Long distance hauling

My wife and I are planning a long distance road trip from Buffalo, NY to Fort Wilderness Disney World this fall. We have a new Chevy Colorado with a Tracrac ladder rack. Which system for hauling is more secure for long distances, “J” racks or saddle racks? Pros and cons of either?

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Loading and security
Saddles are easier to load into and out of.

In our experience, saddles required an unexpected level of tightening to compensate for wind and vibration induced stretching. We went back to old-fashioned stackers. But you need to check either one at rest stops anyway.

One or the other may work better depending on whether the kayaks are plastic or fiberglass, rotomolded boats are actually strongest on their sides. Fiberglass or similar, not much diff.

Nothing is going to be be totally secure unless you also test the rack by trying to shake things loose before loading the boats, get good straps, and use some kind of bow line to be able too spot loose or stressed line early on. Before anything flies loose.

What kind of boats are we talking about - length and material?

no clear advantage
In my mind in terms of solidity or security. IMO each introduces another point of potential flexure or failure. Because of this reason and because they’re expensive, I cartop using crossbars with foam pads shaped to fit the hull. I’ve had my boat on all three and once it’s fastened down, the direct-to-rails option seems sturdier. Just anecdotal but that’s my $0.02.

With that length between the bars…
…I would just put some padding on the bars and haul them upside down.

They offer better support.

Try to space the bars so they are under your bulkheads for even better support.

Jack L

Either one will work…
when the boat is properly secured.

For a pickup truck with a ladder rack, you’re lifting the boat pretty high. Loading from the rear onto saddles will be easier than loading onto a J cradle.

I like the J’s on a small car or a trailer, but on the roof of the truck…only when needed.


the rig needs 2 bow and 2 stern ropes, 2 or 3 lateral cam straps one looped around the hull 's near stern area.

The rack front needs an airfoil, and the rack sides if possible. sheet metal screws and cardboard if basic.

If hauling a canoe the fore area needs a cover back to the rack lateral cross member.


Thanks for all the advice. And it looks like folks have different points of view. I’m a big fan of the K.I.S.S. method of doing things so I think upside down directly to the rack will be the way I’ll try first. Worked for years with a 17’ canoe and it worked for a 10’ jonboat too.

Fair winds

You picked the
best way!