Kayak and canoe on roof together

Hi all. I’ve been transporting my canoe and kayak (one at a time) via the foam block and tie-down system for many years on top of my car (no roof rack). Only within 50 miles or so of my home. I’m going to be moving across the country in a month and half and will also be purchasing a 2015 Subaru Forester before leaving. I need to get both boats to my destination about 3000 miles away.

The Subaru comes with roof rails and I was thinking about getting the factory cross bars that hold 150 lbs. However, from what info I can find, they are about 50" wide. My canoe is 37" wide and I planned on getting gunwale clamps (probably Yakima) and tie-downs to transport it. This will probably take up 40" of crossbar space. That doesn’t leave much for the kayak. I think the J carriers (such as the Yakima hullraiser) would be too big for this set up. However, something like the Yakima Kayak Stacker takes up much less space since it’s a single bar that the kayak gets strapped to. However, I don’t know how secure it is and how well it would hold up over 3000 miles.

The alternative of course is to get wider cross bars which I really would only need for this one trip. Any thoughts?

You don’t need that full width

– Last Updated: Jul-18-15 1:43 PM EST –

First of all, the widest part of the canoe can extend beyond the tips of the cross bars. The more spread you have between the cross bars, the more this becomes possible, as the bars themselves are supporting a narrower part of the canoe.

Second, typical J-hooks will allow the kayak to lean up and over the canoe by a small amount, and this conserves space. If that doesn't work, you might be able to save space if you turn the J-hooks to face the other way so that the kayak leans out instead of in.

For comparison, here's a set of 72-inch cross bars carrying a canoe that's 30 inches wide, plus a kayak on J-hooks.


You can see that the canoe could be mounted a few inches farther toward the left and the kayak could be mounted about a foot farther to the right, yet there's still 1.5 to 2 feet of clearance between the two boats. I once carried two solo canoes and a kayak on those same cross bars. That, and the clearance shown in the picture suggests to me that it's possible to make a canoe that's about 7 inches wider fit alongside a kayak on your 50-inch bars.

Just in case your proposed 50 inches of cross-bar length won't work, here's another thought. Get some pipe of a diameter that fits through the inside of the Yakima cross bars. Get pieces that are long enough to go all the way through and to give you the bar length you need. Have these pipes extend out one side of the cross bars just enough to leave room for a clamping device that keeps the end of the smaller pipe from disappearing inside. Use the same kind of clamp on the other side to keep the pipe from sliding back the other way, but on that side, the pipe will stick out enough to give you the overall width that you need. The canoe can sit on that extender pipe so that enough of the outer pipe (the Yakima cross bar) is free for mounting the J-hook.

You might be able to find pipe clamps small enough to fit the smaller-size pipe. If not, U-bolts would work, though you'd need a beefier cross plate than what's standard issue when you buy them. If you don't want to make your own cross plates, you could stack three or four cross plates of the kind that is supplied with the U-bolts, and that would do the trick.

J Racks
Two sets - both boats.

Stackers are totally solid but
I use stackers. Security not an issue. But it is pretty normal to have to go to 63 inch cross bars to handle both a canoe and a kayak. I have 58 inch bars and they are just a little too short for that.

J rack for 37" wide canoe?
I wouldn’t do that.

Not the answers you’re looking for
…but it’s all I got.

  1. Get longer bars. Paddling buddies will thank you.

  2. Sell that overly wide canoe and replace it with something more svelte after the move. That way, you only have one boat for the long drive and reward yourself with an upgrade afterwards.

I bought a 2014 Forester last year

– Last Updated: Jul-18-15 3:56 PM EST –

If you can find one like I did with out the factory roof rack, you can pop out the little inserts that are in the sides of the roof and install Yakima "Landing Pads" and their control towers which then essentially become rock solid and part of your car.
Then install 78" bars and J cradles on each side.
This allows two kayaks with a canoe in the middle. ( on my old Escape with the same set up, I carried two kayaks, one canoe and two mountain bikes on a two thousand mile trip)

I had to hunt for a dealer that had one with out a factory rack, but there are some out there

Jack L

Saddles work fine for the kayak, with

– Last Updated: Jul-18-15 3:26 PM EST –

a canoe simply tied down well, or aided with at least one pair of gunwale guides(exact name eludes me), although home-built gunwale guides, much higher than the mass produced Thule's Load Bars(square)....either metal(welded) or dense wood) does a much better job imho. 40" bars are a joke once you get away from the city and "looks" becomes insignificant to function. Go longer, 65" or 58"...a longer bar makes life so much easier..just don't lie in the middle of the road. WOW, guideboatguy's pic sure shows how the J-carrier really saves space. The solidness comes from the footings. Thule's are great...but if Yakima surpasses = go for them, it's all in the footings connecting the solid bars to your vehicle's built-in bars. Think you can see from guideboatguy's pic...even 72" bars really don't pose that much of threat of sideswipe in traffic.

