Foam Block Roof Racks

I have an old station wagon with a dealer-installed luggage rack on the roof. I am planning to purchase an inexpensive foam block roof rack system to carry a canoe. Will these foam blocks work with a luggage rack which, basically, will carry the entire weight of the canoe and keep it from resting directly on the roof of the station wagon? Any input will be appreciated.

Cheaper Solution

– Last Updated: Mar-26-04 11:10 AM EST –

Go buy some of the foam pipe insulation, cut to length, install on the cross bars and duct tape. Most standard factory racks can take at least one boat.


PS. Tie the canoe down on it's gunwales. the bow and stern should be out of the way since they overextend the roof.

Good advice!

– Last Updated: Mar-26-04 12:41 PM EST –

I agree. I have also used an old blue foam sleeping pad cut into pieces and duct taped onto a set of roofrack bars. Worked like a charm for me!
Happy paddling!

Joe O' has a lot of options that are specifically made to fit on a roof rack. We just ordered some for our kayak. They might be over-priced but we liked them. I have heard Bass Pro Shop also carries them.

Don’t have a roof rack, but…
…have used pipe foam directly on the roof-works fine-just need to tie securely.


– Last Updated: Mar-26-04 2:41 PM EST –

what I did went I went to Santa Cruz. I had to rent a boat and a car. I bought along some foam pipe insulation and some straps in my luggage... VOILA!!! Instant cartop boat carrier. :)


PS. I have like 3 sets of saddles for my Thule that I don't even use anymore. I simply wrap foam insulation on the crossbeams, installed a single pole stacker on each beam, and I'm able to carry 2-4 kayaks securely on my car. I find this system much adaptable to my needs since I carry a variety of long and short kayaks.

I have been impressed with blocks
and kits made by Winde

pipe insulation
will work FOR A TIME. Sunlight breaks down the foam and it loses its elasticity. After one season mine became an ragged looking eyesore.

I’d recommend getting regular foam canoe blocks. They will last alot longer and are “engineered” to do the job. Get the kind that has slots on the bottom that fit over your factory racks.

And Thus Duct Tape…

– Last Updated: Mar-26-04 3:20 PM EST –

to wrap over the foam. Mine has been on for a year. When I need to replace it, it'll be for about $2 a piece.

Anyway, it's just what works for me. I got all kinds of expensive saddles, foam and such. I don't use them. Should probably just sell them off. :)


BTW, my car is an "eyesore" but darn if my boats don't look good on top. :D

I agree with alot of the above responses
I have a 2003 Blazer & I use “foam pipe insulation” & “zip-ties”. Those cross bars hold 2 boats (done it) with no problem. You say it was an “OLDER” station wagon…if it older than 1987 (?) you could probably stack 12 boats on it without worry, back then is when they actually made “quality vehicals” & at HALF the cost of todays “disposables”. Funny, now you get “half the car” for “double the price”… And some on this site say cost = quality… LMFAO!!!

Paddle easy,


Tying down the canoe to the roof rack
Thanks for everyone’s input. I like the foam insulation idea. My station wagon is a '91 Olds beater, so I don’t care how it looks. Question on how to tie down the canoe though. Do you all recommend straps, or is rope fine? The bow and stern would be tied down to the bumpers. But would you also secure tie downs across the midsection of the canoe and tie them to the roof rack?

Use straps
they are so much more secure and quicker to make the tie-down; two over the hull, and ropes or straps for the bow and stern. You can also install “hood loops” or other products so that you don’t have to futz with under car fittings if you want to make the process quicker and cleaner.

Nylon Straps
with cam buckles are easier and stronger across the hull bottom. Yes to ropes on bow and stern. Canoes are pretty heavy sudden stop and acceleration can make the boat slide.


“Parachute” nylon cord…
…worked fine for me (I now carry in the back of my pickup). I put two across, through doorframes or windows, and 2 each front and rear to whatever held them, thus minimizing windsway. Used trucker’s hitches. If the line gets frayed or knotty, throw it away & cut some more (singe the ends). It’s cheap.

Trucker’s Hitches
I’ve heard a few people mention “Trucker’s Hitches” when securing the canoe to the car. What is a Trucker’s Hitch?

knot site
for info on knots a good site is

Go to the outdoor knots section and they list the truckers hitch there. If you want to start tieing your boat on the roof of your car another knot to know is the bowline. (clove hitch can come in handy too.

As a hint from my experience, the canoe or kayak should be secured firmly to the roof rack. Don’t put too much pressure on the bow and stern lines to the bumpers as this could warp your boat if too much pressure is applied. These should be used primarily to keep the boat from sliding back and forth on the rack during acceleration or braking. Wouldn’t hurt to tie a second rope on the front of the rack just as a safety.

If you are using rope, the yellow stuff you get for pennies a foot is fairly strong, but the bowline knots don’t like it much. They can slip. A good quality rope is worth the investment.

If you know any firefighters, ask them for help on the knots and once you get it down, practice with a piece that you hide under the lazy boy.

Hard to put into words…
…but basically you tie a loop into the line at the right place (takes some figuring), above the tie-on point, run the line through/around the point, and back through the loop. They you can pull the running (loose) end and secure it with a couple of half-hitches. Can create a very tight tiedown, and is easy to loosen. The dealer showed me how, the first time I bought a new canoe, maybe 20 years ago.

600 hundred mile trip
I made a trip of 600 miles with high winds,with a canoe strapped to the top of my S10 blazer which also has a roof rack.I used 4" foam blocks two in back,two in front,strapped both ends front & back. Although the strong wind made it a long trip there was no damage to canoe or blazer,not a scratch.