Advice on rooftop rack

I have a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 175 that I’ve been transporting with some foam and an Yakima Outdoorsman 300 on a Ford Ranger. I’m looking into installing a tower kit on top of the cab. I’m not looking to start a square vs circle debate so I won’t ask brand preference. What I would like to know is whether a J carrier, saddle carrier, or saddle/roller carrier would suit me best. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.


Square vs. Round
Not sure if there’s much debate regarding square vs. round bars (at least, not as much as, say, rudder vs. skeg), but I will recommend that you proceed cautiously when attempting to install cradles intended for square bars onto round bars.

Ostensibly, the cradles and other accessories are interchangeable, but I have found that Thule [square tube] J-cradles often tend to pivot around on Yakima (round tube) bars, even when thoroughly grip-taped and enthusiastically tightened.

Yakima’s clamps made for their round bars seem to provide a better clamping function than the convertor clamps from Thule intended for Yakima tubes.

As for your main question, I’ll defer to others …

Good Luck!


I have a 300 rear rack and tower
cab rack on my Tacoma. I like the way the J racks tilt to conform to the hull of any kayak I carry.

Anybody else want to weigh in?
Anybody else have a suggestion? Thanks to those who have already contributed. Reviews
A good place to start is here:

After visiting your local shops that carry roof racks and seeing the options, or perusing Yakima’s and Thule’s websites, use the reviews to see what other users think of the various offerings. It was there, for example, that I learned that several users complained that the upright cradles I had been happily using for my plastic kayaks have a tendency to chafe the gelcoat off composite boats. So I was able to add an extra layer of padding to my cradles just a few days before my new fiberglass boat arrived; so far, so good.

With what limited experience I have with various racks, I will venture to say that J-cradles generally provide an easier lift and descent, especially when solo. My particular vehicle has a pretty low roofline so I prefer upright cradles, but if it were any higher I may have to go with J-cradles.

Another advantage of J-cradles is that they take up less bar space, perhaps allowing an extra boat. My buddy gets two boats in J-cradles and a third in a set of upright cradles on a Toyota RAV4.

Disadvantages include the abovementioned tendency for J-cradles to twist around on round bars (which another poster considers an advantage), and probably reduced fuel economy, as they are less aerodynamic; even my empty upright-cradle-and-rack system knocks about 10% off my mileage. Js are also taller, so may cause problems in low-clearance parking garages; my buddy with the RAV has to remember to remove his J-cradles to use his condo’s underground parking.

If your truck lacks a cap on the bed, I’d be inclined to consider a roller-and-upright-cradle system that allowed you to slide the bow of the kayak up onto the cab roof, then swing the stern up into a rear cradle.

Good Luck!