Loading boats on fullsize pickup cap?

How easy is it to load boats on a fullsized pickup cap? Ive been shopping for a pickup, at the moment Im looking at an 06 Ford 4X4. I will be installing a cab high fiberglass cap on it. Im wondering just how hard its going to be to get two 12.5’ 55lbs kayaks on top of the cap. Ive also got a 16’ 70lbs yak and an 80lbs canoe. Ive been loading the boats on my Jeep Cherokee which is no problem for me but the truck will easily be another 8" higher, I dont think I can get the boats loaded from the side like I do with the Cherokee. I think Im going to have to load them from the rear, like standing on the open tailgate. Anyone have experience or advice on how hard or the best way to load them?

thule slipstream


The canoe will be relatively easy
If you’re tall enough, and know how to snap a canoe over your head, you can get it into “portage” position facing the back of the truck, and then once you find a balance point with your hands, straighten your arms out (I usually do a slight knee bend and then power lift the canoe upwards) and walk forward, sliding the canoe along the rear bar and once the bow reaches the front bar, just scooch the rest of the canoe forward to center it. If you can’t do this type of lift, set the stern a ways from the rear of the truck so that when you lift the bow and flip the boat upside down you can rest it on the rear bar. Then lift the stern and push it forward.

Kayaks are a bit trickier, especially if you use teh saddles like in the video in the first reply, or J-cradles. It is a bit of a lift to get the boat up and in. I don’t like that read loader in the video. There is an attachment that Yakima uses that slides to the side and lowers so that you can load a kayak at chest level, strap it on, and then lift it up and slide it to the center.

I have always found that I was just tall enough to get my kayaks into the J-cradle without any of that fancy equipment. If I needed a little height (to adjust a strap, for example) I would stand on the rear wheel. A friend of mine keeds a mini step ladder handy for such things.


Not bad
go to Wal Mart and buy a ladder.

Assuming you already have racks on the truck.

That way you can lean the boat with one end against the rear most bar. Then pick up the end of the boat on the ground and walk toward the truck and mount the ladder for final settling in of the boats.

I have a Toyota Tundra with all racks on the cap and this works for me. I am five feet four and my truck with the high tower racks is over seven feet. I often carry short canoes and my towers are about eight inches tall to clear the bow and stem with curved sheerlines.

Not a problem at all.

And I have never bought an elevator type doohickey. I dont know if they really save anything because I have never found I need them.

It’s Easy

– Last Updated: Mar-13-09 1:02 AM EST –

Put a pair of roof racks on the topper and you are good to go. You have been working WAY too hard if you have been *lifting* your boats onto the roof from the side. Loading on a higher vehicle like a pickup is a very simple one-person procedure. Kayamedic described the loading procedure, and here's a photo showing how easy it is.


With the boat on my shoulders, I just squatted out from under it to leave one end resting on the rear crossboar. That's a 12-foot boat, and you can see that it would still be very easy to slide the boat up there even if the roof were more than a foot higher, so you know it will be easy with a pickup truck. It will be even easier with a longer boat.

Years ago my dad carried boats on the roof of his full-size van. We loaded them using this same method, but from the side, sliding them on a lengthwise bar which ran between the crossbars. Standing in an open doorway and on the rear tire when tying the boats down will eliminate the need for anything to climb up on if you are halfway agile, but otherwise a folding step-stool is a good option.

Those 50 and 80 pounders
can be a bear after a long paddle. Sliding the up from the back is probably the least strenuous, but you have to be careful and take your time. A helper can be… helpful.

The 12 footers could go in the bed and hang off the gate (if you don’t have the really short bed), but they are probably only 50 lbs or so to start with.

And a kayak trailer might also be an option if you tend too use ramps and places that have easy access and room to turn it around.


load from teh side

I have an F-150 which I put Quick N’ Easy racks on.

I don’t do the load at the back and slide the boat forward trick.

I pick up the boat and get it on my shoulders, usually starting with boat next to and parrallel to the truck so I don’t rave to walk far, then I just set the bow in place on the front rack, gunnel walk my hands to the stern, and move the stern onto the rear rack. Though I’ll admit I don’t do that with an 80lb boat, mostly just solos that max at 60 lbs.

That works well with a canoe - never tried it with a kayak.

