Factory Roof Rack - Which Attachments...

…are best? I am buying my first kayak (14.5 foot)next weekend and I plan on getting all the essentials at the same time…paddle, PFD and roof rack. I am having the hardest time deciding on which rack system would be best. I drive an SUV with a factory rack system on it and I believe most systems out there will be compatible. I’d like to keep the cost under $200 for the rack system. Any suggestions?

Check out…
Check out rackattack.com for options available for your vehicle.

Fairly sure that you can find either a Thule, or Yakima

system that will work for you.

As far as the $200.00 goes; good luck with that!


Thule Options
If you already have the bars then you can just add the carrier:

Marco Kayak Saddles $135

Thule Stacker $130 ( I think)

Thule Hull-a-Port $150

Thule Hull-a-Port PRO $200

What sort of kayak are you getting?

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



kayak model
i am picking up a wilderness systems tsunami 145 and i am putting it on a 2005 mercury mountaineer with a factory roof rack. if i can’t find anything that blows my hair back, i will probably end up starting with foam blocks and going from there.

Make sure the factory rack is sturdy
enough, most aren’t…imho, but check your kayak’s weight…IF you can tie it down so it won’t move at all…there are several different foam cradles, that fit around the bars that will work IF the kayak won’t move= roll the foam off the bars. OTHW think Thule footings to fit onto the factory bars has eclipsed $200…y/n?, but their connection is very solid. Put mine on my Xterra factory tubing and is so solid that I’ve just left on permanently(so far)…




– Last Updated: Mar-23-14 11:18 PM EST –

Assuming you have the factory roof rails that run parallel to the car not cross wise you need this to get cross bars.


After that you need to decide on what type of kayak holder you want. Yakima has some simple one here is a group of choices, http://www.yakima.com/shop/water/roof

The prices at Yakima are suggested retail try rack attack for a little lower prices.

One way to cut some cost
If the sticker shock for Yakima components is too great, remember that their cross bars are nothing more than plastic-coated steel pipe. It’s a near certainty that you can get very strong steel pipe of the proper diameter at any big hardware store for perhaps 1/10th, and certainly no greater than 1/5th the cost, of the Yakima bars (that’s a rough guess, but it’s no secrete that the markup on their cross bars is many times greater than it ought to be). That’s not exactly earth-shaking news, but paying $10 or $20 instead of $90 might be worth considering.

Better’n blocks
Go with the Marco Kayak Saddles, they’re much broader in their load distribution than the foam blocks and are bunk carpet covered so they facultative the rear of vehicle slide up approach. Your bars should be good for at least 75 lbs of load. Use bow/stern tie downs to minimize flex & movement while traveling, especially when behind a tractor trailer at highway speeds.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



I finally gave up on my Expedition’s OEM cross bars because they were a joke (the not funny kind) and too short. I was able to get the Railgrab system on line for just under $200. This included 78 inch cross bars and locking cores. As I recall I ordered it all from ORS Racks. http://www.orsracksdirect.com/ Happy hunting!

Second thr Mako
The Mako saddles by Yakima are nice and with a big contact area.

Do not overtighten the straps for the kayak - it will deform. If it does, let it hang suspended from the ceiling or uppside down on the ground in warm weather and it will likely pop back to shape.

If you do not get aftermarket cross bars (don’t need them for this one boat) you will definitely want front and rear tie downs: don’t buy the strap kind, just get some rope (the flat straps are much noisier than rope). Do get nice straps for the strapping the kayak to the rack though.

The foam pads work very well once the kayak is on them. Problem is that you will need to lift it up above them rather than slide it (or they will fall off). If lifting the kayak on top or fiddling with foam is not an issue, just get the foam blocks, straps, and rope for front and rear tie downs, then go from there once you have had time to assess the situation - the foam is just $20 or so and the rest you will reuse later anyway.

Surfboard pads on cross bars
As long as you cross bars are sturdy surfboard pads work fine and you can slide the kayak up from the back. Saddles and a raised rack are certainly better. But you can get started for $20.

Always amazed at
the immediate replies to newbies from all the “Yakima Thule” gravy trainers. Both products are foriegn owned and over priced. Service is spotty and both are too big to fail.

If you want a great rack, go with Malone. US owned, largest cross section of rack styles in the industry, best customer service and lowest prices.

check your OEM crossbars first

– Last Updated: Mar-26-14 7:27 AM EST –

I've had three cars with factory crossbars. Only one of them had questionable crossbars. If you rcdrossbars are sufficient there's no reason to go blowing another $100 or more for more crossbars.

Try using foam saddles that fit to the crossbars. You'll spend about $30. To load the boat, load from the rear, put the bow up on the rear crossbar foam saddle, and slide the boat forward onto the rack.

If you discover you want additional fittings or mounts, you can buy them. This way you don't spend the +/-$200 to get mounts and crossbars. If you do, shop used at ebay or craigslist.

yakima was founded in the PNW
Did they sell to a foreign investor? I can’t find any record of that in my timeline.

On top of tyhat I can’t imagine being more satisfied by yakima customer service.

Either way…
My friend uses a stacker bar on the factory rack of his Rav4. I was a little reluctant at first, but I’ve had my WW canoe on it several times, and it worked out fine.


For short shuttles we just used the straps. For highway trips we added bow and stern lines. Never had a problem (knock on wood…)

Personally, I have Thule cross bars that attach to the side rails of the factory rack on my van . No complaints with Thule, but the Malone alternative does look cheaper.

Yes owned by foreign investor
They were bought by a wealthy investor group in Taiwan. Yakima is still managed and operated from Oregon, there manufacturing is done at multiple places world wide.

I have to agree their racks are expensive, but they are high quality and last, I only have good things to say about the company and service they provide.