Car Top Carrier

Hi - New here and looking to get a car top Carrier. I’ve decided on this one:

I have a Toyota Camry. My question is what type of Kayak holders should I get?? Here are my choices below. Is any one better than the other? We have 2 kayaks so I’m thinking any of the ones that put the kayak on it’s side would be better space wise. After that, I’m at a loss. Which ones are the most secure and easy to use?? Thanks!

I once used racks like those, but my
car had a roof structure that helped keep the rack towers in place better than is the case for the Camry. If you get those racks, I suggest finding some way to put fore-and-aft struts connecting the crossbars. Don’t overload those racks. One kayak or one canoe, properly tied on, with end ropes down to the bumpers, is the safe capacity.

I know that the cost of Yakima or Thule racks and accessories is daunting, but they are much more secure in their manner of car attachment, and they have better accessories with more capacity.

don’t do it!
Especially if you’re paddling salt water. Corrosion could kill those pretty quick.

Check craigslist for used thule or yakima racks. You buy the racks,and then just get a fit kit for your vehicle. It’s worth the money to get a good one if you’re getting a rack.

A bit of tie-down advice:

– Last Updated: Oct-19-10 12:07 AM EST –

If you end up using that rack, bear in mind that there's nothing to keep those crossbars from sliding forward and backward by a noticeable amount, maybe even a few inches. The adjustable straps will be okay for keeping the rack from shifting right to left (as long as the hooks hold), but even if the hooks don't slide in the door frame, the straps are oriented in the worst possible direction to prevent forward-backward shifting of the rack, since the straps will only have to stretch a very small fraction of an inch for each inch of forward or backward slippage of the rack, and they will be stretched with a great many times as much force as the forward or backward force applied by the sliding rack.

You can minimize the slippage by properly tying your boat to the car. You hear a lot about "front and rear tie-downs", ropes attaching the ends of your boat to each end of the car. That's a good idea but it will do almost nothing to reduce this rack-slippage problem. You will also need to have ropes attached to the boat far inboard of the bow and stern (maybe by using big hooks to attach the ropes to the rim of the cockpit) which run to the front and rear of the car, and preferably two ropes going to the front of the car and two to the back. The closer those ropes are to being horizontal (that's the reason you tie them several feet inboard of the ends of the boat instead of at the ends), the more effective they will be at preventing the whole works from sliding forward or backward.

Front and rear tie-downs tied to each end of the boat won't reduce front-to-back rack slippage and here's why. The front tie-downs will be too close to being vertical, so the boat (and rack) can slide toward the rear if the rope stretches even a tiny amount (which it will since the rope tension will greatly exceed the force applied by horizontal rack slippage). The ropes at the rear don't even counteract the front ropes at all, so there's nothing to keep the boat (and rack) from shifting toward the front when you hit the brakes, that is, until those side straps have stretched a bit. When the boat (and rack) starts sliding toward the front, tie-downs to the bow and stern will BOTH go slack and be useless. Using opposing ropes attached several feet inboard of the ends not only is more efficient use of rope, putting the load more in-line with the rope ("you can't push anything with a rope"), it allows the front and rear ropes to counteract each other, limiting movement of the boat and rack in the forward-backward directions just like the side straps keep movement in check from left to right.

Though standard "front and rear tie-downs" don't solve the problem I talked about here, use them anyway, in addition to the method I described, because a pair of such ropes at each end will help control diagonal pivoting and side-to-side shifting of the boat.

That's not a very secure rack, but with lots of ropes strategically located, you can make it work. You will need to add anchor points on your car to which those ropes can be tied. No matter what, you'll be a lot happier with a rack that mounts securely to the car's roof.

Let us know when and where you are going to be using those racks,so we can stay a safe distance away.

Good luck


– Last Updated: Oct-19-10 2:25 PM EST –

Thanks for all the great info. I wasn't going to get a car top rack since we have a truck and mostly use that. It would be nice to ocassionaly take them with the car though. I saw this rack on someone else's car last week and they commented about how much they loved it. I don't want to spend a lot of money on the rack because I'm probably going to sell the car within the next 2 years and get an suv. I could still use the holders on the suv but not the rack. This rack is cheap and looks like it would be perfect for us. My BF is a carpenter so hopefully he can make up something to prevent the sliding issue in addition to the instructions here. I'm thinking the car doors should also help hold it in place. The man I spoke with last week who was using it said he hasn't had any problems with his at all. Also, I should note we have 10ft kayaks that weigh about 40 pds each.

If you do
decide on this rack, please post a follow-up with your pros/cons/observations. I’ve been considering the same setup for a friend with a 10ft. (40 lb.) rec boat and a Dodge Intrepid.

will do
will do

Consider Ebay
You will get lots of opinions and this is yet another one. :slight_smile:

I recently bought a car to repair and resale and like it so much I decided to keep it a while. I don’t know anything about the ones you looking at but had bad experiences with cheap racks so I wanted Yakima or Thule. I was not paying new price either!

