Gunwale brackets for cross-country trip?

For a cross-country car trip, NC to Wyoming and back, with a canoe on top of Yakima bars, would you recommend Yakima gunwale brackets to further stabilize the canoe against movement in wind? Usually I use straps and bow and stern tie downs. But I know winds can be fierce on highways out west. I’m not wild about seeing the canoe move while I’m driving!

G in NC

They help a lot
Yakima gunwale brackets are one of the most over-priced items in existence, but if you can’t make your own, I’d say they are worth it.

Another thing which helps in other ways is to position your canoe on the rack so that it is to the rear of being centered. Instead of having the bow extend a distance forward of the front bat that’s the same as the distance that the stern extends rear of the rear bar, shift the canoe rearward about two feet, maybe even 2.5 or three feet if the wind is strong. This provides an amazing reduction in sideways forces of wind against the bow. Not only does that reduce how much the canoe tends to move, it reduces strain on the rack and the roof. You will be amazed how much smoother everything rides through the turbulent air behind big rigs too, and you car won’t be jerked around nearly as much either.

The worst thing you can do is try to center the canoe over the whole car, as in that case its positioned forward of center on the rack. The effect of doing that can be just as dramatic as described above, but in a bad way.


– Last Updated: Apr-16-14 12:48 PM EST –

been using them for some 30 years. They eliminate side to side sway and due to most hulls curvature back to front motion.

It's not fun to have to pull over to the side in Kansas. Not only are there relatively few exits the trucks whizz by at 80 mph.

I do lots of long distance canoe carrying including several times on the Great Plains and over the years they have been a good investment. Initially why they may be expensive, its up to you to determine the value you put on your canoe and you and your car when travelling so far from home.

Buy them
On long distance trips, passing and being passed by big trucks, heading over mountain gaps on crazy windy days, I have never ever regretted having gunnel brackets. They even help carrying two canoes at once…the brackets go to the outer gunnels of each canoe.


Thanks! I’ll buy them.
Guideboatguy, KM, and Riverstrider, I appreciate your definitive responses based on your experience hauling canoes. (OK, I will not center the canoe over the car or the bars; I’ll shorten the front overhang of the canoe on the bars, a good idea.)

Today I was sitting plotting distances and possible campgrounds where we can stop en route to Wyoming. And I looked at South Dakota on the road atlas and in my mind’s eye saw WIND. Thus, my question. And your answers! Thanks again. I’m on it!

G in NC

Load bracket as alternative
I also recommend some sort of gunwale bracket. Yakima sells both a dedicated canoe gunwale bracket, but also a more general load bracket that works well. When we bought our rack system, the latter is what we got (may have been the only option at that time)… it works very well, and is a bit cheaper.

Load stops
One must be careful about using load stops if the canoe has significant tumblehome. They maybe too tall.

absolutely disagree
buy flexible PVC tubing. It will build up the height a little… Thats what I have done on Bell tumblehomed boats. I have the original loadstoppers, not the low profile brackets.

You can also glue minicell on the bottom of the L to build it up. I have not had to do that.

Just relaying what I had been told

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But I see they can be made to work.

Where does the strap go?

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I checked out load stops on the Yakima site. They look fine too. When you strap the canoe down to the bars, where does the strap go in relation to the brackets (be they gunwale brackets or load stops)? To the outside of the brackets? Or through them through a slot? Or what? (This may be a dumb question but i've never actually seen these in real life.) i
G in NC

I personally highly recommend them
Either canoe brackets or load brackets. I use the load brackets with my Yakima rack on a 2010 Subaru Forester hauling a Mad River Freedom Solo, Mohawk Solo 14, or Wenonah Vagabond or any two of them at the same time.

A couple of years ago I rode out a super cell that dropped a tornado a quarter of a mile behind me. Trees came down, grain bins were destroyed and a roof came off a shed in my immediate area.

The wind was blowing so hard I grabbed the steering wheel as I sat out the storm. It even felt like the two tires facing the wind came off the ground, but I don’t know for sure that they did.

My canoe stayed on my car but the wind moved the rear of the canoe and the brackets holding them almost two inches. Guess I didn’t tighten those rear brackets down as hard as I did the front brackets.

As for winds and trucks on the interstates. I use the interstates fairly frequently when hauling my canoe/canoes. Heading west to Wyoming you’ll likely have to go through either Nebraska or South Dakota. I’ve done both quite often, a few times with 50 to 60 mph cross winds.I wouldn’t think of doing so without the brackets.

Definitely worth the price in my opinion.

Just to the outside
a 14 foot long strap is plenty long to wrap around the bar outside the stops and then it doubles back to you. Often the problem is the tail… there is usually lots left to wrap around a thwart -a safety line so to speak

There’s no slot or need for one.

sure, make your own $3.00
Yeah cant hurt. A little play is good anyway.

Just create a small ledge or bump next to the gunnels to keep from swaying. You can do this many ways. A small bit of foam which also acts like a seal and some duct tape to hold in place. Or just use duck tape. make a bulge. Or a rag or anything… Cost a few buck and will last a couple years.

Why is a little play good? NM

OK, got the picture now. Thanks!

I envision…
A small block of wood hose clamped to the rack. Would think that would be quite effective and still easily adjustable/removable.


Well Worth It
The quote “Yakima gunwale brackets are one of the most over-priced items in existence, but if you can’t make your own, I’d say they are worth it” sounds like it came from me rather than my friend, Eric. If you make a lot of long distance trips, like many of us do, they are invaluable. Especially out west, those winds seem to get extremely fierce? For a double rack, we use the “Load stops” in the middle and gunwale brackets on the outside since the load stops are an inch or so taller. On our little Chevy Sonic, that can only haul one boat, we have the Yakima gunwale brackets that clamp to the factory rack. Oh, and just because you have gunwale brackets, DON’T FORGET THE BOW TIEDOWNS with bow AND stern being the best “Insurance.”

Loadstops look best
The yakima gunwale brackets come with straps and also, it looks like, with a bow and stern tiedown. I already have good straps and line for tiedowns, so I think I am going to get the loadstops only. The price difference is more than $30. I really need the stops, not more straps. I do agree that bow and stern tiedowns are essential and i do always use them – I just have my own.

Thanks to everyone for guidance.

G in Nc

To me they are a must
I just got back today from carrying a canoe with them.

Keep in mind that they can go on either the inner or the outer side of the gunnel, and make them tight against each gunnel.

They are great in high winds or when that big 18 wheeler comes by at 75 MPH

Jackl, which way do you put the stops?
Inside gunwale or out? Never occurred to me they could go any way but outside.