Ford Explorer--Roof Hauling and Locking?

I’m hoping to transport two 14-foot kayaks on the factory roof rack of my wife’s '96 Explorer this weekend. I’ve heard it is okay to pad the crossbars with foam, lay the kayaks on right side up, and lash each of them to the crossbars in a figure-8 pattern with camlock straps. Can anyone confirm that, or suggest another way to do it (short of purchasing kayak mounts)? Also, is there a good way to lock kayaks to the roof rack or vehcile? I can’t see where to pass a cable through either boat. Thanks for the suggestions to a new, dumb guy–me!

Don’t trust the…
I have the same car. Don’t trust the anchors of the factory tracks. They are held in with an expanding rubber booted anchor. Load the racks heavilly and you might have airborne kayaks on the highway.

  1. Get Thule Set-2-Go saddles =better than blocks.
  2. Slide the boats up into place by placing a shaggy bathroom mat w/rubber backing across the top of the rear lift. Protects & slides.
  3. Simplify the strapping. Simply go over the boat, around the cross bar once so it cinches and back up over the boat to repeat on the outboard side.
  4. USE Bow tiedowns.
  5. Give yourself a bit of insurance - Use one long belly strap w/ a half twist in it so there is no flat strap to catch the wind and drive you nuts with the hum in relation to your speed. Good way to guage your speedometer.

    Eventually get yourself a pair of Hullavators from Thule and you’ll wonder why you ever went through so many hassles carrying kayaks.

    See you on the water,


i have gone 1000’s of miles
with 2 boats on my wifes 2001 explorer using the exact method you described except with the boats top down and using bow and stern ropes. In fact I drove 1000 miles in one day from Miami to north Alabama like that with no problems.

If I were using the explorer regularly to haul boats I would get an after market rack, but for a few trips a year, factory racks will do. Just don’t forget the bow and stern lines, they are a must in case of a rack failure.

PS. I’m not sure your 96 has the same rack as my 01.