Well some of you may have seen my many posts about looking for a faster kayak…well I finally got one. I picked up a used Valley Aquanaut today.

Here is my question though…I have been just using Yakima bar pads on my Yakima rack and straping the boat directly to the bars. This worked fine on my other boat (pretty flat body and stiff glass), but maybe not with this new boat that has a bit more of a V shaped hull, and has more flexible glass.

I noticed today when I put it on the rack for the first time and cinched down the straps, the boat dented in pretty bad (oil canned). Of course it springs back out when you loosen the straps. It’s not that I am over-tightening as the boat kind of dents in on the bar even from its own weight.

Should I be concerned about this?

I really don’t want to get a pair of Mako Saddles as I really don’t like them and find the padded bar to be the easiest and most secure way to secure my boat, but I don’t want to ruin it either.

What do you think?



Foam blocks
They are V-shaped to conform to the hull, and can easily slip onto the crossbars when you want to haul your boat.

Couple of suggestions
Unless you have support that conforms to the shape of the hull you should never carry it hull down. The foam blocks suggested above will work but you have to be careful they don’t rotate. You can also carry it deck down (with paddling), which is better than hull down but still not great if your deck is very rounded. I don’t know what your objections are to cradles but they are the best way to support the hull. Hully rollers also work well for some people (not me). Finally, if you attach a vertical bar(s) at the center of each horizontal bar (there are several commercial versions) you can carry the boat on its side. That’s what I do with WW boats. My sea kayak goes in a cradle.

I think you wrecked the boat and
you should just give it to me :+)

If the hull is oil canning, whatever you
do … Do not carry it deck down. This layup is generally lighter than the hull, and will probably be awkward on your bars sans cradles. And yes it is not a good idea to oil can the boat on the racks… you could lay in a couple plys of unidierectional glass to build up some hoop strength right at rack area… this works pretty good.

Why not get some saddles?
I wouldn’t carry a decent kayak on foam.

Saddles are made to cradle your yak.

You have an expensive rack system, and a nice kayak.

Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish!

They not only prevent what you are describing from happening, but they keep the yak right where it should be.



JackL’s right
Spring for the Mako Saddles. Long term paddling happiness is the goal here, not WOWS. Time to eBay!

See you on the water,


JackL’s wrong
Saddles are for horses.

I wouldn’t take advice from anyone with toenail fungus anyway.

Well, I guess saddles are a good choice really, but foam blocks are acceptable. I actually use stackers with foam blocks. My boats go on edge against the stacker with foam blocks between the stacker and hull. I use stackers because I sometimes haul more than one boat, and I have the flexibility to arrange the boats in different ways.

Not Glass But Kevlar
I use Thule rack things that look like pads, about 6 x 12" for the rear and saddles for the front. The rear always depresses the kevlar a bit when I cinch down the straps. I release tension until the depressions are just gone.


Glass Hull…Get the saddles…they cradle … put your baby in a craddle (set of them)…I like Mako’s front and rear…other option in Malone J craddles, They work well too

The foam is for a tempory set-up, but the foam V’s do work, Never just cinch it to just a bar, no matter how padded.

best wishes


Just to clarify…I just don’t care for the saddles. I have had them before, but really liked using just the foam cover on the bars as it is much more stable and secure. I have the saddles becauase they are awkward and are bulky on my roof, plus they don’t hold the boat too tightly and therefore require bow and stern lines.

I think that with this boat though, I am going to need to get another set (sold my others on ebay).


I carry all my boats on foam block pads
They have worked very well for me, easier to deal wit vs saddles. My singles are heavy lay up Brit boats and there is no hull flex.

Hmmm. I would reverse it.
In my experience saddles hold a boat very securely. More securely than any other method. Remember, you don’t need to cinch the straps/ropes down as tightly as possible to hold the boat securely. And no matter what system you use you need bow and stern lines.

At least once a week…
I have to trim the sea weed from under my arm pits.

I use a mix and match of saddles and J cradles and I too can carry a variety of boats, such as three yaks and a canoe, but I still would never carry the yaks without them being “nested”

I have made all the mistakes of foam blocks, wood racks, upside down, etc and I’ll repeat as above; They are “penny wise and pound foolish” !



Once again…
I’ll share my experience of hauling hundreds of kayaks over the last 20 some years. Cross bars with two layers of pipe insulation. Cable tie the insulation down with heavy cable ties. Either stack the boats against a stacker bar on edge, or deck side down on bars. Decks, due to their shapes, coaming, hatches, etc. are typically stronger and flatter. Also you don’t need silly cockpit rain covers! I have NEVER had a kayak damaged and that’s in thousands of miles in BC, Alaska, PNW on hell roads. Not the Southeast. If you have cradles you’ll no doubt convince yourself that I’m stupid and full of it. But I, and MANY commercial operators are proof that you do not need expensive gimmicks to safely transport a kayak. Put your money on a great paddle or dry top. I’m sitting here trying to think of one paddling bud, operator, or manufacturer that transports their kayaks using fancy cradles… So, if you convince yourself you need that stuff buy it.

All for it…
I am all for any technique that involves just the bars…I prefer not to have cradles if avoidable.

I have stackers, but am a little too short to use them comfortably.

I will try carrying deck down. My issue may be in loading / flipping the kayak over by myself. I will try it. Also, curriently have the short Yakima pads that slide around when I try to flip the boat over. Maybe I need just plain old pipe insulation.

I will give it a try


I don’t doubt your experience.
And commercial transport often involves more boats than can be accomodated with saddles. None-the-less I have seen lots of boats in rental fleets with distorted hulls. I don’t know if that is due to how they are transported or careless handling/storage or what. My personal experience is that putting the boat on edge with stackers and padded cross bars works fine. I just happen to have two sets of saddles left over from my windsurfing days and prefer them for my touring boats. I don’t know the difference in cost between stackers and saddles but I assume the stackers are cheaper.

If you go with
the Mako saddles be sure to lay foam in the saddle

(1/4 inch self stick kind).I found with mine they were leaving pit marks in the gel coat.loose the tie down straps that come with the saddles and get something you can strap the boat to the bars.This way when you tighten down your boat the saddles act like springs.This has worked well for me,I`ve caried two sea kayaks on my truck with 36 inch bar span at highway speeds with no front or rear tie downs.


Pull the fancy nylon cover off the
Yakima pads and you have “Pipe Insulation”! Only you paid a bunch for it with the silly cover and bungie tie off cords.

Most common repair !
The most common repair at my friends kayak repair shop are kayaks that owners tighten down on bars with out sadles. They crack the glass and suffer from spider cracks. Also don’t use Hully Rollers on glass kayak. There is not enough surface area to support the kayak.