DIY roof racking for kayak - advice?

I need to rig a kayak rack to the top of my Accord. Don’t have the bucks (nor the interest) to go for the usual Thule/Yakima type systems. And I like to DIY.

Fortunately, I found a sturdy very old rack from a former vehicle that actually fits correctly and tightly on my car top. It’s an older steel U channel model, a universal car top rack. So I have sturdy crossbars.

I was thinking of just covering those with plumbing pipe insulation foam noodles, lashing the plastic kayak on top of that, and then using tie-downs, bow and stern to the front/rear of the car.

Would this work well enough? Would it be reasonably safe for highway speeds too?

I hauled boats for years on a homebuilt rack using the old Quik’n’Easy gutter clamp brakets with 2 x 4 studs attached with carpet scrap strips fastened on with duct tape wraps. Just ran very long nylon sleeping bag straps with locking buckles down and around the rack on both sides of the boats (canoes and kayaks) and tightened them down, then added bow and stern lines. I’ve hauled kayaks all over the Northeast quadrant of the US this way. As nice as all the Thule custom accessories are, technically you don’t “NEED” them for boat haulin, they just simplify and speed it.

Make It Solid, It’ll Work

– Last Updated: Aug-14-11 6:01 AM EST –

Providing the crossbars are solidly and strongly attached to the vehicle, it should work. My Saturn SW1 has carried two 17' loaded sea kayaks thousands of kms. at highway speed without incident. The rack is an old Thule crossbar setup, with gym mat rubber-faced foam ducttaped over that. Each kayak is strapped to the rack fore and aft of the cockpit, then lightly rigged with snug bow and stern lines. Be aware that plastic boats, which bend and dent easily, especially in hot weather, need very little tension on bow and stern lines - just snug is enough. Some fare better when carried deck-down...

A newly-installed rack should be grabbed, yanked, pulled, twisted, shoved and manhandled every way you can imagine; if it moves, find a way to make it stop. Make sure the tools to tighten or remove the rack are kept in the vehicle, and get in the habit of checking all straps and lines every time you stop. A hank of extra line is always a handy thing to have...

The SW1's rack may be ugly, but it's cheap, and it works. Besides, what thief is their right mind would want to rip off '99 SW1 footkits and an old 50"bar that's covered in gym mat and tape??? Lock it? You gotta be joking...

that will work
You could spend just a few bucks on kayak foam blocks. They will hold the boat in a better position and slide on the round bars. Two of them would cost under twenty dollars. Good luck.

Ryan L.