Best rack for high end composite

Anyone have suggestions for the best rack out there to safely transpost a high end composite boat?

any name brand

Yakima, Thule or Malone, but
they are only as good as the guy who installs them is!

jack L

any name brand rack

– Last Updated: Jan-30-11 10:19 AM EST –

the important part is the operator and method of attachment to the rack.

My preference is for J-racks where the kayak rests on it's hull and deck/hull seam. For awhile I used some blocks carved from a 2'x2'x3" chunk of minicell that fit my kayak and the crossbars. The utility to custom fit foam blocks is that if you use the rack regularly for other flat items and things that don't fit precisely in a kayak or bike rack you can simply put the blocks on and remove them in seconds. $35 worth of foam can make three-four blocks while the $120+J racks take a few minutes to remove/install.

Not a fan of pre-cut foam blocks unless they fit perfectly.

Use cam straps in the middle and rope for the ends. Don't use ratchet straps.

Another style
If you’re worried about stresses on the hull, you could look into getting a Kayakpro EZ-Vee or another V-bar style carrier. These are used for racing boats and long shells, and also work well with sea kayaks. They aren’t used by many, but they are really solid, tie down quickly and reduce shocks and stresses on the hull during transport.

Marco Kayak Saddles
Very broad kydek bunk carpet lined vee-d saddle that’ll clamp onto round/square or aero bars. Less than Thule / Yakima Set-2-Go or Yakima Makos.

See you on the water


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

What kind of kayak?
The only time I’d suggest fancy saddles is with a delicate surf ski or race hull. If it’s a high end composite touring boat with construction like current Necky or Tiderace hulls, simple foam covered bars is all that’s needed.

Type of boat and construction really matters here.

J racks caused damage to my kayaks
I had some high end composites that I transported on J racks and got damaged (deformation of hull).

I currenly use swivelling large pads that countour to the hull or large blocks of foam cut to specific shape of hull.

More details here:

Check out the Spring Creek cradles
Sold through Castle Craft.

The parts that contact the kayak are flexible rubber, sort of a hybrid between wide straps and cradle arms. I set mine so that they wrap part way up the sides of the hull. (I also set mine at a tilt on the round crossbars to help hold the kayak in place.) The rubber pieces are somewhat sticky, so you should lift the kayak when loading and unloading, not slide forward from the rear.

My husband and I used these cradles on a 5000-mile round trip to/from Prince Rupert, BC. I also drove 1700 miles to GA, carrying my kayak on the Spring Creek cradles. If I take the same route home, double that mileage. The kayak stayed put through some horrendous wind and pelting rain, and I don’t strap very tightly.

We don’t have delicate ultralight kayaks, but I don’t think that makes a huge difference in choosing cradles. Just try to get a good fit to hull shape, strap carefully, and use adequate crossbar spacing.

Thanks to all
Thanks for all the suggestions. I currently have a Thule rack and am using the “Hull-a-Port”, but also have a pair of the old style saddles. I guess I am looking for something a little more solid against the expensive hull.I drive an Equinox and not crazy about the bar spread, so looking for best options. Thanks.

What do you not like about the hull-a-port, or the other saddles you have? If you can say specifically how you are unhappy with what you have, people may be able to give you better advice.

I’ve been very happy with thule j-cradles (I use the folding version). To me my composite boats are as safe and protected as they could possibly be in that sort of cradle. I’ve not been as happy with the hull-down 4-piece saddles. Too many degrees of freedom for my liking.

I also regularly carry boats hull-down on foam covered bars, and think that’s just fine for composite boats. I think you have to use a little more care with how you tension the straps so you don’t flex a curved foredeck on some boats. And bow and stern lines might be more important with padded bars.


– Last Updated: Jan-31-11 7:35 PM EST –

it really makes a difference what the EXACT boat is. "high end" could be a $3200 glass boat, $3800 carbon Necky or a $3000K1 racing kayak. All are "high end" but one could be strapped on padded bars and the other in a cradle. So what is the "high end" boat?

ahh, delicate high end
sure enough nothing better than cut foam.

securing composite kayak
I’m in agreement with pretty much everyone here. It is more important that the person securing the kayak to the vehicle knows what he/she is doing. I have a Warren Light Craft Little Wing 16. As a composite boat, you don’t get any more fragile if handled the wrong way. If handled properly, it’s phenomenal, extremely rigid and very light. I keep it secured to my Nissan Frontier (with bed canopy) using foam wedges, tie down straps and two cords for the bow and stern. My truck does NOT have rail up to so securing it properly is entirely my responsibility. I’ve been doing this since 2005 and haven’t lost a boat yet! I hope this helps.

on this picture was the hull strapped down on a bar?

I loaded up a friends 27lb Kirton Tercel for a trip across the US in a Malone J-rack lining the hard plastic with 1/2" minicell camp pad. Made it all the way without deformation.

the picture shows
Lee, the picture shows the hull of the kayak just after I loaded it on the car and discovered the dent.

Moments before has been sitting for a few days on a foam padded 3" diameter bar in my garage, just resting, no strapping down.

That particular kayak was a foam core epoxy lay-up that suffered from heat deformation in air temps above 87F. Similarly the same kayak would dimple if just sitting on the beach if a stick would be under the hull on a sunny day. Luckily the manufacturer replaced the kayak with a more conventional lay-up and gel coat. I am not the only one that experienced that problem. On the other hand I have now a Chinese kayak that is clear coat foam core epoxy lay-up and is perfectly OK. In the heat, J cradles however have deformed other kayaks of mine. Foam block have been the most successful way of transport, even if a pain to set up, at times.