Kayak Racking...

Hello all…

My wife and I will soon be upgrading our 14’ day touring boats to longer 16’ & 17’ sea kayaks. We have a Honda Accord sedan with Yakima hullraisers that have worked great for our 14’ kayaks. Since our car is a sedan, it does not have as much spread between the racks as I would like. Will transporting longer kayaks on this same vehicle present any problems that I should be aware of? Preferably we would like to have a longer roofline, and our next vehicle will certainly have one, but does anyone forsee any difficulties with using this vehicle for the next year or two with the longer sea kayaks?


not bad
I see lots of Honda Elements with sea kayaks (16-18ft) on them. Should be ok but I would make sure to have front/back tiedowns


second that
I’ve even seen an Explorer (16’) on a vw bug.

Pretty comical, I must say.

second that
Friend has a Explorer (16’) on a vw bug.

Pretty comical, I must say.

I carry 20/21’ kayaks with 27" spread NM

Only 27"???
I have 40" on my GTI, I would have thought the A3 had bigger spacing

I think the Germans had…
… skis in mind! The hard points they designed in seem to have more to do with optimum stability/strength than getting the max spread. Roof is certainly long enough for more.

That’s 27" center to center, so the wide saddles effectively stretch that a bit. The rack is really solid - saddles hold very well too. This make a lot of difference. So does having kayaks with less than 27" coamings - or no coamings at all!

There were NO aftermarket rack options when I bought the car. Just the custom Audi rack (made by Mont Blanc). There are other options now - and some may not used the built in hard points and offer more spread. What I have works well enough that I haven’t had interest in looking.

Same rack
I think I have the same rack on my GTI (factory VW) so I thought it was strange you get shorter spacing on a bigger car.

Maybe because my GTI is a 2 door???

I like the fact that I do not have to run straps on the coamings of my keyhole cockpits.

I asked you because I’m starting to look around for a new vehicle and the A3 is in the list.

you’ll be fine!
I carry my 17ft kayak on a prius, which has almost no spread. You’ll be fine with your accord. For highway driving, tying down the bow and stern is a good idea (on any car!)

GTI same rack?
Same brand? Almost certainly. Same saddles? Good good chance. Same bars? Not on any GTIs I’ve seen. Mont Blanc makes a lot of different barsstyles.

Current VW rack shown online is different (and about half the price!) Also seems more universal. My rack fits only the A3 - and front and rear bars are even different.

That brings up another thing: No rack overhang either - so two skinny kayaks or one fat one. Not sure off the top of my head but I’m thinking about 41-42" width (can check if you want to know for sure). Beyond that you’d need an aftermarket solution.

I have thought about adapting a set of KayakPro carriers to the Audi rack. That would give me a super solid base and spread out contact points on the hulls. Might even be able to get three boats up there that way.

Maybe if I car topped more/farther. Waterfront livin’s spoiled me. So has the A3. Love that car!

Like I said, the rack is really quite good. Better than I expected. I’ve had long boats and lumber over 100 on it and it’s like they’re part of the car. This without bow/stern lines (I can hear the gasps!). Saddles wiggle just enough to spread forces and safeguard hulls.

I see VW got smart and brought back a new R32. Probably out of my price range. So would be an S3 (which would be damn near a perfect car for me). At some point I will spring for an engine reprogramming and get that extra 40-50hp. For now, I can’t afford the tires that would eat.

Down at the 2005 Bogey&Bacall Races I saw a Pontiac Vibe (or similar car) and another one -maybe a Mini, both with short racks, both hauling 2 skis. Took s shot of one as it headed out -looked like it’d fly with a decent crosswind L

As noted, if the boats are secure (you’ll probably want to use tie-downs fore & aft) you’ll haul just fine on your way to and from wherever it is y’all


-Frank in Miami

I just put my new hullavator on my '05 Rav4. I have my older Yakima mako saddles and hully rollers on the other side. I haven’t fit both 16 foot boats up yet, but it looks like it’s going to be fine.

Previously I have had two sets of Thule J racks, that worked great except I have trouble lifting the kayaks up into them. Then I moved to one Thule J rack and 1 set Yakima saddles and hully rollers. That worked okay cuz I could get 1 kayak onto the rollers by myself, and could do the J rack if I had a paddling partner.

My sweetie bought me a Hullavator for my birthday…now I can really be a wimp and load from the side. :slight_smile:


I carry a 16’-6" Prijon on my jeep sahara, soft top. I use a rack by wilderness systems with Yakima rack system. i have carried them from the east coast ( florida to Califorina and back and to Upper Michigan and only tied them down at the supports without a problem. If you send me an email I can send you a photo of what my sahara looks like.

My Ford Focus carries 16 ft kayaks
regularly. Two. I use the Yakima rack with the j-hooks. I made the transition easily from 12.5 foot boats. I use bow and stern use tie-downs.

And when a good wind hits the Focus, loaded with 2 'yaks, sideways, whoooaaaaa, I feel like I have sails on top! :wink:

i think you will be fine
i just purchased a wilderness systems tempest 170 RM this past weekend and drove it home on top of a honda element. i have the honda roof rack and honda kayak attachment (though product parts labeled Thule). with the nose and tail tied down to front and rear bumper i had no problems. i hope that helps you out.


Thanks for all the replies…
There never is a shortage of people here to offer friendly advice. It’s reassuring to know that others carry lengthy kayaks on all types of vehicles. Bow/stern tie-downs will certainly help to give me some piece of mind…

Thanks for the responses!