Homemade car rack plans?

Hello all,

I am a very excited first time canoe owner. Just purchased an alumacraft Quetico 17’5". Bought it used from an outfitter for pretty cheap. I did, however, use up all the money that was so graciously allotted to me by my wife. We are 24 years old and in the process of buying a home so I am just grateful that I got a boat at all. Now, it occurs to me that I do need a way to transport it, as it does not float in my front yard, and if it did, there are no fish there.

Due to budget constraints,I am considering either foam blocks or a homemade rack. I have been searching on pnet and on the web to find some good/cheap homemade rack plans, without much success. Would a simple rectange made of 2x4’s with some suction cups on the bottom work well enough? Or even one 2x4 at the front and back of the roof of my car? Any other low cost options I am missing? Thank you for any and all suggestions!

PS- I drive a '97 Buick Skylark if it matters. And yes, I do recognize not many 24 year olds drive Buicks, in case any were wondering :slight_smile:


quick and easy

They provide you with the necessary hardware, you need to supply 2x4s and elbow grease.

Quick & Easy
"IF" yer have rain gutters on yer Buick…

Fat Elmo

as an Alternative Roof Rack option,
I have had great success with using something called Handirack… Hard to get in the US, but I do see them on ebay now and then… They work great, and remember to still tie down front and back… Tremendous affordable roof rack option at an affordable price !

Gad Zooks!

– Last Updated: Mar-16-07 5:15 PM EST –

Check out de quite funny demo video on HandiRacks website.


Ah'd be a bit leery of de inflatable rack (loosin' up because of change in volume due ta temperature changes an' puncture potential) but dat video has a few funny "European style" innuendos - nudge, nudge, say no more, know what I mean! Now if dat a'mighty purdy young lady would help me put on de rack everytime, hell - ah'd git it in a second. (Old buzzard fantasyin' a'gin).

Fat Elmo

Yes… A little weary

What do you think of the durability of the handirak? How many times have you used it? Etc… Does it come with a patch kit? Any one else with experience with these?


But what does handirack do
That two foam noodles and a few straps wouldn’t do just as well? Can’t see it being worth 49 British pounds plus international shipping.

Q. Durability of the handirak?

– Last Updated: Mar-16-07 12:20 PM EST –

I was quite skeptical when I first considered Handirack, I bought one for what I considered a affordable price. I have used it at least 15 times to transport either a canoe or kayak. I was suprised at the construction and quality of Handirack. I remember calling a couple of US dealers who at one point had sold these, the commented Handirack was a great roof rack alternative and wished they could still get them to sell (hopefully soon, they once again will have access to sell them). As for quality, they have "D" rings sewn in all the proper locations and the quality of the "D" Ring construction is comparable to parachute quality. Because if the D Rings sewn on the straps,I think these are safer and much better then using pool noodles,(still need to tie down front and back of boat to insure highway safety) I have not had any concern of the Hi-Quality Air Bladders leaking and if they do I would probably cut the end and maybe insert a pool noodle in place of the air bladder and re-sew the end. Once my paddling season begins again, I will leave these inflated and hang them in my garage in between uses. I can not say enough good about Handirack, I actually have 2 sets (you could not ever convince me to part with one!) , I liked mine enough to purchase a second one for my wifes car, and simple enough for her to use. Feel free to email me if you have any more questions.. I hope this helps, I don't think you would be disappointed.

You have one canoe and no money
you should just go get the $30 car topping kit at the local sporting goods store. With that you can put it on the Buick, or the wife’s car, or your buddy’s ride when you want to go fishing. they don’t take up room in your new garage and are really pretty convienient.

I have the blocks. I use them a lot. I have a ladder rack for my truck, but I keep the foam. They are versital and useful for a very long time.


foam blocks and straps
You’v got the right idea about using the foam blocks. That is the least expensive option I could find. You might find them for less on eBay.


pipe insulation or foam noodles
In the past I’ve split pip insulation or foam pool noodles and slipped then onto the gunnels of the canoe. Then I used straps to hold it onto the roof. The pool noodles serve as long home made blocks.

Dicks Sporting goods

– Last Updated: Mar-16-07 6:17 PM EST –

$20.00 Riverside standard canoe carrier.
It comes with 4 foam blocks
4 galvanized bumper hooks
1 15' center strap w/cambuckle
2 15' tie down ropes
It will cost more than that in lumber screws and rope to build one. and then you may just end up scratching your car all up. Dicks sporting goods in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Region


Just found this on sale at Cabela's $12.99

Hope this helps.

Foam blocks sufficient?
I actually had purchased a set of foam blocks about a week ago but have not opened them yet. I read a bunch of foam block bashing here on pnet and got the impression that a homemade rack might be superior. If the general consensus is that the blocks are functional, that would be fantastic. That was not the impression that I got. From this discussion, I may end up staying with the blocks. Thanks to all for you time and energy helping us newbs enjoy the water!


Foam blocks, straps and tie downs
Will work. The trick is spending a lot of time the first time figuring out how to secure it, then try to shake and wiggle the boat around to make sure it is secure. Some day, you’re likely to want to get a decent rack system, as it makes things easier. But you can get by with foam blocks, straps and tie downs for quite a while.

Malone Auto Racks just completed a deal for exclusive distribution of HandiRack in North America.

They should be available in Outdoor Retail stores within the next 30 - 60 days.

We agree, these things are great.

Buy a rack
For all the time you will save loading.

For all the frustration of engineering something.

For finding only three of the four blocks the day you want to go paddle.

It costs more but it makes life easy.

If you are a new home owner, you’ll probably have building projects. Wouldn’t a good roof rack be nice to transport lumber?

I’m a huge roof rack proponent. They are cheap when compared to other car parts. My seat belt cost $200. Each one of my tyres costs more than my roof rack. A windshield costs more than the roof rack. A roof rack costs roughly 6 tanks of gas (in a Buick).

Foam blocks and other systems work, but once you’ve used a well engineered roof rack like those offered by Thule, Yakima, or Saris, you’ll never want to use anything else.

Handiracks are looking for a US distributor at the moment. Retail would be $100.

I used blocks and or noodles for a long
time before breaking down and buying a Yakima rack. Obviously a Yakima or Thule rack is superior but you can do very well with the foam blocks if you tie it down well.

So… In Handi-rack’s promo: http://www.handirackuk.com/how.asp , it shows the rack inflating completely with three strokes of the air pump… Anyone have any idea how long this actually might take? Guess a guy could just leave it inflated, huh?

Yep, works as simple as the Promo shows,

– Last Updated: Mar-17-07 1:52 PM EST –

The air bladders fill very quickly and yes you could leave them filled and just hang them on the garage wall when not in use.. I was so impressed with the Quality, that I inquired about becoming the exclusive distributor for the USA; unfortunately for me, they already had something in the works. I think these will fly off the shelves everywhere from home improvement stores to paddling shops. There is nothing comparable for the price of a Handirack..

I started with non slip foam blocks, These work much better and don't scratch the roof !

The blocks…
are a pain at first but after using them you’ll get it down. If you say you are out of money, then you are out of money. Budget for a rack in the future and use the blocks for now since you already have them. If something else presents itself that is affordable and you like it, go for it.