custom kayak rack accessories...

Hey, I’m new to kayaking, so bear with me. I have a Dodge Ram extended cab and a friend can make us a kayak rack for $100 which includes racks at front and rear bed posts. I’m wondering what kind of accessories we need to make sure this rack will fit. We will haul 2 kayaks so what size tubing plus round or square (does it matter). Are there accessories to fit the rack to hold the kayaks? What kind of tie-downs should we use? Any more candid advice? We’ve canoed for years with outfitters but wish to do our own boats now. Thanks in advance!

J-cradles and straps
J-cradles are best for the boats (less hull distortion, less possibility of boats filling with rain water), and are generally less expensive than decent V-cradles. In my experience, J’s are also easier to load, especially solo. They are also easier to make, if you want to keep the whole thing hand-made.

For example, mine are made from ladder racks. The racks provide the lip and bottom of a J (padded with dock edge bumper), and I made my own detachable uprights, padded with thick pipe insulation. In a pinch, I can get 2 boats on this rack, though the inside one is a pain to load.

The dock bumper pads have been a bit harsh to the varnish of my wood boats, but plastic boats are just fine with it.

Well done!

1.5 inch square stock is what I have on my trailer rack.

If it’s welded properly and braced that should do.

Foam blocks available for $18.00 per pair will support each boat nicely.

Ropes if you are good with knots ot locking straps will do fine. Check out the thule tie downs then go to Princess Auto, Canadian Tire or Home Hardware and get the same thing for quarter the price. (Or save a ton of screwing around and buy the straps for $30.00 .

If you can ger a solid (BRACED) rack for $100.00 someone is doing you a great favour.

Since you are talking racks on here I could use some help also. I have two 13 foot neckys we just purchased in November. I have 1 set of Malone autoloads for the Jimmy and

plan to get another set as soon as

I find some on e-bay. I also have a motorhome

and would like to transport on top. Anybody seen anything like that anywhere?

my suggestion…
…is to go with the round stock…some brands of boat cradles don’t always come with square fittings…square would be best since it eliminates all cradle twisting while loading or driving…but not everyone makes fittings for a square bar…IMO…I have Yakima Land Shark saddles and they did not come with any attachments for square bars. The land sharks are , I think , about the cheapest saddles around @ $75 /set of 4. since this rack is going to be on a pickup…it’s high enough already …I would not want to put tall J-bars on top of a already tall pickup. Beware overhanging branches and low bridges!! You can use the foam blocks to, rather than saddles or J-bars. It would just as easy to lash down a kayak on saddles as on a J-bar. Browse yakima’s/thules / Malones web sites, once you understand whats out there on the market …you can make choices.

not all boats are created equal
not all boats are created equal and some require special attention.

While the suggested J cradles are simple and effective way to transport a kayak I personally found that some kayaks can get damaged (dimpled) if transported on J cradles in the summer heat.

While most would think that only plastic kayaks are affected by heat, I had some real high end foam core carbon/Kevlar hulls deform on J cradles.

I have resorted to several different solutions for car topping sea kayaks.

For a comprehensive description (with images of the damaged hulls) on how I transport kayak check:

basically a ladder rack
I used a ladder rack a few times, and it worked well. Pad the bars well with pipe insulation, use two layers if possible for extra cush. You can use ropes or ratchets around the middle, but only use ropes on the bow and stern. You can actually buckle a kayak over the load bars with a ratchet strap and ruin or severely damage it. You should be fine.

For an entire year all I did to haul mine on a pickup was throw a blanket over the cab, and tie front and rear. It worked, but wasn’t great.

foam block kit…
I found Malone Standard Foam Block Universal Car Top Kayak Carrier Kit on for $18 and it has foam blocks and two 12 foot tie downs are included. Is that a good arrangement? Also, on a truck, do you need bow or stern lines or are the rack tie downs enuf? Thanks again!!

yep, that works
If your rack fits in the stake pockets, and isn’t bolted to the rails, bow and stern lines are probably a good idea. Your stake-pocket rack might be a little more secure than mine was, but it’ll still probably have a little wobble to it, and bow and stern lines help decrease that.

On a truck, if you have a totally bolted on rack (like tracrac, or the thule xportster) with 6 feet between the bars, then I personally think bow and stern lines are a little less important. I now have a tracrac, and there is zero movement with just the two belly straps - good enough for me for the short 30 minute drives to most of my put-ins. It’s so much more secure than the thule rack on our station wagon or the stake pocket rack I had previously. On both of those, bow and stern lines were essential to control the sway of the boat, and prevent stress-loading the rack.

ladder racks with foam blocks…
We like the idea of the ladder rack (for sturdiness with no bow or stern lines) with the foam blocks & straps to secure it. I’ll talk to our friend about it, he will probably know how to stabilize it the best. Thanks for all the info, fellow paddlers! One other quick question, how do you secure your kayaks on the racks while you sleep in your camper?

I bought a hitch mounted bar that can extend the lenght of the bed or be put up in the air like a ladder rack. It works great. You could even put a bar on top of the roof and mount it up in the air. I paid 75 bucks and couldn’t be happier. Last week I used it to extend the bed out and strapped it down. That way the kayak rested in the bed and on the bar for support. This week I’m going to try it up in the air off the roof.