cartopping a canoe and kayak, bars and ?

Here’s my question:

If you were cartopping a beamy canoe (Old Town Osprey) and a sea kayak (Impex Mystic) from NC to Maine at interstate highway speeds, would you elect saddles for the kayak so it sat on its bottom side by side with the canoe? Or would you put J-cradles on the bars and let the kayak ride tipped up?

The bars on the car right now are too short to carry two boats in either configuration, I am pretty sure, and will have to be replaced with longer bars. Does it matter if the bars are square or round in cross section? (Current bars are round.)

I’ve been thinking the kayak would be more stable sitting on its bottom on saddles next to the canoe. But I don’t really know. So if you do, please tell me what you think.



If it was me, I would carry them which .
ever way is the easiest for loading.

When we go to Florida each winter or when we travel to various races, I carry two kayaks on J cradles, (one on each side of the vehicle), and a canoe in the center.

I have saddles and J cradles and can use either, but for me it’s easier to load and secure the yaks to J cradles.



and your bars?

Are your bars square or round in cross section? And does it matter for mounting J cradles securely?

I get your point about J cradles being easier to load. Thanks for the advice.


If They’re Round Yakima Bars you
can extend them by inserting 1/2" galvanized pipe in 24-36" lengths (depending on the width you need). Might even fit into square bars? I would just be sure the extentions go into the Yakima bar far enough to go past the roof mount a bit for strength. Have extended my round bars this way to 101" to carry three boats side by side. I hold the extentions into the stock bars with a few raps of good duct tape and pad with pipe insulation. I also use a 48" length of pipe in one bar, on one side to make a cheap slide-out loading bar when no help available. Just thoughts. Rick

I don’t really know if one way …
… has any advantage over the other for making sure the boats are secured well enough … seems either is good .

What I did want to add though , is that I was pulled over by a Trooper once because appearently I was at or near the 8’ maximum width .

I had never given that a thought before and was unaware that such a width limit existed … so you might want to check that out if it’s going to be a factor in your case .

Mine are round Yakama with Thule J

I have basically rebuilt the J cradles to fit the round bars.

thule claims that their brackets are good for both square and round, but that is BS.

The brackets just bend when you tighten them on a round bar, and the J will roll if you try to slide a kayak on it, so I drilled a bolt hole for each one down through my round bar and used their center hole.

Now they are nice and secure.

I would never buy Thule stuff again. I had to change out all their hard ware because it all rusted up.



A slightly better way is to…
use a full length, (cut to the size you want) of 1/2" galvanized pipe, and put it all the way through the bar, (it fits perfectly). then use one strap type pipe clamp on each end of the 1/2 inch stuff and up against your bound bar.

This prevents the bar from moving in either direction.

I have on occassion carried four boats side by side this way.

Just don’t go through and drive through restaurants!



long distance car topping
I can’t see as one way would be any better than the other way as long as your boats are secured and the racks are secured to the car. I bought one of my kayaks in Florida and went down to pick it up and drive back to NC. Everytime I stopped at a rest area, I’d check all the straps and the front & rear tie-downs to make sure all was still tight. If you’ve got cockpit covers, put them on too. And as far as how easy they are to load, I didn’t worry about it. I got someone to help at the start point and when I got home, I got my husband to help. The boat was a Current Design Solstice FG and I used yakama racks and mako (spelling???) holders. I do have an old town canoe (Hunter) that I’ll carry along with my kayak on top of truck. They both ride well together, kayak facing up and canoe turned upside down. Don’t forget to tie off the front and rear.

Not saddles

– Last Updated: Oct-20-08 7:58 AM EST –

Been there done that, and by the way we've been taking between two and four sea kayaks to Maine each summer now for the last several years plus to Bar Harbor in Sept for three years. Plastic then fiberglass.

We switched back to stackers out of necessity for a trip where we needed to bring sea kayaks and the WW boats, and after that trip left the stackers up and the saddles in the basement. The boats stay much much more securely on the stackers, fewer issues with movement or getting the strap tension right. The longest bars you can buy from Yakima is at most 6 ft, Thule probably similar, so you don't need to worry about tickets for that.
The one thing we've needed to do is get padding for the bars, the vertical sides of the stackers (ours are U-shaped so similar to how the J-cradles sit) and the rails. That actually seems to make them seat better too.

As to bars, longer is better because there is less risk of dropping the kayak once it's up there. But it does mean that you'll occasionally bonk your head on the things getting in or out of the car if you're a klutz like me. It's no big deal - use something bright on the ends like tape or a tennis ball and it reduces those incidents.

thanks to all of you for great ideas
appreciate hearing your experiences.