J-Rack and Stacker Options

-- Last Updated: Aug-05-09 2:38 PM EST --

I purchased a new car recently and the factory rack isn't wide enough for my existing 2 sets of kayak cradles(to carry two boats). I'm looking into either a J-Rack system or a stacker system instead. There seems to be a lot of options out there and I'm having trouble making a decision.

I'm looking at the Malone AutoLoader Kayak Rack, the Inno INA450 Kayak Rack, the J-Rack Kayak Roof Rack and of course the Thule and Yakima options. Any reviews or thoughts on the off-brand options?



I would be carrying two poly boats, 14 ft each. One is an Old Town Loon Tandem and the other is a Necky Looksha Sport. The bars on my roof rack are about 30 inches apart and about 36 inches wide (2009 Pontiac Vibe). I'd need to be able to load these alone. The heavier boat weighs about 70 lbs. And I'm a wimp. So suggestions on assisted loading gear would be great. With my old car (had a trunk) I could just flop a bath mat on the trunk and the roof and slide the boats up into the cradles. I don't know if I will be able to do something similar with the J-racks or stacker system since I no longer have a trunk.

You might want to state what kind and material of the kayaks you intend to carry. WW or touring kayaks, plastic or composites.

I’ve never seen anybody use stackes on composites and most folks that I see that use stackers are WW folks.


Yakima Stackers

– Last Updated: Aug-05-09 1:49 PM EST –

I use Yakima Stackers and have been for a few years for sea kayaks - both composite and plastic. I do stack the boats with hull against the stackers. When traveling with multiple boats, I strap two sea kayaks with the stackers in between the hulls.

When using the stackers it becomes more important to use bow/stern lines. This becomes apparent in a cross wind.

When tying to the stacker, I go around the bar, and around the stacker and then over the boat and under the bar in front of the boat. This secures the boat to both the stacker and the rack. Yakima's new "Big Staks" make this easier as they have a loop through the top.

Probably not a good idea to use stackers with sea kayaks on a roof with a SHORT distance between the cross bars.


Malone J-Cradles
We have been carrying two poly sea kayaks on our vehicles for 4-5 years now using J-cradles. First we had Yakima J-cradles, which did the job and worked well, until we decided to get the Malone J-cradles. I must tell you that we are very pleased with the Malone J-cradles, more so than with Yakima. Because the Malone’s are plastic, they seem to be bend slightly and grab the boat better. We are quite happy with the malone’s and would recommend them.

We have had no problem carrying two 16 - 17 foot kayaks with J-cradles on first an Accord and now an Outback.