See GuideB

– Last Updated: Jul-18-15 8:42 PM EST –

has longer hollow rectangular steel bars bolted to the OEM crossbars ?

This is good using quality hardware, nylocks washers torqued down from center out

If there's a mating problem adding a flat plate...1/8th"...bolted to OEM crossbars THEN adding the extra long cross bars to the plate...may solve that problem. Feel free adding 1/4" Ubolts wherever to facilitate mounting

Adding side bars bolting the extra lengths together front to rear set tight against the hull's widest beam is best.

The other DIY way is as GB wrote going long on front to back members adding these to OEM with ubolts...one each side OEM ( 8 total) with an under plate between ubolts, steel plate say 5"Lx2"Wx3/16th" thick (8). Long back to where the canoe is narrower.

your local steel man will cut this for you. Estimate software is available online.

However, the J mounts, that I wood not use and have zero experience with, are liability protected from the factory with sound enf=ginnering with Yakima and Thule. For the kayak.

Off course having spent that $$$ and mounted hulls, would prudently wrap the hulls with cam straps ropes and quality duct tape. Uniting the 2 hulls into ONE with the vehicle and rack.

That would be good for 75 no problem.

The deal with all roof mounts is keeping wind flow from the underneath and between hulls. Cutting an under crossmember airfoil of paneling painted with Rusto..side to side and off a cardboard template...screwed in with sheet metal screws to the OEM

and one between hulls set against the bottom foil rising to below hull top.

Preventing wind flow stabilizes the rig 1000~~~~~~ %

My E250 has a speed control. I wait for an 18W running steady at 65, tuck in behind back 150' n listen to Spa or Watercolors all the way to Shepard's Park. The 18 breaks the wind. Scandinavians driving large moving vans are best.

In return, I often pull out n block traffic while the 18W wakes up before we go over the overpass into merging insanity.

Disaster, Pilgrim

58" cross bars might not be so bad
Thanks for all the advice! I guess I didn’t consider that longer cross bars (i.e., 58") wouldn’t really stick out that far, and even if I won’t have much use for the extra length after the move, they might come in handy sometime. That photo was super helpful! I also didn’t think about how the widest part of the canoe won’t be the part attached to any clamps. I’ll probably get the longer cross bars (since I’m not really a DIY person when it comes to this stuff) and a J carrier for the kayak.

do try
the airfoil. Cardboard n sheet metal screws - using correct drill - until rain… is worth experiencing.

using a foil elevates your road persona…over the average run of rack retards

but 58 inches likely too short
Like l said above, and that is what l have. Fyi check the wheelbase of your car, it is unlikely anything is going to exceed the wheelbase until you get to or over 63 inches.

It sounds like you may be thinking aesthetics. Your car will either look lIke a hauler or, if you switch the racks off a lot, a Sunday car. Most paddlers l know don’t have a Sunday car until after the first snow fall.

Longer might come in handy, but…

– Last Updated: Jul-19-15 10:33 AM EST –

... it's not necessary here. This isn't a guess. It's based on how much extra room there is when using my cross bars and a 30-inch-wide canoe plus a kayak on J-hooks, compared to what the OP wants to do. In my case, with 72-inch cross bars, I clearly have in excess of 2.5 feet of wasted space across the width of the rack with that combination of boats. Shorten the cross bars to 58 inches and make the canoe 7 inches wider, and the leftover space shouldn't be less than 9 inches. Having no less than 9 inches more space than what's needed should be a comfortable enough margin to take care of variations in boat shape, different brands of J-hooks, etc. A more likely problem with bars that are marginally short is that the best place to mount the J-hooks ends up right on top of the cross-bar connection point. If there's room outboard of that connection point, all should be fine.

Of course, for a few dollars more, longer bars can be purchased just to make sure, and the excess can be lopped off with a hacksaw if it turns out to be more than what's needed. Making the cross bars longer than necessary means more banged heads than necessary too.

They must not be allowed to spawn.

l was thinking two kayaks
Yr right at one kayak. Not sure where l got the 2 from.

SOMETHING’s breaking the wind
I’m not sure it’s the 18-wheeler.

with a subaru…things might get tight…
You never know what you might want to bring…if you decide to bring new-found friend’s kayak or a tandem. Probably not necessary now but if you really get into paddling and make a new friend or two…the room is sometimes necessary…just a thought. Kayak paddles can easily be shipped up on top with a little room. A narrow skibox can hold a lot of stuff, saving you room inside on occasion…fwiw.