Positioning kayak in Thule J rack???

We just bought a couple of recreational kayaks (Pelican Vortex 80x) and Thule J racks to carry them. I think the guy at Dick’s who helped us was not as knowledgeable as he might have been. DH says the kayaks should not be in complete contact with the J cradles, but should be propped with one side pressing against the top of the J, and the other side pressing against the bottom of the J, with no contact along the curve of the J. That doesn’t seem right to me, but I really do not know. I haven’t found pix or videos that were clear enough. Would very much appreciate some help from experienced paddlers.


Thule instructions
Go look at your manual for running the straps. Top of J to bottom of J bar if a closed loop J or to the bar if an open loop J cradle. Depends on vintage.



Push the kayaks further inboard so the lower edge of the deck is inside the cradle and not on the sidewall of the hull, especially with the straps the way you have it set up. The could shift to be hanging off the J cradle.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



Yes, OP photo is scary…

– Last Updated: Jul-28-15 2:09 PM EST –

As said above, get the edges inside the cradle.
As I have said before, even though the instructions say you can run straps from top of J to bottom of J, that relies on the connection between the J rack and the roof cross bars to sustain stress from wind, etc. So, I have been looping straps under the roof cross bars -- now, what takes the stress is the connection between the roof racks and the car -- just seems a bit safer to me - but maybe I'm overly cautious and perhaps even incorrect about which joint is strongest!

Kayak position
I found a video that showed correct way to use straps, so it really is the position of the kayaks in the cradle that I’m worried about. Am I right in saying that there should be no gap (which arrow points to in my pic) between the hull and the J?

By the way, we made it 6 hours with the boats tied like that on top of our Sequoia, so maybe we were just lucky.

Don’t worry if the j cradles do not fit the cross-section of your hull, hulls come in all different shapes and sizes and the J cradles only come in one. so no, the kayak will not be touching the j cradle at every point and length of the j cradle.

Thank you
Thanks for all the info.

I agree with the earlier posts
The side of the boat should be inside of the “hook” of the rack. Yes, the hull won’t fit against all parts of the “J”, and of course there will be gaps in contact, but don’t position the side of the boat halfway out of the hook like that. Let the curve of the hook wrap around the side of the boat.