carrying canoe on side

In order to carry two boats on my car (Subaru Outback) I was thinking about carrying a canoe (Mohawk Solo14) on its side. Anybody tried this? I would suppose I’d need a couple of vertical posts to stabilize the boat. Obviously tie downs at front and rear. Feasible at all?

Any other ideas?

Slant your end ties. Consider foam
on the bars, cut to help keep the canoe on edge. It isn’t so much the uprights, but rather the balance of tension on the ropes holding the boat against the uprights and the crossbars.

The slant on the end ties is to keep the canoe from rolling away from the uprights. End tie tension should not be drastic. If the other boats on the rack allow it, rope from the canoe over the other boats and down may help.

I must say that buying longer crossbars is something to consider. Having the canoe in the more conventional position with both gunwales on the crossbar is better.

I carry canoes on their sides when it is necessary to do do to make them fit.

What’s the other boat?
Are they both canoes? Is one of them unusually wide or something? I often see cars of all sizes carry two canoes side-by-side without any need to tilt one of them up on edge, so I’m wondering what constraints you are working with that prompted you to look into the on-edge method.

If he has 48" or even 54" bars like mine
then he can’t carry two canoes in the normal bottom up position.

Other boat
The other boat is a kayak. The Thule rack already has a kayak cradle on it, so the canoe would be next to it. I could get longer bars but at the risk of smacking someone (probably me) in the head.

By my way of thinking, it’s easier to …
…build longer crossbars than it is to create a whole new mounting structure for one of the boats. I see Subarus carrying two canoes side-by-side on almost every trip to our most popular nearby river. My own two-boat crossbars are about 60 inches long, and with two solo canoes I have roughly 4 to 6 inches to spare at each end of each bar (with the guide-boat plus a solo canoe, there’s a lot less leftover length). On a related note, the greater the spread between crossboars, the less extra crossbar length is needed when carrying two boats, since the greater spread puts the bars farther away from widest part of each boat.

Getting smacked in the head.

– Last Updated: Jul-19-10 11:15 PM EST –

I know that problem well! However, I do have a solution that "works for me". I hang a short length of half-inch-thick rope from each end of each bar, and put a knot in the end. If someone "walks into" one of the bars, the rope is dangling in front of their face before they hit, so even wearing brimmed hats won't cause mishaps. If you are getting out of the car and standing up, the rope dangles against the top of your head, providing about 9 inches of "advance warning" before you collide with the bar. Padding is okay but won't keep people from breaking their glasses and stuff like that. This method actually prevents impacts in the first place. Like I said, it "works for me", and none of my passengers has hit their head on a crossbar end in the three or four years I've been using that method, so I think it's worth a shot.

By the way, another method is to use J-hooks for your kayak. Here's what a pair of 60-inch bars look like with two solo canoes alongside a kayak on J-hooks.

You can see, one canoe and one kayak would not require long bars at all.

I’ve seen too many instances of people
clobbered by long crossbars. And with Yakimas, extra length just means more I have to do to suppress round bar moan. I admit, I have seldom faced a situation where I wanted to carry two tandems at once. But if I had to do it, I would lash them together on their edges.

I used to have that happen all the time,
, but it hasn’t happened to me or anyone I know since I put the “warning hangers” on each bar, as per my post below. I’m almost ready to say that the method is foolproof (knocking on wood).

Thanks guys
for all the good ideas. Need to think about this now to get the proper Jerry rigged look to it.

My solution
I have a 2010 Subaru Forester with Yakima racks and 58 inch bars. Bright tennis balls on the ends of the bars work for me.

“foolproof” solution

Anyone who devises a “foolproof solution” underestimates the ingenuity of fools.


I used to carry my Wenonah Sandpiper on its side against kayak stackers because my paddling partner’s canoe was too wide for both to be side-by-side. Mine was on its side and the other canoe in the conventional place. It worked very well and was very stable. Two belly straps around the canoe which secured it to the kayak stackers, plus bow stern tie-downs. Very secure. Very safe. Did not increase wind resistance that was noticeable.

carrying canoes on the sides
Depending on the relative lengths of the boats and their degrees of rocker, which determine how well they will “nest” together, three canoes can often be carried on their sides on a pair of bars that will only accommodate 2 boats gunwale sides down.

It depends a bit on how close the bars are together and how deep the boats are at the point the bars cross the hulls. When carried this way, the bottom of the outermost hull may bulge out beyond the ends of the bars on one side, and the stems of the outermost canoe on the other side, but it can work well.

extend your stock rack with wood
What I did on my wife’s Subaru was to add two 1" x 3" boards that extended beyond the stock roof rack and were wide enough to carry two canoes bottom up. I laid the boards on top of the rack along side the cross bars and attached them with duct tape.

I used a strap as I usually do to hold the canoes down but did not run the strap under the boards. That way the weight of the canoes helped hold the boards in place.

Yup - against a stacker bar
I frequently put my WW canoe on its side on a buddy’s RAV4 with a stacker bar installed on the factory rack. I was a little sceptical at first, but its actually very sturdy.

3 Canoes
I have hauled 3 canoes-1 in the center and 2 leaned against it all the way to the ADKs. One was a light kevlar boat-no problems. I tied the angled ones angled-rt angle to their gunnels-crossed bow and stern lines.


Yeah, I use a warning hangar on one
canoe hanging in our carport, so that I don’t hit its bow when I walk out to the deck. But I just won’t use bars that extend beyond the ground shadow of the car. Temporary extensions, maybe.