How long is too long for my Camry?

-- Last Updated: Apr-20-09 10:17 PM EST --

Hello I'm a newbie...:). I drive a 1995 Toyota Camry and I'm looking at buying the OK Prowler 13. My car is about 15' long. What would you suggest for a car rack? Is this kayak gonna be too big for my car? In the mean time I will use my old Ford F150 for transport to local lakes but would like to be able to save on gas heading up north this summer. I really don't want to get a trailer. Thanks!

Should be fine
The excellent Yakima Q-Tower system will give you a crossbar spread of 32" on the Camry, which is the same as for my Matrix:

I’ve carried everything from 10 to 18-foot kayaks with no problems. Just try to get one of the bulkheads aligned over the saddles (see red markers on photo), and as always, use good straps and bow and stern tiedowns.

Good Luck!


With a screen name like mine . . . . . .
Well, since I am now on my SECOND Camry. First one was, surprisingly, a 1998 model (thus the screen name) and then just last year I replaced that one with a 1999 model. I think that I can safely tell you that you are MORE than okay with a 13 foot OK Prowler.

I use a Yakima rack set up. The bars are set at a 30 inch spread from front to back. I have taken 18 foot canoes and 18 foot kayaks on her with no problems at all. I have used J-racks and the regular cradles.

Best regards,

Jeff (jcamry98)

ok to …
carry anything but the USS Missouri …I seriously doubt there,s a canoe or kayak made that can’t be carried safely on the smallest of cars with the exception of a "Smart " car maybe. even big tandem boats rarely seem to exceed 100 #'s

wow…thanks for the great response…
Thanks for the quick response I will check those out…good to know I can use my car for transport…the old F150 is hard on gas…lol. :slight_smile:

overhang can be a beautiful thing
I’m also a Matrix owner toting kayaks of 16 and 13.5 feet using a Yakima rack system.

Another tip: depending on the laws of your state, you might be required to flag the end of your boat if it overhangs the vehicle by 3 feet or more. As a practical matter you can view doing so as an idiot warning system.

And, in Michigan, a driver who is cartopping a boat without tiedowns, if involved in an accident, will be automatically cited for an improperly secured load, w. an additional citation for careless driving (e.g. more points and fines). Your auto insurance co. will love you for the extra premiums paid for the next three years.

Laws aside, using tiedowns is simple. Just a few extra minutes protects your boat from damage and people from injury or worse if they happen to be travelling behind or beside you.

Is there any handy formula?
We carry two 12’ rec boats on our Suzuki wagon without any problem.

But my wife worries that should we buy a new car (say, a Toyota Matrix) the spread between bars would be too small compared to the length of the boats.

Any rule of thumb to determine how much boat is too much for the length of car roof?

Make sure you got tie downs
The spread on the racks is small and there is a chance the boat would fly off if you go fast. With front/rear tie downs - no problems. I drive a '00 Camry and a ‘02 Prius and no issues with boats I’ve had (up to 19’) but even with 13 footers (got one of these too) I highly recommend a tie down on both ends.

I have carried 18’ boats on a Subaru Legacy. It is not a problem.

I carry a 15’ canoe and 16’ Yak on

– Last Updated: Apr-21-09 11:53 AM EST –

our '00 Camry ; no sweat.Yakima racks.

There’s no limit with a good rack
I’ve carried a 19’ boat on a Hyundai Excel with no problems, but you need a good rack to do so. Forget the cheapo foam blocks and spring for a quality roof rack.

I’ve done a 19-20 foot canoe on a Ford

You’re fine

– Last Updated: Apr-21-09 7:58 PM EST –

I haul 2 17' sea kayaks on my Scion XB.


Oh yeah, and occasionally a 21' outrigger canoe.

Tie downs and a solid rack
My car is 12’3" long (2000 VW Polo). With bow and stern tie downs and a solid rack, I feel very comfortable carrying two 18 feet seakayaks on top.

bar spread
if by spread you mean the distance from the front bar to the back bar, what you are shooting for is to place each boat on the bars so that the securing straps going across the boats line up as closely as possible w. the gunwhales of the boat bec. those are the strongest areas to lash the load. Some rec boats have 2 gunnies, some 1 some 0. My kayaks (16 ft and 13.5 feet as stated) each have 2, so it is easy to line them up.

As to balance, if I can secure a 16 footer on my Matrix, you can do the same with a 12 footer. I load my boats hull side down, because I use Hulley Rollers and Mako Saddles. And, I almost always carry one boat.But my boats are narrow enough I could carry both hull down.

If spread means measuring side to side, my bars are 48" as originally specified in the bar specification site.

48" works for me because the ends do not overhang the doors of the car (head hazard). Some people do go longer to carry wide boats (recs and canoes) and try to avoid head hazard by putting a cut tennis ball on each of the four ends. I don’t need to resort to that and would rather not deal w. it anyway.

As to whether you can fit 2 rec boats on 48" bars,it sounds like you want to load 1 or both of them on their sides, since rec boats are generally 26- 30 inches wide. Yakima makes a J bar for side mounts. It will impede your wind resistance more and therefore drop your gas mileage, but you can get 2 boats up that way.

Hope this answers your question. I know of no magic formula :wink:

Rack Extenders …
It sounds like you need a rack extender. Here’s the two that I am aware of. I have the Thule, but haven’t used it yet. I intend to use it on my Toyota Prius.

KayakPro EZ VEE

Thule SlipStream

I hope that this helps!

Eric E. Haas

my 17 foot Tempest
used to go just fine on my corolla–and now goes fine on a ford focus—I use a yakima j rack