Kayaks on a Honda Fit

I am considering buying a Honda Fit, but my hubby thinks it may be to small to haul our two 14’ kayaks. He is leaning towards a Subaru Forester. Does anyone haul kayaks on a Honda Fit? Any suggestions/advice?

Thanks for your help!

JFour boats on/in an Element
Just picked up a boat today from one of the owners of Seda Kayaks.

He had one long boat on the roof, one ww boat on the roof, and two ww boats inside. A bit crowded, but it worked.

Should work fine
I used to carry two 18 footers on a VW golf, which is about the same size.

I was looking at the Fit a couple of weeks ago, after having major issues with my current vehicle, and the dealer throwing parts at it unnecessarily to the tune of $3,000, and still no fix. The only thing the Fit lacks is roof rails to mount racks on.

There’s a company http://www.perrycraft.com/ that makes bolt-on aftermarket rails that are rated to 220 lbs with crossbars. You can spread your bars about 40" or so with them on the car, and be better able to secure the boats well.


for the price difference

– Last Updated: Apr-09-08 5:50 AM EST –

between a Honda Fit and a Subaru Forester you could buy some very good boats, so it depends how important that is, but my canoe does fit on a Honda Fit (Jazz), which looks like this:

And with the fuel $$$ savings
buying the Fit, you could buy a boat, too.

Canoes/kayaks aren’t heavy, and the wind loading isn’t that great (they are streamlined)

A Dodge Omni I once owned carried 22’ aluminum canoes, small sailboats, and three canoes at once, all to nearly 80mph. I’m sure you would have no problems.

sort of…
Fuel economy is reasonable if you have a dead-on head or tailwind (10% drop maybe?). Throw in a cross wind and my fuel economy drops like a rock.


I called Honda…
Thanks for the feedback…but even the pic of the canoe on a Fit didn’t convince the hubby so I had to call Honda. I thought I should share this info…Honda strongly advises against carrying kayaks, canoes, etc. on top of a Fit. I was told that because it is such a light-weight vehicle, cartopping kayaks could adversly affect the car’s transmission and suspension!

Doesn’t make sense

– Last Updated: Jul-03-07 8:09 PM EST –

Yeah the Honda fits a very small car, I think the Forester would be a good choice. Mazda Protege 5 would be a good hauler.

I own a Fit (black sport manual tranny) and I think that Honda was giving you a CYA line. Yeah, it’s a light vehicle, but it’s far more capable than Honda gives it credit for. I talked to a guy who took his down a rutted dirt road in southern Utah with mountain bikes on a hitch-mounted bike rack. Honda would strongly recommend against doing that, too, but his car is fine (I’m sure he had to drive gingerly).

I used to own a 1988 Toyota Tercel hatchback and I loaded plenty on the roof of that little car. No problems. I currently have a Thule rack on order for my Fit, and Thule rates it at about 130lbs, even though Honda rates the roof at only 80lbs. Thule’s fit guide also indicates that it’s okay to carry pretty much anything on there, too (boats, bikes, cargo boxes), as long as you’re under the 130lb limits. At some point this summer, I am likely to have multiple boats on it (canoes and kayaks) and if you like, I can report back.

Honda is also pretty emphatic about not towing anything with this car in the manual. I think that’s going overboard, really. I had a 2.5l 4cyl pickup truck (that I traded for the Fit) and I know for a fact that I towed quite possibly twice as much as the truck was rated to tow (double axle uhaul trailer w/trailer brake). No problems. The manual Fit is geared low enough that putting a couple boats on the roof shouldn’t be a problem. I hear the auto tranny is kinda lame, though.

Honda vs Toyota
Honda is wary of towing. If one compares similar models from Honda and Toyota, Toyota suggests towing 700lbs with their Echo and 1500 with their Corrola. The similar Fit and Civic have no tow rating.

My thinking is that if an Echo can tow an extra 700 lbs, it can overcome the wind load of a kayak. And, if an Echo can do it, why not a Fit?

cartopping my canoe

– Last Updated: Jul-04-07 4:01 AM EST –

on a Mazda Demio, which even is a lighter car than my Honda Fit, has not given me any problems in the eight years that I used the Mazda Demio, even with canoes weighing 80 pounds... And this car has survived some pretty rough roads too (surprisingly).
My new Honda Fit (Jazz) seems to do as well for the couple of times I now had a canoe on top, at least on normal roads. Time and experiences will tell how it will hold up in the long run, but with care driving it, I think it will do fine, als long as the load is not too heavy.

