My transportation options....

I need to transport my kayak about 400 miles on the roof of my car.

I have a set of those $30 Walmart rain gutter roof racks.

My kayak is not expensive enough to warrant a new, $200 rack system so I don’t want to pick up a cradle for the rack or upgrade the rack.

What’s my best option with what I have and a budget to purchase a set of foam blocks?

Do I add pool noodles to the rack I have?

Do I buy some foam blocks and use them directly on my roof?

Do I buy some foam blocks and use them with the rack I have?

What is the best option?

Are any of the options recommended?


You do it right, or you do it wrong !
I don’t mean to sound sarcastic, but with all the options that you post, I wouldn’t do any of them except for the foam saddles, and then I would make sure that I had double looped camlock buckle straps going to something more secure than a $30 dollar roof rack, and I who doesn’t normally use front and rear tie downs would certainly use them in your case.

Jack L

Yeah, I’m not very thrilled with my options either.

I did take a 9 hour trip with the $30 rack on this vehicle with a heavy, soft, cargo carrier several years ago. I had to tighten it regularly, but it made the trip.

Use your portage cart and just tie it the rear bumper. Keep your speed under 6 mph (10kph if you’re from Canada).

foam blocks on the rack
Hopefully your rack hangs on.

I picked up my yakima rack - feet, towers and bars for under $130. Another $25 for foam blocks. It’s all some of us have used for some time. But your rack needs to be secure.

Mount it directly to the roof
if you are not confident in the rack.

I would get a set of 4 of the shaped minicell foam pads to put between the kayak and the roof of your vehicle.

Get a pair of 1 inch wide nylon cam straps that are sufficient in length to go around the belly of the kayak and through the interior of your vehicle via the doors and/or windows. These should be thin enough to allow you to open and close your doors with the boat in place, although they might compress the door weatherstrip enough to result in a slight leak if it rains hard.

Definitely use front tie downs to your bumper (if there are anchor points) or to short loops of 1" wide nylon webbing anchored within the engine compartment near the edges of the hood, and exiting around the edge of the hood (if there are not). Use 2 independent lines running from the stem of the kayak to each side of the hood or bumper. These triangulated lines will do a lot to prevent the front of the kayak from yawing from side to side in response to wind blasts. Rear stem tie downs are not as important, but I would suggest you use at least one anyway.

Rig some type of line to the boat in such a way that the boat can not slide forward out from under the belly straps if you have to make a panic stop.

What in the world is wrong with the rain gutter rack? I have seen those things 30 years old and going strong. If you are really worried about the rack coming off be sure you use bow and stern lines and check the rack every 100 miles or so. I guess I do not see the issue… tie boat to rack and drive.

is this your rack?

– Last Updated: Jun-28-11 8:53 PM EST –

If so, I'd say get the foam blocks and front and rear tie downs, check your load regularly, and you should be golden. But a bit more description on the rack might reassure some folks here and allow them to help you more.

that’s not it
The rack I have is like this one:

use the rack
secure the boat to it and use stem tie downs, then run one 1" wide nylon cam strap around the boat and through the vehicle.

My main concern would be the yawing force created by side winds and truck blast working the rack loose over time.

Those little clips that go in the door frame aren’t that secure.

I wouldn’t trust those racks

– Last Updated: Jun-29-11 2:04 PM EST –

I have to agree with pblanc, in that the rain gutter clips on those racks have been known to slip or break and easily send the whole rack, with boat still attached, flying off at highway speeds. It's the weak point in the whole system. I also agree that it's probably the sheering cross wind of a passing truck that is likely to do it.

I've had those kind of racks and used em for lumber or surfboards, but for a kayak, the wind forces at hwy speeds can be immense. I'd also agree with pblanc that you should run straps around your boat and through the doors of your car. You might have nylon cambuckle straps touching your hair while driving, but at least you know the whole thing is strapped tight to a solid part of your car. If your roof flies off, then you have bigger problems!

I don't even have real racks and have used that method to transport big kayaks on a really small car at hwy speeds for years. I just have to cinch things down tighter. Notice 2 of the 3 straps actually wrap around the hull to keep it pointed straight ahead and not twisting to the side:

And here I've added hood tie downs to further keep the bow from twisting to the side, since this kayak is lighter, but with more volume, which catches more wind: (this car doesn't have a good place to add bow and stern lines)

Even if I wanted to spend hundreds for a good rack that actually fits this car (haven't found one yet), I would still run straps through the doors for piece of mind...