Mako Saddles or Hullraiser?

I’m getting ready to buy a roof rack for my 02 Ford Explorer. I paddle Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 SOT (13’6" long, 60 lbs, 28" wide). I’m strong and have no problems car topping by myself.

I like Yakima products, but can’t decide if it would be easier to use Mako saddles or the Hullraiser “J” cradles. I have no experience with any rack systems as I’ve been using a DIY rack in my old pickup truck.

It seems to me that the height of my vehicle would make the Makos easier to use as I could slide the boat up from the back of the car. I might be wrong, but I’m guessing I would load the boat on the Hullraisers from the side of the vehicle. Given my vehicle height and boat weight/dimensions, this seems difficult to do solo.


  1. Which do you think is more secure for my boat?
  2. Does the boat’s weight, length, and hull design make one system preferable over the other?
  3. Does it matter at all, and am I just over-thinking this decision?


my $0.02
On 1,they both should be fine.

On 2, not sure any of the specs you listed matter that much. But width may - a recreational boat on its side on the top of an SUV will be quite a bit taller than the same boat on saddles. Do you have areas of low heights that you need to be worried about (garages, car ports, and the like)?

Maybe neither . . .
I recently got a Native Watercraft Manta Ray 12 fishing SOT. Since the much younger sales guy hoisted it up onto the roof of my Volvo XC-70 with ease, I thought, “No problem!” I didn’t figure how much taller he is, and I’m not quite 5’6".

Getting that 70 pound boat on the roof (it has a rudder) is a major problem for me, so I have a Thule Slipstream on order after spending weeks looking at all the options.

Compared to many of the SOTs out there, my boat looks light and graceful, but it’s 70 pounds. If you consider the length and dimensions of your boat, and verify, you may discover that it may be much heavier.

Before I made my decision, I tried many things, including my J-racks (not really possible to load solo) and even a nifty home-made side load-assist system similar to the Malone lifter - but none of these options seemed safe. I felt I was on my way to another possible back sprain like I had a couple years ago.

Having said all this, to spare yourself some grief in wasted time and money, you might consider borrowing fellow paddlers’ rack systems, putting them on your vehicle and see how they work with your boat.

Good luck.

I took a look at the Slipstream. There are some video demonstrations on Pretty cool.

I’ll figure out what I’m doing soon.

Mako Saddles
with Hully Rollers in the back.

One more opinion…
Mako saddles.

The J cradles are wonderful, but you do need to lift the boat higher to use them.

I have them for the car, but I rarely use them on the SUV. It’s a pain.

If you like hully rollers, I’ll sell you a pair cheap.