From one canoe to two canoes on top.

I have a complete Thule set up and I use Thule Canoe carrier and for long trips I use the quickdraws too

So when I carry one canoe it is pretty secure. I will be carrying two canoes for the first time.

I have extra long bars so that should help and I think my straps are long enough too.

My question pertains to the “Padded cradles”. Do I need an extra set for the other canoe or do I just put the two canoes together and use the 4 padded cradles?

The paddle cradles can be seen in the picture at the first link. They fit on the bar and the canoe rests on top of it. Thanks.

How would you use just one set?

– Last Updated: Sep-18-07 9:49 PM EST –

Put them on the outside and the inside gunnels on the bars? Sounds OK , but the boats might rub together.Are you talking about 2 straps for both boats or 4?
I think I would use 2 sets of cradles and 4 straps, or put the best boat in the cradles, but that way one is almost guaranteed to shift side to side.

More info…

– Last Updated: Sep-18-07 10:02 PM EST –

Yes, the two canoes would most probably touch each other in the middle if I just used one set (4) cradles. I was planning on using two straps. However, I was never too sure about this and I was leaning toward two sets of cradles (8) and then another two straps. That would be the most secured.

The two canoes would only be on together for ~10 miles so it will not be a long distance. If I went with just 4 cradles, I obviously would not speed around with them.

I would like to know what is the best way if I ever take a long drive with 2 canoes.

two sets of cradles…
Definitely two sets, if you’re going anywhere very far or very fast. You need to cradle and strap each canoe separately, each one just as you’d do with a single canoe. I often carry two canoes on my Yakima racks, and have two sets of cradles, two sets of straps going across the top (one on each rack) and two separate front and rear tiedowns.

Thule bars
One nice thing about Thule bars is that they are not round, like Yakima. Rectangular bars mean you can wrap cord around the bars and they won’t spin on the bar and unwrap.

So I think you could get away without the padded canoe holder, but using rope instead of straps. Of course, you are going to individually tie down the boat with two lines each from the center of the bars. Attach your rope to the bar and make several winds of the rope around the bar such that the rope is overlapping itself. This builds up a little bump on the bar that will keep the canoe from moving to the side. Toss the rope over the canoe and repeat the multiple wraps on the outside of the canoe, building another little bump.

I’ve taken canoes on 700 mile trips tied down in this way, with no problems.

For short shuttles, you can also tie the second canoe on top of the first canoe. You could probably, in that case, get away with a single pair of straps over the pair of canoes. Also tie the bow and stern of both boats.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD

Those are called gunnel brackets, and
what is more important than using them is the fact that you should use separate straps for each canoe. (two straps for each canoe)

If you are only going ten miles and at low speeds, the gunnel brackets are really not necessary, but are good to have.

They do there work at high speed driving and prevent the canoe from wanting to wiggle from wind such as when a eighteen wheeler passes you.

If you have the room for gunnel brackets under both canoes, (2 sets = 4 brackets) than that with two separate camlock buckle straps is the best way to go.



I’ve Driven Thousands of Miles…
…with ONE set. I put them at each corner and move as needed so the outside gunwale of each canoe is held in place. I use a couple Yakima pads on the inside now that I got from a friend, but have used pool noodles, etc. This allows you to cinch it tight and pads the inner gunwale on each canoe.

Best way to do it is load and strap one boat at a time and put 2nd set of straps on BEFORE loading the 2nd boat. Otherwise, it’s difficult to get straps between the boats. If you have the widest Thule bars as I do, it would take two exceptionally wide tandem canoes (like 37" with wide wooden gunnels) to have a problem with them rubbing together.

One other thing, the NRS 1.5" straps are even better for holding those big tandems. Here’s a pic or two to help show how it works. I don’t have many pics of boats strapped down, but here’s a pic of a few and a recent pic with one so you can see that inner pad I use.

There’s no need to buy another set, one is perfect, two would be a PIA to use unless you strapped only the same two canoes all the time. WW

Two full sets of gunwale brackets
are always the most secure setup.

That said, many folks do not use them and have traveled countless miles without loosing a boat. If you elect to use just one set, I would locate the brackets on the outboard ends of your bars. FIRMLY tightened. Careful application of load straps should keep the boats from touching, and the gunwale brackets would prevent them from sliding off the bars during loading or transportation.

