Best J Racks

What is generally considered to be the best J rack out there for British (heavy) glass boats? Up to 4 boats will need to be loaded on top of Toyota Tundra (w/ cap) from the rear as it is very tall. 64" Thule (square) bars are 53" apart. For drives to local launches and long trips to Maine, Saguenay, etc…

Have a Yakima stacker now. PIA for 4 boats. Thanks for any thoughts.


I thought stackers were better
I have been liking the stackers, but not liking using straps which come off while I’m just getting the next boat on. I have found rope tied directly to the stacker bar works best.

One piece of line for each boat on each stacker bar worked great for me.

For j cradles the best I’ve seen come from Malone in all plastic.

I’ve hauled some ghastly heavy boats (like a 70 lb 16’ 6" vintage Dagger Magellan) long distances (like 600 miles) at interstate highway speeds on standard Thule fixed position metal j-racks with never a problem. But the pitch of the rack restricts side to side spacing – for hauling 4 boats on one roof I would go with fixed position steel “stacker” type straight racks. Honestly, if I was going to regularly haul that many glass or heavy rotomold boats I would get a trailer for them – that’s what most of my paddling buddies with glass boats do.

Hull-A-Port PRO
get the folding Hull-a-port PRO model so it folds flat when not in use or your Tundra will have quite the forest of empty J racks when not toting kayaks about. This is what I use on my Landcruiser which has about the same height as your vehicle. 3 pair are on a Kari-Tek ELRR 1300 to facilitate loading from the side.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

if you think stackers suck…
…then you haven’t yet tried to load four sea kayaks into j cradles. I’m not even sure you can FIT four j cradles on one roof!

I’d never switch from stakcers to j cradles.

Malone - not so much
I have only ever used the Malone J-racks and while they have worked ok I can not give them a 4 star rating. There have been two issues. They are a pain to put the straps on because both of my boats sit on the slots in the bottom of the J and you have to lift the boats to thread the strap through. Not a big deal but a pain. Second the plastic wing nuts that tighten the rack on the bar fell apart after about 2 years. That still allows the internal nut to be tightened with a wrench but again a pain. So they work but a a two-fold pain.


folding components
I’m leery of rack components that fold away – any time you have something hinged like that it strikes me as a potentially weak point. I’ve been using my solid j-racks for 8 years and have had no trouble with the fittings, even though I take them off the bars after most uses for security reasons. I don’t know why people consider them difficult to load. I thread straps (the long blue Thule wide ones) through the top of the steel loop and drape them fore or aft before sliding the boat on, then just grab the ends and toss them over the boat and thread through the lower j-bar loop and then around the rack bar at least once before securing the buckle. I can haul 3 boats, one on each j-rack and one slid in between. But, like I said, 4 j-racks wouldn’t fit on most normal vehicles.

4 J’s no problem
For sea kayaks 4 J’s on a 65" bar no problem. Now loading them up on a high truck cab, no one said that’d be easy. (Hence my use of an ELRR by Kari-Tek)

As to strength with the folding racks, just keep it under 86.732 mph (just a rough approximation) and you’ll have no problem. Actually with 4 kayaks that’s where the vehicle might be drag limited but I’ll leave that testing for Top Gear. The foldabitiy is mighty convenient if you’re hauling kayaks daily. Different strokes …

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

the hinge doesn’t bend

– Last Updated: Oct-16-13 10:56 AM EST – the same direction as the loading forces. It's like worrying that a j cradle will twist on a round bar. Sure it will - unless a boat is mounted.

People are always amazed at how solidly my boats are held when using the fold-down stacker. OTOH, j cradles take up more space, weigh significantly more, only take one boat per par and thus take up lots of space. And on a round bar they can rotate. The attachment plates are no larger in area than those for stackers.

If you're not strong or have a high roof, lifting over the lower hook of the "J" is something you don't have to do with a stacker.

Consider 3 or 4 bars
to spread the load and reduce the risk of one point failure taking things down. 250lbs is a lot on two bars. I had four bars on an Isuzu Trooper and a full size van, they were spaced in pairs as far apart as possible. With stackers, bar pads and foam canoe or kayak blocks you have lots of versatility without spending $600+ which can go to gas and food.

Have you loaded J cradles from the rear?
The only way I’ve seen it done is from the side, and probably for good reason.

Better try before you buy 4 sets of them.

Skip the J Cradles
Go with the widest bar you can, mount the boats on their sides on surfboard pads on the bars. Use 12’ straps. If you know someone who runs an expedition service check out how they load their racks. You can buy a small right angle adapter that goes on the end of the bar that keeps the kayaks from sliding off. I’ve used this method for several trips into mexico on bad roads and freeways.

My Yakima Js hold heavy boats
(80 lbs)very securely,but you will bust a gut trying to get a boat in them on top of a p/u. I also can’t envision using more than one set,

don’t worry about strength
I’ve been using (and abusing) a Thule Hull-A-Port Pro (folding J) for four years or so on my Thule rack.

Once or twice a week I carry my 60lb glass boat in it PLUS I use the backside of that J to stack up to 4 more 50-60lb plastic boats.

Highway speeds for days at a time and it’s a beast. Never a problem.