How do I carry a canoe on my pickup (and a question about Overhaul rack)?

I’m considering getting a canoe but I’m not sure how I would get it up and down from my truck. For my kayak, I’ve attached a pic of my current setup. I use a load assist bar that pulls out from the front crossbar. Would that work for a canoe (I don’t know why it wouldn’t)? Am I correct in thinking that the hullavator (or Yakimas version - the showdown?) for the kayak. I gather those don’t work for canoes.

With specific reference to the kayak, I don’t love my saddles (it’s really the round bars that I don’t love as the saddles rotate even with the boat on despite some friction clips and something I made that goes under the front saddles). If I got the Overhaul system, I had thought I might get foam block carriers but from what I can tell from pictures, the profile of the crossbar that is compatible with the Overhaul system does not match the elliptical cutouts that I’ve seen on foam block carriers. Does anyone know if that is correct?


Your pictured setup is very similar to mine. If I am by myself, I just put the bow upside down on the back bar and push. Slides right up there. I can easily keep even my heaviest canoe from touching the cab roof before it gets to the front bar. I also have rollers and saddles that I take on and off depending on what I an hauling, but the bars on my two bed racks rack are square, so they don’t flop around as the are attached with U Bolts and the rollers with Stainless Steel hose Clamps. From the photo, unless you are thinking of a wood gunwale canoe, I would not bother with the foam blocks unless your bars are not very

smooth and I have known people who used plastic shrink tubing to add an extra layer of smoothness to their bars. I had a Hullavator on my last vehicle and sold it as on the bed rack they were too far apart for you to grab both handles unless you were Stretch Armstrong.

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Thanks. The boat I’m thinking of does not have wood gunwales so I should be good there (it’s a composite boat and I’m not sure what the gunwales are). Having never loaded a canoe before, just seeing the pic was very helpful. I didn’t know if you needed some kind of cradle or other bar attachment like you do with a kayak typically or not.

Oh…the foam block question had more to do with my kayak. I was thinking if I got something other than round crossbars (which allow my current saddles to rotate), I might switch to foam blocks that have the elliptical cutout to conform to many aero-type bars…but from what I can see in pics, I don’t think the Overhaul bar is shaped in such a way that the cut-out of those foam blocks would fit. I can probably use my current saddles though unless there was some fit kit for different style bars that I threw out long ago after attaching them to my round bars.

I have Yakima racks with the pullout bar on the front rack. I put the bow on it and lift the stern in place. Works fine for a canoe.
For a kayak, I have cradles . Put the bow in the rear one and slide the boat into place. If you aren’t tall enough, get a safety step.

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Load canoes solo from the rear.

We ditched Yakima round bars a long time ago because of their tendency to roll, especially if loading from the rear. I prefer the Yakima saddles, however. The Thule saddles at the time had an adjusting knob where you could adjust the angle. Like the Yakima round bars, no matter how often you tightened them they came loose. With the Thule saddles they would fall flat.

I found the best setup was the Yakima saddles on Thule square bars. Yakima saddles worked on either round or square bars.

Now however, the round and square bars are being phased out in favor of flattened aerodynamic bars. No more rolling problems like with the round bars, but more expensive. Saddle attachment methods have improved also to accommodate many crossbar shapes so that they are more easily used on the vehicle’s OEM crossbars.

The Hullavator and other similar load assist hardware is probably the easiest way to solo load a boat, although likely the most expensive. Whether or not it would work with a canoe would likely depend on whether or not it could handle the width of a canoe as compared with a kayak.

I have a truck similar to yours with a custom 1¼" black steel pipe ladder rack. I used Yakima saddles modified to fit stainless U-bolts. The saddles were on the front (over the cab) and middle crossbars, not on the rear. I actually had to use a 6’ step ladder to load my 18’ kayak over the side, leaning it on the front vertical ladder rack member. I couldn’t even touch my loaded kayak from the ground to attempt to load from the rear. Fortunately it was a Kevlar boat and only weighed 45 lbs.

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