car racks


I just bought a Subaru Forester and am now contemplating the rack situation. What do folks think about clipping rack bars onto the factory installed racks? The factory installed racks look a little wimpy to me, and I was planning to buy a full set of racks that bypass the factory racks. However, before I spend that $$ I thought I’d check to see if folks thought that the factory racks were strong enough to manage 1-2 canoes weighing up to 70lbs each. This would be the most weight, usually we would just have one boat of 40-70lbs.


Yakina or thule will have the specs
on your factory rack. probably even on theri web sites. They are more knowledgeble about factory racks than anybody short of a factory engineer rep. (I once met a VW factory engineer rep, he was so good at his job it was incredible.)

I would not trust
the stock x-bars with 2x4s tied to them, but that is just my opinion.

Yakima makes the fittings that Subaru sells as accessories - they make a clip specially designed for the Forrester’s rails.

Two canoes x 70 mph x whatever G-force you can develop in a turn…sorry…this equation is harder than Chinese algebra.


I have a 99 Forrester
and use the factory rook rack frequently with no problem.

I’ve carried canoes, lumber, new doors, kids swing sets, camping gear, etc. all on the roof (not at same time).

But, you can only carry one canoe at a time. The cross bars are not wide enoungh to carry two canoes without a Yakima/Thule crossbar that extends out beyond the roof.

Just remember to run you webbing around the upturned bottom of the canoe and through the interior of car. This way the cross bars are in compression and can’t be pulled away.

Let me know of any specific questions.

Good luck with the Forrester. I’ve had great success with mine.

I have a 2004 Forester
and I put a Yakima system on. No regrets. The Yakima towers clamp onto the factory side rails and then just the regular cross bars and Landshark saddles for me. Works great and easy to install. I left the factory cross bars on, locating the Yakima towers forward and aft on the rails as far as possible. In use, I attatch my NRS straps over the boat and around the factory cross members.

thanks again
Thanks - this was helpful to know that folks haven’t had problems with the Yakima clips!

Suburu Racks
One of my paddling partners has the Yakima rack that clips to the Suburu factory rails. Nice, solid system. He travels all over the US with 2 canoes. Get the loadstops or gunnel brackets too…

Subaru Racks
I have an '05 Forester. There is nothing that I know of in the Thule/Yakima kayak carrier line that will fit the Subaru airfoil crossbars. I have Thule on my Ranger PU, so I can swap saddles for my WS T165, or canoe.

I opted for the Thule “440 Speciality Railing Carrier”.

Fits like a dream. There may be a less expensive way to go, but I am very satisfied. It’s not like I’m going to buy another rack in the next 2-3 years, so why not be satisfied!


I have an 05 Forester and the factory bars aren’t as “wimpy” as people say they are.

I’ve loaded several different gear configurations on the bars including the Thule hull-a-ports I use for carrying 2 sea kayaks.

I’ve tested the system when the boats are hooked up and shook the boats/carriers/rack about as hard as I could with the boats rocking severely in both directions…the bars took the stress fine, in fact, they absorbed a lot of the force I applied when shaking the boats.