Car Top Carriers/Racks

I am going to buy a Kayak soon and still have not settled on what type of car top carrier to get for my car. It is a Toyota Prius and has no rack to attach anything to so I need to buy something that sits on the roof to attach the Kayak to.

Also, the Prius has an aerial in the center so I’d like to be able to mount the Kayak on one side or the other.

I’m looking for suggestions for types/makes of racks that would suit my needs. Having it off to one side would also be a help if I want to carry more than one Kayak.

Any help would be appreciated.

Fit Guides are Online
Yakima has a fit guide with their web site as below, you’ll find a similar application by Thule and others.

get yourself a shark fin antenna
…for the antenna conflict:

Yakima Rails or Landing Pads

– Last Updated: Apr-23-13 10:20 AM EST –

I have seen an installation or two of Yakima rails to the roof of Prius. Very handy and the rest of the rack removes easy. The cross bars are mounted on towers that clip in the rail. I think there is a cheaper alternative that does the same. Some sites sell the rails per-shaped to your roof, so installation is a snap, as long as you are good with a drill ;)

The simple clip on at the doors Yakima works good too and many se them, but the spread between the bars is not huge - good to have tie downs each tome. I prefer Yakima (round) to Thule (square) style bars for my needs on the curved roof.

This is what I got on my Honda Insight:

Yakima landing pads stay put on the car permanently. This way I have just over 40" of spread between the racks, which is very solid. Load is limited to under 100lb as with more than that the roof starts to flex a bit (not an issue, I've carried 2x65lb kayaks on mine just fine, but I suspect it might cause the paint on the roof to eventually crack due to the shetmetal flexing a bit under that load (feels solid otherwise).

Edit: Don't worry about the antenna initially. If you carry a single kayak on one side or two kayaks (one on each side) the antenna will be unaffected. Unless of course, the kayaks are of the 3' wide variety, in which case the antenna might interfere...

I also recently added a Yakima Boat Loader bar on the front driver side to help me lifting up a heavier kayak. That's a simple and elegant solution that works very well.

roof rack
You might want to consider Yakima Whispbars, which are designed to reduce wind noise and resistance. Much of the Prius’ excellent gas mileage is due to its aerodynamic profile, and a roof rack will alter that. Roof racks are notorious for causing wind noise and reducing gas mileage. The downside to Whisbars is that they are more expensive, but the additional cost might be worthwhile if you value fuel economy and a quiet interior.

Or just unscrew the antenna
when traveling with the boats on the rack. (The radio will probably still work too, though reception will suffer)

The issue I have with square or oval bars on a car like the Prius is the curved roof line causes any attachments to be installed at an angle. On mine, if you look carefully and pause at the beginning of the video I posted above, you will see I got maybe 20 degree angle up in the rear and about as much down in the front. Unless the attachments can rotate on the bars, they would be at an angle too…

I guess in my case this is exaggerated due to the extra wide spread between my front and rear bar and on a door-mounted setup it will be less of an issue…

I looked at Whispbars - they do look nice but would not have worked for my setup. I almost always take off the rack when not in use anyway, so having fancy bars doesn’t add much to its utility. When I have the boats up or two snowboards and a few pairs of skis, the bars are the least of my problems wind-wise ;).

that doesn’t get me my commission!

A cheaper, (but still good) alternative

– Last Updated: Apr-23-13 11:18 AM EST –

by a subsidiary of Thule, "Sportrack".

They may have an adjustable rack suitable for your Prius

Sold widely here in Canada, and available online:

You can check out the reviews on Amazon (including from some Prius owners)

Basically, they're more than adequate for carrying kayaks (much better than foam blocks and straps), but the locks (included with bars and feet) are not the best. I have a set to put on my Corolla, and they work fine for carrying two plastic ~50lbs, 12ft Kayaks

Sorry about that…

Many ways to do it
One thing I wish I new before I bought my first setup was about the different types of kayak holders. Not so much about the base rack as there all very similar. Thule and Yakima are top brands. Now the kayak holders themselves. There are Jbar but they require you to pick up the kayak up over your head and set it down into the jbars from side of car. If you have a heavy kayak its not so easy after a long paddle.

Then there are different types that allow you to slide the kayak on from the back of car onto a kayak holder. Much easier to do as you only need to pick up one end of kayak at a time. Then there are things that pick the whole kayak up from the side and have a mechanical assist that picks up most of the weight of the kayak. Thule Hullavator is one which I have seen on a Prius. So decide if picking up a kayak over head is ok for you.

Made a Decision…I think?!
I think I’ve solved the aerial question. I’m considering a Yakima rack where I can stack my kayak on it’s side instead of flat. That way there should be plenty of room to avoid the aerial and also room if I decide to throw another boat or even two on top.

Also seems like an easier way to put them up for travel.