I watched EBay for a while and found a good deal on a used set. It took several weeks of watching and being patient. But a set came up that for some reason seemed to draw no attention. I ended up with bars, mounts and locks for around $75. I had to get a locksmith to make a key and I had to buy clips for my car. I think I ended up with 135-140 dollars in them ready to go.

BTW I do use a sniping program or I probably would have lost the auction.

When I sell this car I can use these on the next one by buying the proper clips. I have a rack I have confidence in. They hold their value well and if I don’t need them I should be able to get most of money back.

Just something else to consider.

I would also suggest you look on Craigslist for both crossbars and carriers.

of the problem too is that this rack seems so easy to use. In addition to the cost, I have a hard time figuring out exactly what it is I need for my car. I did a search on Ebay and it’s overwhelming. It looks like I would have to buy everything piece by piece which is difficult when I’m not sure what pieces I need. :frowning: I’ve seen this in use on someone’s car and spoke with them about it. I can see how it works and it seems easy to use and inexpensive. Like I said, it won’t get a lot of use as we mostly use the truck but it looks like it would be a great temp solution until I get an SUV. I am purchasing these holders: because they will work with whatever SUV I buy in the future. Thanks and I’m open to everyone’s comments and opinions.

Local dealer
Have you tried going to a local dealer and asking what base cargo rack would be best and if they happen to have anything used or on consignment? I bet if you bring him/her lunch they would even install it.

It’s amazing how much help you can get in person.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

I did
go to the Dicks sporting goods near me but they weren’t much help. The closest place I could find that really has the good stuff and big selection is quite a ways away from me :frowning:

and other large box stores don’t count as often as not you will get a blank look when you ask for something requiring expertise. Exceptions do occur but they are usually the exceptions.

Bike, Ski, Surf Shops?

Have you tried the Dealer Locator at:


You don’t have a profile listed so I can’t recommend anyone as I have no idea where you are in the world.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Yakima at Sports Authority and there is a bike doctor near me but it looks like they don’t sell racks. I will call and ask though.

general location
Posting your general location would help lots. Might find someone close that knows a dealer.

Bill H.

in between Annapolis & Baltimore MD

or Google? Have you actually looked?

I just plugged this in and got;

Annapolis Canoe and Kayak


I used the Thule Dealer Locator and got 8 locations within 25 miles of Annapolis, MD.

Thule and Yakima aren’t that much of a rarity.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Me too.
I have a Saturn SC2 and used racks like that. This past April I was coming home from an outing with my Carolina 14 on top with Thule cradles. There was a 35 mph gusting crosswind that day. The wind buffeting the car had loosened the straps holding the clips and rack to my car.

At 60 mph on the highway, I came out from behind a group of trees to an open field. The full force of the crosswind hit me. My rack and kayak disappeared from my view. Thank goodness I used bow and stern lines. The whole assembly flipped and landed mostly on the racks beside my car. I did a hasty move to the shoulder. I bent my racks and rudder, scuffed the top of the bow, and the bottom of the stern. tow of the tie down straps melted and the car had minor scratches. The worst part was climbing out the passenger side because the kayak prevented me from opening my driver side door. I was VERY lucky. So was the pick-up truck behind me.

The guy from the safety patrol helped me load my kayak back on top using foam blocks and spare tie downs.

Now I use Yakima racks.


– Last Updated: Oct-22-10 12:08 PM EST –

rack works well! Have used 2 of these for 5 years and NO issues. Thule/Yakima did not work for my 2006 Mazda 6 due to too much slope to roof line and were NOT secure. Was loaded down with two yaks (both 15') and the Yakima and Thule would pop the rear clamp, also distance between the bars (front to rear) were too short. In fact, Yakima tech support said they have problems with their rack on these Mazda models because of sloping roof lines. FYI, the locks on Thule/Yakimas are a joke they can be twisted open with a screw driver.
My setup is my 15' sit on top yak lays flat, hull up and I use the Yakima J cradles for my sit inside. I use thick 3"-4" pool noodles as padding and and 1 noodle cut in half works well for the bars. I use secure strap tie downs on front and rear and have NEVER had any problem with sliding/slipping as someone mentioned. The bar towers rest on rubber pads and they hold very well when strapped tightly. If you go with Yakima/Thule, make sure they can be returned in event they don't work well on your Toyota. And even though they feel securely clamped in place, make certain your fore/aft/center straps are tight and check your tower clamps on long trips. Your two 10' kayaks should be a piece of cake! PM me for photos of the rack with two kayaks up.