That’s because
they want you to buy an SUV.

Most auto manufacturers make very little money per unit on cars, and huge profits per unit on SUV’s and light trucks.

If the car can haul 5 passengers, it can haul a canoe or a couple of kayaks. Just secure your boats well, and use bow and stern lines at all times.


My brother
is a Honda mechanic and he says that Honda always underrates what their vehicles can tow so that they do not get sued. I’ve carried kayaks on top of an Element, a Corrolla, and a CRV with no problems from any of them except maybe a little more effort getting the kayaks up on the roof of some. Get a good rack and go for it.

Thanks everybody…
I also thought that Honda might just be trying to dodge any legal problems by having the disclaimers…great minds think alike! :>)

And while I really like the Fit…I’ll test drive the Forester and CRV since Honda managed to convince my hubby that it would be a mistake to haul kayaks!

Thanks everyone for the info!

my experience
I carried a canoe on my old Honda civic hatchback for years with no problems, can’t believe there would be a big difference with the Fit. That said, I love my Forester.

The only thing limiting most passenger cars in the capability department is ground clearance. I had a 1991 Dodge Spirit sedan that I drove after my dad had pretty much beaten it to death. I took that car down forest 2-tracks in MI (with AND without a canoe on the roof). I tied trees to it and cleared some of these ‘roads’ after a storm. In Utah, I took it down roads conspicuously labeled 4wd high clearance vehicles only. Some of those roads, I have heard of folks in Jeeps being unable to traverse (or too unskilled to traverse). I had to drive gingerly to avoid hitting my oil pan on rocks, but I drove nearly 2 miles down one road road with a mt bike on the roof before I found a suitable parking spot. In another area in Utah, I had that car up on 2 wheels crossing a washed out dirt road to reach a parking spot.

Before I ever owned the car, my dad used it to haul paving stones. Yes, he had to replace the rear shocks shortly thereafter, but the car was otherwise fine. My dad also put a Class III hitch on it and towed a small boat with it after putting air shocks in back.

That car put in nearly 200,000 miles before my sister gave up on it (she could have repaired the tranny and kept on driving).

What a car company tells you a car can do and what it can ACTUALLY do are going to be two completely different things. But, passenger cars are actually quite capable vehicles.

That said, my wife and I own a Honda Fit and a Jeep Liberty, so we have our bases pretty much covered.

transmission advice

– Last Updated: Jul-05-07 12:00 PM EST –

No matter which car you get, you're better off with a manual than an auto if you regularly do long distance drives with stuff on the roof. If you are forced into getting an automatic, get it with a towing package or at least an add-on transmission cooler.

Carrying anything on the roof of any automatic transmission car will 'adversely affect' the transmission. The added load caused by the highway wind resistance is comparable to towing a trailer. Just look at how much the MPG drops when cartopping for evidence of this.

To maintain speed up hills, the transmission will do what it is designed to do - first unlock the torque converter to speed the engine up a little (this feels like a downshift, but you're still in top gear - the transmission is just 'slipping'), then downshift into lower gears if the unlocking wasn't enough. All that extra time spent 'unlocked' will really shorten the life of most automatics - they are not designed to handle all the friction heat generated by running at highway speeds with stuff up top (or being pulled behind).

This won't blow your tranny in one trip, but if you drive long distances every weekend with racks loaded, it can be the difference between needing a rebuild at 60K versus 120K.

Works for Me…
I have a Honda Fit with a Thule roof rack. We just returned from a 250+ mile trip to the Big South Fork in TN with a 14’ canoe. It held up great. I didn’t even notice any significant difference in gas mileage. (I’ve made the same trip many times without the canoe on top.) We drove on everything from highways to back country dirt roads. I even have a soft sided cartop bag that I put under the canoe to hold our PFDs and other paddling/fishing equipment.

You might want to also check http://www.fitfreak.net. They have a great forum there an this subject has been talked about quite a bit. They’ve also discussed towing with the Fit. I remember reading that the European version of the Fit, the Jazz, can even be ordered with a towing hitch. Once my warranty is up I’m going to add a hitch to mine.


some people even do it this way

– Last Updated: Jul-15-07 8:45 AM EST –


and here is another one