Foam Block Usage

So, I’m buying a 17’ kevlar boat to facilitate my kayaking addiction. :slight_smile: In looking at options of putting this boat on my ‘96 geo prizm (no factory rack or gutters) being 5’7’’, the foam blocks seem like a reasonable option. I’m looking to do both long and short trips with this boat in the northeast. My main questions are for those of you that use foam blocks consistently: what have you found that works (or doesn’t) well? How have you compenstated for the rain storm problems that people have indicated? Thank you for any input that you have.

Saris makes a system that will fit your car (I just checked, have you measured to see what kind of distance between the crossbars that will give you?

Blocks do work, but I think you’ll be happier if you get a rack system. That is, if you can get one to fit your car with enough crossbar spread.

used them on
an 16"5’ canoe. they worked well but be over ambitious with the rope and strap work. I would tie a rope around the yolk then into the car and secure there. Take the other side of the yolk and repeat. Front and rear tie downs etc. The problem is that teh blocks will shift and some times if they are dirty they will scour your roof.

Finally I got sick of it and just drilled holes in the roof and put eyebolts up there.

Foam Blocks
I’ve been using foam blocks for the past three years with great success. I’m driving a pick-up truck with a home made “ladder rack”. The foam blocks have factory cutouts to attach to the cross bars. Since they are flexible, they conform to the shape very well (1 5/8" tube) and grip well enough to stay in place while loading the boats. I contoured the top surface to match the hull shape using a compass to scribe the shape, and a bread knife to cut and shape the foam (be careful not to cut too deep into the block or you’ll cut through to the cross bar pocket!) It’s imprtant to tie down your boat properly, to both crossbars and use bow and stearn tiedowns. I carry two plastic sea kayaks(16’ & 17’) in this manner, and have logged thousands of highway miles, as well as bumpy back roads, in wind and rain without incident. There has been NO hull deformation. The large forgiving surface of the block forms perfectly to the hull shape. The cross bars on my rack are spaced so they come fairly close to the bulkheads of my kayaks, to further guard against hull deformity, but you may want to consider carrying your kayaks upside down, with the foam blocks cut to match your deck contours instead. The crossbar pockets are starting to show some wear from the repeated on and off over my larger than normal crossbars, but they will easily last another season or two. Be sure to stop and check your tiedowns shortly after starting out, and periodically throughout your trip. Good luck, and happy paddling!

This won’t answer your question,
but I would like to throw out a little advice.

Take it or leave it !

Get a rack.

You will eventually anyway when you realize that the foam blocks won’t get it.

If you are paying big bucks for a kevlar boat, and putting it on foam blocks, that is penny wise and pound foolish !



JackL’s right
You’ll be able to use the blocks for a little bit but sounds like you’re going to be getting a very nice kayak. Be very nice to it and it’ll reciprocate. Blocks alone aren’t the most stable carry platform and I’d hate to hear another story of a flying boat (no spruce goose reference here) that landed on the highway. Get a rack, might have a line for you on a set of used Thule racks, drop me a line, and use the foam blocks, if you must on the load bars.

To borrow a slogan from Talic, Be Good To Your Toys!

See you on the water,


I was sort of hoping that some people had good experiences with blocks on a bare roof (without a factory rack). I have a cross bar spreak of at least 36 inches enought to hold most stuff. Apparently, it doesn’t seem so. Well, now it looks like my skis won’t have to be manuvered into the back seat anymore. :slight_smile: Thank you for the input.

I use foam blocks
on racks. I like them better than saddles or J bars. I frequently take 1500 mile trips and they work great. I would not use them on a bare roof though.

Right now…
I’m using foam blocks but intend to get a rack this coming spring. The blocks do the job but not the easiest thing to load (17’ canoe) by myself. I’ve figured a way to do it fairly easily but I think the rack will be much easier…

if you use…
foam blocks a helpful tip is to apply a dollop of car wax to the surface of the block to prevent scratching your paint job

Foam blocks are OK if done right.
while saris is the way to go; if you can strap the blocks to the car, and then strap the boat to the car, you will do OK You will have at least four straps running under your roof, and bow and stern lines. CRCK been working for years with this rig.

Plastic roof strips
Does the car have 2 plastic strips running the length of the roof? If it does, there is a rack available that fits the gutters the strips are covering. I have seen them on older Hondas and have seen several makes of cars with the strips.

My car doesn’t have any gutters nor the strips covering them. I’m thinking that I’m going to have the bite bullet and finally get a rack. Downhill skiing adventures will be easier and carrying my kayak will be safer.

A heresy for which Yakima & Thule…
…will hate me: Why couldn’t you buy plumbing pipe insulation at the hardware store, put it around the coaming, and use it in lieu of blocks or bars? (Many tiedowns, of course). I’ve done this with canoes & kayaks and it’s worked. Haven’t used it for sustained freeway speeds nor long distances.

Never had a problem
Foam block work fine but are cumbersome and get lost. Just tow cam lock straps on my kayak, add bow and stern lines for my 85 pound Grumman. I’ve always used them and have never had a problem but racks would have been a better idea.

You should be tired of hearing this
But, I have done both, both are ok as long as done correctly. The big difference for me is the time it takes to load and secure the boat.

It is much easier and quicker with a rack.

Both my cars have factory racks, so I just put the foam blocks on the cross bars. a belly strap, and bow and stern lines and your good to go.

My previous car did not have a rack. I used the foam blocks without the rack once, it is just too much trouble for me, and too many straps.

I put on my cheap IKEA racks and just left them on the car.