Car Racks

Bought my first kayak this past autumn and used the foam car top pads and straps for transportation.

I just purchased a used 2001 Nissan Pathfinder which has factory racks on top. Do I need special kayak racks in addition to the factory racks to transport a kayak or do you think I am good to go as is?

When using factory racks such as what I have, do you also have to secure the kayak to the front and back of the car (underneath the bumpers)with the straps?

I know this is a VERY beginer question and appreciate the patience and help.

I’d suggest
You might want some kind of saddles that conform to the shape of your hull, especially so if you have anything other than a really flat deck. If you do have a flat decked boat, you could do what I do and transport it upside down - but even then you’ll want some pads on the bars.

Most folks recommend tie downs at the bow & stern in addition to two straps over the car. I have to confess I don’t do that unless I’m on an interstate trip (but I do have three cross bars, each of which gets a strap). It is probably a good idea to tie the ends, especially so if you’re something of a beginner & might not be real familiar with how well the boat rides on top of the car.

What kind of boat?
Some of your decision on racking depends on what kind of boat you have; more than flat or rounded, but how long? Is it a short playboat, a recreational boat or touring that might be 13 feet or more? If no longer than your roof, you should be fine with factory racks, but on interstate trips I triple the ties as a truck passing you can really stir things up a bit. For padding I usually use pipe insulation secured with colorful electrical tape. It holds up very well.

Car racks
The boat is a Perception Sundance 12.0.

12’ boat:
I’d probably stick with the factory racks if you can find some saddles to fit. The plastic hull will deform if you cinch it down tight to the straight bars. I’d recommend bow and stern tie downs, especially so if you’re using the factory racks.

If you can’t get saddles to fit, the “cheap” fix is to buy some mini cell and carve your own. The more expensive fix will be a Yakima or Thule setup (there may be others as well). For me, it would depend on how often you plan to travel with it - once and a while, go the cheaper route. If the boat is on the car a lot (mine is every day), spend the cash for a good rack system.

I’d use bow and stern lines with that boat (at least for interstate travel) just so you can keep an eye on it.

For quite a while I transported my Perception Acadia II on my factory racks on my Mercury Sable wagon. I was always concerned about the warping effect. I finally purchased Thule Hulla-Port cradles and rack system and now I transport my kayak on edge, which is so much safer for the hull shape.

Check your state laws regarding tie-downs to the bumber. Here in NJ, I was told its required, so although it really is unnecessary with the Thule system, I still do it.

You can get by with the cartoping on your factory racks, but I would weigh the value of the boat against the cost of better protective systems

Kayak Racks
Yakima land sharks for large boats a set hurly rollers in the back. Strap in front and behind cockpit, check straps at each pit stop. I also use kytonite coated bicycle cables with heavy combination locks to lock it to Yakimas. It slows down lazy thieves who do not want to work that hard. or call attention to what their doing.