Car topping...

I’m looking for tips on getting my boat on my car with out killing my back… Today i think i pulled it pretty good… I drive a subaru outback and use a haul a port - j cradle type rack… It can be pretty tuff getting the boat (14.5 plastic Carolina) in the cradle. I was thinking about trying a small step ladder to walk up and get it in the cradle.

Would greatly appreciate any other tips



PS bought the boat in early January and love it! thanks for everyones help on this board.

Lay the boat on the ground with the bow beside the back wheel, or there abouts.

Pick just the bow up and place it in the rear J cradle.

Then go to the stern, pick it up and slide the yak up until it reaches the front saddle and stop where you want it to.

Normally I have my wife helping me, but I have done it many times that way with a plastic Eclipse and Shadow by myself onto the cap of a full size pickup which is much higher than your car.



Ask a passer-by for a hand

I too have an Outback, and have used Yakima Hully Rollers years ago (OK) and then Malone Autoloaders on the Yakima bars. But my back periodically gives me trouble, and I was tired of not being able to fully open the hatch.

I recently bought a Thuls Hullavator when Thule was having a nationwide sale, and so far it has been a positive experience. With a vehicle no higher than an Outback a Hullavator is in some ways overkill, but it sure is nice to strap the boat in at waist level. I sometimes use my hatches for storage of gear, and access is now quite easy.

Downside? Price. On sale, the XT model was $360 - MSRP is about $450. Also, the system is complicated, and I am a lover of KISS. Noise is another issue. The components rattle a bit, and I am now dealing with a high C whistle. I also am not completely happy with the cradle’s support of my composite hull (four smallish points).

But the biggest advantage is that heavy lifting is a thing of the past. I had a pretty good setup before, but this one requires lifting only to waist level. Pretty nice.


Will give thins a try. Will it scratch or rest up against the car at all? Definatly do not wat to scratch up my pait job

thanks for the tips!

add on
The above reply is right on only tie a stern line off to the rack so the boat cant slip. put a pad on the car and on the ground under the stern to protect the boat and the car. If you are loading from a slope, always point the front of the car down hill. Less angle and safer.

Outback Cartopping
I’m guessing that part of your problem may be the in board position of the factory rails on the Outback. Do you find yourself bumping up against the side of the car and having to reach out to get the boat in the cradles? If you’ve mounted the J cradles on factory crossbars this might be the problem and it would still be problematic related to the “lift one end first” solutions suggested as the hull of the unlifted portion of the boat will rub on the side of the car.

You could get longer aftermarket crossbars from Yakima or Thule to name two that would allow you to position the J Cradles further outboard related to the edge of the car which would help with the one end first solution.

On the other hand, if you can easily lift the boat, and only have difficulty reaching out to put it into the cradles, a two or thre step stool might just do the trick for you.

58" bars
I have an outback and I have 58" bars on it. If I wanted to I could mount the J- carry (Thule hull a ports too) on the outside of the rail, that would help with the reaching out part. I cartop a 14’ glass kayak all the time, but I can lift the 43lbs over my head.

I’ve heard that the Malone J-carriers don’t need so much lift as they are a little shorter.

What I did make for my outback is a simply bench by drilling into some long wooden pieces onto the back of a plastic 2lt bottle soda carrier (from a distributer) and I use that for extra lift.


yakima boat loader
It is a very good investment if you’re ever solo, especially AFTER the paddle.

A piece of pipe…
…from Lowes does the same as the Yakima Boat loader and is only $3-$4 compared to $50+. Ofcourse if price is not an issue, I’d go with the boat loader. My short girlfriend has no trouble loading her Acadia into J-cradles on my lifted Jeep with the pipe-in-Yakima bar method.

yakima boat loader
the yakima boat loader is just what i need!!! only problem is the j cradles attach to me existing factory rack… any others out there…

thank you!!!


anything else out there like the ez loader for factory racks?


My Opinion
The way I see it, there are two components to the problem: the vertical, and the horizontal. I found that a stool helps me in most cases with the vertical part. I say most cases, because some days I’m just a klutz (usually when others are watching) and I fumble, or when it’s windy. But most times I’m just fine. I solved the horizontal part by getting Malone’s Autoloader cradles, which have a little loading ramp that sticks out, and by placing the cradles as close to the edge as possible. i suggest trying the stool and see if that’s good enough.

Good Luck…Lou

Talon side loading rack
I just won one in Feb in the drawing at the Bogey and Bacall races down in Key largo.

It is really neat, and they have a “fit kit” that adapts it to the Yakama round bars, or the Thule square bars.



canoe loader
I look at bass pro or cabelas at the Fulton canoe loader, I can do mine approx 78lbs in about 1 minute by myself