Canoe roof rack


As a long time renter of canoes, I’m finally breaking down and buying one. Before I do so, I want to figure out the best way to transport it!

We presently have two small cars but would like to transport the canoe with our 2003 Chevy Tracker. It has a factory roof rack (w/two cross beams). Are there any canoe adapter kits for the roof rack or are we better off using one of the generic ones (they appear to consist of blocks of foam and straps).

BTW, our other car is a Ford Focus w/no rack and we’re just assuming is too small of a car to transport a canoe :slight_smile:


Yakima or Thule
Go to and type enter your car make and model to their fit my car feature. I think you could put Yakima lowriders, round bars, and gunnel brackets on the Tracker. Yakima and Thule racks are pricey, but if you are anxious about securing the load, they are quality products and will give you peace of mind.

You could also go with the simple foam block kit on your factory crossbars, and save a lot of money. I don’t know the Tracker, but most factory crossbars are pretty flimsy and you may get some wobble.

the foam blocks
I’ve used for a while now on my 95 camry and I’ve never had any problems, even on the highway, as long as you have- 2 good belly straps, 2 good tie down points for the bow and 1 good tie down for the stern. Of course, someday when I have the money I’ll get a roof rack…


foam blocks
The factory racks are very nice, but fairly expensuve. I have had both Yakima and Thule and really like both. The foam blocks work fine, though, if you lash down as the previous post suggests.

I have never had a Focus, but have used foam blocks on a Chevy Cavalier and a Honda Accord with a 17’ canoe and no problems.

The focus is a fine car to carry a canoe on. In fact, I have a 16’ Wenonah Aurora and I carry it on a Honda Fit…a much smaller car than most of the Focus models (except the 3 door hatch…I think that might be smaller than mine by a hair). Still, I have a Thule rack on my Fit and it’s rock solid. Expensive, yes, but worth it. Oh, and the boat is longer than the car by a pretty significant margin. 200 miles today without a complaint.

Most factory racks are fairly useless. If the rack on your Tracker is anything like the crossbars on my parents’ TrailBlazer, you’ll want to toss ‘em and put Thule or Yakima bars on instead. My folks have a Mad River Explorer TT and it pretty much destroyed the factory crossbars on their Trailblazer. On my Fit, the Thule rack is rated at 130lb, and on my wife’s Jeep Liberty, the Thule rack (attached to the factory rails) is rated to 160lb.

The foam blocks work fine, but you do have to work a bit to get them in the right place on the roof. Furthermore, the foam blocks tend to sit right in the middle of the roof rather than on the edge (aftermarket racks put the weight on the edge of the roof, where the vehicle is more capable of handling the weight). Most vehicles get dimpled roofs from the foam blocks directly on the roof. The foam blocks on the factory rack of the Tracker would apply to my previous statement about my parents’ Trailblazer…most likely flimsy.

You’re welcome to give it a shot…worst case scenario is you end up with an extra set of foam blocks because you don’t like how they carry. It’s nice to have a set ready to be used when necessary.

I didn’t want to get sued.
I was scared the canoe would fly off and hit a lawyer. I bit the bullet and got 20% off at REI.

Qty Item Number Description Unit Price Total Price


2 683-985-0010 THULE QUICKDRAW TIE DOW 23.99 47.98


1 710-446-0014 THULE CROSSROAD RAILING 111.99 111.99


1 490-020-0017 THULE 58" PAIR OF BARS 41.59 41.59


1 494-027-0012 THULE KEYED ALIKE LOCKS 33.59 33.59


1 723-906-0010 THULE OUTRIGGER II 47.99 47.99

2 708-944-0015 GCI SITBACKER CHAIR 24.93 49.86


1 614-147-0010 THULE END CAPS 3.99 3.99


1 747-144-0011 #CARLISLE STD PALM 60" 15.93 15.93


The following items have been backordered.

1 710-462-0013 THULE CANOE CARRIER


10 Items DIV $.00 NON-DIV $352.92

Merchandise Total $352.92

Shipping $10.05

Order Total $362.97

Thanks for all the great advice!

I totally agree about the cross bars being rather flimsy on the Tracker–We actually ripped one off when it got snagged on a tree branch.

I think we’ll probably go the Yakima route and use lowrider mounts on our existing rack.

you can use the Yakima bars
on both your vehicles. It hurts to pay the price up front but every time you switch vehicles you only have to buy the clamps (and maybe you will get lucky and not have to get new ones each time)

The only caveat for the Focus (and I dont have one) is that you may have to get an adapter kit…I bet the rear bar isnt going to fit into a window clamp.

If you are like most paddlers you dont switch cars that often…I have had a Yakima system for about 17 years and only have had to do a couple of revisions for changing cars.

Some factory racks are more decorative than functional and some boat dealers will not load onto your car unless you have a proper rack system.

Use the FOCUS…
I agree with most of what has been said here already. I’d add that you may actualy desire to use the FOCUS to carry your canoe. As said before factory racks are not good, and you will find loading the canoe on a LOWER car to be considerably easier.

Here’s a pic of my canoe ontop on my KIA RIO5 (about the same dimensions):

I have learned that it’s better to just let the canoe gunwales rest on the crossbars that use foam bloacks on top of the rack.

I have driven mine at speeds in excess of 75mph mounted on my KIA RIO5 for extended trips no problem.

Not sure if you’re aware or not, but you should not need to buy the end caps. The towers (crossroads) should have a set of end caps included. The only reason they sell the end caps separately is so you can replace them if you lose them.

I’ve got the same setup on the Jeep Liberty (bought from REI, even).

Mondial Roof Racks
I have a set of these, have had them on a Ford before I got my KIA Spectra. Fourth year having them. Have hauled up to 3 canoes with them, wood, and other assorted things and they have held up fine, ummm, except for the countertops! I did some bastardizing though and fit 2 bolts per rack so I could mount 2x4’s on them. Works great. Slightly less cheaper than Thule or Yaks. I got mine off of Ebay for about 40$ plus s/h.


Foam Blocks
Have been using foam blocks, 2 belly straps, 2 bow line straps and 1 stern strap. Cost $60. Works great and easy. No tieing involved, just use S hooks on both ends of straps. My canoe weighs 43lbs. and doesn’t leave any marks on the rooftop. I don’t have factory roofrack, just a plain rooftop. Read many discussions on different straps, ropes and racks. Have found this (mine) option to work for me on highways and city roads.

Good Luck