3 kayaks on one Subaru advice

Wondering if anyone can tell me the best way to get 3 kayaks on one Subaru Forester. I’ve got 2 J-style racks I use for my Pamlico 135Tandem & my wife’s Pungo 120. Last year we threw some pool noodles on the roof rack & tied-down our older daughter’s Acadia Scout 10’. Looking to find a better, safer way to do it since this is going to happen for a long time now that I’ve traded in my pick-up truck.

Any experience with the Swiss Cargo 3-in-1 rack? Thought about putting one of those on one side, with the little 35 lb Acadia scout in the center, with another J-style rack on the far side. Wondering if anyone knows how wide that rack is. I can’t find specs on it anywhere!

Other option is the Thule stacker. When people use those- do they pad the bars?

Forester uses 50" bars which are kind of narrow. I have a pair of 58" bars I could use if they’d help, and just wear helmets when getting in/out of the car. :slight_smile:

Thanks for any advice/help.


Go with the 58 in bars.

Tennis balls on the ends…
58" bars and tennis balls over the ends so “when”, not if, you run into them you don’t lose an eye. After a while you’ll get used to ducking them, :slight_smile: .

All the best, tOM

Longer bars and stackers

– Last Updated: Apr-12-13 7:18 PM EST –

We can carry 4 kayaks with this arrangement, I think it is 58" bars but maybe the ones one length higher. Jbars chew up space.

Another safety precaution
Tennis balls are great, but if you wear glasses you are still likely to break them if you bump into the bar ends with anything other than a direct-head impact while standing up as you get out of the car. I have a trick which, so far, has prevented anyone from ever bumping their head at all. I won’t say it’s foolproof but it hasn’t failed in about six years.

Hang a length of thick rope, about eight inches long and with a knot in the end, from each bar end. When about to have a blind-side collision with the bar while getting out of the car, a person will feel that rope while still far enough from the point of impact that there’s still time to react.

Kari Tek Easy Loader Roof Rack?
I have the longer model that can carry 4 kayaks. For the 4 sets of J bars mounted on it - I have folding hull a port pros… Freakin’ awesome…

Only problem is that I guess there are issues getting them imported here from the U.K. (Made in Scotland I believe). You might want to check with Marshall at http://the-river-connection.com/ to see if he still has the 3 kayak model and talk to him about the special mounts he has to mount the hull-a-port pros on them.

Got one left
The Kari-Tek works best mounted to a Thule square style bar. bob used another square bar system and it worked out great after getting the system plumb, level and square on a Jeep Liberty if vehicle memory serves me correctly.

There’s more than one way to do this. Keep the bars within the wheel base.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY


I just got 58" bars

– Last Updated: Apr-12-13 11:20 PM EST –

for my '04 Forester so I could mount my J-racks on the outside of the footers (I have confirmed that they fit there) and have room for a third kayak on just a couple of fitted rubber blocks in the middle section. FWIW. I don't know about the other racks that have been mentioned.

Stackers, 4 kayak width
Marshall’s point is good. Cross bars that overhang the wheel base can require extra attention in things like parking lots with tight spaces.

The stackers allow us to carry 4 boats (on edge) on cross bars that stay within the wheel base of each car. I suspect that w’d be challenged to manage that with Jbars because of the width needed between each setup.

I have the Swiss 3 in 1.
I’ll measure and let you know. It comfortably fits two rec kayaks or sea kayaks on their side. I’ve had it for over a year and it has worked great so far for us.

Two boats not a problem
It is 3 and 4, which at times we need to carry, or two boats plus bike, that start to get interesting if you want to stay within the wheelbase of the car.

There is also a loading issue that affects my personal choice. I find that sliding 17 ft plus sea kayaks, and one not at all light, onto flat (padded) rails by myself is not an issue with the roller-loader and adding several minutes to my planning. With stackers that is what I am doing - load flat then flip on edge. There is no way to make something more restrictive accommodate that as well. 60 plus yrs old so I am long past doing anything to my back like lifting the full weight of a boat.

The Swiss 3 in 1
Is 28 inches wide. Hope that helps!

Who are you replying to?
I think I’ve made it pretty clear that we have a well-established solution. But I am getting the impression that you think we are still trying to figure out how to haul our boats.

Are you trying to reply to the person who first posted this and losing track of the indents?

OP was asking
Many things in their first post, many were answered. They asked how wide the 3 in 1 was, and since I own one I measured and answered.

Celia has a valid point
Answers are easier to interpret if you address them to the proper person. In this case, you hit the “reply” button for Celia’s last post so the location of your answer makes it appear that you intended to address your comment to her. If you were to hit the “reply” button under the original poster’s question, the location of your post will show that you were talking to them. I had no clue what you were talking about either, but if what you wrote hadn’t been indented so far, I would have known to check the original question again and would have seen right away what you were talking about.

Of course, there are three or four people who’ve been on this site forever who still haven’t got this indent thing figured out, so at least you are in good company.

Ha, Right
Valid points. So far on the boards I keep reading it as a long conversation. Will follow indents moving forward.


58" not wider than wheel base
of my '04 Forester. Wider than factory rails, and a bit wider than roof, but about the same as wheel width.

I have replied to myself just to stay out of trouble :slight_smile:

Good idea. Thanks.

Thanks, but doesn’t the car look like Pippi Longstocking with the rope pigtails? :slight_smile:

No glasses for anyone in the family.