We are buying a new 2014 or 2015 Subaru Outback Wagon. I checked Yakima and Thule sites and they don’t seem to make a rack that would carry two solo canoes. I can’t believe I’m the first with this problem. Any suggestions anyone? Thanks
The first issue is finding the proper attachments to fit the car, which for most people would be fittings that clamp your Thule or Yakima cross bars to the existing roof rack (though attachments that clamp to the edges of the roof can be used too, and you can even get permanent, bolted-to-roof attachments). The next issue is whether the factory roof rack allows sufficient distance between the front and rear cross bars of your new rack. Many newer Subarus only allow a bar spread of about two feet, maybe even less, which sucks for people who carry boats. There are ways to deal with that issue though - write back if that's the situation with your car.
Whether or not you can carry two solo canoes depends only on the length of your cross bars. Just make sure the cross bars you buy are long enough so there's room for two solo canoes side by side.
Look before you leap!
The Outback roof rail spacing is too short (close together)for safely mounting crossbars from either Thule or Yakima to transport boats. The roof rails on these cars are beyond comprehension and seemingly cosmetic. There are also load limits to consider but given the spacing issues, these are a secondary concern.
Boaters that are loyal to Subaru buy a Forester without the roof rails and add Yakima or Thule roof mount systems. Forester factory rails are spaced better than Outback but still far from ideal.
Take a real close look at the Outback racks before you buy one and get stuck with an unusable rail system.
Problem is not new…
It has been discussed since the OB redesign a few years ago. Can’t imagine what they were thinking.
Thank you both for your replies. On the 2015 Outback the cross bars are approximately 42" apart, still not far enough apart, in my opinion to carry a tandem canoe or two solos with proper support. Yakima and Thule both offer cross bars that clamp on the Subaru cross bars but that does not help with the spacing on the bars. On my old Subarus, '99, '02, '04 I made a wood rack/cross bars that clamped onto the factory cross bars that served the purpose but I figured I would look for a better designed system rather than my home made solution. It’s too bad Subaru let their cosmetic department design the new rack rather than their engineers. There was nothing wrong with the rack style they used for years. Why they changed it God only knows. Thanks
You can buy landing pads
that will mount 30 inches front to back spacing ( you can’t use the most rearward mounting holes that give you the 42 inch spacing) and put on the usual Yakima stuff. I’ve done this and it works well for short kayaks, waveskis, surfboards. If you have two canoes I would look at a different car than the Outback. The 2013 and on design sucks.
If you are inventive, you can solve this
Assuming that the existing rack mounts are strong enough, you can get better bar spacing by installing a lengthwise bar on each side, and to these bars you attach your cross bars that carry the boats. On my own car, I have such bars installed as a means of attaching auxiliary, longer bars for carrying two canoes (easy removal of those longer bars, leaving the standard bars in place, means that I don't have over-sized bars on the car when carrying just one boat), but this can be done for a sole set of cross bars as well. Though I haven't seen it on the website, Yakima offers a ready-made setup for doing this very thing, and I've seen a few cars equipped with that system. One guy in my town has a cross-bar spacing of about eight feet on a little sedan who's roof is only about four feet long to start with (this for his ultra-light racing canoe). As far as I can tell it uses all Yakima parts. Actually, thinking about it, I'd guess his roof is five feet long, but the front cross bar is well out over the hood, so the cross-bar spacing might even be ten feet. The point is, with these lengthwise bars installed, you can provide whatever cross-bar spacing you'd like.
Regarding that 42-inch bar spread
It's good that you are looking for a way to get more bar spread, but 42 inches isn't much different from what a lot of people have on small cars, and some of these folks carry two solo canoes. I've never met anyone who thinks 48 inches is too little spread, and you are pretty close that already.
Here's what it comes down to. Less bar spread puts more strain on the rack-to-roof connection, but also more strain on the boat. That's why in my post about bar-space extenders above, I mentioned considering the strength of the rack-to-roof attachments. Increasing bar spacing by means of some kind of extending system means that there's less strain on your boat at the connecting points when the wind wants to twist it in some direction, but since the attachment points to the car aren't any farther apart, they undergo the same stress whether you use the bar extenders or not.
