Padding on rack bars, one piece or two

Just wondering if anyone else does it this way. For padding on rack bars. I’ve seen people with the pipe insulation all the way across. I’m thinking though of having two separate pieces on each bar, about two inches shorter than the width of the boats. That way the insulation is under the hull, but the tie down straps are directly on the bars. That way the straps don’t damage the insulation, and less risk of straps loosening if they press into the insulation, especially the first few uses. Thoughts?

I bought the pipe insulation and electric tape from Home Depot. While searching back posts before posting this, just read about swim noodles and heater pipe too. Doh! I think I have noodles in the pool house. Kids are grown up now, so maybe I’ll recycle the noodles, if they haven’t degraded too much. Then too, pipe insulation and electric tape seems classic. Just in my head I guess.

Paul S.

OK, I’m finding out

– Last Updated: Jul-04-06 1:59 PM EST –

once I tape the insulation, it doesn't slide on the bars very easily. Also, there's only about 35" or so between the brackets that hold the bars. The straps would be in a different position if carying one boat vs two. I'm thinking now just insulate right across. That's what I've seen others do.

Paul S.

pool noodles
I put pool noodles all the way accross the bars, held in place with wire ties, and use a ratching strap through the doors, accross inside the car (the ratchet is inside and reachable from the driver’s seat). I also use bow and stern tiedowns.

I have used this for over a year with no problems. I have even carried the boat(s) over a hundred miles at highway speeds also with no problems.

Good luck

My setup…
My factory rack has elliptical bars, so the noodles or regular pipe insulation don’t fit right. I’ve got the softer rubbery pipe insulation attached with black duct tape. It’s working great for me and is holding up really well.

No, no, no
First, using one piece that spans the full crossbar width means the foam cannot slide sideways at all. That’s what you want. I tried mine (one kayak) with a piece that was narrower than the span of the crossbars and found this out the hard way. No harm done, but it looks strange when the kayak sits diagonally across the roof after the foam has shifted laterally.

Second, it is not necessary to tape the pipe foam at all. It IS necessary in that case to strap it so that the strap makes a closed circle around the foam tube (to cinch it shut) on each side of the kayak. When I made these two changes, the kayak and the foam sat rock-solid in their proper place. Didn’t even move an inch either fore/aft or sideways.

Before I go on the water, I remove the foam tubes and stash them inside for safekeeping. Without tape or straps, the wind could blow them off.

It is easier to deal with one foam tube per crossbar than two per bar, and you can carry either one or two kayaks with the wide pieces. I did not have any problem with straps loosening as long as I cinched the tubes on each side, as described above.


See my reply, mid-thread. See the link for canoegear in my reply. Works better than noodles. Two pieces for each end of hull. G’luck.

I use noodles
with wire ties, but I DO cut mine in half so the strap is on the bar. I have had up to 3 kayaks on top using my noodles and have never had the diagonal effect, even when I have only had one boat on top (and half a noodle). Now, I do straddle my landing pad with the noodle, maybe that is why mine don’t slide. And tomorrow I will drive 500 miles with two boats, 4 sections of noodle and high speeds involved.

What kind of spacing do you have between
your bars ? … this could very easily be the cause of your gelcoat cracking problem.

wow, this is a pressing issue…
use one piece. gives more options for shuttles if need be.

Please forgive me in advance for sounding like “The Grench”…but…there are many ready made pad units out there that are relatively inexpensive. Why risk damage to your expensive yak by jury rigging something out of “pool noodles and duct tape” when you could have good protection for maybe $25-$35 or so.

My local dealer stocks a padded fabric cylinder made for him that is split to fit around your crossbars, has a velcro cinch strap around the center and drawstring tie downs on either end. The pads come in various lengths and offer excellent protection. He has his company name printed in white (on either side of the black fabric) and gets the bonus of free advertising all over the D/FW metroplex. Locally, they are a popular item for yaks, canoes, and windsurfers.

If you choose not to go with saddles then this is absolutely the next best way to go!

Happy Paddling for the Grench!

Who’s your dealer?
I agree that $35 is a small price to pay in order to avoid a jerry rigged failure. Will these tubes work over the obnoxious Subaru flat cross bars (which defy pool noodles anyway!!!)? Who is your dealer; does he have a web site?

Mariner Sails & Water Sports
The dealer is Mariner Sails & Water Sports and their web site address is If you want to talk direct, the site will give you an “800” number.

As far as I am concerned, this is the best paddling shop in the country! Good products, well stocked, and best of all GREAT PEOPLE!


The black fabric pads
are pipe insulation inside, I used to use them. But noodles are thicker (I buy deluxe $3-4), thus providing more protection. I have a set of faded black fabric pads that my dealers name wore off of, but like all foam, they flattened out where my boat sits. So I replaced the foam with noodles a couple of times then said forget it and just switched to only noodles. I do replace them frequently to avoid the flat spots. But they can be rotated front to back so the boat hits in different places to make them last.

Then, I use the flattened out ones under my boat on trailer shuttles, so I don’t get any damage in those situations.

-Mr. Frugal

For trailer or larger racks
One thing I have found that works well on larger square bars(trailers,pickup bed rack systems)is to go to your local bike shop and get a couple of old mountain bike tires. Slice them once and cut out the metal reinforcement around the bead. They will fit perfectly on a 2" rack, if they still have the nubs the boats don’t slide around, and it keeps a couple of tires out of the landfill. Warning, do not use on wood gunwale canoes.

What kind of kayak?
I use pipe foam insulation, as described above…for rooftopping a WW kayak.

There is no way I would carry my sea kayaks without cradles. I can strap the WW kayak tight without any risk of deformation. Not the same for sea kayaks.