cartopping 3 kayaks

can anyone tell me if they have been succesful in transporting 3 kayaks on top of a station wagon (I now have an 03 outback).

info on the brand/size/accesories would be greatly appreciated

Thule Option

– Last Updated: May-17-06 10:52 AM EST –

Crossbars with a stacker (boats on their sides strapped against a verticle bar)

The only thing I would do differently would be to opt for the 65" load bars. You can always cut them down later, if you decide they are too long.

No problem
Using the stacker as Topher suggested works well. Personally, I don’t mind scratches and gouges from rock hopping or rescues or whatever, but I prefer to keep the storage and transport wear and tear to a minimum. I duck tape pipe insulation foam around the stacker. Always seem to have foam saddles hanging around, so I put a pair of those between the two boats that are stacked on one side of the stacker so they have no contact with each other. The third boat goes on the other side of the stacker. I tend to think one bow line through the grab loops of all three boats is sufficient, but thats personal preference.

i have stacked 5 17’ boats ontop of each other as well and that worked great!

but just a short distance

I should have noted, that these will be 3 glass sea-kayaks (16-18 feet long)

I do this all the time…

– Last Updated: May-17-06 1:54 PM EST –

with Yakima 78" bars. I have 2 17 foot sea kayaks (one plastic, one kevlar), and they go on the outside upright in cradles. The 22 foot glass tandem goes upside down in the middle, right on the bars with foam pipe insulation. This system works well, although if you tie the bows and sterns down you feel like you're driving in a freaking spider web.

A combination
works for me. I use the stacker and the pipe insulation on the stacker. Then, if needed, I use foam in between the boats (secured to the boat farthest away from the stacker to provide scratch buffer).

This works pretty well.

Roger, on the spider web!


Frequent event?
If you’re gonna do this fairly often on the smaller car, here’s what I’d suggest: Yakima (or Thule, whichever you prefer) with Hully Rollers & saddles in the middle of the car. That takes care of the first boat. Use J Cradles on either side of that for the other two boats. All of the nice (expensive) composite boats are now safe and secure for transport.

If it isn’t a regular kind of thing for you the less expensive kayak stackers and the thoughtful placement of pool noodles or pipe insulation should do the trick.

Noodles Rule!
Every fall when the pool noodles go on sale, I buy an arm load of them…great for transport/bar padding along with some electrical wire (zip) ties.

transport 3 all the time on a Jeep Grand Cherokee

Yakima saddles on the outside and Malone J cradles on the inside.

Best Wishes


I usually put a scupper pro SOT on a saddle, a 19 foot SOF on foam blocks on the bars, and a Outer Island 18 footer on J bars…

On a toyota echo :slight_smile:

sometimes I change the scupper pro for the 17 foot tempest rm…

ditto on the spiderweb.

send me an e-mail…I got pics if you want em


On a VW golf
Cartopped 3 glass boat - 2 on j cradles and one on a regular cradle … did great and we all had a good time ---- no big deal

What is your crossbar spread???
how wide are your crossbars?

No Problem
As we’ve talked about with 68" bars and any version of J cradle you can load 3 boats on a Subie. Probably my longest trip with 3 was to Ocracoke Island last year. 3 glass boats total weight of almost 200 pounds, Yakima J cradles and a bow line tied to webbing loops coming out of the side of the hood. Cross bars spaced as far apart as possible (haven’t measured it but probably 4 feet). 18 hours one way at up to 80 mph and they never even shook. I’d post a pic but I took my vacation pics off of webshots.

Hope to see you on the water soon.


68" bars???
oh man, I thought you said 58" when we spoke on the fone -

do you take the rack off when your not going to paddle - that much overhang sounds kinda dangerous

take a pic for me though!

Sorry, your right
they are 58", I’ve got 66" on the truck. Sorry to scare you. I’ll send a pic tonight when I get home.