kayaks on full size van

Any one carring Kayaks on top of a full size van… Any suggestions. With one it will fit in side, but if I’m taking both or more… I’ll need more room. Or is it better to just get a trailer?


Depends on your boats…
I put 4+ whitewater boats on my minivan roof all the time (2003 Chevy Venture, Factory Racks, Custom Rust spots). If I’m by myself I’ll just throw it inside.

I have friends that use trailers and they work great too. Most of my boating is done 15 minutes from my house so it’s not something I really felt I needed.

If you are having issues with space on the roof try stacking them on their side and playing around with the configurations of the boats (bow-stern, bow-bow, etc.)

Dan Caldwell

Rapid Media TV Guy

i would vote trailer
If you handy, you can modify a trailer to exactly what you want. Putting boats on top would be fine occasionally, but after a while it would get old. Unless your really tall.

Ryan L.

buddy does
SK go on top, he has hullavator to make that easier, while WW fit inside.

Oh, he is over 6ft as well.

two sizes
One is a 12 foot, the other is a 9’, and I’ll be adding a 10’ soon. I’m thinking I’ll need a trailer. On the roof would work, but I’d have to carry a ladder as well. As this is a lot higher than a mini van.


perhaps with a "wheel step"
They come in pretty handy:


I use the Malone racks with the Telos loading apparatus. Simpler and cheaper than alternatives.

…I carried 2 on my Kia Sedona van…it had factory siderails with Yakima crossbars. Never had any problems.

on what kind and how many boats. I’m not a fan of trailers, but we only haul 2 boats. Whichever sea yak I’m paddling sits in Mako Saddles in front w/ Hully Rollers rear. Rec size boat for Mrs. has saddles front & rear. I just lift in up with a step ladder that gets tossed in the back.

It need not be difficult
What you need is some way of sliding the boats up there. A padded cross bar at the very rear, or rollers at the rear, or lengthwise bars on each side are all you need. Anything so that once one and of the boat leans against a support bracket of some kind, you just pick up the other end and push it up.

I could easily load a bulky and awkward Jon boat weighing 70 or 75 pounds onto the roof of a full-size van when I was a scrawny 135-pound teenager, thanks to lengthwise bars connecting the cross bars on each side of the car. Modifiying racks for the purpose of loading awkward boats onto a high roof just seemed like the natural thing to do, and it made all the difference. Loading a skinny kayak should be easy with the right rack modifications.

Make sure you know
the exact height with kayaks on top. I have a truck rack that puts my kayaks at 7’2" and have on several occasions been unable to find parking due to height. Then there is that nervous feeling waiting for a crunch at a drive thru or parking deck

Haul 3 canoes or yaks on my hightop
conversion van. Through bolted a Yakima rack on with 66" bars for two 30" wide boats, then if needed slide 24" 1/2" galv. pipe into the yak bar ends to extend them to 100" (secure with duct tape) and haul 3 boats. Slide a 60" 1/2" galv pipe inside the rear Yak bar to use as a temp loading bar, and carry a flat folding 4 step kitchen stool, so I can load alone. Have done 1,000+ mile trips with no probs. Just secure each boat well and use bow and stern ties. Do have to be mindful of the extra height though (note on the dash :-)?). R

:slight_smile: thanks for the memories!
Last summer I backed into my garage under the circumstances you describe. The boat was…undamaged. But the trim at the top of the garage door opening was trashed.

Gotta love brit boat construction!

Depends on yr feelings about height
Full-size vans have long, flat rooves–a good thing.

They’re also tall–not a good thing.

If it were me, I’d trailer. But I am short.

When my wife and I started paddling 9 years ago, we tried carrying our day touring kayaks on the top of my Ford Explorer. That only lasted about 2 months! We had to carry a small stepladder with us. My wife is not very tall, so boat loading was very entertaining to spectators. We bought a trailer and have never regreted it. I would never cartop carry again.

I have an Astro Van and
carry two to three 16 or 17 foot kayaks on the roof almost all the time. To make it easier I attached a vertical riser of EMT at each side of the front rack, then covered it with foam. I can easily load each kayak from the side of the van by sliding the bow onto the front rack. The upright prevents the boat from sliding off. I stand on the rear bumper and lift the kayak onto the roof easily. I also made a “U” shape out of 2" diameter PVC. One length goes the full width of the van and two 2’ sections are attached to each end, then the U shape is secured to the rear rack. The PVC at the rear of the roof allows me to slide the bow of the kayak from the rear of the van without damaging any paint. It also allows the kayak to slide up easily without hurting the gelcoat.

http://www.amazon.com/Malone-MicroSport-Transport-AutoLoader-Carriers/dp/B001A2YUPS/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t Maybe I should get one of these.


I also have a ‘wheel step’ and it works
fine for this shorty, should I not want to take time to have hubby put the Hullavator on the factory rack. When I don’t, the moon roof on my Explorer comes in handy also for ensuring the front strap get on correctly.

Just make sure you don’t forget to remove the step before driving off. Been there, done that. I was very lucky no damage was done and I and my friends had a good laugh over that one.

Do you have photos of that?
Sounds interesting.

Also, a PVC tube over another tube could be a roller. I don’t know if anybody has done this.

A short PVC tube over the rear PVC pipe makes the job even easier, but is not needed as the boats slide easily on the PVC as it is. Lowe’s Hardware does sell 2’ sections of PVC that fit over the rear pipe and that’s easy to use on any place on the PVC pipe (left, right or center).