Kayak carrier for Toyota Matrix?

First time posting here, been lurking for a few months, great info!..Wanted to know if anyone drives this same car?..If you do what type of carrier do you use?..I’m purchasing a 17ft kayak soon… I might end up buying another one for my children and I don’t think the Matrix is wide enough…I could use the family mini van but I’d prefer not to…thx…

Yakima Racks/J-cradles
I have Yakima Racks on my Matrix set up for carrying 2 kayaks. I use J-cradles on one side (Malone Auto Loaders in my case) and Mako saddles with hully rollers on the other. With 2 set of saddles I could just do a 21" and a 22" kayak but nothing wider. With the J-cradles I now have plenty of room for a wider kayak on the saddles.

The bar spread is short on the Matrix and I find I really have to use front and rear tiedowns to keep the kayaks from moving side to side at highway speeds. There are towing hook holes on the front for tie-downs. In the rear I run the lines under the tailgate and use the inside tie-down points. Would be better to come up with outside points on the rear, but I have been too lazy to figure out a good attachment system.

Mark J. Arnold

Great boat-hauler
I’ll agree with everything mjamja says.

I absolutely love my 2007 Matrix, for everyday driving or extended kayak and camping trips. I get 33 mpg on the highway when running unladen, and still get 30 with three passengers, two kayaks, and all our gear. With the hardshell, fold-flat back interior, it makes a great camping/kayaking vehicle.

But I too was disappointed in the lack of good tiedown points. Up front, I’m using these clever Top-Ties attachment straps installed under the hood: http://www.rutabaga.com/product.asp?pid=1001675

They tuck away when not in use, and are easy to attach lines to.

I use another set of longer Top-Ties attached to the interior cargo D-rings inside the rear hatch, which actually seem pretty strong. I’ve been really happy with both.

As for the roof rack, I’m pretty pleased with the standard Yakima setup, using two sets of LandShark cradles. As mjamja says, you will need rather narrow kayaks (20-22") in order to fit two boats up there. You can sometimes roll one or both boats a few degrees to gain some clearance. J-cradles from Malone or others would certainly simplify that.

I also had a problem with the Yakima Q-towers gradually sliding backward along the roofline when hauling kayaks a long distance. Not a lot, maybe an inch or so. The obvious solution was to tweak the clip adjustment screws a bit tighter, but by the time I was able to prevent the sliding I had very slightly dented the roof edge. Other Matrix owners online have had similar experiences, and one suggested I was keeping my car too clean and hand-waxed :slight_smile: I keep an eye on the towers now when hauling boats, checking them at every break, and they always settle in after moving only about an inch.

Also note that if you plan to haul fiberglass boats, you will need the protective felt pads for all the Yakima cradles, or they will abrade your shiny gelcoat. See the reviews here on P.Net: http://www.paddling.net/Reviews/showAcc3.html?cat=10

Enjoy your Matrix!

Consider this Toptie

Place the fat end under the hood, trunk lid, or back hatch. No need to bolt it down.

Yakima racks
and I have the upright bars (can’t remember what they’re called) that I can put on if I’m hauling more than one kayak. It’s a good system. Easy on/off (not like the Thules I had previously).

I have a thule rack on my '03 Matrix. I use a Hullaport for my Tarpon 120, it’s a great system, very secure. I could easily get another kayak up there if I needed to with another set of J-cradles. Though it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, a car like this is much better for hauling kayaks than an SUV, the lower profile makes cartopping much easier.

by the way
I didn’t intend to “dis” the Thules… I think mine sucked because at the time I had a two-door car so I had to use the stretch kit. I’m told all stretch kits are a pain, from any manufacturer. I don’t know that for a fact, but that’s what I’m told.

My Thules were a pain to assemble and torture to get on and off the car. I ended up just leaving them on all the time. The Yakimas, on the other hand, are easy to get on and off (which lets me get to the car wash more often). Again, it was the two-door stretch kit issues, I guess.

Though I like the Yakimas on my Matrix and in general, I also use Thule on another special-application vehicle.

