Best J cradles?

OK, LeeG has me thinking about J cradles. What do you think are the best J cradles out there and why? I would be transporting a fiberglass sea kayak, Tempest 180. Back posts seem to mention Malones mostly, and Thule, not Yakima. Sounds like people like the Malones, though some have had the bolts that hold the cradles to the crossbars, come lose or flex.

I’m wondering why the Yakima HullRaiser Aeros aren’t mentioned in back posts, that I read at least. Are they new, or do people just not like them?

Paul S.

A little heads up:
I have Thule J’s in Yakama round bars, (which Thule says are good).

They sucked until I reinvented them, the reason being they rotate on the round bars no matter how tighten you torque the bolts. You will just keep bending the clamps until they are up against the bars, and they still won’t be tight.

If you put the yak on from the side there is no problem, but if you put it on from the end and then try to slide the yak forward, you will do much cursing.

I solved it by drilling a hole through the round bar and putting a bolt right trough the middle of the J support and the bar.

Also if Thule has not changed their hardware out it sucks also.

Their knurled knobs didn’t work. I had to put a wrench on them to tighten them down.

I changed all of their hardware (nuts and bolts) out to stainless steel and now I am a happy camper.

In short- Don’t use their stuff on round bars even though they say you can.



Round bars
I have Yakima round bars and the older Yakima J-cradles. I load from the side and prefer the roundbars because they CAN rotate a little, and this allows the seat of the J-cradle to rotate enough to ensure full contact with the hull, rather than at one pressure point. I feel like I can strap the boat securely with less risk of damage to the boat.

When loading from the side you have to lift the boat over the lower lip of the J-cradle, which adds a couple more inches to your overhead lift. This is no problem on my superlight Arctic Tern (about 40 pounds) but is a bit more of a struggle for a heavy plastic boat (or a heavier glass boat) if you are loading alone.

As for loading from the end and sliding it forward, I would think that the grippy rubber on the bottom of the Yakima J-cradle would also create some problems with slide (plus, if your boat picked up some sand or dirt sliding might add some scratches. Add to that the rotation issue, and it seems Yakima J-cradles would not be the best choice for an end load.

I’m content with my system, but if I had to buy again, I would probably put Malone autoloaders on the round bars. The lower lip on those seems to be just a little easier to get the boat over, plus the cradle holds the top of the strap in position before you load the boat, so it is easier to get the straps around the boat.

I’m a fan of the round bars because I see the rotation as more of an advantage than a disadvantage in most situations. Plus, they are stronger, and I notice alot of bent square bars on other people’s cars. But round bar rotation causes some people problems when loading boats on saddles and j-cradles from the end.

I had 1st generation Thules…
…on my factory bars a few years ago and within a month they were dripping rust on my roof and the pads were torn.

I switched to Malones and never looked back.

I think the Thules have been improved since then.

I don’t get any scratches
on two kevlar yaks, and have been sliding them up on the back one for two seasons now.

I agree with the round bars and have learned a lesson on not trying to put a “square peg in a round hole”.

Right now I have my older yakima saddles on for two yaks, but when I want to carry the two yaks and one canoe together I have to use the J cradles.



I have Yakima bars and J-racks
and like them. I also like the factt taht they rotae into best position to hold the boat - i.e. most hull contact.

I’ve had Yakima J cradles and find that Malone J cradles are easier to install, easier to load a kayak to, and in my experience cause less wind noise. I like the older ones a bit more than the newer model (smaller), which are designed for better performance withlarger rec boats. What’s really nice about the Malone’s is the design of the lip: it is a ramp that facilitates solo loading of the kayak.

Yakima Hullraisers
I have the Yakima Hullraisers and have been completely satisfied. However, I haven’t used the Thule’s and, therefore, can’t make a comparison.

In my case, installation is a breeze. I use Yakima’s landing pad system on my Honda CRV. I leave the hullraisers attached to the crossbar/support system and simply unclip the support system (hullraisers, crossbar combination) from the landing pads and install the caps provided by Yakima on the landing pads when I’m not carrying my Yak. It takes me about 1 minute to put on or take off my rack.

Yakima J Cradles on Round Bars
on my Subaru Forester. We carry a pair of WS T140s when fishing or a pair of P&H Quests when out for a long pleasure/touring paddle. We love these racks and have had no problem with them. We can also carry a third or fourth Yak between these boats on the cross bar pad if needed. The rotation on the round bars lets the cradles adjust to the two different yaks, but they don’t rotate in the slipstream when empty at highway speeds.

Note: A veteran paddler advised us not to secure the tiedowns to the cradle as we had been doing when we started, but to the roofrack risers for safety. Now we go over to boat, under the tower and around, back over the boat, and back under the tower and up to the buckle and secure. The boat is then secured to the roofrack and the cradle. This way the pull of the boat is against the roofrack, which is firmly mounted to the roof, and not to the j-cradle which is mounted to the crossbar with four relatively small bolts.


I just bought a new Tahoe and have my Yakima system from my old one with the saddles are the new Hullraisers better

My boats are both carbon and I don`t want to mess them up but I will have to buy new mounts for the new Tahoe and I was trying to decide what to spend my money on

thumbs up on hullraiser j
I anguished over the J rack or going with saddles and rollers. I decided on the J and just installed it and did a 1 hour trip. I am extremely satisfied with how solid the boat felt on the roof and I especially like that the main straps are working against where the weight is so you are not really squeezing the kayak hull.

The ONLY downside is my kayak is 60 points and 16 feet and let me tell you it is some work propping it up on the SUV. It rolls off pretty nice but the rollers would have been great for loading.

All in all I am happy with my choice. Most of my rack is still wide open so I can easily add more kayaks or a bike or whatever and after doing alot of research I felt like this position was the best choice for positioning the plastic kayak.

Malone again.
We just bought the new XV AutoLoader from Malone after waiting almost a month for our dealer to get it in.

Worth the wait. They really nailed it with this new injection molded system.

i have the original Malone J cradles and think they’re the best J type carrier ever invented. i’ve been using them for 14 years and they’re still doing the job with aplomb. every so often i e:mail Malone and they send me a new set of foam pads for the cradles … for free. i love them.

incidentally, the attachement st up is such that they’ll go on round or square racks.

i’m not sure whether Malone still makes these or whether their ‘new’ configuration is the cat’s meow … but folks seem to like the new iteration.

Makone XV
We purchased the Malone XV (extra volume) last weekend. They worked great for my 27" wide Kayak. I installed the straps wrong and the kayak slipped while doing 65 mph on the highway. I called Malone direct, they suggested that I lay the kayak in the saddles and place bothe straps over the coaming. I placed the kayak between the straps, and the kayak floated on the straps. This is the wrong way to do it. The yak must be between the plastic rack and the straps. Excellent customer service.

I have a set of Malones
and used to have Hully Rollers. The Malone Autoloaders win hands down over the design of either Yakima or Thule cradles or J’s in my opinion.