Help! Loading my Yak on my SUV alone!

I am in desperate need of some good advice! I am fairly new to Kayaking and as you all know after just one time I was hooked! So I went out and bought a kayak, and “J” cradles from Malone for my factory roof rack on my Saturn Vue. They LOOK great! Now if I only I could use them! I have checked out the Loaders for sale on the internet, and since I don’t have a Yakima or Thule Roof rack, and no trailer hitch, I am flat out of ideas. I was able to some how get my Yak on the roof once but I scratched both my car and my boat so I need a better way! My Yak is 13 ft and weighs about 58 pounds. It is usually just me and my 4 year old, And unfortunatly I am a wimp! Any tips, suggestions, advice or products you all know about are greatly appreciated! The cheaper the better! (This has become a very expensive habit of mine!)Thanks

I am not sure of your set up, but…
can you possibly get some kayak cradles to replace the J cradles.

I glued some indoor outdoor carpet to my cradles which allows the kayak to slide.

You can than put the bow of the kayak on the cradles and then pick up the stern and slide the kayak forward.



Read this thread
Ignore the advice to buy a new car and follow the helpful hints.

I have the same problem with my Yakima
setup. What I do is pull the end caps and slid in a couple of extender bars that I made from some round steel stock. I then lift the back end of the yak up on the extender bar towards the back then do the same for the front of the yak. After it is up on the extender bars I stand on my 4’ ladder and just lift the yak onto the j-cradles. Maybe you can rig something like this for your setup

Try draping a towel over your vehicle to prevent scratches.

Single SUV kayak loader
Thanks so much for your very helpful reply! I will try some of these tips tomorrow! I think the bathroom rug is a great idea and possibly the step stool also. I agree with the others on the Malone J racks. they are very high and hard to use on your own. I am better off just using the racks! Thanks again!

This is another great idea, I would not have thought about indoor/outdoor carpeting! It will definitly help on sliding, and I think if I put a cushy bathroom carpet over the back part of my roof it should prevent scratching also! Thanks again

Dont have right brand of roof rack
This sounds like one of my best bets but I am trying to avoid having to buy a new roof rack, cause mine is standard from saturn and it has the insets already on the car roof. Plus the added expense. I wish I could figure out a way to make somthing similiar to work with my regular roof rack. Hmmmmm… Maybe Ill think of something. Thanks!

My girlfriend…
…has to load hers from the back so the bottom is resting on the rails. Then she stands on a stool or inside the vehicle on the side and lifts one end, then the other into the J cradles. Seem to work decently, but I did buy her a pair of Yakima Landsharks so she can just load from behind and be done with it. I am not sure how the VUE’s racks are, but is there a place to wedge something into the side to use as a boat loader? Have you thought about putting a towel or bath mat over the open side door and using the covered door as a “boat loader?”

good idea!
Hey thanks! This sounds like a great idea. I never thought of using the door! (duh) the doors are pretty solid and with a bathmat I shouldnt have to worry about scratching. And yeh, definitly need to put it on the rack first and then worry about the J cradle. Thank you!

Not what you want to hear

– Last Updated: May-21-06 9:32 AM EST –

but the other option is to just get a lighter weight kayak. Will save a lot of wear and tear on your back too. For a 13' kayak you can get a composite that weights 41 lbs (see QCC Kayak, model 300 in carbon/kevlar) or even into the lower/mid 30 lbs with other manufactuers and a lower volume 13' kayak. That will make a huge difference in loading.

Had a VUE
and used the hood as a ramp. One piece of padding on the ground, lots of padding on the edge of the hood and one towel on the windshield - although I never tapped the glass. Somehow my 14’ kayak would balance nicely on the edge of the hood, then settle slowly onto the carrier front crossbar when pushed up further.

I have a Saturn vue
I got a thule glide and set. I put a small piece of closed cell foam pad on the rear of the roof, place the nose of the boat on that, lift the tail of the boat and push up onto the rack. I have recently come off of having rotator cuff surgery and this works well for me.

By the way, both thule and yakima have kayak carriers that will work on the vue. I almost got the setup you are describing but my dealer (Clavey River Systems} convinced me this was a better way to go. They were right!

glide and set
Are you able to return the Malones, and get cradles? I know people love their Malones, and I definitely considered them, but was worried about lifting the boat that high.

I also have the Thule Glide and set. As a short woman who has to cartop alone, I find them very easy to use. Unlike many saddles, they often fit factory roof racks…(I think you may need an adapter for your specific vehicle, but I think it might just be longer screws.) I use a towel or bathmat on the back of the roof, and put one end on, then lift the rear and the kayak easily slides forward. If height is an issue at that point, you can stand on a step ladder or (my favorite) an overturned milk crate I use to carry straps etc in. I haven’t had them long, but so far I am very happy.

I tried Mako/hully rollers, but found them harder to use, and the adaptors needed to fit a roof rack made the saddles even higher off the ground. I also found it harder to control the boat on the rollers.

I have heard of resting the boat on the open door for side loading, but always wondered how that would impact on the door/hinges over time.

Call the factory
Malone makes a superior bottom down system that will allow you to load your kayak from the rear as mentioned in the other messages.

The SeaWing will fit directly onto your Vue factory rack and requires very little setup.

Call 1-800-295-0042 and explain your problem.

Thule Hullavator
I hate to suggest a costly solution, but Hullavators work very well. Really simplify loading, as they bring the cradles down to, I estimate, chest level on a Vue. This also allows you to open your vehicle hatch for access. ANd you can access your boat’s hatches too. ANd easily affix your cockpit cover. Only downside is the price.


glide and slide
The Thule glide and slide was recommended by a local place last spring. If I have to do load it myself then I place a beach towel over the back of my van before pushing the boat up. I also use a foot stool for lashing.

The roller loader probably works well but a roommate I had lost one of the lashes/hooks off of it. I’m trying to simplify my life so if I am alone I use the beach towel and wet glide.

I’m very thankful to all of the people who have helped me though so I don’t often have to do this alone.

Another not what you want…
eBay! the Malone’s and go with a Thule Hull-a-vator. Otherwise it clean and jerk that 58lb. boat.

See you on the water,


Door as boat-loader
I don’t think that’ll work.

The openned-door usually left a big gap from the body of the car. Plus, most doors are sloping. So I would worry about the kayak sliding right off the door.

Unless one makes a customized gizmo to fit over the top edge of the openned door of one’s own car…something to think about.