Car Roof Rack for Two Canoes?


Most car roof carriers offer products to carry multiple kayaks but not sure I know of a way to carry multiple canoes.

Is there a way to carry two canoes on a car roof? Specifically, I own a Bell Morningstar (15.5’/36 lb) and am in the market for a Hornbeck Lost Pond (10.5’/16 lb).



I don’t know what kind of rack you have
but I have a Yakima and with 66 inch bars, I can carry two boats side by side on their gunwales. I frequently carry a tandem and a solo or a canoe and a kayak with no problem.

long bars or nesting
Long bars are an easy option.

If you have a really slim car, or are going a long way, or just like fiddling with your boats, you could also “nest” them (take the seats and thwarts out of the morningstar and put the lost pond inside).

Thule and…
I have a Thule…and a Subaru Legacy wagon.

Longer Bars
It is just a matter of buying longer horizontal bars for your roof rack. I know both Yakima and Thule provide long bars. I have Thule and you would just want to get two sets of the gunwale stabalizers to secure both canoes.

Ditto for longer bars…
Unless the 66" bars are wide enough for both of your boats, you can opt for the 78" bars and cut them down with a hacksaw if you don’t need all of that width. Since you have a Subie, I bet the 78" bars may extend out past the side mirros which is illegal in many states.

I planned on cutting down my 78" bars on my Pathfinder, but once I had my wide Dagger tandem and a friends wide tandem on there, coupled with the canoe carrier brackets, I found that I needed most of that 78" width.

Extend those Thules
Wha Ho, Pilgrim

When I used to use Thule or Yakima racks (pretty crummy compared to my present TracRacs), if I needed another 6-8" of rack width on a temporary basis I made four 16" extensions from EMT conduit - crimping about 8 inches to fit inside the Thule or Yakima crossbars and the remaining 8" as the extension itself. Just pop the end plugs from the crossbars and insert the EMT extensions. Friction and the camming action from the upward pull of the straps keep them tight. A small setscrew through the crossbars into the extension would make it even more secure. Works great and is cheap. Coffee would be proud.

Fat Elmo

78 inch cross bars
I frequently have two canoes on top of my van. Both my canoes have 36+ mid section. The 78 Inch cross bar lenght is perfect with a few inch to spare on each side.

Keep whatcha’ got…
I’ve got a set of narrow racks on my little car. Fine for one boat.

For 2 boats I picked up two 6-foot sections of galvanized pipe (black pipe would also work; each of similar diameter to your rack bars), 4 end caps, two 6-foot sections of appropriate diameter dishwasher hose, and 4 SS hose clamps.

Covering the pipe with the hose provides friction for the lashed canoes and the existing rack, the end caps finish off the look, and the hose clamps attach each bar to my existing rack. Put the long bars on when I’m carrying 2 boats or shuttling with friends, solo paddles just use my base rack.

Cheap, bomb-proof solution and you don’t always have to have those long bars sticking out from your car.


I stole this design…
I copy-catted coyoteequip’s design for this. I have the Subaru Outback Sport, and usually the standard rack is fine, but occaisionally I want to carry two canoes. The only deviation I made on the design is that I found some black rubber tubing at Home Depot that fit perfectly over the galvanized pipe - which makes a great grippy, rubbery surface. I have tennis balls that fit on the end caps to try to prevent blows to the noggin.

Permanent wide bars on taller vehicles are not so bad, but for us folks with shorter cars, it’s nice to put the wide bars on only as needed. Only takes a couple minutes to put them on/take them off.

Coyoteequip didn’t mention but he also has short extender bars that work the same way that he can add just to one side of a rack. Those are small enough that it’s not big deal to just bring them along on a trip, and then add them if a need arises. Sometimes we need just a few extra inches on one side, and presto! we can slap his extenders on and be good to go! They can really save a shuttle!


Cheaper racks
can be extended too… This is a good thread for me. I may be picking up a used Legacy soon and often carry two canoes.

I’ve had good luck using a “quick and dirty” system of extending my racks. U bolt a 2X4 of the necessary length over the bar. You’ll probably have to chisel out a recess for where the supports attach to the cross bar, but that’s really no biggie. I did that for my truck racks in under an hour using wood left over from some scaffolding I made for some home-improvement project… 3 years later they were looking pretty ratty so I oiled the wood. I just replaced them (think that’s at about five years) last week and this time used new 2X4s, painted them, routered in a rough slot to keep them lower to the cab (and hopefully improve gas milage), and stapled some interior/exterior carpet over it to make things easier on my gunwales. Still under $20 or so and didn’t take a lot of time. This’ll outlast the truck.

Figured I might do the same for the Legacy, but perhaps I’ll just get some Thules or Yakamas and use something like Jarvis/Heather’s method.

Might want to check your state laws though… I think some states can ticket you for sticking out more than 3" (if memory serves) past the mirror on driver’s side.

Also, I like to use a red flag on the back of each boat if it hangs more than a couple of feet past the rear bumper, too. Even if it isn’t a legal issue, the flags help to be able to clearly see in the rear view where the back of the boats are when backing into parking stalls and such.

If, like me, you’re sometimes lazy about removing them to paddle and are sometimes chided about it, just tell folks they represent flames from the river rocket that is your boat. Its like having a red boat or something… they just seem a little faster.

Doing the same thing
This is amazing. Me and my bro-in-law were just talking about this subject Sat. We both are looking at making extensions for carrying 2 canoes. Ours need to be 76", could be less if we wanted a tighter fit both canoes are 34" wide. Did not know Thule or Yakima made longer bars. That could make it easy on me. I was going to make my own using some aluminum box tubing. They have to be removable of course because my wife want allow me to leave them on her truck. Also never seen gunwale blocks other than the foam ones used for car topping w/o a rack.

And if the long Yakama bars are not .
long enough, there is a simple fix.

Go to Lowes or Home Depot and get 2 lengths of rigid half inch galvanized pipe. they come in ten foot lengths and each is less than $10.00.

They fit perfectly inside the Yakama bars. Cut them to the length you want, slide them through and then put a strap clamp on each side of the pipe snug up against the Yakama bar which will hold them from sliding in either direction.

I have carried three kayaks and a canoe at one time this way.



Two canoes… and more!
Saturn LS-1 with Yakima 78" bars and mounts. We’ve simultaneously carried a Wenonah 16’6" Sundowner, a 10’6" Hornbeck, and 2 mountain bikes. Canoes were mounted in the center with a bike on the outside of each (front wheels unmounted and inside car. I used nylon web rack straps, as well as bow and stern lines for the Wenonah. Only rack straps for the Hornbeck. Some caveats:

  1. Watch your head… both the cross-bars and the bike pedals can give you a nasty bump. Put a slit in an old tennis ball and slide that over the bar end… it will at least help you see the end of the bar just before you collide with it.

  2. Watch out for overhanging trees… the bikes are vulnerable to arching or overhanging branches (not a worry for the canoes).

  3. Mileage takes a beating… ~29-30 mpg down to 22-23 mpg.

  4. The bars are pretty close, perhaps even slightly exceeding the “mirror width” of the car. With the bikes, we are probably over (handlebars). I’m not worried about the weight.

    It’s a surprisingly strong and sturdy set-up and drives pretty well. Certainly no problem finding the car in a crowded parking lot!