Car Topping help

I have a 4runner (SUV) with factory racks and the Thule J cradles. I see that thule makes an extension bar for their rack system. But since i still use the factorybars this will not work.

Thule link -

this is great for single paddlers who need that extra help getting the boat up there… My question is do any other companys make such a thing for factory racks. Would it be possible to weld a small bar onto my J Cradles? Perhaps someone eles has done it…

The Thule picture is confusing.
If you have the Thule clamps and Thule bars, what prevents you from getting the accessory and using it? Just that Thule says you can’t? What is there that would prevent you from putting the loading extension device inside one of the Thule crossbars? I guess there’s something I’m not getting. I admit I was too lazy to download Thule’s pdf instructions.

I have Yakima crossbars on Yakima clamps, which are clamped onto Subaru factory racks. I can stick anything I want into those Yakima crossbars.

I believe Thule
has had two versions of their bar : an older verrsion that clamped onto the bar’s exterior, and the newer version that slides into the bar. Either way, he is SOL.

I would not trust welding anything to the thinwall tubing used for cradles. Bolting would be a better way to go. Is ther any possibility of somehow mounting a single Thule bar to the 4-Runners rack system so that an extension can be installed? Just brainstorming here.


I, too have the Yakima
Racks, with the Boat Loader extender bars.

Priceless for solo loading!

(end hijack mode)


It won’t work with your Thule system, but Malone has a J-cradle device coming to market that has an attachable ramp to assist in loading. Kind of a poor man’s Hullavator.

The value of upgrading to a full Thule rack would be worth it to me versus the time and money spent in trying to jury-rig something.

Look into
Hully rollers and mako saddles. YOu just lift the front on to the rollers then just slid it the rest of the way on.

He doesn’t have the Thule bars…
he has the crossbars that came on the standard roof rack on his car.

Poor Man’s (or smart mans?) "Rollers"
I’m not sure trying to create an alternative would be worth the time, effort, or potential for damage!

A couple of options are:

  1. bite the bullet and buy the Thule bars, rails, and outrigger.

  2. get a bathroom mat/rug (be sure to use one with a rubber backing) and keep it in your trunk. When you’re ready to load, lay it over the top of the tailgate so that it’s partly on the roof, and partly hanging over the back window. Then, set the bow up on the carpet, walk to the stern, and simply slide the boat up onto your rack from behind.

    The rubber backing prevents the mat from sliding off your car during the process. Since you’ve got J-cradles, you can slide your boat up on it’s edge.

    Works better than rollers, costs a lot less, and will not scratch your car. (The irony is that many people who have rollers use towels or other items to protect their car, because they have to slide the boat up into the rollers…somehow, they don’t realize that they simply do this and dispense with the rollers altogether.)

Skip the Outrigger
Thule just came out with a new widget called the Slipstream.

Cost is $300 but it’ll clamp right onto your factory crossbars.

Waiting for them to come into the showroom soon.

See you on the water,


Hyde Park, NY

Get a RollerLoader it saved my back and neck. Worth every penny. Also used as a kayak cart when you take it to the water.

thanks everyone for your help. I might just go buy the thule rack setup and replace the factory crossbars.

Rack extensions
Years before the big boys came out with extensions to help with solo loading I went to Lowes, bought a 3’ piece of metal conduit and slipped it OVER the bar (attached a piece of cord to hook it on the rack so it wouldn’t slip off…also put an eye bolt on the end to keep my boat from sliding off the end). The conduit slides about 6" over the bar and it supports the canoe quite well. Total cost…well under 20 bucks. Not fancy…but it works.