Hully roller vs mako saddle

New outback 06–looking at adding low rider tower plus crossbars, plus a mako saddle and hully roller for the 16-foot kayak. I heard hully rollers can have a mind of their own as to where the boat is headed–does anyone have any experience with them? Or does anyone with an Outback have a good configuration?

I have the rollers. If I was doing it again, I’d get the saddles for the back bar as well as the front. I don’t find that the rollers make that much difference sliding the boat on and off, and I worry about the four relatively small contact points on the boat, as compared to the largers contact points of the saddles. (I have a composite boat: I’d be really concerned about the small pressure points if I had a plastic boat in warm waether!)

Especially when the boat is wet, it slides over the rollers without having enough friction to even turn them.

There is some benefit to the rollers though; they have a certain degree of freedom of movement that might make some difference in loading and unloading if you stand at the rear of the vehicle and slide the boat up and over the rear bar first. It might be marginally more difficult to get your boat to slide on the saddles from an angle as you try to slide the bow up. But I really don’t know…

Good luck in whichever solution you chose!


Check this article

I have the Mako saddles and they are rock solid. I cover the rear of my car with a square of fleece fabric to keep my boat from scratching my rig. I would suggest getting the saddle pads because without them your boat will get brutally scratched and in the case of my Eddyline stain the hull. Other than that they rock.


You’re making this to hard. Go easy
I had hully rollers and mako saddles on a previous car. As I started paddling with higher caliber paddlers I noticed most didn’t use rollers or saddles. They simply put pipe insulation (foam) on cross bars and wrapped them with duct tape.

I’ve changed over to this method and love it. It will save you hundreds of dollars and is much more flexible.

On my old unit (Ford Expedition) I could haul 8 sea kayaks. It was normal to haul 4 on most trips. With the saddles/rollers I could only do 2 boats.

I have a much smaller car now, so I can only do four boats, but again, with rollers/saddles I would only be able to do 2 boats.


The problem with hully rollers
If you have round Yakima bars they have a tendency to rotate in the holders. When you attach the rollers and try to put your boat up, the hully rollers will cause the bars to rotate rather than revolve nicely to let your boat slide up on top of your car. If you somehow hold the hully rollers to prevent the bars from rotating and manage to get the boat up on the top it will not be stable. You can be driving down the freeway and the hully rollers will shift and your boat is no longer secure. The only way to prevent this is to prevent the bars from rotating. You can probably do this by putting some kind of abrasive material around the bars inside the holders. Maybe. Get the saddles.

Rolling Hulley rollers
You didn’t install the bar properly. The bars width (from tower to tower) must first be hand fit, then the set screws are tightened with the rack off the car. Once tightened, put the rack on the vehicle and attach.

Learned this the hard way. Once I installed the bars and rollers properly, they never budged. Once drove over 1600 miles with 2 kayaks on the car.

On my current vehicle I’ve adapted the roller to fit on factory racks with saddles up front. Occasionally I wash the rollers with some good detergent, keeps the boats cleaner.


Follow up on wrapped bars vs saddles
Wade, I posted a similar question recently on this forum. With the bars wrapped with pipe insulation as you suggest, I guess you carry the boats up side down ? Or do you let them roll to the best position hull down and strap that position. The prices of saddles and rollers are mind boggling, especially if you want to carry multiple boats.



I did attach them correctly.
There are no set screws on my system. There are levers that you rotate. They can only be positioned with the lever folding down, which means you can only tighten the bars in 180 degree increments. You always get to the point where you cannot tighten them to a full half turn and have to go back to the previous position, which is too loose. Perhaps this has been corrected in newer models but I assure you the model I have simply does not work.

Never has this happened to my setup. My hullyrollers have never caused my crossbars to turn. Ever.

