kayak carrier recommendation

Anyone have a Jetta Sportswagen with the big sunroof? I just switched from a Jetta Sedan to this car, one I thought I wanted from the get go. Mine is the regular gas eating one. My yakima whisper bars are probably junk at this time because vw lost the key two years ago. The salesperson then had VW take care of moving my kayak from my Rabbit to the Jetta. Not this time, but they did other things for me so I am not upset. I am fairly handicapped and almost always have help or tip kids to take down or put up my kayak. I do the tie downs and straps myself. However now I have to be concerned about the kayak loading correctly and not hitting the glass or the side of the car (I had some scratches on my Jetta from my kayak). I have thought about the 500$ hullavator, I have thought about just making sure lots of beach towels are in place on my car before letting anyone load (which worked well when I had a Dodge Van and loaded from the rear - myself despite my body not wanting to). The Yakima bars are quieter than the VW bars but they still make noise. The quieter the better. My sportswagen does have roof rails, but no cross bars. My summer has been totally messed up this year so I want to gather information and then get myself set up in the spring and hopefully I will be retired next year and can do it myself. Maybe the best way to go is with a small trailer. Not sure. Any kind but honest advice is wanted. Presently I have a Wilderness Ride, previously I had a Pungo 140 but I totalled it on some rocks in a river. It was kind of old so that was bound to happen. The Ride is about 75 lbs. I have J hooks from Thule but at the moment no bar. Thanks in advance.

sportwagen racks
I own a 2010 sportwagen with the factory longitudinal racks, no factory crossbars, and the large sunroof. I use Thule 1054 load carriers and Thule bars for all my car-topping. I am able to open the sunroof with the bars installed, but be careful if ski/bike/boat carriers are attached to the bars and they protrude underneath the bars. They would likely hit the roof as it opens.

I’ve been using Thule stuff for a long time, so it made sense to use it for the Jetta. Actually, I think I bought the 1054s for another vehicle, but they work on the Jetta factory racks, so I didn’t bother looking for anything else.

I carry canoes using Thule holders and kayaks with with foam or custom mounts on the bars. I use 1" or 2" webbing with trucker’s hitches to hold the boat onto the bars and end tie-downs. In another thread, I discuss using end tie-downs at not quite the ends for an 18’ glass kayak, but that’s a different story.

I decided to buy an extra tow-eye (about $35) from the dealer so I use the tow-eye front and rear for the tie-down attachments. That works well for one boat, the boat is centered over the passenger seat (because the tow-eyes are right of center.) For two or more boats, well, I am still working on that. I haven’t needed to take multiple boats very far on that car, so it hasn’t been an issue.

I always make sure I have the sunroof closed when loading or unloading, and try to be very careful not hitting the sunroof too hard. I’ve not had any issues with that. Fortunately, I can load canoes or kayaks myself, without help.

The Thule bars/carriers are loud, but I take them off when not using them, so that isn’t an issue for me. On a older Jeep, I also used the front wind screen, that helped considerably with noise.

I’m not sure I answered your questions, but I hope that helps a little.

Thule makes a bar carrier that attaches to the rails. We’ve had a pair of them for our 2004 Mazda 6 SportWagon for almost ten years, and we’ve been more than pleased with them as they’ve carried paired, wide SOTs, and 17’ touring boats, and a couple times three boats. We’ve taken ours hundreds of miles around Florida and the Florida Keys, and as you might have surmised, we really like them.

They sit high off the roof, and provide about 3 -maybe a bit more, 3-1/2 or so -inches of clearance from the roof -with our factory rails. I don’t know how the Jetta’s rails compare, but the RailRiders (or whatever Thule calls them -those might be the Yakima equivalents) sit perhaps an inch-and-a-half above the rails, and we’ve never had a boat scratch the car’s roof or sunroof because of clearance issues.

We carried our SOTs, and even our plastic tourers, downside up on the bare rails, well-snugged with double-wrapped hand-cam straps tightened up, and then got some Malone Js and an off-brand set of saddles from West Marine to carry Sally’s Trylon Tracer and my glass Aquanaut, as that’s more hull-conforming and less stressful on the boats in transit.

This might be a good option for you to consider for your roof-railed Jetta. It’s a good package to carry your boats(s) to wherever that placid water that you like runs, to


-Frank in Miami

sounds good thanks

this two sounds good
Actually when I first started kayaking I had a Dodge Van and used just tie downs and the cross bars and rails on the Dodge.

thanks to both of you for giving some good ideas to me.

sounds good
I am liking driving my new car with the roof open and no noise from a kayak rack however I plan or at least hope to kayak a lot next summer. Perhaps even yet this year.

I wasn’t allowed to get in the water May-July, then July and August our pay is 20% less due to furlough, and when I had my seasonal job during tax time I worked extra hours and more than normal so I’d have money to get through if there was a furlough. So I don’t have leave and although I had saved money to get through these hard times, I used some of it on the Jetta Wagon.

I had wanted a Jetta Wagon two years ago, I was planning on driving me Jetta Sedan another year but … the opportunity to get it came along.

This car, if possible, I want to keep for a long time into my retirement. Getting the best kayak hookup for the car and for my needs is going to be a number one priority!!! Even if I decide to go for a trailer and rent storage on base here, if they let retirees do that.

Thanks everyone for input. I have trouble walking with my arthritis but I love to paddle.

Just installed mine yesterday. The kayak I’m intending to buy (still deciding) won’t be overly-heavy (48-55lbs), and I’m in decent shape, but my roof rack is nearly 7ft high. Not having actually tried it with a kayak yet, but just messing around with it - I love this thing! I have a brand new regular set of saddles as well, and I’m going to take them off and install a second Hullavator when budget allows. I just can’t imagine loading a kayak any other way, given the height of this beast.

EMS had a 20% off sale on them a few weeks back. I think it cost me $460. Expensive, but not insanely so, especially for a waist level 40lb assisted lift rack.

If you get one, save yourself some hassle and get the square bars, not the aeroblades. Though Thule pushes the aeroblades hard, the rack is easier to install with the square bars and comes with all necessary hardware for them. If you use the aeroblades, you’ll be running out to get some oversized washers to put some cheesy plastic spacers on the hullavator rails so it sits level on the aeroblades - IMO it’s the only real weak link in this system. I’m considering selling my aeroblades and replacing them with the square bars.

Whatever you decide, good luck!