New Kayak Owner Transport Question

Hi Everyone –

I am new to the board and new to kayak ownership. For the past few years I have gone out recreational kayaking with a friend a few times a year. The same friend recently upgraded his boat and I was the happy recipient of a free (albeit fairly used) pungo 140.

When I go out with him, we always paddle on open, flat lakes and slow rivers here in southeast PA. Nothing too crazy; just some easy paddling and bass fishing.

I obviously need to start transporting the kayak. I know this has been discussed pretty extensively here on the forums and it seems to be a pretty comprehensive question (and concern) for us beginners.

I currently have a 2009 Subaru forester with aftermarket 50” Malone crossbars. I am a little on the smaller side and was worried about lifting the boat by myself into J cradles, so I decided to go with a transport system that allowed me to load it a little easier. I went with the Thule Glide and Set saddles.

I can very easily get the boat into the saddles and I can successfully strapped it to the crossbars with two web straps. I also put on bow and stern lines.

My question revolves around movement: When I tighten everything down, it seems pretty secure. If I grab the side of the cockpit and shake it, the boat doesn’t move, but the car does which I understand is what you want to have happen. Same result if I try to move the bow. But when I go to the back, even with the safety line, there is a good bit of lateral movement. It just won’t stay still and I am worried about over tightening. I think the movement is attributed to the Glide saddles. They have smooth felt to allow you to slide the boat on the roof easier. They are currently positioned almost horizontally below the hull, rather than on the sides of the hull. Does anyone have these same cradles with these same results? How did you get around it? If I try to widen the two Glide saddles to support the sides of hull more (and possible limit the lateral movement), the bottom of the kayak rests on the crossbars and starts to buckle in when I tighten the straps.

I am getting frustrated and am looking for any advice people might have. Is any lateral movement in the back acceptable? Are there ways to stabilize the stern within the Glide saddles? Should I ditch the Glide saddles and just get another set of front saddles? Should I get a whole new transport solution?

My main concern – and fear – is having a transport failure on the road that might injure someone. I can foresee traveling up to 2 hours on the turnpike when we go on vacation and I want to be sure I am as safe as possible so that no one gets hurt.

Any help of advice would be greatly appreciated.

Also – is it EVER acceptable to have the belly straps go over the cockpit? The opening of the pungo is pretty long and no matter how I position the boat, at least a small portion of the cockpit is over at least one of the crossbars and I can’t seem to get around strapping over part of the cockpit.

Thanks folks!


– Last Updated: Jun-20-11 4:25 PM EST –

In my experience it is almost impossible to overtighten a plastic boat. That said there is no reason to over do it and Im sure someone has. The best place to tie it is over the bulkheads not the cockpit.

I dont think that a boat with bow and stearn lines and two over the hull is in any real danger of coming off. People with composite boats dont like movement because of stressing the hull. But I think the Pungo will be fine. Good luck

Ryan L.

I just got the glide kayak rack also.
But have not used them yet. I have tied a lot of things to my roof though.

It sounds as the boat is secure in all aspects but some movement in the stern. First off I would place the aft saddles to ensure the boat is not being deformed on the crossbar. Strap and secure everything. Give a good shove on it and see how far it moves. If it is just a bit of movement I would not be concerned. If it is a lot of movement you need to ascertain would this cause to to pop out of the saddle, stretch or stress the tiedowns, or any other thing leading to the boat departing from the car? If not don’t worry about it, but check it often your first couple times out.

I can’t imagine a boat tied for and aft ever leaving the roof. Worst case scenario is it shifts and moves a bit in the saddle but you should have an idea of this happening just by observing the boats movement from inside the car.

If the spread of your bars on your roof rack are such that you can’t avoid placing a strap across the cockpit not much you can do. I would just make sure you aren’t deforming anything when ratcheting down the straps though.

Glide and Set
I’ve been using them for 2 years now and have been impressed with how firmly they hold my kayak. I bought this set-up for the same reason you did.

I haven’t experienced the lateral movement in the rear you describe, but can think of a least one possible cause. How far apart do you have the rear saddles set? I have them set as far apart as I can without the bottom of the boat hitting the crossbar. They still fit the curvature of the boat fine, and I get very little, if any, lateral movement. Of course there will be a little squirming due to the felt padding, unlike the front with the rubber grips.

Good luck.

Glide spacing
Thanks for the tips, folks. This makes me feel a bit better.

I will try to widen the space between the back Glide saddles. Right now, I have them pretty close together. I need to find the sweet spot in terms of width so that they hold the stern snug but they are not so far apart that the hull slips between them and rests on the crossbar. That was what I was having trouble with. If I have them closer together, they are laying almost flat, so I have to move them farther apart.



– Last Updated: Jun-21-11 10:34 AM EST –

There'd be a couple of sources of the lateral movement. One would be that the strap is loose in back. Caution on tightening in really hot weather though - we have seen a plastic boat going down the road that had such a tight bow line that I doubt it'd paddle right again. So if it is really hot, it just may mean more frequent stops, especially with the length of the cockpit versus the spread of the bars.

Another would be that, after the strap comes down from the sides of the boat, it has a rather long run before there is something in the bar that holds it in place. That could be the inside of the mounts for the Glide saddles - just something that'll stop the strap from moving side to side as it runs under the bar. Moving the saddles farther apart in back should help that. But you may also want to just use two straps in back, so that there is more resistance to that kind of stretching.

A Pungo is overall a pretty wide flat boat, so it is likely that it'll have a bit more movement than something skinnier. If you check it regularly it shouldn't go anywhere.

…sounds to me like a possible spacing issue between the rear saddles. You’ve done everything right so far with bow/stern and 2 middle lines. Get out the tape measure and measure distance between the 2 front and back saddles and from side to side fore and aft. …since most boats are Swede design ( wider at or behind the cockpit) you have to adjust width of saddles to accommodate this.Your Front saddles may be closer together than the rear saddles. Experiment with saddle spacing fore and aft,and side to side till U find the best arrangement for a Pungo. Get the tape measure out and measure , get a baseline to start from. U may have to adjust crossbar spacing to. Every kayak will wiggle a little bit once strapped down, don’t be concerned with a little wiggle…U don’t want a lot of wiggle!! and don’t’ get “Neanderthal” on tightening the straps and U’ll be fine. good luck.

second width and tightening
I’d second checking how far you have the saddle sitting. The suggestion to have ti as wide as possible so the boat just barely misses the cross bar sounds good. If the saddle feet when flush with the boat are parallel to the roof rack, you won’t get much left-right support. if you can get them so they are more holding the side of the boat, it is better.

I disagree with one of the earlier posts that said you can’t over tighten on a plastic boat. Plastic boats, especially in hot weather and direct sun, are known for “oil canning”. This is where the boat dimples in due to the tightening and then the plastic sets in that new shape. You really don’t need to be that tight.

Running the straps over the cockpit should not be an issue.

An even with some play in the back that you described, the boat shouldn’t go anywhere. So even if you don’t find a way to improve the back saddle’s connection, you should still be fine. The bow/stern line provides the extra protection you would need.

I feel much better
Thanks again for all of the suggestions. I am going to spend some time this weekend getting everything set up for a trip. I think with some tweaking, I should be in good shape.

Thanks for the help!

I have the fix
for your problem. Someone showed me how to run the straps to work better. Instead of running the straps straight down to the bar, loop them to the area below the boat’s keel, inside the mount of both glides. This makes the strap cradle the boat on each side, and keeps it from slipping side to side.

A simple fix, and it works great.


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