On my Hi Top Conversion Van I Use
a set of 66" yakima round bars, insert a loading bar in one side of the back rack and slide on a swim noodle or pipe insulation. Yak sells them but 1/2" galvanized pipe slides into my Yak bars tight too. Just use one long enough to enter the bar at least 12" and leave enough out (±4’) for the boat. Then rest one end of my yaks or noes on the loading bar and the other on a piece of carpet pad to protect and hold the the nose in place. Using a flat folding, 3step kitchen stool, I lift the other end up, swing it onto the front bar. Then slide the back end off the loading bar onto the rear rack, tie it all down and go. Can store the loading bar inside the Yak bar if you attach the Yak endcap to the pipe (or a pipe cap) so you can get it out. Sounds a bit complex but actually pretty easy and have many miles on it. I also insert 1/2" pipe sections into my Yak rack ends to extend their width for 3-boat wide loads. R

I do it the same way
"I pick up the boat and get it on my shoulders, usually starting with boat next to and parrallel to the truck so I don’t rave to walk far, then I just set the bow in place on the front rack, gunnel walk my hands to the stern, and move the stern onto the rear rack. "

I load 16 and 17-foot sea kayaks with this method with no problems.

Yakima Boat Loader Bar
I use the slide out Yakima BoatLoader on my truck. It works really well for me. You slide the bar out when you want to load the canoe and then back in when you’re ready to go. With the bar, I portage the canoe up along the side of the truck, set the one end of the canoe on the loader bar, well away from the side of the truck and any risk of scratching the paint. Then I set the other end down on the ground, step out from under the canoe and walk around to pick up the end comfortably.




Sounds good
Well it sounds like its not as big of a problem as I thought it may be. Ive been used to loading the boats on my Cherokee. I can just lift them over my head and lay them in the cradles and saddles. Ive been truck shopping and trying to decide if I want a fullsized truck or a smaller one. A fullsize will fit the rest of my lifestyle better, the only reason I was shying away from a fullsize is I wasnt sure how hard it would be to load and unload the boats. I feel better now that I know people are doing it. Ive got all Thule stuff now, I think I’ll try to stay with that. Im thinking about mounting artificial gutters on the cap when I get it. I already have everything to do that although I may have to get longer load bars.

Any thoughts on the use of artificial rain gutters on a fiberglass cap?

I don’t have any problem with
my 18ft canoe on my RAM 3500.

Artifical rain gutters
Yakima sells a piece that substitutes for a rain gutter…put one in each corner. Like drilling a hole in the canoe, it’s always the first hole that hurts the most. They attach with bolts and silicone sealant.

When I owned my Rangers, that is what I used. Never had a problem, and was able to carry a lot of boats.


gutter mounts
You can get two types of gutter mounts. One that goes on the top of your cap and one that goes on the side of your cap. The advantage of the side mounted type is that you can mount them so that the rack will set lower over the cap then the top mounted style will allow for. Only a couple of inches difference but might be a consideration for getting in and out of some gargage door openings. Make sure that when you mount them that you leave enough room under the bar so that attachements will still fit on the bars. Hope this makes sense.

Thule gutter mounts
Ive already got a set of Thule artificial gutters, they can be mounted horizontally or vertically. Everything else I need I can move over from my Cherokee system (except maybe the load bars)

Or get the tracks for adjustable span
If you have not bought the topper, you can order an option with some brands for two T-slot tracks running almost the full length of the topper roof. Buy the appropriate “landing pads” from Yakima (and probably Thule) and you can adjust the crossbar spread.

On my 6-ft bed, the topper roof provides a span of almost 5 ft. It’s an A.R.E. topper, and I’m almost positive that Leer offers the same option.

Check out the Kari-Tek “ELRR” (Easy Load Roof Rack). Its very popular in the European market and will soon be available here in the U.S.


We’ve got 2 demo units on our vehicles and will be at ECCKF next month


I keep looking at those artificial
gutters that have been on my truck cap since 1999 and they look awful but they are solid.

As I sleep inside the back of the truck and have weathered lots of rain, I would have noticed any leakage. Not yet.

But the pistons that hold the glass on the cap up wore out…Ouch.

Invest in a three step ladder
and keep it in the truck. Rollers and loading from the back would be the easiest option.

I load mine
on a compact pickup cab…woks great. Throw em on top and strap them down till the roof buckles ever so slightly