Keeping kayak level on rack

I’ve got a RAV4, and one of the problems I have is when I load a boat on the rack, it’s not level. The bow is higher than the stern. As a result more surface are is exposed when I drive and I’m sure it impacts my mileage slightly.

Been thinking of some way to correct this and came up with a solution. I bought a couple of those minicell kayak racks that strap onto the roof, What I plan to do is place one of the minicell racks to straddle both hulley rollers, between the rollers and perpindicular to the boat. My boats are narrow so the rollers are less than a foot apart. This raises the rear by about 3" and should be enough to make the boat much closer to level. Once strapped down, I don’t see any issues with it.

Sound reasonable ?


even easier
just put it on BACKWARDS!!!



You got it all wrong
You need big tires on the back and small tires on the front.

That ski is pretty slippery. I’d be
surprised if adjusting the attitude a few degrees would make any measurable difference at all. It does look a little funny, though.

Park it on a steeper street!

The back looks fine
The back of the boat look ideal for airflow. Ever notice the shape of super-efficient experimental vehicles? They’re low in the back.

Unfortunately, the front of the boat is in the wrong position. Bending the boat in the middle is the only sane option!

But seriously, I would say that the mileage difference, if any, would be minimal because the back of the boat sticking up in the air further will have more resistance once you lower the front of the boat. And who’s to say that level is optimal for the shape of your car and the airflow that it creates around it.


Rectorsquid makes a good point - I think we need to put the whole setup in a wind tunnel and tune the boat position to optimize your mpg.

Drastic solution
Did you look at Dave/Ret’s setup on his Rav4? He removed the factory rack and installed aluminum plates for Landing Pads.

But since you already have a set of brackets for the factory rails, how about inserting a spacer between the rear rack foot and the roof? I believe Ravs have 6mm bolts.


I am seeing
a problem that doesn’t need solved. Spend the time perfecting your forward stroke.

The $5 solution

– Last Updated: Sep-01-10 4:58 PM EST –

is, assuming you got Yakima setup, to buy 4 stainless steel bolts that are longer than the ones you got now. Make sure they are the same thread as your existing wing nuts on the rollers or if you can't find these, get a set of wing nuts for them at the store.

Then, get a piece of scrap hardwood that would stack-up to your desired 3" height (one piece would do for both rollers if you keep the spacing nearly constant). Drill so that the bolts go through and have enough length to attach properly to the existing plastic cross-bar brackets. Waterproof the wood piece with deck coating or some other outdoor stuff you got leftover in the garage.

I suppose you could use a piece of aluminum square shaped piece too.

This setup may make your rollers a little unstable - they may tend to rotate around the bar even more than they do now (assuming you got round bars, if not - not a problem I guess). If this is the case, lose the rollers and replace with Mako saddles (with matching felt pads) - you can push the boat up and slide over these from behind just as easily as with the rollers.

That would level it nice, cheap, and easy.

Edit: another solution is to get an extension for your rack - get a wider spread. Mount the front end of the extension under the bar and the rear end of the extension over the rear bar. That should level it. Then mount your existing boat-keeping hardware (saddles/rollers) on the extension. The extension can be hardwood or aluminum and you can make it yourself or buy something like the KayakPro rack for about 10 x the cost of materials at retail -;)

Zenrider has it right
It’s a problem that doesn’t need fixing. In fact I’ve driven thousands of miles with either one or two boats and nary an issue.

But tktoo has it right as well. It looks funny to me too. That’s why I’d like to make it level.

Kind of like having a gravy stain on your tie. Not going to hurt anything, but it’s bothersome…to me!

buy a real SUV! :wink:
just kidding of course. i don’t think it’s gonna make that much difference other than asthetics.

better support
There are better supports for a light boat like yours, not doing it any favors with the roof supports that close together.

This is one example:

Bill H.

I agree
I’m with Bill on this - I use EZ-Vee carriers and they’re great. I also have a V-bar from Keystone Kayaks, but it is too narrow for my tubby kayaks. I’m looking to sell it at a discount. It would be perfect for your boat, and could be adjusted easily to be level. They look like this:

Too heavily invested in Yakima…
at the moment. The EZ-Vee racks have been on my radar for some time. Maybe when business gets better! All my boats are long. Main rides are 18’ and 19’.

The current spread on the RAV4 is 42". Which is more than the 36" I had on my Saturn Vue. Boats are not the only thing I carry on the roof. I find the Yakima bars strong, sturdy and versatile enough to allow me to carry just about anything.

I wonder
what advice the folks at Yakima might have. Wouldn’t hurt to email them your pix first and ask them to call you. Yakima has really outstanding customer service, it’s one reason I’m as invested in Yakima products as you are Andy :smiley:

p.s. IMO the bow being noticeably higher also means it’s easier for the wind to create lift. Not a good thing.

I hear ya
Well the carrier would fit on the Yakima crossbars just fine, but I certainly understand that it’s costly to think of ditching the rollers and saddles you already have. I started from scratch with my setup, so that wasn’t an issue.

BTW I’ve found the EZ-Vee to be really useful for carrying lumber and even a furled Christmas tree. The Keystone V-bar is half the price of the EZ-Vee, and has nice wide foam pads to baby those skinny hulls. It seems less flexy, too.

My solution

– Last Updated: Sep-02-10 1:03 PM EST –

Tried a fit using the minicell and a level. Plan would be to roll the boat on the truck, then lift stern to allow placement of minicell block. Strap down as I usually do. Friction should hold the block in place, and I will probably shape the minicell a bit.

Took the photo's with my cell!



Too much time on yer hands… do yer!

– Last Updated: Sep-02-10 3:01 PM EST –

Git a canoo, dag-nabbit!


Look good
That should work. I think the foam block will be easier on the hull than those rollers into the bargain.