New kayak rack?

I have a friend that just bought a hand made ( Pigmy kit) kayak and wants to buy a roof rack for his Isuzu Trooper. I have always used racks I made myself, so I have no idea what is good quality and what’s not. He wants steel, not wood.

Can you folks recommend something of high quality that I can show to him? Links would be appreciated.

Yakima Thule ??? Let him look there. Budget for rack is?


I don’t know----- but I doubt he’s too concerned if the quality is good.


well both above are top choices. Someone else who has the same hull or similar may pick a specific model. Doubt wooden boats are much different than composite.

Malone also makes good racks. For that boat I recommend cradles on the racks.


Yakima and Thule racks (crossbars) are all fine as long as they’re a match for the Trooper. Both companies have online tools to check compatibility. I’ve never had a Malone, but they’re probably fine too. I would stay away from the non-name Chinese knock-offs on Amazon and elsewhere, but that’s my own bias and not from a bad experience.
The more important question is what kind of support accessory to put on the crossbar … wing … saddle … J-cradle … or just foam blocks? Best to get a recommendation from someone who has found a good fit with the same or very similar boat. Asking the kit’s manufacturer might be a good place to start.


The two longstanding gold standard companies in the roof rack biz.

I have Yakima racks I bought in 2000 that are still going strong. Very sturdy and trustworthy.


Thanks to you all. I forwarded the info to my friend and he ordered one today (I think he went with the Yakima.

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I have built Pygmy and CLC, they are rugged, strong hulls. As far as racks are concerned, no different than a roto boat, it needs to adjust to cradle the hull. The tie down tech is more important, avoid flying boats, please!

can’t beat Yakima. I had a 2 bike carrier that wouldn’t carry 2 bikes without hitting and rubbing . They sent me a 4 bike carrier for free and told me keep the two bike carrier also.

See some Malone stuff and it rust and is not near the class as Yakima.

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I had an old Trooper. I bought round Yakima bars. They are really strong. I suggest the long ones so that you can fit more on the racks, unless you are tall and will bump your head on them. I once carried an Old Town Camper canoe and two Wilderness Systems kayaks, one strapped on each side of the canoe, from Atlanta to NC. It worked. Good luck and enjoy.

Over the last 20 - 25 years have used multiple solutions for hauling bikes and kayaks on top and on back of various vehicles. If you choose one from Thule or Yakima (or Malone), and as long as you have an atuhorized fitment, it will hold well and outlast your current vehicle. The problem I have is not that they last, but I tend to collect various towers / bars based on the different vehicles (Pathfinder → 4Runner → BMW X3 → 2nd BMW X3 and now also a Ford F250). A Pygmy kayak is something to take care of since it appears they no longer produce product so I would make sure it has good padding to reduce abrasion on the side. Our F250 is mega tall so we use Thule Hullavators to get carbon kayaks on top. Depending on how strong your friend is, you may want to determine if some sort of lift assist is necessary as Troopers ain’t short either (I am on the other hand). Malone, Yakima, and Thule all make lift assist systems. One option your friend may also want to look at are used bars / kayak accessories. I bought our Hullavators from a nice elderly couple from Texas who moved back to NC and no longer needed them. They wanted to pass them to people who would use them.

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Yakima racks are fine, but I would avoid the Yakima round bars. They are less expensive, but no matter how many times they are tightened down, saddles or J-bars will start to rotate on them, especially if loading from the rear. I would suggest the flattened aerodynamic Yakima crossbars or use Thule square bars (Thule crossbars are generally compatible with Yakima products). We’ve been using Thule square bars with Yakima saddles for decades.

The JayLow from Yakima works fantastic, I used Yakima JetStream bars and Yakima Baseline foot (if your car/truck already have rails then you just need bars and the rack. One rack easily holds two kayaks. When they go on sale they are usually 20% cheaper than MSRP.

Goes 65-70mph no issues when properly secured according to instructions.

Here are some pix of two kayaks mounted on one JayLow rack.

Hope that helps.

interesting. I have used round Yakima bars since the 80s and they are still my choice. Used accessories are cheap and you can find the bars used as well for basement prices. If he has rails installed he is golden for buying the racks. As far as fitment goes I have found that almost all will fit factory rails. I have to remove the attachment racks to install on my Suburban but they have fit numerous cars over the years. Yakima wants you to believe you must replace them for every car. How does the bar move if attached to the yak?

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I would recommend going on etrailer website. You can put your vehicle in and it will show you all the bike racks that will fit. There is great pictures and video’s on each one. The experts are very helpful.

The bar does not move, it is the saddles or J-bars that are attached to the round bar that tend to rotate before the kayak is tied down. This usually happens when loading, especially when loading solo and sliding the boat up from the back of the vehicle. Not a danger, but a PITA when it happens.

Yakima round bars and Thule square bars are both relatively inexpensive, but both companies are pushing the more expensive aerodynamic flattened bars.

rotation is good when I load my kayaks. Easier to slide on if saddle in rear is on an angle. Once the hull is up nothing is going to rotate.

For many with the round bars solo loading from the rear, the saddles or J-bars do not just tilt, but as they loosen up they tend to tip over completely.

Early models of Yakima and Thule racks were very vehicle model specific. When you bought a new car there were often expensive components that had to be replaced. More recent rack systems now use components that will fit many vehicles and often other companies components like saddles, J-bars, and crossbars.

when tying hull down just twist them tight to check. Never had a problem.