canoe on prius

I am considering a prius for my main car including canoe hauling. Have any of you done it? I am particularly interested in how it does in the wind . I drive accross the dakotas every year and head and cross winds are usually a factor. Thanks for any insights.

I carry canoes and Kayaks on a Prius

– Last Updated: Aug-23-12 7:13 AM EST –

I think it is fine, just like any other small car. The Prius is actually fairly heavy for its overall size and that helps. You will do best with a good rack that has some sort of stops on the bars to hold the rails from sliding around. Always tie down front and back. No worries.

I should add that you won't be getting 50mpg with a canoe on your prius.

I would discourage this
A Prius is a poor choice for carrying a canoe in my opinion for two reasons: First, from a safety point of view it would have a lot of windage on a relatively small, light platform and could be very difficult to control in strong cross winds. Second, the Prius battery is not environmentally friendly and the tradeoff in fuel efficiency is lost if carrying a canoe. As an option, I recommend you consider a slightly bigger, heavier car that is diesel powered. I Jetta Wagon might be a possibility, I am sure there are others.

Of course.
Yes a prius will carry a canoe. Any car will carry a canoe. Cars are heavy and powerful, canoes are light and aerodynamic.

What is the very best car for carrying a canoe? I don’t know, maybe a train? The fact is, most of us only carry canoes some of the time, so the canoe shouldn’t really be a deciding factor.

As to the Prius, I like them, but the benefit is really mostly realized in city driving. If you mostly are highway driving, something like a Yaris/Corrola or Fit/Civic will get nearly the MPG for a lower price.

Pls be sure the rack is bolted to the
roof in factory receivers, or another way. A friend had a Prius with a rack that “clamped” to the door frame and lost it and the yak at 55. Apparently loosened up over time. Bow and stern ties may have helped. Only injury was to the yak but repairable. R

Racks!? We don’t need no stinkin’ racks!
I drove from DC to Key West and back with a 15’ kayak on the roof in my Lexus sedan using a bean bag and ropes to secure it. Worked like a charm. The fact that I have a sunroof may be a factor, though, as I think they strengthen the roof.

^don’t believe this “crosswind” nonsense
This is the second time you’ve posted this unsubstantiated claim. So support it.

Actually if you think about it, the side profile of the prius combined with the relatively heavy weight for it’s size would make it les prone to “windage”, as you say, not more prone. An old VW van would be more prone.

You’re also giving the rack a lot of credit to be able to hold up under those forces.

A prius would work fine.

I think what he means is that …
… the smaller the car, the more effect crosswinds applied to the canoe will have on its handling. I’ve been in a crosswind with my guide-boat plus a kayak where I really WAS a bit worried about the strength of the rack. My side-control ropes weren’t holding the guide-boat against slipping a few inches sideways, and the whole car would lean to the side in abrupt bursts about as much as a really aggressive driver would make it lean on sharp turns. It took a lot of corrective steering just to stay in my lane. I think that was about a 25- to 30-mph crosswind. That was with a Chevy Blazer. A compact car would have been out of the question that day unless driving speed were greatly reduced. I don’t fully understand why the force of a crosswind increases so much with increases in driving speed, but it does. As another example of crosswind-force multiplication with speed, I once saw tall canoe trailer repeatedly go up on one wheel due to a crosswind at highway speed, but when parked there was no chance at all that it would even lean a bit, much less tip. And loading the boats in that crosswind wasn’t all that hard either. There’s something about high speed that makes a cross wind much worse.

I’ve never noticed even a tiny bit of this just due to a kayak. Canoes are a lot worse.

However…, I agree with you, that most of the time, and maybe all the time for a lot of people, a Prius would work fine. Heck, I know a guy who for many years routinely carried two canoes on a Geo Metro, and he never had any problems that I heard of. I would never recommend against a Prius, as long as the rack were decent (which with that funky roof line, could be a challenge).

You’ve been listening to too much Rusbo
The prius is a fine car. What the heck does the battery have to do with anything - except perhaps improve the Prius over other small cars by making it heavier.

Racks pull off cars with some regularity. It matters not whether the car is a prius or a something else. If you forget to tie down the ends to the vehicle you are taking a HUGE risk, no matter the vehicle.

