Need Opinion: Thule Outrigger

I need to find a way to load my 16ft Dagger prospect sea kayak onto my VW rabbit. Unfortunatly the setting of my Thule Rack is fairly far off the back of the car, and as a smaller solo paddling female, I just don’t have the arm strength to lift the boat up over the back, or the side of the rack. Its a brand new car so I am not keen on resting the boat on the paint job.

I was checking out some products and came across the Thule Outrigger. Any one have any experience/recommendations/opinions about this product??

cheap alternative
Hey there,

I ran into a similar issue. I’m sure the people working at the sporting goods stores would be happy to sell you a $5 piece of steel with the Thule brand name for $100. Or you could just go to any hardware store and buy a piece of steel for $5. Most stores will even cut it for you.

It’s not going to take much weight so pretty much anything will do just make sure it fits into the load bars and you can wrap duct tape around it for protecting your boat and it gives a bit more suppot.

Works ok
I used one before my husband started paddling with me. It works fine for its purpose, although I seem to remember that the mounting bracket had a relatively sharp corner which put a small gouge into my boat’s hull before I figured out how to avoid it. This was quite a few years ago, so I don’t know if they’ve updated the design since then. Otherwise, it’s great - I couldn’t have gone paddling without it.


I have the newer version that slides
in and out of the load bar and I wouldn’t be able to load my Sea Lion on my car without it or something similar.

It can be difficult to install if your load bar has a lot of corrosion inside, so be sure the load bar is clean inside. I forced mine in during installation and broke one of the retaining tabs off, so I need to get a replacement for that. I also had to lubricate the inside of the load bar and the rod on the Outrigger to get the Outrigger to slide into the load bar.

For me, it was worth the money and works much better than anything that I tried to rig from scratch.

I used to use
Yakima’s similar device. Worked pretty well in my opinion.

Of course, the ultimate solution for you would be a Thule Hullivator. Elegant, efficient, expensive.


Works like a charm…
and for not much cash. There are poor man’s versions (e.g., a piece of steel pipe) but the Outrigger slides in and out of your bar, won’t slip off during use or damage the coating on your crossbars. It’s worth the $75 investment!

Hullavators are great, but take up a lot of rack space, and don’t seem worth the expense on a car with a low profile like yours.

One tip…always carry a towel with you to lay over the side of your car while loading with the outrigger. Your boat will rub up against the edge of the roof as you slide it into place.

ooh, I should get one as well…
I’m a young guy in fairly good shape but I have to say that my kayak loading technique suffers quite a bit after a long paddle and I have to get my extremely heavy sea kayak on my car without scratching it. My old car had tons of scratches so I didn’t care but now that I got a new one, I would like to limit scratches for at least a year or so. It looks like backcountry is selling them for $48 with free shipping. I think I’ll pick on up. It’s a nice solution for me since I’d never want a hullivator as it takes up way to much space on the rack. Thanks for the good idea!

wouldn’t a nice
hardwood dowel do the same thing?


With the Thule Outrigger, it’s always installed and ready to use.

With a dowel or metal tube etc. that you have to put into the load bar or strap/secure to the load bar each time, you have to keep track of the parts. Also, if you’re inserting something into the end of the load bar each time, you also have to take the end cap off of the load bar to put it in, and then put the cap back on to keep wind noise down and water out of the load bar. Eventually, the cap would come loose and fall off and get lost.

For me, the Outrigger is much easier to use and more effective than anything I devised on my own. I know that there are many craftier people than me out there who could come up with workable solutions, but I’d rather trust my 60 lb kayak and my car finish to the proven Outrigger than a dowell or other or similar solution.

Also, I think that by the time you got a dowell large enough in diameter to support enough of the kayak weight to assist you in loading the boat, it would be to large to fit into the end of the load bar. Of course, you could clamp something along side the load bar, but my efforts were too inconvenient to actually be useful.

great topic
Im looking to get the thule Outrigger as well. I need help getting my boat ontop after a long paddle. My only consern now is it easy to get on the rack using the Outrigger but without scrathing up your car/suv. I just got a new car. So i wanna make sure the Outrigger its the front end of the oat far enough away from the pait till its lifted all the way onto the roof.