I would NOT try to use one strap to secure two boats. There is no safe way around using two straps per boat. BTW, Thule load straps are quite beefy, and have slick buckle pads.


Leer will install a thule rack on a fiberglass cap,but the bar is oval shaped instead of the one inch square bars I’ve always seen.

Will these products work on the oval bar?

I cant find the info on their web site.

Sorry if I got off the subject but this looked like a good spot to ask.



Two sets of brackets is best.
They’re a good investment.

Muffler clamps (U-bolts) on the Thule bars is what I used before getting the Thule canoe carrier kits.

I enjoyed your pictures of the Current. It makes me want to go back.

I Respectfully Disagree
I cannot imagine anything moving my canoes other than an animal or another vehicle in an accident. I have two belly straps on each canoe and “Shake” the vehicle by grasping each boat. It’s as solid as you can get. Buy two if you like, I’ll save my money for gas and use the one set and am certain I will never lose a boat with my setup. Plus, they will be easier to load. Good luck.

BTW, thanks, meriamcanoe. WW

Not to start an argument, but…
you evidently don’t carry ultralight canoes.

I agree completely with you on carrying a forty or fifty pound canoe, but put a 19 pound, 18’-6" ultralight canoe on and no matter how you wiggle it when it is strapped down, at 65 or 70 mph with some cross winds, it will want to move .

Not to the point that is dangerous, but probably a half inch or so.

I have never felt that a canoe was in jeopardy without the gunnel brackets, but I would much rather have them.



Belt and suspenders
Whichever way you go, make sure to tie the bow and stern to the frame of the car. Some friends had their cartop carrier come off in high winds when the entire roof rack sysem ripped off the top of their car.

Good Point, Jackl
Bell Bucktail is 30 something and Mohawk is a hair over 40, so no real ultralight. Maybe one of those 20 pounders would buckle under my cinching?

My point is, with the Thule brackets on the outside of each gunnell and the strap on the inside, the boats are going nowhere unless I run into a tornado, deer, or other vehicle. I have driven easily in excess of 10K miles with ONLY outside gunnel brackets with padding on the bar sandwitched in between the brackets.

IMHO ONE works better because it is easier than trying to maneuver two boats into the brackets. Also, IMHO, TWO sets are overkill. That is my opinion backed by many years and miles experience hauling that way. Now I will quietly go away from this discussion and continue to use ONE set on my vehicle. WW

Short boats + large rack spacing
requires less securing than long boats with short spacing between load bars.

I find two sets of brackets require much less effort for me to secure two canoes on my Bonneville than trying to get fancy with the belly straps.

Everyone has there own preference.

Sure, one set of brackets, used as you do will be good enough for most people, but it seems like more work than a second set of brackets. I’m not that fond of using the pipe insulation and pool noodles, though I have used them when I didn’t have other (better) options.

I’ll be a guinea pig
I’ll be carrying two canoes (heavy, royalex MR Explorers) for the first time, on a long trip from RI to PA in a few weeks.

I’ll be using one set of canoe gunnel brackets for Yakima bars, placing them on the outside of each canoe. When I go to strap them, I plan on giving the strap one wrap around the bar on the inside of each canoe (yes, 2 straps per canoe, absolutely), since I’ve found that this works well to keep the boat in place, even in cross winds.

The bows and sterns will be tied down as well.

I’d be willing to bet I’ll get there and back no problem.

Two sets of brackets are certainly more secure, but I think my set up will be more than adequate.

Of course, if I leave any canoes behind, I’ll let y’all know what went wrong.


Agree with Wildernesswebb
I have a 99 Subaru Forester with Yakima racks. More than once I’ve made the 1,150 mile round trip from central Iowa to the Current River hauling two Mad River Guides/Freedom Solos with one set of gunwale brackets. I place the brackets on the outside of each canoe, and use two straps on each canoe looped under the crossbars on the inside gunwales. I also tie down the bow and stern of each canoe to the tow hooks under the car.

Even traveling the interstates at 80mph with crosswinds I’ve never had the canoes budge. Admittedly these are heavy Royalex boats, so I can’t speak to how this would work with lightweight kevelar boats.