I once drove 350 miles to, and 350 miles from, a canoe trip in northern maine with three old town trippers on top of a Volkswagen Beetle. No worries. We staying on the road just fine. So did the canoes.

don’t worry
Don’t listen to any nay-sayers…the prius will do fine. The only thing, as mentioned above is that your fuel efficiency will suffer. The Prius isn’t meant to carry a large load so if you are routinely planning on putting 2 boats and 4 large men with gear stuffed in every which place for long distances then I’d suggest another vehicle but for most applications it’ll be a fine car.

Replies to various questions
To the question regarding roof loading any vehicle and the deleterious effect on stability that can occur here is a link, Perhaps looking at this a different way would help. Think of a sail boat. If too much sail is lofted for the prevailing conditions the vessel can be broached, or knocked over, or lose the mast. A canoe on any vehicle can and will be felt in certain wind conditions, even though the canoe is not heavy. This is because the wind will act on it much like a sail. The smaller and lighter the car the greater the affect any given canoe can have all things considered. In very windy conditions the best thing to do might be to stop driving. I would rather be in a larger, heavier vehicle with my canoe on top than in a smaller lighter one. A Suburban would be better than a Prius would be better than a Smart car in windy conditions, and a canoe just adds grist to the mill.

To the question concerning the battery, it is this: The battery in a Prius is not environmentally friendly. In terms of carbon foot print, it is really detrimental to the environment and if the use of the car obviates the advantage of the battery (i.e. sustained high speeds, or heavy loads are examples of the misuse of a Prius), it would be better (i.e. more responsible) to choose a different technology for the drive train.

I know Riverstrider
used his Prius to cart his ME Explorer around for a few years. He’s out canoeing in Maine this week I think and can’t chime in, but I know he carried at least that barge and possibly a second one as well, seemingly successfully.

Perhaps there’s some Einsteinian theory that disproves the ability to do this, but fortunately, few of us are Einstein. Idiot did sail, though…

Work later found to be fraudulent

– Last Updated: Aug-25-12 11:52 AM EST –

Where have you been? I didn't think Consumer Reports (CR) could EVER recover from the harm they did to their reputation when they undertook this study. First, they dealt with roll-over potential due to abrupt steering maneuvers, so the wind factor doesn't really enter in to discussion here. Second, they hardly made it a secret that they wished to be the driving force that would legislate SUVs out of existence, and they picked on two small car companies that they knew did not have the clout to put up much of a fight. Thus they singled-out the Isuzu Trooper and the Suzuki Samauri for severe "illustrative" testing, even though crude testing by themselves and others showed that Ford's Bronco II was far more prone to rollover than either of those cars (Ford had the money to fight them in court, so CR put their attack on this most-likely candidate aside. That's what automotive writers of the time said, anyway). Later analysis of video of the Isuzu tests by an independent firm showed that the G-forces CR forced that vehicle to go through would have caused a Chevy Corvette to slide out of control, which is ridiculous because who in their right mind expects an SUV to handle like one of the best affordable sports cars available. Also, video which was never intended for public viewing was exposed which contained a conversation between one of the test drivers and the boss, where the test driver pulled up to the staging area and said something to the effect of "It's no use. All it's doing is skidding", to which the boss shouted back in great anger "You put that thing up on two wheels or I'll find a driver who can!" (so clearly the objective of the test was to "prove" that the car was dangerous, not to evaluate stabilty). Yeah, there's a true example of an objective test procedure. Gimme a break. And yes, the independent firm's video analysis showed that CR deliberately put these little SUVs through much more severe maneuvers than the "safer" cars that they compared them to on film. This never got as much press as the small-town news crew that attempted to show how dangerous outside-the-frame fuel tanks are (remember that they couldn't get the fuel to ignite as it was "supposed to" in side-impact tests, so they used a model-rocket engine), but it should have. CR's rollover testing was nothing but a joke, and fraud.