Think of it this way: With bar extenders, a good bit of the leverage (from a boat that wants to pivot due to wind) is transmitted to the roof via the extender bars. Those bar extenders act like a long pry bar between the closely spaced points of roof attachment. Without those extender bars, the boat itself is acting as the pry bar. So, if your boats are quite strong and they are solidly attached to the cross bars (like with gunwale stops), it really makes no difference whether you use bar extenders or not. The lighter your boat, or the less secure it is from sliding sideways on the bars, the more benefit extender bars will provide.
I agree. 42" is not bad
48" is luxurious.
One can always get the Easy Vee kayak rack to extend the saddles.
Subaru dropped all the stuff that appealed to people like us because we’re not a big market share. I miss the low roofline and CG, the weathe band radio and the sturdy roof racks. Now they’re just another car with a delicate engine.
I got rid of my 2012 Outback…
Had too many strikes against it. I bought it with a stick shift and the wife refused to drive it, didn't get very good mpgs, wobbly handling, the wonky rack didn't bother me but was a factor. I did have to buy a whole new Yakima setup to fit it though. Had seat belt chimes that wouldn't turn off because of a usb charger\adapter plugged into the cigarette power outlet. Got it as a family car but never seemed to have enough space. Was good in the snow but not as good as my 02 wrx wagon. Overall it was just a disappointing vehicle. Traded it for a Ford, much happier with it. I wouldn't buy another Subaru unless they brought over a low slung diesel wagon, which will never happen.
Wants that damn weather radio but you.
42 inches only works with factory bars
Does not allow you to use anything else but mounts that grab the factory bars and they are weak.
With the 42 inch set up, it puts everything to low and you can’t open the hatch with boats loaded.
Designed by Japanese engineers who only play with their cell phones and anime dolls. The areodynamic swinging bars that hide away only good for soccer moms.
Buy a forester. I like my outback but the roof rack system sucks.
That is why we bought the Forrester
The el cheapo model with no roof racks.
You pop out four small tabs on the roof and throw them away.
Then screw Yakima landing pads directly into the vehicle frame and use 78" bars.
You can’t get a more solid set up.
I am carrying a 17 foot canoe and two long sea kayaks
Is this a reply to my post?
I’d ordinarily assume this was just a post placed at some random location in the thread by someone who doesn’t know which reply button to hit, but I figured you had that figured out. In that light, your post makes no sense as a reply to mine.
I just picked up my 2015
Forester. I waited a couple of years from my original idea of trading my 2004 Outback for a new one, just because of the stupid roof rack rails and crossbars. Went with a 2015 Forester instead, took delivery a week ago. Now I have two Foresters (2007 is the other one). Love them both, and they are much different from each other. Roof racks on both are functional and canoe friendly, with or without an external Thule rack.
same here - bought a Forester XT in 2010
I bought the Forester as there is no elegant way to have wide bars and decent spread. While I am reasonably happy with the Forester, the “spartan” interior and non-existent sound-proofing is getting old. I test drove a 2015 Forester a while back and the interior looked even cheaper.
After seven Subarus for my family, I am now shopping other makes for my next car. We have all been asking for an alternative Outback rack (for purchase) since 2010, and Subaru continues to ignore. As the others said, the original Subaru outdoors consumer is not considered an important enough market for SOA. It is a shame, because they are great cars. Still, if you are on this site, cartopping canoes and kayaks is a priority.
Easy-V not made for canoes, …
… which is what the OP wants to carry. It uses the same principle of what I am calling extender bars, and perhaps a pair of them could be modified to work that way.
Thank you everyone
for your help. My wife has her heart set on an Outback rather than a Forester despite the lousy roof rack. What I did on my 2004 Outback, simply because I didn’t want to spend the money on a Yakima, was make wooden longitudinal and cross bars that clamped to the car’s factory rack. I guess I will try the same with the new car. GuideboatGuy is correct that that solution doesn’t really provide longer bar spacing on the car itself but it does work and does provide a solid connection especially with ropes run down front and back. The factory racks are supposed to carry 150 lbs which should be adequate for two solo boats plus the wind load. I will also bitch again to the dealer and write to Subaru directly. Subaru bills themselves are the car for outdoor people, it’s too bad they don’t listen to us.
how can you not like weather band?
Even if it didn't work so well. It told your passengers you were outdoorsy!
Seriously, it's crazy reading complaints that subaru handling is too soft and tippy. It's like the old subaru just vanished.