Car top rack for canoe

-- Last Updated: Jul-07-07 5:00 PM EST --

I have a Volvo wagon with rails already on the roof. I'm about to get my first canoe, a 50 pound 17-footer. Would I be better off getting cross bars for the rails from Volvo, or go with something like a Yakima system made for canoes (or another 3rd party vendor)? The cost difference between the two is not an issue, I just want to haul the canoe as safely as possible, and with as much ease as possible (I'm an older guy).

Thanks in advance.

The nice thing about a Yakima or Thule system is that you can transfer the rack to a different car when you get a new one with only somewhat minor expenses. I’ve got a Thule on a Jeep Liberty and one on the way for my new Honda Fit (no special allegiances to Thule…it’s just what I had access to).

With a rack you buy straight from the MFR, it’s either going to be a rebadged Thule or Yakima, or it will be something proprietary that will have to remain with the vehicle when you sell it (and it probably won’t increase the resale value of the car, either).

car top rack
My suggestion is to get a round tube rack made by Yakima. I transfered mine from 2 Hondas to my current car, a Subaru Baja. They fit gunwhale brackets ( also from Yakima) and Hully Rollers and Mako Saddles ( another Yakima ) OR you can just put on some pipe foam insulation and tape it. Works just as well.

The factory crossbars on our Outback
were marginal, although the rails were excellent. We got Yakima bars and clamps (the current version are “Lowriders”) and these allow much higher loads than the factory crossbars.

what a timely post…
I just bought an older Volvo wagon with a roof rack but no crossbars & was anxious to get it outfitted ASAP for boat hauling.

I checked online & was amazed to find how many different rack styles & configurations there are, even for Volvo years/models.

Hopefully in the future I will be able to improve on my temporary outfitting. but I went to the junkyard & got some crossbars from an Isuzu Trooper for $15., then went to the hardware store & spent another $15., & now have a decent looking & very functional rack for a fraction of the cost of Volvo parts.

Now I just wish I could figure out why my horn suddenly starts blowing for no reason & won’t shut off…it’s pretty embarrassing.

My own preference

– Last Updated: Jul-08-07 12:07 AM EST –

Would be to buy the bars from Volvo. Thule make's their racks. The Thule canoe rack blocks fit the Volvo square bars. Regardless of what you get, you will be stuck with whatever it is that fits the Volvo rails in the end.

Also, when you buy the rack from Volvo you get all the stuff you need in the package. With Thule or Yakima from somewhere else you have to buy the bars and the adaptors separately.

only thing is…
…if you want the best and easiest setup for loading/unloading boats, it would be the mako cradles & hully rollers, and I’m not sure if you could get them through Volvo.

If you order online, most suppliers will guarantee the parts will work, but perhaps not be a perfect fit. The Volvo racks are pretty unique; I’m not sure what others would even be close. Mine had two of the fittings (but no crossbar) that where shaped to fit the contour of the rails perfectly…no brand name.

Gunwale brackets
Yakima/ Thule - both make fine products, get whichever, but be sure to get gunwale brackets. They locate the canoe fore to aft and eliminate yaw.

Gotta second the Yakima round bars - easiest thing in the world to elongate if you end up carrying more than one canoe.(hopefully you will soon experience that dilemma)

Also second the gunnel brackets. Makes a HUGE difference in hauling stability. Be aware that if your boat has strong tumblehome some gunnel-brackets/load-stops will be tall enough to rub the outswept hull.

"Also second the gunnel brackets. Makes a HUGE difference in hauling stability. Be aware that if your boat has strong tumblehome some gunnel-brackets/load-stops will be tall enough to rub the outswept hull."

The brackets are a must. If you have a large tumblehome, you can put the brackets on the inside of the boat. I had to do that with mine because my cross bars are short.

Just a note on gunwale brackets.
As they come from Yakima, the uprights are too high. On two of my canoes, the bracket uprights couldn’t contact the gunwales because they were hitting the hull bulge first. Also, the unnecessary hight makes it harder for one person to get the boat over the uprights and onto the bracket pads.

The bracket uprights are made of plastic and are easy to cut down. One could do a neater job with a fine saw, but I used some double action tin snips and had the uprights down to a reasonable height in no time.

One always wonders what difference the brackets could make in an emergency stop. One day I missed seeing that a guy was stopped ahead of us to turn left. When I DID see him, I had to stand on the brakes just short of locking them. The canoe never moved on those brackets.

I took off the factory cross bars when I drove home from the dealership. I use what’s called EZ Riders. They lock on much better than Low Riders (which I tried first) I cannot lift the bars and get them to move on the rack now. I can lift a lot of weight too. Excelent rack by Yakima.

Can you believe?
I let someone use my car and canoe one day. I came home and found my car and canoe in one piece. But when I went to take off the canoe, it was not tied down any where! The person forgot to tie down the canoe, a nice spruce Bell Magic. The gunwhale brackets played a role in keeping the canoe on the car. Average speed had to have been 45mph distance to lake was only 16 miles. I no longer lend out my canoe or car by the way. Don’t ask :{

Get two 2x4s the right length and tie them on/to your existing roof rails. Put the canoe on the 2x4s and tie down the canoe.

lending the canoe
That’s unreal…and with a Bell Magic to boot.

on a Volvo. Please… :slight_smile:

thats a good idea
I never would have thought to put the brackets on the inside. I had some problems with the 48" bars I got with my rack (off ebay) where the brackets wanted to be just happened to be where the towers connected with the bar. I ended up off setting the bar on the towers, but putting the brackets inside might have fixed it for me.

I love this forum…

Wife-factor would negate
the 2x4’s on our car roof :slight_smile: