Im contemplating adding a tandem for my daughter and myself to use . I already have two large sit-on tops. Is it possible to travel with 3 boats on ones roof? I dont have any kayak racks. I have been using foam blocks and straps.
Rack systems are available (Yakima, for instance) for carrying multiple kayaks, but those are generally designed for white water boats. I’d be comfortable carrying two full-sized yaks with something like the Yakima Hullraisers. Personally, if I was carrying more than two full-sized yaks, I’d go with a trailer and definitely would not rely on foam blocks and straps.
check out their statistics
Each of the rack companies have legal requirements to have maximum load limits. Check these out. I have changed my mind about these things over the years. I thought foam blocks were safe until a friend who is an engineer showed me the forces on my boats at 65 mph, pretty scary. Aside from loss of boats there is possibility of them hitting another car or family walking along.
It might just be quite possible to use both a really properly fitting well made rack and tie downs for all the boats and be in good shape.
I have the Yakima system that permanently affixes to the car. It leaves 4 very small aerodynamic attachment points on the roof and the rack attaches to them. I can put on and take off the rack in 10 seconds. With the rack on the car, I can move the whole car around on its suspension by pushing on the rack, very secure.
I bet others here could weigh in with options that would allow you to carry three without a trailer if this is your wish. : > )
racks and roofs
All racks are not the same nor are all roofs. Some racks have mush longer bars that allow you to carry 3 kayaks. However, Is the vehicle you are mounting them on suitable to handle them, both in size and able to securely fasten the racks to the roof. Three kayaks will require a very strong racking system at 70 mph. I recently carried three boats, two kayaks and a Kruger, 1,500 miles on my Sonoma. However, my light truck allowed me to securely strap them down.
right here is one source
Right. If your car roof is very short and or very curved and has no raingutters (new aero style) the crosswind load may be hight even with tie downs, and the forces on the hulls of the boats might be less than ideal also.
Most companies have solutions for this. Here is Yakima page for these ideas.
Possible, Yes! Safe, Maybe!
It is most definitely possible to carry 3 or more kayaks on a roof. However, I would strongly recommend a dedicated roof rack for this purpose. I would not trust foam blocks.
Your car will be the determining factor. The slope, shape, and strength of the roof will be important factors. I have seen cars with 78" bars carrying 4 or 5 sea kayaks before, but those were specifically reinforced for doing so. Extra reinforcements were used on the bottom of the roof (hidden by the headliner) to secure the roof rack. The forces exerted on a rack system can be pretty immense.
I have also seen rack systems ripped off of car roofs before at highway speeds - not a pretty site when you are following…
Be sure to check your vehicles roof load limits - be prepared to do some customizing of your roof, reinforcement may be required.
Tie downs on bow and stern
tideplay wrote: “Each of the rack companies have legal requirements to have maximum load limits. Check these out. I have changed my mind about these things over the years. I thought foam blocks were safe until a friend who is an engineer showed me the forces on my boats at 65 mph, pretty scary. Aside from loss of boats there is possibility of them hitting another car or family walking along.”
I don’t care for foam blocks much any more either.
With the proper tie downs on the bow and stern of each boat securing them to the vehicle, losing the boats off your roof and having them strike another vehicle or pedestrians should be a very rare accident. If the bow and stern lines do their job they will prevent the boats from flying off the roof and striking anything else. I would never consider using foam blocks without bow and stern lines securing the boats.
Good advice in this thread!
Here are a couple of links about car topping canoes/kayaks:
I got advice here as well. I wish I took pictures because the system was a thing of beauty. A few pointers.
- I have a Honda minivan so I ordered the factory cross bars and installed those for more security
- I carried three sit on tops to the Outer Banks of NC
- I loaded the smallest of the three in the middle with two stackers
- The two large ones were loaded on either side with J racks
- Absolutely tie down the boats with straps and cam buckles
- Rope down the bow and stern of each boat with strong knots (I used a rolling hitch for mine)
Another thing to consider
The weight thing isn’t just about the strength of the rack, it’s about the weight and it’s location, high above your vehicle. This raises the center of gravity and your vehicle may become unstable in some conditions. Most vehicle owners manuals limit weight on the roof at around 100 lbs.
Yes and no
With racks? Absolutely no problems. I’ve had buddies carrying 4 sea kayaks from San Francisco to Baja!
Without racks? I’d say no. But it really depends on the car, or more specifically, the roof.
Many newer cars has roof that are just thin sheet of plastic. I wouldn’t put more than 1 kayak on one set of foam blocks. Even with 1 boat, the foam block makes a dent on the roof and after a few times, the dent become permanent. So my guess is adding more kayak with make the dent more pronounce, potentially mroe severe issue are also possible.
How about a canoe and four kayaks
Stand them on edge and you should be able to get three kayaks on the roof, but I would definitely invest in a rack.
I suppose the roof an a Saturn or a Honda Civic wouldn’t work out. I was using my Suburban for years to carry my kayak until i realized how unnecessary that was. Sounds like ill have to invest in a kayak rack system. It may be only 3 or 4 times a year that i would take all boats out.
Also depends on how the racks are attached. If the car/truck has a built in rack you’re stuck using the lengthwise rails and some have a definate weight limit. The double if poly can exceed that weight limit alone. Bad thing if it causes damage to the car and the warranty then won’t cover it.
i’m crazy but
my max is 5 on the roof.
2 Scrambler SoT in the saddles, 2 Mallard SinK nesting in the Scramblers and a Swifty on top of them.
Got lots of strange looks but I always got to and from the lake safe.
Normally though, I put two on the roof and 4-5 on the trailer.
17 foot sea kayaks on my volvo 940 station wagon with 58 inch bars