I’m new to kayaking and am awaiting delivery of a 14’ composite Current Design transitional yak (I’m very excited!). It weighs only 43 lbs. My hauling vehicle will be my 2010 Impreza Outback Sport–basically a WRX wagon. It has factory rails and crossbars. I only plan to haul the one yak. My question is, with such a lightweight boat, can I get away with using the factory crossbars, perhaps with foam saddles or should I replace the bars with something stronger? The foam saddles are nice and cheap. Has anyone here used them? Impressions? Any advice is very appreciated.
I've used all kinds of kayak racks, including the foam blocks, on my old Subie OB xbars with never a problem.
The foam blocks come in different configurations to fit different shape crossbars.
Depends on how far you’re hauling it and how fast. I’ve used foam saddles for local hauling at relatively slow speeds, works ok but it’s not real secure. At highway speeds for longer distances having a real rack is a good idea both for the boat and the car.
Can't speak for that model but my 00 OB sport had rock solid bars and a decent bar spread. Foam blocks was the way I went. As grayhawk says you can get the foam blocks with holes cut thru them to fit the profile of your bars. This is how many carriers ship them long-distance.
You can get away with it
The real question is whether you want to longer term. But if you are driving a 2010 car, you may find you need more carrier just about the same time you find you need to get a newer car.
I know Subies can run forever, but having been thru two of them I also know they can suddenly start chewing up a heck of a lot of money when they decide their end is near. They go into their version of physical infirmity more expensively than some other cars I have owned.
I would stand pat with the existing cross bars and foam blocks, spend the season enjoying the boat, and see where it looks like you will be for next spring in terms of boat boat and car. That way if you do go for a third party rack, you can look for one with towers (or feet) that are likely to travel OK to any new car.
Thanks, everyone. Like I said, I'm still waiting for my kayak to arrive at my local outfitter, but in the meantime, I did try a set of foam saddles. They went on nicely, although they didn't fit snuggly. Should they or is it okay for them to slide (as long as the kayak is secured)?
I sent them back anyway because the straps to hold the boat down thread through the car--one through the front doors and one through the back seat doors. As in right in front of the driver's face. That seemed totally bizarre to me. I'm going to have to find a system that secures the boat to the rails instead.
Bill H., I appreciate your suggestion for erring on the side of safety. I will eventually be hauling my boat quite a few miles away, but will start out very locally and will get a feel for how secure things are.
if you put the bars thru the blocks
then you use the straps to tie the boat down to the bars, not around the roof. Like so:
Don’t forget to add front and rear tiedowns.
I carried my boat for thousands of miles off and on the freeway this way, no issues whatsoever.
I had an 02 WRX
I used the factory crossbars for a season, but broke one carrying a 17 foot plastic touring boat whill driving though a construction zone. Probably because I was a total newbie and tried to increase the bar spread, and ended up over-extending the cross bar’s purchase on the rail causing it to fail. Also didn’t tie down the ends while using foam blocks, lots of wiggle in that setup. Was much happier with a Yakima round bars and something similar to the Railgrab, which is still in use on my wife’s car 15 years later. Worth the investment to get a solid setup, safer for you and better for the boat.
I think foam blocks are kind of rough on hulls, especially if it’s hot, tend to deform them. Worth getting some type of cradle to take better care of your new boat.
I always wondered about the clamping purchase of those factory bars but never had a problem. Definitely not as solid as the railgrab setup.
Foam blocks are good for composite boats but I can see your point re: plastic, especially if they don't line up with bulkheads. Deck-down maybe?
Mine is composite so I’m not worried about deforming the hull. I’m also not sure if I’ll be able to place it hull up. The Vision’s decking in front of the cockpit is higher than the rest of the boat and I’d have to be sure it wouldn’t make contact with the roof of my car.
If I go with foam, I am concerned about tying the boat down to the factory crossbars. I think the rails will be okay.
When is that guy gonna call that my yak is in?!
different ways to tie down
I like to tie my boat to the junction where the crossbar meets the rails (around both), and loop and tie the excess strap to the rail. That way if the crossbars let go (and you're using tie-downs), you still have a level of security.
The more you get your bulkheads to line up with the bars, the better.
That’s good to know.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy your Vision. I paddle a skeg equipped 140 and my wife a 130 and the boats are perfect for the majority of our use.
I can’t help with your car as I use a Thule system mounted to the rails of my Santa Fe, but I just wanted to add that whatever you use, make sure you also have bow and stern lines tied securely to your bumpers, or underhood loops.
Will definitely do!