help with cross bars

I need some help, my local kayak shop doesn’t even know what a kayak stack is! I am new to kayaking and am looking to get cross bars for my 13 rav 4. I plan on putting 4 kayaks on top, wife’s, mine, and the 2 kids. I have no idea what cross bars to buy or the length bars i need for topping 4 kayaks. I’m assuming kayak stacker for the middle for 2 kayaks but do i need some other cradles for the other 2? Kayaks so far are 2 pungo 120’s and a Necky 13, have yet to get the youngests kayak yet. Thank you in advance for you help.

We have stacked four sea kayaks

– Last Updated: Jun-21-16 10:11 PM EST –

Note that it was sea kayaks, you may need more width even with boats on their sides. I favor pretty shallow sea kayaks, over i5 inches (oops,ignore the 25 inch earlier typi) the deck is getting too high for me. But Jim too average sized guy boats.

Due to a inattentive moment on my part, we ended up with 58 inch cross bars for the latter half of that time. I found myself really missing the 63 inch bars we had before, because getting the second boat up on each side became a fussier operation. The extra 5 inches on the 63 inch bars made a noticeable difference.

Check your boat depth, you may want even longer than 63 inches.

All your boats are plastic, so you could skip some of the padding, like putting pool noodles around the strap for the inside boat to act as a cushion between in and the outer boat.

The arrangement is not all that complicated. One boat inside, on its side, strapped to the stackers. Link to ProLines site selling Yakima stacker here, Thule has stackers, the ProLine site is nice because it shows you how to run the strap.

Each second boat goes outside of that, with padding as needed, and a second strap is run to affix that boat to the stacker. You will want to play with how the boats mate up, especially with the large cockpits in rec boats, so you can snug the outer boat up tight against the inner one. Four bow lines and stern lines for all of that as works best for your vehicle.

So you end up with a mess of boats on top. Lousy for your gas mileage but it isn't about that when the family goes to the water.

You could go to 78 inch bars and have room for two boats on the stacker (one each side) and two saddles, but that seems like overkill as long as you have a second hand helping you to load and unload. Which you will need to get all four boats up there. This is a tall vehicle. Unless your wife is taller than average, you will need a step stool for her to be useful. Just keep a collapsible one in the car.

If this is blowing the mind of your local kayak shop, you need a better shop.

check yakima webpage
Yakima has a pretty good website with vehicle selection and what products will fit for some basic understanding.

But honestly, I’m having a similar problem trying to figure out what to get to haul a board and 2 yaks on my Forester. g’luck!

thank you
Thank you for the help, I truly appreciate it. Just wish my local yak shak could of been of SOME help,lol.

4 yaks, 50 inch bars

No stacker needed, but getting the first boat strapped down can be a challenge. Granted, these are small whitewater boats, but you get the idea. I’m not big on having the bars sticking way out from the car, so I would do my best to get all four boats on shorter bars. You will also need a long strap that will go over all four boats (I have a 20 foot strap from NRS) or the ability to tie a truckers hitch with rope. For a long trip, I’d strap down each boat individually. Long boats need bow and stern lines as well.

don’t take your crossbars past where
your mirrors stick out- a stacker bar can help when wanting to load more boats. Certain cars you can bring the bars out further and they don’t seem to be in the way- forester is like that, my van wasn’t. Folks that stack a lot of boats and use overly long crossbars put tennis balls on the ends of the bars to prevent personal injury.

4 kayaks
whats deck height of your white water kayaks, not sure deck height is correct term for what I’m asking,lol.

RAV4 tall

– Last Updated: Jun-22-16 11:18 AM EST –

A medium tall person is walking under the bars if they go beyond the mirror and the rack system is mounted on factory rails. I would have to leap up higher than I jump these days to run into my Hullivator ends.

We did have overhanging bars on the prior cars, and they were lower of roof. I hit them with my head a couple of times getting out of the car, but never found a way to actually hurt myself. No eyes out or bumps hard enough to create a lump of any kind.

I personally have found rear hatch doors with failing hydraulic arms to be more dangerous than overhanging cross bars. At least for the driver. Long overhangs can be dangerous to lower limbs in trees along the street when you park.

Probably smaller
Whitewater boats are probably going to be less deep (wide on edge) than your Pungo 120’s or a Necky 13. I’ll bet you could get three boats on a 50 inch bar, but you may need to go to the next size up for the forth.


NOTE Eckilson’s posts of…‘if you know’…

loading 3 or 4 is serious rigging. When hulls leave the car hulls leave the insurance.


but this accident is in the wind.

no shock cords

You can cut bars
If your using Thule square bars they can easily be cut if too long. I hacksaw will go through one very quickly. So IF your getting thule square bars get a little longer bar then cut to length. No idea what length you need, good luck.

Thank you
I truly appreciate the feedback. You guys have been very helpful. Def more helpful than my local yak shack. Plush i live in the Adirondacks and there’s tons of kayaking to do around here so one would think they would be well informed but at this point i feel im more educated on loading multiple kayaks than them,lol. Thank u all again.

My 4 boat rig on 48 inch bars is ideal
You can see it here: