3 kayak rack?

Is there such a thing? We’re driving a very long way to the put in, with 3 people. If there’s a fourth we might have to rent one of those things you pull behind the car. But if there are only 3 of us, we’d like to cartop. Does anyone know of a commercial rack for 3, or ideas for a home made one? The car will likely be a rental car.



3 kayak rack

Yakima or Thule make Racks that will fit any vehicle. Mine is a Yakima and will fit up to four kayaks. Check any outdoor store or their website for imfo.

If the car is really wide (like a van)
you can go with three foam pad racks (strap on; use three independant bow and stern lines).

If the car has strong rack rails (check the cars rail rating with thule or yakima)you can set up a thule or yakima to clamp on them, and use a “j” rack on either side, and a flat rack in the middle. Or three “j” racks.

If you need to rent, Rent a big car and enjoy yourself. I once drove to a “college renunion” wedding in a friends lincoln mark (6?). Upon arriving I told my passengers, “in my old Golf (which gets great mileage and I love) I could have driven this far, but I would have been asking for a massage and a chiropractor. Now I’m asking where is the booze and the single women” While I advocate high mileage cars for moderate trips, you’ve got to love big cars for super long distances. Remember that putting stuff on top of cars involves special insurance risks. Also remember that scratches on the tops of rental cars are rarely noticed. And never ask about how I know this…

Good Luck, and have a good trip.

(Just joking about roof scratches but it was fun to write)

I have stacked 3-4 (both ww and touring) kayaks on my Thule bar (beyond the recommended loads) for trips from Boston to Maine. A “stack bar” helps to keep things in place. Depending on the kayaks, you can stack them on their sides or on top of each other. Bow and stern tie downs become ever more important when they’re stacked on top of each other.


Thule bar
You can buy Thule bars in different lengths allowing you to add more saddles or stacking bars to accomodate more boats. I have three saddles on mine. If the vehicile has a low roof then you might want to take some old tennis balls and cut a hole in them to slide over the ends of the bars so they are less dangerous to poking somebody in the head as they walk by the side of the car as they will project out beyond the sides of the car.

we have
loaded 4 yaks(rec type) on top of Explorers and Blazers. The cradles to the outisde and just layed the center boats on the cross bars. Ya might be able to squeeze 4 cradles on the cross bars.

Longest Thule Bars
We have gotten three boats on top of our car with stackers (plastic boats), lash the first two to the stackers as usual and add the third aside one of the others. As Sing mention, it was probably over some weight limit but it was OK for the trip we needed. Also two boats and two bikes - BUT it requires the longest of the Thule bars, 68" as I recall. We ended up with the next shorter length on our other car, and would probably be challenged to manage that on those rails. And yes to tennis balls - I’ve run into my own rails a couple of times.


Thanks everyone
for the replies. One consideration was to rent a van so we could carry the kayaks 3 across, but it sounds like that’s unnecessary. I like the big car idea…having taken many marathon cross country drives in compacts, the idea of kicking back in a luxury sedan sounds sweet. And the huge trunk will come in handy. I don’t even have to feel guilty about the lousy gas mileage, since I choose not to own a car, and walk to work every day.


3 Kayaks on a roof
I drive a ‘03 Mazda MPV minivan. The limit for width here in Mass is 8’. I strapped 2 alum (or anything) 8’ bars to my crossbars and then use the foam kayak holders to rest my 3 kayaks on them. Then strap each one down and straps across alll 3 too. Works great and is cheap! Watch for my blue van with 3 red kayaks on it this spring.

3 Kayaks on a roof
We have 3 kayaks and I drive a Mazda MPV minivan. I aquired 2 8 foot aluminum (but you cold use anything like 2x4’s) poles and strapped them (removable in minutes) to the cross rails on my rack system. I then place the foam kayak pads on the 8 ft bars and strap the kayaks to them. All my straps go thru the car crossbars as extra support. They work great too and are cheap!