Long kayak on a short bar spread

Does anyone carry a long, (like 23 feet) kevlar kayak on a roof rack with only about a four foot spread between bars?

If so have you experienced any problems?

Thanks in advance,


I’ve seen a surfski about that length
supported by a rack with that width. The surfski was not kevlar, but fiberglass, and the owner had rigged up additional support with a simple frame of PVC that ran fore and aft about 4-5 ft.

Good luck!

Terry (Venice, Florida)

4-5 feet
should be plenty, as long as you’re mindful of your turning radius and use bow/stern tie-downs.

You might also check out the Thule “Slipstream” - it’s essentially a frame for a kayak that fits on a short roof and has all the saddles and whatnot included.

Probably won’t be of great benefit as the bar spread is already 4’. I’ve seen some rowing shells supported by I think it’s called and Easy Vee which is an alum. tube that u-bolts onto the crossbars and is about 8’ long with cloth slings inside of alum. vees at either end. Might be worth considering if the hull is delicate enough where you need the extra seperation. Normally 4’ is big but then again you’re talking a big long boat here.

See you on the water,



Hyde Park, NY

What kind of kayak …
are you thinking of getting, Jack?

Rack spread …
not that important as long as rack system is secure,load capable,and you use BOW & STERN LINES. Smallest rack spread I had on any car was 28",and hauled a 19’ poly tandem sea kayak weighing 105 lbs. Never had a problem ,but was ALWAYS tied down with bow & stern lines.Get where I am going here JackL. LOL

Happy Paddling billinpa

Heading up next Wednesday
to Demo the Westside “K-2 Bullitt”

If we can keep it up right and have a smile on our faces when we are done we’ll get one.

I have a bg spread on the bars on my pick-up, and a small spread on the Ford Escape.

Needless to say I am thinking about gas mileage and using the little guy.



20’ & 21’ on 27" spread - no problems.

– Last Updated: May-22-07 2:25 PM EST –

Depends largely on rack/saddles though... and kayak. Not sure I'd put a Bullit on my setup. 4' or more - yes, with the right saddles or custom foam.

I knew someone couldn’t resist the bow and stern tie down dig.

Hope the demo works out good for yall.

JT in Central FL

Thule Slipstream might help
On short crossbar spread it can put the saddles out another foot in each direction and provide more anti-sway. I’ve learned that the farther back from the cockpit and the farther forward from the cockpit I can get for the saddles-the more rock solid the boat carries and the less I have to rely on the bow strap for actual holding power. I still use a bow strap but it’s real loose and there really for backup. The Slipstream aint cheap at 299 but it does include the saddles and the straps all around and will work well with factory crossbars like on our Subaru and Focus wagon.

Doesn’t look like it would work for
long kevlar canoes. The front of my Wenonah Voyager ultra light kevlar solo canoe really wiggles around on top of my Bonneville in strong winds and when passing semis, behind semis or when being passed by semis.


It does look like it would help with kayaks, though.

With saddles
I have carried a 6.5m marathon K2 on a Nissan Micra with about 3’ spread without any problems but did have good solid saddles to support it. The most extreme I ever saw was back in the eighties, a double surfski on a porsche 911.


Hi Bill
With all do respect, the bow and stern lines won’t help protect the long overhangs of the boat.

They are just a safety net for if something happened to the rack or if one of the cross straps broke.

With foam blocks they are a must to keep the blocks and boat from floating all over the roof.

I have a good rack and good saddles and have never used front and rear tie downs since I came out of the dark ages about twenty years ago and got a good rack system combined with cam-lock buckle straps.




bow straps
we still use bow straps even with our good rack system. Helps when we are going down the highway with a strong side wind. We can see onstrap sag while the other one tightens up. That bow strap carries some of the torque off of our rack system.

I’ve always felt that the racks should be spread far enough apart to have the cradles close to or on the bulk heads.

Thule makes a new product
that will stretch that length out, and make it a length friendlier to your boat. Someone will know what I’m talking about and post a link.

ask the man who owns one
Mr Bushnell might know. Good luck with the bullet!

Thanks Dave
I figured I would ask him when we got up there, but was wondering ahead of time what others with the long boats do.

I got some good ideas from above too.



Carrying a long kayak
If possible try to have the bars under a bulkhead. Vaughn Fulton

Hey Jack, Hope you guys like it.
You can always wax the hull direct or tape / pull snug plastic on hull and lay up some glass right on it to get cradles the exact shape of the hull then attach these to your stock bars. All you need then is a tiny bit of paddling ( yoga mat works great as it is somewhat sticky too ) between the boat and perfectly shapped cradles. VERY little strap pressure needed too. If you wanted to instead of two separate ones, you could do one long one that would bridge between the two bars and could extend beyond them if desired. I have made several of these types of set up. They hold the boat perfectly and are superior to any of the shelf system for fit and low drag. Call anytime ( we are 6 hours behind now.

Sounds great !
Thanks Pat I am sending you a separate e-mail on your (I hope screw barrel) adjustable length/feather paddles.