Alright... So I just bought a kayak that is darn near longer then my car, I drive a Chevy Aveo. I've been cartopping my rented kayaks, and my own on my fathers van for the past year or so, but he's laid down the law, he won't allow me to use his car, since he doesn't like to drive mine to work.<br />
My question is this, I see these cartopping kits all over the web, do they really work that well? I've been tieing it down onto the rack on the top of the van, and I'm afraid of scratching/denting my car if I use one of these kits.<br />
Is it better to have the rack or just get the kit? Which is the better investment and which one will serve it purpose the best?

You aren’t trying
unless you have a boat LONGER than your car!

Seriously though, I assume that by a “kit” you are refering to teh foam block setups that rest directly upon the roof. To protect your car, wash (the car) and apply a coat of wax to the roof. Keep the roof and the foam blocks clean and you should have no problems. As for the boat, it is extremely important to tie bow and stern using a “V” to each corner of your vehicle. You still need to tie on a couple of “belly” straps or ropes too. Too many folks don’t use bow/stern ties, and in my opinion they are an accident waiting to happen at 70 mph. Seek out a reputable dealer, and they will be able to help you with the initial setup. Possibly Jersey Paddler?


I vote racks
First of all, my opinion is based upon loading and unloading the boat solo. I do think that if 2 people do it, blocks or racks will work well if you keep the roof/blocks/rack feet clean (something I learned the hard way).


With blocks, I found that I “dinged” up the roof before I got the hang of loading and unloading by myself.

First, I tried using a Rollerloader to assist in loading from the rear of the car onto the blocks sitting on the roof. This worked fine until I noticed that the belly of the boat was rubbing against the rear edge of the roof while working it’s way forward causing scratches. I found that a well placed towel prevented any further damage. Of course this method didn’t work well in windy weather, since the blocks and towel tended to blow around.

Next, I tried fastening the blocks to the boat first, then walking up (perpendicular to the car) to the front half of the roof and carefully placing the front foam block (with the boat attached) onto the roof. Then I would swing the rear boat with block attached on the the rear of the roof, and slide the whole thing around until positioned. This worked well, but the blocks and roof need to be clean. There’s abrasion going on while positioning, ergo lot’s of opportunity for scratching.


I now use Saris racks and Malone Autoloader saddles which I take off when not in use. They work so well that I got careless and did not make sure that the roof & rack feet were clean resulting in some minor scratches.

Bottom line, assisted loading/unloading is best regardless. Otherwise, racks and great care when applying the racks to the roof. Also, make sure the racks don’t “rake” across the roof when taking them on or off.


I’m going Solo
Thanks so much to the both of you guys for answering me about my question. I will be going solo and doing my mounting and dismounting all by myself. Although I can carry my yak without problems, I’m still a smaller person (5’3" and 140) and I have a strong love for my car. Looks like I’m saving up for a rack.

Another vote for Malones
I currently use Malone autoloaders on Yakima racks. I also use a Boatloader, an extension that slides out of one bar and allows you to lift one end of the boat at a time. Not absolutely necessary, but handy.


One More Thing
I’m a short person also. If you are loading solo from the side of the car, consider using a stool. Unless of course you are planning to get one of those fancy $400 things that picks up your boat and places it on the roof for you.