The thing that the folks at Consumer Reports can't comprehend is that not all vehicles SHOULD be made to handle like sports cars (as boaters, we here understand that desired attributes are often in conflict, and you can't have the best handling in one category and still have it in another. The same is true of cars (read any of their reviews of pickup trucks and you will see that they can't comprehend the natural relationship between load capacity and ride "quality")). Second, most people have the common sense to "back off" if a maneuver is getting too extreme for their particular vehicle and its load condition (truck drivers do this all the time, but it's not because they are smarter than average), but their approach was to "push harder" than anyone would want to. This all makes sense in light of the agenda they had at the time, but no matter how you look at it, it's not good science.

Anyway, as Slushpaddler already pointed out, the rack is going to fail, or the boat is going to break, long before enough force is generated by a cross wind to cause a flipping hazard. Imagine this: Park your car with the boat on the rack, and have machines push independently on the side of the car and on the side of the boat, so that equal force per unit area is applied (as the wind would do). Do you really think that the boat or rack won't break before the car starts going over? Besides, if things got really bad, as I suggested they might in the situation I described in my post above if a tiny car were used instead of the one I had, who would lack the sense to slow down? Slow down = end of problem, and that's no big deal since most of us will experience such a thing while carrying boats maybe once in a blue moon.

I agree a larger
vehicle, pick-ups are wonderful, for 4 men two canoes and gear for regular trips. But, on the other hand, a prius will handle a LOT of gear. So if it is two men and one canoe with gear for a two week trip you are good to go. The only thing is that that vehicle is low so you don’t have a lot of ground clearance for rough road driving to the put in.

I own a Prius…

– Last Updated: Aug-24-12 10:54 PM EST –

and while I don't use it as my primary canoe hauler, I do have Thule racks for it and use it occasionally. It hauls a 16 ft. Penobscot with no problems whatsoever, and the gas mileage actually suffers VERY little as long as you are careful to put the canoe brackets on the rack so that the canoe is PERFECTLY straight front to back on the racks, and the racks are placed so that the front end of the canoe is level or slightly lower than the back end when the car is sitting on level ground. You can place the racks to best advantage because of the rounded profile of the roof line of the Prius. I use my Prius mostly highway driving, for which it is not supposed to be designed (like all hybrids), but it still gets around 47 mpg without the canoe, and 44 mpg with it on average. Not many small cars come close to that. However, that's not in typically windy areas like the Dakotas. I honestly can't say how much wind would affect things, but other than that, the Prius works very well.

Yes, the batteries aren't the most environmentally friendly thing about the Prius. Most of the environmental organizations say that even with the battery situation, the gas mileage of the Prius makes it a net gain for the environment. Take that for what it's worth. But if your experience is like mine, you will still be pleased with the mpg.

By the way, the racks haven't failed me yet, but they really don't appear to clamp down as well as I'd like, so I ALWAYS tie front and back as well as to the racks. Also, the rack separation isn't far enough to make tying down just on the racks safe. I wouldn't dream of depending just upon the rack attachment with the Prius. Also

It’ll look like a 1980’s telephone.

A canoeing friend has one and a 13’ canoe. Her experience; When hauling a boat on top the gas motor ran a lot more causing poorer millage. On some dirt road canoe acesses the poor ground clearance was a big problem. Due to the short rack spacing(not just a prius problem) the boat tended to “cock” in crosswinds. She now hauls it inside with the rear hatch open.


no. it’s pure nonsense

– Last Updated: Aug-26-12 3:38 PM EST –

This is not the flintstones and no one is clamping a dino drive in microphone to the flintstone mobile and tipping it over. And remember - we are not talking about the rack, we're talking about the car.

Do you know the force of said crosswinds?

do you know the drag coefficient for the side profile of a prius?

This is pure nonsensical conjecture that perverts a (very) basic understanding of the physics involved. It's not the first time so I'm not taking an easy tack. When this guy posts the data to support his claim then he can talk.

I have cartopped a 17' kayak on a toyota corolla with a 30" rack spread across the Mackinac Bridge, when winds were so strong that semi trucks had to be escorted across the bridge. Any thought that a crosswind will catch your boat and use it to turn the entire vehicle are within your head only.

Yup works fine.

Needs to hire a boyscout
If you can’t tie a 13’ boat down on Prius … you don’t have the right technique.