Kayak Transporting on Full Size Van

Does anyone own and transport kayaks on a full size (not mini) van. I am searching for equipment to add cartopping to the van -- it has no roof rack at all now. Wish to add something that will secure two kayaks nicely on top. Thanks.

Industrial Racks…
the kind use by roofers, contractors, etc. Those are stronger and span a greater width than recreational racks. You’ll have to carry one of those small step ladders to load/unload.


Does it have ran gutters?
If it does I would us “Quick and Easy” racks. You can wither use 2x4 for the cross members or pipe. I beleive NRS sells them. These used to used all the time, it was a sad day when car makers quit making rain gutters. Car topping used to be so easy.

Quick and Easy
Racks are great if you have rain gutters. Mohawk currently has them on clearance on their website. What I did was use the Quick and Easy gutter mounts and attached 7’ 2 x 4’s to them instead of using the bars. Thay way I can accomodate 2 big canoes up there. In fact I have carried as many as 5 up there for short shuttles. I use 12’ endless ratchet straps (the kind without hooks) to crank em’ down.

Can you link me the Mohawk website?

Here ya go

That one goes right to the order page

Thule roller coaster

I have a full size Chevy van equipped with a Thule Roller Coaster which I haul two kayaks on. It’s a bear to load but doable. You’ll need a small two step ladder, a six foot ladder and some indoor/outdoor carpet to get it done if you’re loading by yourself. First find a level place to park then set out the carpet at a distance from the van that you can rest the stern on briefly. Next set up the two step ladder and set it off to the side but within reaching distance. You’ll get to know these distances after a couple of try’s. Now haul the kayak to the van and place the bottom of the bow in the notch of the roller coaster. You can rest the stern on the carpet at this point. Carefully move to the stern without letting go of the kayak, lift it up and start moving it forward on the roller coaster. Next grab the ladder with a free hand and position it so you can climb up and push the kayak onto the front cradles.

That’s about it. You’ll need the six foot ladder to get the tiedowns on unless you’re really tall.

It’s always worked for me.

Best of luck.

Just got my new Hull-a-Vators installed on my Explorer. While not as high of a roof line as a full sized van they made some great improvements over the first year releases. I guess I’m getting older but oh, it makes the after paddle process so much less of a labor.

See you on the water,



I vote with Sing
Industrial racks are the best if you have a full size van with roof gutters…and don’t forget that step ladder or you’ll be standing tip toe on a 5 gallon bucket.

Yes, I have rain gutters, biggies!
DOes anyone have a link to Thule, Hulivators, or contractors racks? Nice to click and see what you are all speaking of. Thanks for teh Mohawk link, a definite contender.

If you have rain gutters you’re home
Check out Kargomaster’s lumber/ladder rack.



Several people have that particular item here at work up in the parking lot. It’s nice but subject to a little rusting at all the joints and bolt holes. I’ve studied them closely, and I really like how they mount to the roof. But every rack manufacture will make bars and mounts to fit you’re van with rain gutters. I have 6 foot Thule bars, and the guy at the rack shop cut some down to that size.

Now I have a little bit different technique for shoving my OT Loon 160T up onto the roof of my Suburban. While not quite a high as a FS van, it is overhead and that 160T is heavy.

I position the boat on the ground, with the bow about even with the rear wheel, and the stern trailing back behind the Sub. I have a small carpet that is has a bungee sewn into it, and I hook it onto the Thule cross rails and drape it over the rear of the hatch. The wife braces the rear of the kayak with her feet to keep it from sliding. I lift the bow up onto the carpet on the hatch/rear roof edge. The kayak is resting, and I only had to lift it for 30 seconds. The wife only had to stand still to brace it. Now I take the rear of the kayak, and shove it up and onto the roofrack saddles. Thule glide and sets. http://www.thuleracks.com/thule/product.asp?dept_id=10&sku=883

Again I’ve only had to lift and push the kayak for 30 seconds during the second movement. While your van is taller, and you’re probably shorter, I’m 6-4, your Prijon is definitely lighter than my Loon 160T! So you should be able to swing this operation.

