97' 4-runner kayak roof rack

Please help. I have a 97’ Toyota 4-runner and would like to carry a 10.5 foot Dagger Blackwater Kayak or 9.5 foot Preception. I have a factory rack on the 4-runner. Nevertheless, I am not sure if I need an aftermarket specifically for the kayak. I want something that is secure but easy to load and unload. I’ve visited the Yakima and Thule web-sites but still not really sure what I should do. I am a beginner kayaker so I need some advise from those with trial and error on racks. Also, I’m going to purchase a Dagger Blackwater 10.5 or Preception 9.5’(the Dagger has the dry well). Any suggestions. I’ll be doing lazy rivers, creeks, and ponds but hope to build up to quicker rivers. Thanks!

I have a 99 4Runner
I decided not to rely upon the factory grooves to attach my rack to…definitely did notuse the factory rack.

I purchased a Yakima (Thule and others are fine as well…just like the Yakima as my last one lasted 14 years). I then picked up their attachments which hook directly onto the roof above each door rain gutter. This is the way you can guarantee maximum weight capacity.

Has worked great thus far.


I have been very pleased with the Malones I installed using the factory-installed rack on my Tracker. They easily fit the cross bars and a set costs between $50 and $90.00 depending on the set up you pick for your boat. Very easy to install using a box wrench. I have both the “gull wing” and “J” models. Check out www.maloneautoracks.com



98 4-runner here
I use Yakima with the tower insert for the factory rail on the rear, and the standard tower which clamps on the body of the car near the leading edge of the roof above the front door.

This is a nice easy combination that allows the perfect spread, and lets kayaks be centered over the top of the vehicle. Rear is rated for 100 lbs, front for about 150lbs if I remember correctly. I have had up to 4 F/G 17-18ft kayaks on stacker with this system for hundreds of miles. I would not trust the factory racks alone, or just the Yakima inserts into the factory rails. My system goes on and comes off completly in less than two minutes.


97 4 Runner…
just like you. I have the Yakima towers that attach to the factory rails, with round crossbars and one set of landshark cradles.

If I’m carrying two yaks, I put one in the cradles and flip the other one upside-down and just carry it on the crossbars, which are padded with sections of foam pool noodles. This setup is rated for 100 lbs. and I’ve used it to carry one or two poly boats up to 400 miles at a shot. I’ve also carried my fairly light sink plus one big ol’ barge of a SOT about 50 miles w/out problems.

I should also mention that I got wider crossbars than Yakima recommended. I guess because of the narrow width of the top of the 4runner, their list says 48" bars, but I got the next length up. They stick out past the top, but are not wider than the vehicle itself–this allows more room when you’re carrying a couple of boats.

I’ve had this setup in place since 2001, and it works like a charm. If you buy locally, the dealer may even assemble it for you–that’s the advantage of patronizing local businesses vs. catalogs/internet, whenever you can.

2001 4RUNNER
And I too chose Yakima, I’m a canoe guy, but I stayed with factory channels and the Low-riders. Just don’t forget that these things need tightening and maintenance once in a while. There is nothing to that end in my Yakima instuctions, but when I wrote them they were pretty definite about it. If I may advise: in Oklahoma having a canoe on a tall, narrow wheel based, vehicle on a typical Okie day (winds come rushing down the plains and all)is an interesting experience. If it’s a windy day, take it easy until you feel that steering wheel try to wrench itself outta your hands. Once you get the feel for it, go ahead and speed 'er up, but it’ll scare you at first (or, perhaps, I’m just easily scared).



Yakima Rail Riders
I had a '96 4Runner.

I don’t think the factory racks would be very secure.

I used the Yakima Rail riders, and I had a high speed rack failure.

I think using the rain gutters is your best best

Rack failure?
Barracuda–What was the nature of your rack failure, if you don’t mind sharing the info?