Hullavator Rack for a fiber glass Kayak

Seeking opinions from you crusty seasoned sea kayakers with 17’+ long kayaks on what particular kayak rack to do use for your vehicle? Read the past threads about the 897XT Hullavator rack with particular negative comment about hairline cracks caused by the lack of padding. Other than that, the comments were generally positive.

My second question, for a 17’+ kayak in a "J cradle, doesn’t the Kayak pull to one direction causing stress on the hull compared to a traditional cradle? Appreciate your opinions/comments and questions,


Eddyline Falcon 18

While I haven’t used that …
…particular Thule, I am currently using the Thule 887XT Slipstream. I like the 887xt because I can slide the kayak on from the back (a seventeen plus foot RockPool). The cradles seem to spread the load out well along the hull.

However you do need a cockpit cover to help prevent the potential of creating a rooftop bathtub on a rainy day.

Anyhow I’m using this with a svelte Mazda 3 and the load seems stable and unperturbed by crosswinds.

Prior to that I used Yakima J cradles on a car that was roughly a 1000 pounds heavier. I could really feel the effect of crosswinds with that rig. There were several times on windy days when I drove either more slowly or kept to back roads just to minimize the stress on the roof rack system.

BTW, my boat is a thermoformed critter… haven’t owned a fg boat yet. And right now I’m glad I don’t. Last week after I removed the straps and tie downs, the wind kicked up and snatched my boat right off the roof rack. The boat hit the ground and the wind sent it tumbling for about 20 feet… no harm done!

My husband is a heavy equipment
operator and has never lost a anything off a trailer,

but one time he put my fiberglass boat on the rack saddles and overtightened it to the point he caused hairline cracks. That was the last time I allowed him to assist me in the ‘tie down process’. He didn’t know his own strength could be a detriment.

I now have a Hullavator, it comes down to my level on the side of my vehicle, the point where each side of the boat touches the ‘J’ are padded, and I snug my boats down tight, but don’t overdo it. Love my Hullavator!!

I bought mine, as a friend of had two on a full sized van and she gave a thumbs up on their ease of use. I now don’t have to worry about the wind catching them while loading. I wouldn’t go back to the other style for anything.

Keep and eye on Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) website as they occasionally have a 20% off coupon.

I have been using J cradles for years
with kevlar and now carbon/kevlar yaks, that are 18 feet long with no problems.

The boats stay on the cradles for four months except for when they are being used.

Jack L

Make pads to fit
First, the Hullavator is great for carrying a kayak when you are alone and loading is difficult. I solved the “hardness” problem by trimming closed foam kayak pads to fit. They are easy to pop into place. Problem solved.

Pad the cradles
I’ve seen people hauling 17+ footers on them.

I used them for a while on a trailer and discovered that padding is advisable, because it’s not likely your kayak’s shape will exactly match those of the Js. Also, I had abrasion on the gel coat from when I did NOT have padding for the cradles. Not bad on plastic but definitely pad for glass.

Are you the same Mark who used to paddle an Eddyline Falcon 18 in the Denver area? He put the boat on a padded ladder on the truck topper.

Hull-a-vator Mods
I’ve used the Hullavator extensively and carry them in my showroom as a loading option for kayaks.

The Hullavator operation works smoothly enough provided you lift evenly on both arms. Getting any watercraft on your roof is a dance.

The hard rubber mounts that attache the cradle to the arm assembly could use some modifications. Previously mentioned has been to form them out with the addition of some shaped minicell foam which is the expedient modification. The kayak hull should be mostly resting on the padded arms and not the rubber base. This takes a little experimentation to find just the right setting. A quick tip to make sure the cradle arms stay put is additing a stainless fender washer under the inside cradle arm adjustment thumbscrew. This’ll keep the arm in place otherwise the plastic head thumbscrew just doesn’t have enough gription on the painted arm assembly.

Of course you could knock yourself out, drill out the rivets on the cradle arms, replace the base with 11 ga. aluminum sheet and bolt onto the ajustment slider and finally wrapping the new base with a spare Thule Tube Pad. I’d recommend some minicell and use the extra time to go paddling.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY