Loading Stackers

How difficult is it to load a stacker type rack? My Yak weighs about 47lbs. Do you simply lift the yak and set it in the rack or can you slide it on? FishHawk

Malone Autoloaders
I use these on Yakima bars equipped with a Yakima Boatloader. I lift the bow onto the Boatloader bar, lift the stern and push the boat onto the laoding ramp. Another push, and the boat slides up into the vertical orientation. To my knowlege Malone Autoloaders are the only stackers that have this loading ramp.


52 lb QCC

How you load may depend on how long your boat is and the spread between your bars. I just lift my ww boat over head and place it on my rack, but that boat is quite short. I used to do the same with a rec boat. But I also have a rather heavy sea kayak, and with that I do one end at a time. However, I never use stackers with my sea kayak, I use the Malone Autoloader that was mentioned above.

I have Yakima stackers as well as the Malone autoloaders, and have used my friends newer Thule stackers. Here’s my take on all of them:

Malone Autoloader: (see here - http://www.maloneautoracks.com/watersportcarriers.htm) I wouldn’t necessarily call this a stacker, I think it’s more of a J-cradle. Whatever you call it, it my opinion, it is easier to load your boat using these than either the Yakima or Thule stackers because there is actually a curved section which holds the boat. This means you can get your boat up there and then walk around to get your straps in place without fear that your boat might tip over or be blown over by the wind. The disadvantage is these cradles are for one boat only, whereas other stackers can let you carry up to 4 boats side by side across your roof.

Yakima - my stackers are a few years old now, but unless they have changed the design, I find them a bit of a pain to use. Your straps are supposed to hook under barbs at the top of each stacker, but they do not always catch right, and it can take some futzing to get it right. As noted before, because your boat sits right on your roof rack, not a cradle, there’s danger of your boat sliding off or tipping over until you get at least one strap on. If it’s not windy this isn’t too much of a problem, but on a windy day you need to work fast to get a strap on or ask someone to hold the boat up while you work on the straps. I also have had the same trouble when I couldn’t park on a level spot. Despite the disadvantages, this is a very skinny stacker, and I have a very small car, so on river trips with shuttles this setup lets me stack 4 ww boats on my roof.

Thule - my friend has the newer Thule stackers and I kinda wish I had these instead of my Yakimas. Instead of barbs at the top, there is a closed loop, so getting your strap to catch is fool-proof. You still have to be mindful of your boat slipping/tipping though. The other (potential) disadvantage is that this design takes up more real estate from side to side than the Yakima stackers. On my car with my small rack, that may mean I could fit max 3 boats vs. 4 with the Yakimas. Not an issue if you have a wider rack or don’t need to ever carry that many boats.

Other thoughts/considerations: which would work best for you depends on your needs. I think the real advantage of stackers is the ability to fit many boats, and are more often used with whitewater boats, but rec boats too. Having your boat sit on its side right on your roof rack is not too hard on a ww boat, but can lead to dents on a rec boat, and I think most would consider it too harsh for any type of composite kayak (I only have RM plastic yaks, so not an issue for me). A cradle system like the Malone’s will be a bit easier to use, but can only accomodate a single boat. I would think if you have a touring yak/a very long kayak you would also want to go with the Malone’s. The cradle-like set up with it’s rubberized cushioning will also be more gentle on a yak.

If I’m going someplace alone or know I won’t be running a shuttle, I like to use the Malone’s even with my ww boat because I feel it’s just easier to use. But for getting a bunch of boats on my car, nothing can beat stackers.

Quite a lot of info on stackers, huh?!

Good luck!

Level parking
Make sure your car is level otherwise your kayak may come to visit you as you turn your back on it. Wham! Ouch!

See you on the water,



Depends on you really…
and the shape you are in. If you live near any of us that have them you can “demo” (except here where mine are off for the season!). I have a Yakima set up on my Suzuke and I lift and place my wifes Loon 138 (57 pound boat) right into the stackers. It’s really nice though when I can park where I am a little higher than normal stance next to the car. Like a slope where the stackers are on the high side… Can you picture that? Can’t explain it really well…

When I’m tired it’s nice to have a my wife, a friend or stranger offer to assist.