I just got a set of Kayak J cradles for my van. I’m going to be installing some roof rails on the van this weekend and need to figure out the spacing. What is the proper place for the J cradles to be positioned on the Kayak? Or maybe it doesn’t really matter?



No specific answer, but maybe between
a third and a quarter of the distance from the ends. Try fitting the cradles on your kayak and see if there’s a happy location on the bow and the stern. Then measure the distance between happy locations. Also think about how much you want the bow and the stern to protrude from the ends of the van roof.

It depends on the length of the kayak
but the best set up would be for the j cradles to be where each bulkead in the kayak is.

Jack L

hello Jack
Jack is right about spacing. I also like more span. And I love starps especially made for kayaks, nrs are good

bow and stern lines
is it ok to run those lines back to the roof rack instead of down to the bumper?


I had a Yakima tower fail and lost the whole deal - boat and rack. Bow and stern lines tied to the bumpers might have saved the boat. Lines tied to the rack would have done nothing.


If you have faith in your rack system
and have proper spacing between the J cradles, and the boats are not ultralight skin on frame, and you are using camlock buckle type straps, and the boat is not a zillion feet long there is no need for front or rear tie downs.

I only use them when I am carrying my 23 foot long tandem or our ultralight long racing canoes, and that is just in the front, to protect the boats from cross winds at high speeds.

If you can’t answer yes to all of the above, them use them and tie them to a sturdy part of your vehicle in the front and the back, but not to the rack.

jack L

Yakima tower unsafe?
I was just considering buying a YakimaTower for my 18ft long kayak (and CR-V). Do you think the Yakima Tower is problematic? What a horrible experience to loose everything!

I like bow and stern lines
Seeing them taut in staying in the right place lets me know nothing has gone too wrong up there. I like to think if something came loose I might have enough time to slow down or pull over before total failure. It’s never come up though.

The Yakima towers
are not problematic, in my experience. Learn how they work and adjust, and check them everytime you use them. They rarely need a tweek, but do on occasion.


About the tandem
Hopefully there is one of those in my future, all the ones I’ve seen on CL come with their own trailer with the long tongue. Never seen one car topped around here. I would worry about stressing the hull from too much overhang/ wind forces.Do you carry that 23 footer on the roof at highway speeds? Are you using Yakima vice a factory rack? What kind of hull material?

It is a 100 pound Necky "Nootka Plus"
expedition kayak out of fiberglass.

I carry it on top of our Ford F-150 4x 4.

Yes I travel with it at interstate speeds, (1000 miles each season, and shorter trips in between).

I have three sets of Yakama bars. One on the front of the cab roof. One on the front of the truck cap roof, and one on the rear of the cap roof.

I use regular Yakima saddles on the front two bars.

I have a set of hully rollers on the back bar with a roller in between them just to get it up on the roof from the rear, and once it is up there it just rests on the front two bars.

I also at the same time have two QCC’s on J cradles. One on each side of it. They are on the front two bars.

We used to carry a 23 foot long ultralight racing tandem, and I had to build a cantilevered rack over the hood to nest the long delicate overhang of that boat, but I don’t need it with this boat.

jack L

fear not
These were 10+ year old towers. The pin that makes up the hinge in one failed. There is nothing manufactured in the world that is perfect and will never fail. This was my turn to wear something out without noticing it. I replaced the rig with a new Yakima rack. I see 10 years of flawless service as meaning more than an old piece of equipment failing. BUT I also use bow and stern straps all the time.


X’s two !
I have never had a problem with a Yakima rack system in many many years of use with various types of towers.

I am guessing that if some one had problems, they were not installed correrctly.

Jack L