’s
REI had them on sale for 195 each so I picked up two of them and will give them a shot. The slipstream looks pretty cool but is just too expensive. I’ll report back with my impressions once I get a chance to use the roll models.

Especially for high vehicles

– Last Updated: May-31-12 1:03 AM EST –

What could be easier than totally eliminating the need to lift the full weight of the boat, and especially eliminating the need to lift much weight overhead? Rear loading means only lifting half the weight of the boat once the "difficult" part starts (actually, it's significantly less than half the weight if the bow overlaps the initial contact point when starting the loadup process), and as the boat moves forward, the fraction of total boat weight that must be lifted becomes smaller, becoming VERY small by the time it's necessary to lift higher than your shoulders. Also, there's no reason you can't slide the boat on its bottom or side, then flip it into some other preferred position once it's up there. I've done that with friend's kayaks at various times and find that Kayaks are pretty easy to handle in that regard. No reason to get hung up on boat orientation before it's even mounted to the rack, unless you mess with factory-built loading aids, but that's money I wouldn't spend.

You can damage the boat or vehicle during rear loading? Not a chance, if you make sure your rack system is designed for the method. If it's not, make the obvious changes before calling it a bad method.

Any of the usual methods will work

– Last Updated: May-31-12 1:19 AM EST –

If you can mount your rear cross bar close enough to the back of the vehicle, rear loading is foolproof and easy. I once made an auxiliary cross bar that would attach only for loading/unloading, when the main rear cross bar wasn't close enough to the rear of the vehicle. Worked like a charm. The common method of using a side-extending cross bar is the same principle - it lets you easily slide the boat up where your want it, so you can finalize its position once it's up there. A great method that we used on our family cars years ago (three different full-size vans and also a carryall type vehicle) made use of side bars, running lengthwise. You slide the boat up from the side on one of those bars, pivoting it into the normal front-to-back orientation once it's on the roof, or mostly onto the roof. I still use that method for my canoes and canoe-like boat when parked on very steeply-sloped road edges or when there's no access at the rear (parked cars, etc.). It would be a little more awkward with kayaks carried on saddles, but still very do-eable for one person and a whole lot easier than lifting the whole boat. You can slide any boat on any kind of cross bar if the bar is wrapped with carpet. For kayak loading, carpet-wrapping would be good for a temporary side-extension bar or for lengthwise bars permanently added to your rack, but you could even carpet-wrap whatever portion of the main cross bars is not involved with mounting the saddles and use that portion for sliding the boats. With your vehicle, there should be plenty of room between the saddles for boat-sliding IF it's possible to position each pair of saddles out at the vehicle edges (or use J-hooks which cause the boats to occupy much less horizontal space). Regarding the use of lengthwise bars on each side, g2d has often mentioned how much these things strengthen the overall rack system, and he's right. Between beefing-up the rack and the ease of side loading with such bars, I can't imagine why the rack makers don't offer the appropriate parts and promote this simple modification.