Kayak and canoe on roof together?

-- Last Updated: May-16-13 11:16 AM EST --

Ok, I have a bit of a delema. I have my kayak, and my fiance, instead of a tandem, wants a canoe so her and the kids can paddle with me occasionally. My question is, has anyone ever car topped a canoe and a kayak together? Generally when I see a canoe on the roof, it is laid upside down and takes up the whole roof. Is it possible to haul a canoe on its side in a J-Rack or similar rack? I have an 07 Jeep Liberty, with factory cross bars that are no wider than the roof rack.

Plan B is to rebuild the old trailer I have and use that, which would work great for weekend and week long trips. But if I can avoid using a trailer for day trips, that would save some hassel.


Long bars
A few of the guys I paddle with have extended cross bars on their roof racks. They are wide enough to get 2 canoes next to each other. They extend over the sides of the car, so you’ll want to pad them (the guys put tennis balls on the ends).

So if these bars are wide enough for 2 canoes, that means they’re at least 64" wide. That should be more than enough room for a canoe and a kayak.

I dont know where you buy them, but I bet any thule/yakima dealer would have them

What is the canoe’s layup?
It’d take third party bars, like from Yakima or Thule, with the towers. But it sounds like you have a long term plan that would render that not needed?

In the meanwhile, you might have more flexibility for a short term solution with some layups than with others.

canoe = 1/2 a roof

– Last Updated: May-16-13 11:49 AM EST –

..or ~2/3 a roof-width. Don't go by the size of your vehicle's roof, go by the bars you select. Kayaks have been in the J-cradles for a couple decades now and ride fine and also provide room for a close inside canoe-tiedown = making for a pretty good aerodynamic roof... Not bad on the highway either....

Second the longer bars.
I put 78 inchers from Yakima on my rig and I can tote two tandems, tandem and yak, yaks, whatever need arises. I did have to buy Railgrabs to hold the bars, but it was worth it to me. Exponentially better than the factory setup I had. Word to the wise though. If you carry a canoe and a kayak simultaneously keep a sharp eye on 'em. The last thing you want is for them to get jungle fever and produce a canak!

We have not
selected a canoe yet. The significant other still has to decide what she wants. I guess my biggest question is if it is a good idea or even OK to put a canoe in a J-rack, or other system that hauls a boat on its side.

I do it
all the time. I have saddles for my kayak and gunwale brackets for the canoe but my crossbars are 58".

Me too

– Last Updated: May-16-13 2:02 PM EST –

Standard Yakima rack, canoe on the bars on one side, kayak on Hully rollers in the back and saddles up front.


Red Neck Rack
When I had to do that, before I got my trailer, I’d use a Red Neck Rack system. I had some 1x3 duglas fir that I stood on edge and used home made J bolts to attach them to the factory cross bars. It would fit a kayak and canoe side by side noe problem. Of course it’s up to you to make sure every thing is tied down securely. Regular 2x4 would work also. They are way cheaper than overpriced store bought bars.

BUT IMHO, the trailer is the way to go, even for short tirps. I find it much, much easier to load than lifting the boats to the top of the car.

If you’re talking about something
like this http://www.yakima.com/shop/water/roof/hullraiser/ I don’t think a canoe would fit. Are your bars not long enough to accomodate the canoe gunwales down and a Hullraiser?

just make sure you cover one of them
You don’t want them to breed.

A canoe won’t go in a J cradle.
I have the long yakama bars, and carry two yaks on J cradles and one canoe.

Jack L

Canoe + kayak + outrigger canoe

A Woodstock sticker!
Never would have thunk…

Probably not
There are ways you can abuse a Coleman metal canoe that you cannot abuse a kevlar canoe. That is granted an extremely broad range, and unless you are really masochistic you don’t want to be lifting the Coleman.

