Carrying weight limits on racks

-- Last Updated: Feb-13-05 8:56 AM EST --

In the racks v. trailers thread and others, there has been a lot of talk about all the stuff people carry on their racks. I wonder if people pay attention to the rack weight limits on their vehicles and/or rack systems. I've carried up to four heavy plastic rec boats on top of my Yakima-equipped 1991 Tempo, and I don't frankly know what that combination is rated at.

A neighbor is selling a 1997 Subaru Outback Legacy I've got my eye on, but noticed the rack has a label that says max load is 100 pounds, "evenly distributed." By my calculations, three rec boats would exceed that limit, and arguably even one plastic touring boat(with the weight all on one side) might exceed it. I've long thought of the Legacy, with its long, low profile, as an ideal kayak carrying vehicle, but the 100 pound limit concerns me. I'm assuming that even if I add Thule or Yakima crossbars, attached to the factory rack, the 100 pound limit would still apply.

Definitely Carried Up To…
and perhaps slightly more than 200 lbs (4 or 5 boats – ww and touring) on the Thule cross bars attached to the Forester factory racks. But, YMMV.


No probs…
I’m with Sing on this one, though I don’t have an Outback. I’ve carried one boat on the extreme outside of the rack on our Blazer using Hullraisers, one boat on each side, and one on each side with one in the middle. I would estimate total weight of the boats, bars, saddles and J-cradles to be in the neighborhood of 180lbs. Not only have we driven thousands of miles this way, but 20% has been on rough roads (some 4X4 only) and we have experienced zero problems. That being said, we undoubtedly exceed the recommended limit on the Blazer. I’m sure you will get responses telling you to never exceed the limits of your racks, and I’m sure you can probably buy a military spec Hummer that will enable you to carry 3 boats. I believe that if you inspect your racks everytime you load your boats,and check all mounting hardware, that you will be fine. I’m not a lawyer, so no disclaimer. I’m not an engineer, so I won’t suggest building a cage around your vehicle that is mounted to the frame—just use common sense, be careful, inspect your racks, and have fun! OK, I’m patiently awaiting the hand-slaps and rebuttals. Paddle well…

I haven’t carried two boats yet,
but the racks on my 02 Legacy are rock solid. No problems with one boat in J cradles on one side going 65 with a mean Central Ca crosswind. The low roof is a big, big plus. It makes loading enjoyable. They say 100 lbs, but that is probably 50% - 75% of the load rating. Ya gotta keep the lawyers happy.

I’ve had several Subarus
I have 60" Yakima bars on my current one and regularly carry 4 and sometimes 5 WW boats. I have also carried two fiberglass touring boats. Never a problem.

100 lbs on the roof, 165 lbs on the rack
You’re probably reading the roof-itself part of the maximum load. At least on my Forester it says 100 lbs when laid directly on the roof, 165 lbs when supported by the rack.

I have a '97 Outback, and have always
considered the “100 lb” weight limit to be written by lawyers, not engineers. The racks are very strong, and well up to carrying five kayaks on edge, or three tandems stacked.

Center of Gravity
I was told once that the capacity of factory racks was not keyed to the weight they could handle; but rather to the center of gravity …and how additional weight on top could affect tipping of the vehicle in emergency moves.

This just fyi. Don’t know if it’s fact. I don’t have factory racks.

The Outback is rather low compared to
SUVs. Nevertheless, if you have more than 50 pounds on the roof, you need to pre-program your brain with regard to evasive maneuvers, because the more weight up there, the slower must be any double-lane-change maneuvers. When loaded with boats and stuff, think like a responsible truck driver. Drive so that you are much less likely to need an evasive maneuver, and ease up a little on the turns.