Finally, we have two ways for bracing the stern at my wife’s feet. She can wear her hiking boots and have a second carpet, for added protection. We also have a home made dolly, that when flipped upside down, has two 2x6’s that come together at a 90, and are screwed to 1/2" ply. The later is really nice, but if we’re out camping the dolly is a little big, about 3’x3’.


Some photos
I dug around my hard drive and found the photos of the Kargo Master lumber rack on a van. I uploaded them to yahoo. Click on the “kayak” photo album.



Thank you
All of these ideas are good ones, and I feel fortunate that I have the rain gutters. Although the industrial ladder rack —and I thank you for the links–looks super, I don’t have any idea where I would store the rack when I am not using it, and because of the size it does look like a bear to take off the truck itself. My conversion van just barely eeks into my garage as it is, so I would need to remove it every weekend or so after I am done using the kayaks (my neighborhood has a covenant against leaving vehicles out overnight… although I do it all the time). Maybe the Mohawk or Thules would work. Thanks so much.

Quick & Easy
Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

Try the Quick & Easy towers with good straight grained 2x3’s. Easy on - Easy off. Cut the 2x3s to your prefered length. I have used the same towers ever since the day I got my 1973 Ford Pinto, then the '81 Bronco, next the '90 Ford E-150 van and now my current 2001 Jeep Cherokee (last of the rain guttered cars/suv, except for full sized vans). I just replace the wood every 5-6 years.

Fat Elmo

Have to remove the rack? Bummer

– Last Updated: Jan-20-06 8:41 PM EST –

That would deffinately add a deterant to getting out there kayaking. Shoving my old Loon up onto the old Sub is painfull enough. No way mounting the racks also. Of course since we have little kids, we also have to strap them in... their car seats. So it gets a bit much.
Whatever mounts to your rain gutters fastest and easiest is what you want.
Oops, forgot to paste the link for a local rack store. They carry many brands of sports racks, hence their name.

Strap the kayaks directly to the roof.

– Last Updated: Jan-21-06 11:55 PM EST –

All right. It is now official, I'm spending too much time on this one post.
But I thought about this particular problem some more last night. What the surfers here do is just strap their boards directly on to the roof. They run straps through their car doors like this:


While the site clams that it works for kayaks, I've seen many a surfboard with the nose lifting a couple inches off the front of the car. But I've never sean a board get dislodged. Plus in a van you could only use the front strap through your doors. So I would add a bow and stern tie down to the bumpers, like these:


To me neither of these two look completely sturdy by themselves. But together I think they would work. Combined they're less than $100, so you my want to try and take them for a test drive with someone following closely to see how they do.

Anither vote for quick - n - ezezzz
Spead them out from keel to keel and use simple padding with NRS straps … Zero boat damage and total security + money for gas.

ALL helpful, and links from Don, yes
Seem like good ideas, all. The Quick N Easy getting many votes here, that is helpful to know. Sounds like a winner. The only reservation I have about the surfboard style loading is that the straps would be in the door and cut up not only my door rubber gaskets, but perhaps even the ceiling liner in my custom van. Ouch! Not to mention the kayak flying off the roof when I open the door while driving down the highway to spit tobacco on the road. :slight_smile:

Anyhow, many a great idea for a plexing problem, and your thoughts, all, are appreciated.

A full size van?
On my van '93 Dodge van, I use gutter mounts from the '70s. I bought a new pickup truck to replace the van but now wish I would have bought a new van. By the time I bought a cap and rack mounts, I would have save big bucks with a van. Now I have to crawl in the back to sleep, but with a van, I wouldn’t have to leave the vehicle.

Full size vans are easy!!!
I have had several full size Dodge vans with and without the gih roof. Both are great for transporting full size boats. On the low van roof I use thule racks and Hully rollers in the back. I simply lift the bow and slide them on… I can fit 3. I use the ladder to climb on the roof to tie the front straps. On my high roof van I have installed the thule artificial gutters and do the same as before. I am “height challenged” and can do it myself. If you want to see some photograps let me know and I will email. Good news is that the height keeps unwelcomed hands off the boats. Bad news is that low bridges like ths ones on the Merritt Parkway are a problem.