But to your question, I have seen canoes stacked oddly but it makes them quite hard to secure well. It may also be pushing the canoe’s luck. I did see a canoe headed north in Maine on I-95 once that had been laid kinda up over the cab of a truck, with most of its skin flapping in the breeze behind it. The aluminum structure was plenty secure, but traveling at 65 mph had caused the skin to start peeling away.

But if they breed…
I could sell the puppies! Oh, umm, wait, uhh… darn… haha!

I am using factory cross bars. So my setup is probably slightly wider, or about the same as a Subaru Outback? I would have to measure. But the more I research and the more I think about it, I am thinking the trailer would be the way to go. Even with the added weight of the trailer, I still think it would be more fuel efficient anyway. I am planning on doing 2-3 trips this year that are a 2-3+ hour drive, including a possible trip to MI. The trailer just needs more work than I want to put into it right now, but I guess I gotta do what I gotta do…

Thanks everyone for the advice. And I agree, the prices on the aftermarket transport systems is absurd for what you are paying for. I could probably fabricate most of it at work, or have my Daughter’s step dad fab them up for a fraction of the price. And they probably would be stronger to boot.

A trailer is a mixed blessing. While it is much easier to load and unload and it can carry more craft (exact count depends on specific trailer) they also have liabilities.

Tolls range from somewhat higher than cars to multiples of what is paid by a car with boats on top. Parking has to be planned in advance to have sufficient space for length of both car and trailer. The parking space needs room for driving out, especially if a few cars park next to you while you are out on the water. Learning to back up takes practice. Windy days on the interstate are always fun.

My suggestion is to fit wider bars on your existing vehicle. Small SUVs are mostly being sold without roof rails and if they if they have them, the cross bars fit within the span of the rails rails and do not extend beyond them. I refer to latest SUV as “smaller reduced-utility vehicles”.

The most inexpensive solution (if your existing crossbars are not arched) is to place a wider cross bars on top and attach with double radiator hose clamps.Have the additional cross bars stick out about 6’ beyond the rails and cover the end with the mentioned tennis balls. I’ve used Yakima round bars, Thule square bars and 2"x3" of quality hardwood with no knots in them. Use double hose clamps at each end and an additional one in the center.


Canoe on its side on factory rack
Here’s my WW boat on its side on the factory rack for a Rav 4.


In this case it was leaning against a Thule Stacker Bar. We did some longer trips this way with bow and stern tie-downs, and it worked fine. I’ve had my big tandem boat on edge on the same car - it definitely needed the bow and stern lines. Works with Royalex boats, but I’m not sure I would carry a composite boat that way.

We haul both

– Last Updated: May-20-13 9:55 AM EST –

We regularly haul one of our canoes and a kayak on both a Ford Ranger with cap and an older Subaru Outback. Both have 58" Thule cross bars. Our kayaks range from 21" to 25" wide and the canoe (a Mad River Adventure 16) is 33", so they fit fine, side by side and deck down (obviously, the points alont the hulls where they fit on the rack are narrower so there is room for straps. I sometimes carry the kayak on a j-rack beside the canoe.

If you put longer bars on, figure out a way to stick tennis balls or other padding on the ends or you will smack into them frequenetly, which leaves a nasty mark.

By the way, if you are mostly going to do day trips, you might want to add the Mad River Adventure 16 to the list of canoes to look at. Kind of low tech but it seats three, has low sides which is nice for kids (and reduces wind resistance), is narrow enough to paddle with kayak paddles, tracks nicely, is surprisingly fast and easy to propel and being plastic is a cinch to take care of (a little heavy but all canoes that size are). It even has a stern flange to mount a small electric motor if you wanted to add one. Plus it's cheap -- I think REI is selling them for under $700 now. We picked ours up used for $400 and have really enjoyed it. We've got two other more conventional canoes at hand but like this one better. We can easily keep pace with most kayakers in it.

Social problems
The canoe may be embarrassed to ride beside such a low tech item as a kayak, but there are no physical issues.