carry 4 kayaks on my van?

I’m looking to take a paddling trip in a couple of weeks, and would like to take all four of us in one vehicle. I have a 2007 Odyssey EXL. I can fit all four touring kayaks (roughly 200 lbs, total) on the Yakima racks on top of the van. I’m estimating that the weight of each individual plus their gear is roughly 250 lbs on the average. That yields a total estimated weight of roughly 1200 lbs.

Does anyone know if this is acceptable, strictly from a safety standpoint?

Does anyone have experience loading 4 kayaks (2 12’ yaks, 1 14’ yak, and a 14.5’ yak) on an Odyssey? Want to make sure it’s not too much weight on the rough for structure purposes but also for roll-over concerns…

Thanks, in advance, for your feedback!

just make sure
the rack load is secured well and don’t drive like you’re in an unloaded van. You might consider a couple straps from rack to inside of van roof as long as they don’t interfere with opening the doors. I did a trip with a friend in an Oddysey and three glass boats with extra gear in them.

My preference, when loading up three or four boats regularly on a van, is to have three or four cross bars to spread the load around but that may not be possible with the spread available on stock side rails.

Your risk of rollover is much less than the average truck based SUV out on the road. Drive to get there, don’t drive as though you’re a tailgating commuter flying up the fast lane weaving in/out around others.

what lee said
Weight scheight. Now then, you’re only putting the four kayaks on the roof because the inside is already full…right?

I’ve carried 4 boats on my Odyssey
I’ve carried 4 boats on my Odyssey many times - two in the middle strapped to a Yakima Kayak Stacker, and two on the sides in Yakima Hull Raisers (J hooks). I do use front and back tie-down lines with four boats, just to be sure.

The “official” capacity of the roof rack for pre-2011 Odyssey’s is 150 pounds, but my boats average over 50 pounds each (two 14.5’ and two 16.5’). I’ve never had a problem and have driven at high interstate speeds for hours at a time. You’ll discover you want to stay away from tractor trailer rigs, though.

Your manual, or the load rating sticker on the driver’s door jamb should tell you the GVWR, and the dry weight of the vehicle. My guess is that for a 7 passenger van, you’re well below the capacity rating at 1200 pounds.

Not sure about an Odyssey
But I’ve often carried four kayaks on my 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan.

I’ve got three cradles on my roof (a Yakima setup) – when I carry four boats I strap one boat on the top of the middle boat piggy-back style with foam blocks in between. Never had a problem. If I were to transport four boats on a regular basis, I’d probably go with two sets of standard cradles in the middle and two sets of J-racks on the outside.

I don’t have photos of four boats on the vehicle but I do have a few shots with three – if you scroll way down to the very last photo of this trip report you’ll see my setup (note that I generally don’t have the boats upside down but in this case I did because it kept me from being over-height (and paying more) on the ferry):

However you make it work on your vehicle, make sure that everything is secured before driving off.


gear vs boats
Rather than overloading your roof, put all the gear inside the van. Especially on the return when gear is wet.

Bow lines really help with the load (and as a side benefit let you know what’s going on on your roof).

Gear should never stored in the boats when they are on the roof of a vehicle. There’s far too much risk of something going wrong with the extra weight and stuff moving around inside.


Had a Ford Windstar
until the safety recalls deemed it unrepairable.

Until then it would take on 78" thule bars 4 kayaks no problem. Always use bow and stern lines in addition to the straps for the boats and strap the racks to the bars with the extra tails of the boat straps. You can never be too careful!