Alternative roof transport method

I drive a tall pickup, it is a huge pain to load boats from the side and impossible to reach the straps on my J hooks without the use of a 4’ step ladder. The bed of my truck has a fifth wheel hitch and aluminum fuel tank that make it tough to slide the boats up from the rear without gouging up the boats making padding everything a neccesity. (I currently have 5 rubber bath mats to allow this operation)

I was thinking about putting a wide roller on the top of my tailgate and hully rollers on the rear of my cab still using the J hooks on the front of the cab, this way I could push the boats up from the rear of the truck. I often haul 4 boats on the roof using Thule Hull a Port racks so loading the flat is not an option due to space.

None of my boats are composite or fibreglass, all are over 15’. I do not leave them roof mounted unless traveling.

Any input on this idea?

Instead of a wide roller
You could try it with a piece of carpet. If it works you may just want to stick with the piece of carpet. I use a bath mat because the rubber bottom holds it in place and the carpet on top is a great sliding surface.

The bathmat should work well.
I have a 2" diameter section of PVC I use as a roller and it works well. The boats don’t get scratched, and it’s impervious to rain.

Do you even need the Hully rollers?

– Last Updated: Aug-18-12 10:45 PM EST –

I carry a friend's kayak on Thule J-hooks. Loading from the back of the car, I often just set the nose of the boat into the rear J-hook and slide it forward from there. I'm thinking that as long as you can get the nose of the boat as far as the rear-most J-hook, I see no reason why you can't do the same thing. I think if you could stand on either the tailgate or within the cargo box itself, this should be easy, because from that point it's not a high lift at all.

Tell me if I'm wrong about this idea: Put the tailgate down and set the boat so that the tail is on the ground and the boat contacts the tailgate near the front of the cockpit. Climb onto the tailgate, lift the boat by using the cockpit as a handle (you should have no trouble lifting it straight up from that position, not dragging it on anything), and funnel it up through the J-hooks. That would be the same process I use when loading from the rear of my car except that I'm standing on the ground and have a much higher reach than you would have while standing on the tailgate or cargo bed.

Seems like access to your front set of tie-downs for the center two boats (when carrying them four-abreast) would be the real challenge. You didn't ask about that, but if I were doing that I'd incorporate extra bars or a platform into the overall rack assembly so I could stand up there among the boats to do the strapping.

I’m fortunate to have a ‘moon’ roof on
both my Explorer and our F150, which is used to place tie down straps onto prior to putting boats on the carrier.

I also connect each end a bit, using longer straps When ready, after boats are loaded, grab an end and throw it over the boat, then fasten down. When using the Hullavator, I also fasten the end tie downs to the boat handles prior to lifting then onto the roof.

This may not be feasible in your instance, but hopefully some of the suggestions from others will be of assistance to you.