"Correct" way to use rollers on rack?

-- Last Updated: Jun-16-08 9:45 AM EST --

I got a set of Yakima rollers (back) that I am using along with a set of Mako saddles (front).

The thing is, I like to position the rollers (and the saddles) towards the sides and not towards the middle line of the hull. This way the support is where the hull is stronger, or so I think.

Since my bars are about 28" apart (just about the length of the cockpit!), this means that the boat is at its wides just over the bars. Thus my rollers are may be 15" apart and to be honest I see no reason to have them at all rather than a second set of saddles or a piece of foam - the rollers seem to have less contact surface than the saddles.

Asking if you can give me any reason to keep the rollers and not replace them with saddles - I can't really "roll" the hull on them until the boat is pretty much in the final position - the hull slides for half its length on the bar, not the rollers, so I basically lift the boat up and over rather than slide it...

at that spread. I built an extension rack that mounts to my Yakima. You would need a 10’ piece of 7/8’strut, a 10’ length of 3/4" plastic coated pipe and 4 pipe clamps or u bolts. Cut the strut and pipe to desired size, assemble and attach to your rack. Cost about $30.

Any photos?
I’m not sure I can visualise what you are describing. Can you post some photos or explain a little more?

I got the rollers for “free” so I suppose there is only the “lost opportunity” of not selling them on eBay for $30 or so. And they work better than the pool-toy foam I had directly on the bars before that, so in terms of support for the boat I think they are not that bad at all. Just the “rolling” feature seems indeed of very little use…

Saddles are better
The rollers, if you leave them in the sun, will eventually get gooey----well, it did take six years, but still. The saddles got the same amount of sun and they are fine.

Two saddles here
I was told the rollers are unnecessary and I simply have 2 mako saddles to load my Subaru Outback. I only use it for my plastic 15’6" Dagger as it’s too heavy for me to lift for my J-hooks. 2 makos are also cheaper than 1 mako and 1 roller… I use a towel on the back of my Outback wagon just in case I touch but usually I can clear the wagon’s tail spoiler anyway.


My kayak shop
suggested not getting the saddles. They said they have had several boats back where the saddles created rub spots in the finish that required repair. They suggested that if you went with saddles, then put a piece of carpet over the saddle to prevent damage to the boat surface.


I don’t use my saddles for my composite impex but I do use it on my plastic boats. I know folks who drag plastic boats on rocks, grass, roots, etc, so I would think that is way times worse than sliding it on the bare Makos. I know they sell pads for them but I haven’t had a problem so far in my limited use of it. I haven’t noticed any wear patterns on the plastic hull anyway.


Saddles hurt kayaks
Think about it: if you tie a kayak down securely enough, you’re putting concentrated pressure on the weakest part of the boat (the long unsupported expanse of hull). In the course of my business I’ve seen plastic kayaks with permanent dents and composite kayaks with eggshell cracks in the gelcoat (and recently all the way into the laminate) where the saddles pressed against the hull.

With J-cradles, the kayak sits on edge and the pressure is on the structurally rigid (and thus stronger) gunwales.

By the way, if you use J-cradles, don’t tie the straps to the cradles; run them straight up from the crossbars on either side of the boat. I know Thule says to tie to the J-cradles, but again, that’s putting a lot of pressure and torque on a very small surface, in this case the bar and knobs holding the J-cradle to the crossbars. The crossbars are designed to have things fastened to them.