We have a VW Touareg and I know I could never get my Tempest up there alone without the Hully Rollers or my husband. I’m just too short. What I really like about the rollers is not so much the rolling but the pivotting and the rubber “grabbing” hold of the boat. Once I’ve got that it’s fairly easy to slide the boat forward into the mako saddles up front. The hully rollers pivot down towards me and then ease up to horizontal. Yes, if you do not have full control of the boat you can steer right off the rollers. But that only seems to happen if you try to push the boat forward while maintaining that high angle. Once you start closing the angle between boat and car it really does steer straight. Still need to stand on a stool to strap her down though…Too short.

Sometimes I REALLY miss the truck. Just used a bed extender and loaded her right in. Can’t wait till I have a garage. Going to rig a pulley and just drop that sucker down! Woohoo

-“Doin’ it for the shorties!!”

Forget the Hully/Mako combo.
(Posting as an '05 Outback owner)

I have owned HR’s, and will never go back. I think a much better solution is to add a Yakima BoatLoader extension bar. This will solve the “getting it to the roof” problem.

Instead of the Yak system, buy Malone Autoloaders (for vertical hauling) or saddles (for horizontal hauling). I have the Autoloaders, and once the bow of the boat is up on the BoatLoader you lift the stern to the rear bar, push at the midships of the boat, and it climbs onto th ecradles via the loading ramps. Push it farther and it goes vertical.

Of course, the Ultimate in Elegance is to add a set of Thule Hullavators. But that’s another $450.


Used them like this for years.
Good day Bill,

The above links are examples of what I’m talking about. With simple bars

and pipe insulation you can haul the kayaks in any position. I usually have

them laying flat (normal upright postion) side by side and strapped down.

When you start added more boats you have to be more creative. For 4 boats,

I usually turn the inboard boats on their side and the outer boats lay flat.

(example of black expedition in second link). For more boats than that, you

must stack them on their side using kayak stackers.

I’ve hauled many boats this way and have never had problems. It works on

glass boats, plastic, wood (and even aluminum).

Good luck


Hully rollers, mako, yakima bars
I have yakima bars, hully rollers on back, makos on front.

The rollers work fine for me; they’ve never shifted on the round yakima bars, or damaged the boat. They make loading a bit easier.

The mako saddles, on the other hand, are awful. They love to tear up my boats. I did put pads finally on them, but I can’t believe yakima sells expensive saddles that bounce all over the place, and also have hard plastic to ruin your boat. I would never get those pieces of junk again. Other companies saddles seem to work much better.

I also use foam insulation on the other half of the bar (I only have one saddle/roller set) when I carry a second boat. For short distances, it seems ok, but I wouldn’t like to carry a boat for very far with that little hull support. Maybe that’s just being paranoid.

If I were starting all over, I’d probably try a saris system.

I Vote Mako Saddles
I have Mako Saddles both front and back for my Composite Kayak. I also reccomend the saddle felt pads. I am very happy with this set up. and have used it for several years now.

I Dislike the Hully Rollers, as they are not smooth and bump as the kayak is rolled onto them. plus the rubber roller rubs off onto my wife’s Thermo plastic kayak hull, and puts rubber rub marks on it. The rubber comes off when I use a polish on it, but it looks crappy until I do it. I would not buy hully rollers again, unless I had a real heavy kayak to put on my roof.

The felt pads on the Mako Saddles are great!

Where do you get felt pads?
I have used hully-roller/Mako saddle combo for 3 years with my plastic kayak without a problem. Now I have a composite boat and reading this post has me all paranoid about hurting my new “baby.” What are these saddle pads people are talking about, what do they do, where do you get them?

Dunno about felt pads
But we just bought some of that rubber bubble stuff people put under rugs and line cabinets with to prevent sliding. It was less than $2 for a huge roll. Just cut to size and affixed to the mako saddles.

mako felt pads
You can order them online from any company that sells the makos. Or you can make your own pads (I used leftover thin minicell foam, and contact-cemented it to the makos). Makos don’t hurt plastic boats, but they do hurt composites. A few online stores warn you of this before you buy; most don’t bother.