carrying double

-- Last Updated: Feb-12-14 10:04 PM EST --

Hello All,

I currently own a Tripper, but because of a growing family am looking to purchase another canoe -- a bit smaller.

As I only have a Honda van with a roof rack.......what options are there for me to safely transport two canoes at the same time?

Thank you.

A clamp on roof rack systems
Yakima ought to have one that allows you to clamp a 78 inch crossbar onto your factory racks,

Yakima and Thule are . . .

– Last Updated: Feb-13-14 2:21 AM EST –

. . . the two most popular rack systems. They make products that can fit just about any vehicle. They consist various types of "towers" that attach to the roof of the vehicle in different ways, plus different length cross bars that attach to the towers.

These systems can be removed from the vehicle, but many people just leave them on.

Yakima uses round cross bars and Thule uses rectangular ones.

There are also some higher and lower priced rack systems. There are companies on the web that specialize in rack systems, as do most canoe/kayak and bicycle vendors.

I haveYakima
I installed mounts and 78 in. crossbars to the factory side rails on my minivan. It was a really easy installation and I store the bars in the garage when I’m not using them. I also added canoe brackets to carry a tandem and solo canoe together. Both Yakima and Thule have ‘Fit My Car’ type guides.

78" bars
You can carry two canoes.

Right now I have two kayaks and one canoe on mine, but you can mix and match.

Make sure with your two canoes, you use load stops(gunnel brackets). They help keep them nice and secure

Jack L

Plus one for Yakima.
It’s expensive, but once it’s done it’s done. I went with the rail grab system and 78 inch bars which will most likely also work for you. I can carry two tandem canoes, one canoe one yak, one canoe two yaks, or even two of each if I get creative, although when it reaches that point it’s usually a multi-day trip with a big crew and I’m towing the boat/gear trailer anyway. The bars are also great for carrying awkward items like fishing poles in a rod tube on long trips. This time of year there’s usually a sale going on Yakima stuff and you get a little price break plus things like free locking cores which I highly recommend.

Second Jack
You’ll need to get a third party system with towers and quite long crossbars, as JackL says 78" is the minimum.

I have 68" Yakima bars
but would need 78" to carry 2 tandem canoes. I can carry 2 kayaks or 2 solo canoes with the 68".

I carry 2 tandems on 50" bars
One flat, and one leaning or on edge - it works fine. I do use bow and stern tie downs. Even with my van, I would constantly be hitting my head with 78" bars. For the number of times I carry two tandems, 78" bars arent worth the hassle. My favorite picture of tandem canoes (on 78" bars) on the road from DougD:

Short URL

Or copy this:

No need for head-banging

– Last Updated: Feb-15-14 2:30 PM EST –

First, if you can provide reasonable spread between your bars, you don't need them to be 78" to carry two tandem canoes. To need bars that long, both crossbars would need to be right near the very widest part of the canoes. If the bars have some spread between them, they will be a good distance forward and backward from the widest part, and can be narrower. The greater the spread, the shorter the bars can be. On many cars, getting much bar spread isn't possible, so the needed length will be greater.

One trick for occasionally carrying two boats that are a little bit too wide for your bars is to position one of them a few feet farther back than than normal, and if still desperate for space, shift the other one slightly forward (shifting a boat forward makes it a lot less stable in crosswinds and truck turbulence though). The total width needed for the two boats is greatly reduced this way.

That said, even with long bars, there's no need to risk banging your head on them. I no longer have photos of my method for preventing head-banging on long bars, but I can describe it. A length of thick rope hangs from the end of each cross bar. Each rope is about 10" long. There's an overhand knot at the end of the rope, which provides some "heft" that you will feel if you get out of the car and start standing up beneath the bar. For the other common head-hit scenario, not looking high enough as you turn your head or walk alongside the car (often due to wearing a brimmed hat), the rope is right there hanging in your face or your perimeter vision, signaling you to halt! In the 6 or 8 years I've been using that system, no one has ever hit their head on my long cross bars. Of course, they don't stick out as far as some people's bars do (for the reason described above), but they stick out far enough that head hits would most certainly happen sometimes if the warning ropes were not there.

Lots of people put a tennis ball on each bar end. I chose my method because I wanted to prevent hitting my head rather than just cushion the impact (even a cushioned impact can damage a pair of eyeglasses).

more details on tie-down method, please
do you get by with two belly lines and two end lines for the entire package or do you use individual end lines for each canoe? Or maybe individual belly lines?

I’ve been wanting to put a tandem and a solo on my factory rack and am interested in a tie-down system.

More details
Use four belly lines and four bow and stern lines. This way boats won’t be rubbing against one another and a single strap failure will only affect one boat.

I prefer to cross the bow and stern lines. I always rig bow lines so as not to threaten the driver behind me with a canoe through the windshiled. I sometimes do without the stern lines accepting that if I brake hard, and the whole load slides off the front, I’ll be the one to run it over.

I carry two canoes frequently, and without trouble, on a small staion wagon.


I use two camlock buckle straps.
on each canoe with gunnel blocks.

I don’t use any front or rear tie downs with my 17 foot and under canoes.

I use a front one if I have my ultralight racing canoes on just to protect them from sideways torque on the front long overhang.

I have never trusted the factory racks and my racks are bolted to the roof.

If I was using factory racks I would probably use front and rear tie downs on all my boats

Jack L

On edge
I would have to put the second canoe on edge, so I’m afraid that once I’m done tying down the first canoe with belly lines, those lines would be in the way of putting the second canoe on the roof. So I’m not sure how to use two belly lines each if one canoe is on edge.

