Car top Kayak Carriers ???

I have just purchased a Dagger Blackwater 11.5. I’m looking for advice on a good kayak carrier for a car. I have a Mazda 3 (5 door hatch), so it’s not a large car. Any suggestions or feedback would be great. Do I just need blocks? A rack and blocks? Which Type? I’m clueless! Thanks.

If you have the bucks
Thule or Yakima is the way to go.

I wouldn’t give you two cents for blocks, and I wouldn’t trust my yak to them.



Thanks JackL. I always enjoy your feedback to the questions posted on these boards. You seem to know your stuff! Cheers and thanks again.

another vote for Thule
I too have a Mazda 3 and use a Thule system to car top my boats. Great fit (as the system is with all of the cars I’ve owned) - you’ll never be disappointed you spent the money.

Thanks Scott… It’s good to know the Thule System works well on the Mazda 3s and others.

I used blocks my first year…

– Last Updated: Jun-02-05 2:46 PM EST –

I used foam blocks my first year with a kayak. I used one strap thru the car, and over the Yak, and good bow and stern straps. it worked well for what I thought was a heavy Poly Kayak. My problem was getting it on the top of my 4X4 pick up.

I went to a Yakima rack with two sets of Mako Saddles when I went to a composite kayak. I have a tarp on the bed, so I fold a large towel, lay it on the back edge of the tailgate, and slide the yak up into the rack over the folded towel.

If foam blocks are all you want to spend right now, they will work fine. Just use a good quality strap over the kayak and under/inside the roof of the car. Make sure you tie the bow and stern ends well too. Keep the foam blocks at the front and back of the roof. This is the strongest areas, and the roof won't get caved in.

Foam or Rack will work, How well you tie them down on the foam or rack can make the difference.

Happy Paddling!

If you DON’T have the bucks…
I bought a set of rain gutter rack mounts and made a pair of roof racks out of 2x4s. The mounts cost $55 and another $5 for the 2x4s. They’re not as stylish as the Thule or Yakama racks, but they’ve got a lot of good points.

Most of the high end racks have a weight limit of about 165 pounds. If my racks have a weight limit, it’s beyond anything that I could possibly get onto the roof. Also, I’ve been able to screw in eye bolts in all of the convenient locations for attaching tie down straps.

With an ‘L’ bracket that I made for it (another $10), I can carry up to four boats.

I’m going to invest another 99 cents and buy a toy foam noodle, slice it in half lengthwise, and use it for padding. I don’t “store” my kayak on my roof, so oil canning probably won’t be likely.

Try opening back hatch and shove it in with red flag on back.

I am a safety nut and use blocks

– Last Updated: Jun-03-05 6:22 PM EST –

if I have to take out the second (rackless) car. I use two straps to hold the blocks to the roof, two more to hold the kayak down and bow and stern lines. This is slower than a rack system, but I have never had a problem. 70 mph for an hour and a half to the Cape, no problems.

Still I'd rather have a stout rack system of any type. This car will only last a year or two linger and my next one will be more rack friendly.

Dont forget a cheap acrylid international orange t shirt to hang off the sern line, a requirement in most states of the boat overhangs the bumper by more than three feet. I've had one for a decade and it never fades.

The rack is not usually the limiter
Are your gutters spot welded. Was the robot well maintained, was the welding rod feeding properly, was the welder hung over? the rack auto interface, not the rack,is usually the limiting factor especially with yakima

dollars and sense…

– Last Updated: Jun-04-05 1:50 AM EST –

The cost savings realized by going the cheaper route (foam blocks and straps) is more than outweighed by the time and aggravation factor of having to monkey around with all that crap at the end of the day (and the safety factor of having to worry about having the boat up there on a windy day or when you're driving fast).

The $200 you'll spend on a Thule or Yakima system (plus whatever saddles or attachments you buy) will more than pay for itself over time in ease of use and peace of mind. The thing to keep in mind with racks is that they're not boat accessories - they're car accessories. Once you've gotten used to the idea of having a rack on your car, you'll never own a car without one again. I use mine for hauling canoes or kayaks 60 or 70 days a year, but use them the other days for hauling bikes, ladders, skis, lumber, etc, etc, etc...

Between the two systems (I own both), Thule's fit for cars without raingutters (like your 3) is better than Yakima, because they have a custom set of clips to fit around your car's body, eliminating any hot spots on the sheet metal. Yakima's fit is less exact, but is quicker to take on and off, since they use cam-type levers for securing the rack to the car. They're both good systems, and you really can't go too far wrong by choosing either one.

eBay can be VERY useful if you know what you’re looking for. I lucked out and got Yakima RailRiders for my Jeep Cherokee in like new condition for $11… Yes, ELEVEN DOLLARS. After I saved about $90 dollars on that expense (they retail for $99), I drove to my parents house and commandeered my dad’s old Yakima bars and cut them down to size. I had the whole base rack for the grand total of around $13.50, after shipping. Keep your eyes peeled, you may be able to find a deal.

How could Yakima know?
How could Yakima possibly know these things? Looking at my rain gutters, it would have to take some exceptionally shoddy welding to bring the load maximum down to 165 lb.

With all due respect, I have a hard time believing that Yakima’s weight limit is a reference to possible defects in your automobile manufacture.

165lbs is because of insurance
The reason there is a list of 165 pounds on Thule and Yakima stuff is that is an industry standard that has to do with auto insurance regulations. If you see a limit of 165 you can usually hold a lot more, but that is all they can put on their fit lists and be legal.