Thule makes some nice felt-padded cradles for use with the abovementioned fiberglass boats, http://www.rackwarehouse.com/t875xt.html and although these will ostensibly fit on a Yakima rack, I’m told they have a tendency to rotate on their round bars. A friend has certainly had trouble keeping his Thule J-cradles from slipping on his Yakima bars, and no amount of tightening and grip-taping has helped.

The Thule accessories really should be used with the square Thule load bars and towers.

definately go for j racks

Tie-down points
I believe the Matrix is made on the same, or similar, chassis as the Prius. My Prius has small tow-attachments at the corners of both the front and rear of the car, but they’re hard to find. You’ll need to get on the ground to look for them. I bet you can find tie down points.

To tie down the bow and stern of both kayaks (I use Thule racks and J-cradles for two kayaks), I use a rope-and-ratchet tie down syste, that uses stainless steel hooks to hook into the tie-down points.


be careful with the ratchets, though
as it can be tempting to tighten them down too tight, and you can easily damage the boat that way. I prefer regular ropes that I tie, but that’s just me.

I have a Pontiac Vibe (the sister car) they were co-developed between GM and Toyota. anyway…

I carry 2 canoes all the time and 3 for short distances. I am pretty sure that the Matrix uses 4 Yakima Q-Towers as opposed to using towers up front and attaching to the factory rack in back. I have two racks for it: 48" (i got the bars free go with 58" if I had the option) that I use for ski racks and cargo boxes, and then the monster 72" that live on the car from may-october that I use for boats.

great car(s)

The dangers of hooking
(NO, not THAT kind …)

I, too, prefer to tie my tiedowns through a solid eye-hook, tow loop, or heavy nylon strap affixed to the vehicle frame.

The danger, in my opinion, with the popular S-hooks is that, while they will typically remain tight when cinched down to a boat that is itself strapped down to the rack, anything can happen when the boat comes loose from its mount and the tiedowns go slack. And isn’t that why we use tiedowns?

If a belly strap fails, or the rack comes loose from the vehicle, your boat is now jouncing alongside your vehicle, and those convenient S-hooks are likely to flop out of whatever they were attached to, on either end.

Try it at home: hook your favorite S-hook or ratchet strap onto your bumper hitch, kayak toggle, or other typical attachment point. Holding the other end taut, give it several hearty side-to-side or circular ‘whips’. It will probably stay engaged. But try the same with an increasingly SLACK line and see how long the S-hook stays attached …

Better to use carabiners, snap links, or simply TIE your tiedowns to the vehicle and boats.

Thank you so much, all of the above information is excellent…I will dissect each piece and start doing my homework…I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with the “J” rack idea…I stood next to my car and made believe that I was lifting up a kayak to see how high I could reach out. Being almost 6ft tall I think I reach far enough. I made a mistake thinking the long part of the “J” was on the outside of the car and I had to lift it really high…what’s so silly is that I don’t own the kayak yet…if all goes well I become a proud papa again…due date 1/19/08

ps…love my Matrix…it’s a 2005, I’ve slept in it a few times with both the back seat folded down and the front passenger seat down…but it was all over the road today in a serious rain storm…need new tires…hey that’s a good question…maybe on another forumn…thx again!..CF

Folks, does your sunroof still open when you use your J cradles?..And did you have to move your antenna for any reason?..I’m going to EMS today to check out things…20% off…thx

It’s okay to SLIDE
the sunroof (is there a difference?) but DO NOT RAISE IT!!! I was smart enough not to try that, but heard later it can cause serious damage to your car and/or rack system.

I have to remove the antenna when I have boat on the car, but it doesn’t interfere with the racks.

Thx for the advise…I went to EMS and bought a Thule car rack with the J cradles…had to order the pads to attach to the car…EMS having a 20% sale on racks and I got to use $100 in gear bucks that I received in Dec after buying a few kayak toys (ouch $500)…I also picked up a set of locks for the rack…salesman told me that if they really want to steal it they will…7 days until i get my boat!..

We want pictures
of the car, racks and kayak on top when you get it all together.

Hope you have a great time with your new kayak.