Gunwale brackets
When carrying two canoes side by side on my SUV I found it very helpful to use gunwale brackets on the front bar to prevent the tendency of the canoes to want to spread apart from the wind flowing up and over the hood. Brackets were not needed on the rear bar only the front one. It made for a much more secure setup. Front & rear tie downs were needed as well of course. I always use parachute chord which is strong yet thin enough that it doesn’t interfere with forward vision.

Probably not a problem

– Last Updated: Feb-18-14 11:55 AM EST –

Chances are, the contact points between the gunwale of the tilted canoe and the hull of the non-tilted one won't be at the same place as the belly tie-downs anyway. If it turns out that they are, I still wouldn't worry unless traveling a thousand miles. If everything is tight and the boats don't move much, there won't be much chafing of the lines. Wouldn't hurt to take a peek at their condition during fuel stops, but other than that, don't worry. Also, you could put some padding between those contact points, and that may be a good idea if you want to avoid some extra wear of the hull at those spots on a long trip (whitewater boaters would be correct to scoff at this).

Maybe I misunderstood you concern. Do you think the belly straps holding down the first canoe will actually be in the way? If they are aligned vertically along each side of the hull, they won't be in the way at all. If you currently route the lines off at an angle from the edges of the hull (so that they might be in the way of the tilted boat), consider running them vertically down to the cross bars as a matter of principle. The downward holding force is tremendously greater with a straight-down pull than with a wide, angled-downward pull, at least for a given amount of strap tension. You can achieve the same hold-down force either way, but it makes sense to do it in the way that's most efficient. Also, when without gunwale blocks, the canoe can't drift much side to side if the straps come off the hull and straight down to the bars.

Currently I tie the belly lines
to the four sliders that support the two cross bars of my factory rack, so they’re at an angle. I never thought about tying it to the cross bar itself, since I’d have to climb on the roof of my SUV to reach those points. I’ll have to try a step stool.

Convenient access to the roof

– Last Updated: Feb-18-14 2:07 PM EST –

I have that same problem. To reach the rear bar above the roof, I usually stand on the rear tire (I hold onto the rack with one hand to keep from falling backward while arranging lines, but when tying knots or tensioning buckles with both hands, that process in itself is enough of a hand-hold). An alternative for the rear is to stand on either the bumper or tailgate (if you have one). I use all three of these methods for the rear bar. For the front bar, I open the front door and stand on the floor/rocker panel alongside the seat. Works for me. Some people prefer a step-stool though.

By the way, for the situation described in this part of the thread, the non-tilted boat will be off-center toward one edge of the car. For straps, position the wrap-around connection at the less-accessible side, and your buckle at the side that's at the edge of the car. You won't need any manual dexterity for the less-accessible bar connection that way. If you use rope and a trucker's hitch, the "anchor end" of the rope can be at the less-accessible location - just tie two half-hitches there, a very easy knot to tie when reaching out over the roof. Put your trucker's hitch on the side that's easier to reach.

By the way, if you are attaching to the four sliders of your factory rack, I'm guessing you might be using straps with a hook at each end. The kind that's just a single strap with a buckle at one end and nothing at the other (no hooks) is much more versatile when it comes to tying boats to cross bars, and it's the use of that kind of strap that is described in the previous paragraph.

Even more detail

– Last Updated: Feb-19-14 10:59 AM EST –

You need bars that are long enough. Or, you can extend a shorter pair like this: I use 58" bars and then I slip home-fashioned wooden channels over them which are long enough (about 76") to accomodate two canoes. The wooden parts are pieced together, nailed and glued, from three pieces of 1" pine stock and painted. The channel in the bottom fits snuggly over the Thule bar. There are blocks in the channel at the ends of the Thule bars that keep the thing centered and prevent sideways movement. This allows me to use the shorter bars for errands around town and still carry two boats when needed while providing a gentle surface for wooden gunwales to ride on. I also put some cleats on the top to serve as gunwale blocks. The belly straps, pulling down on the canoe, hold the channels firmly in place.

I realize that this is may not be easy to picture. I'd be willing to send an email with some pictures if you're interested.


you can use it to mount brackets to hold the crossbars.

If I’m right regarding your Honda van, you probably won’t need the , just plain roofs.

We had a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a roof rack that had factory sliding cross-bars -but while OK for one boat, couldn’t fit two side-by-side. We bought Yakima RailRiders, which fit the grooves in the factory rack, and held our wider Yakima crossbars that allowed us to easily transport two boats together.

We now have a Mazda6 SportWagon with raised factory roof rails. For this one we bought Thule CrossRoads, which clamp to the permanent side rails, and hold the Thule crossbars and allow us to safely secure two boats side-by-side.

Whichever type you have of the above factory roof racks/rails, Yakima and Thule probably each have a groove-fitting rail-insert tower to fit your van, or a generic roof rail-clamp to tighten onto your raised fore-and-aft roof rails. Other major manufacturers such as Malone may also have similar fit kits.

If you’re worried about earning the Paddler’s Red, Black, & Blue Badge of Honor -that lump you get when you hit your head on a cross bar that extends out beyond the side roofline of the car (we’ve all done it6 I’m pretty sure), get some bright yellow tennis balls and cut holes in them and slide them over the ends, or slit a section of a brightly-colored pool noodle and tape it over the end. Aids in avoiding the bars in the first place, softens the blow if that doesn’t work…

Use hand NOT ratchet-tightening cam straps to hold your boats to the rack; you want a tight but NOT death-grip snug-down. And consider using bow & stern-stabilizing running from the boats’ ends to the front & rear bumpers, or under-hood/under-trunk bars as safety lines if you want the extra security of hanging onto your boats at speed.

ANd then rack’em up there, tighten’em down, and head on out to where you can


-Frank in Miami