Practical limits of roof rack

Before I pull the trigger on an 18’ Wenonah Champlain kelvar ultralight, I have to ask what are the pratical limits of carrying a canoe on a roof rack? I have an older MPV, and I need your words of experience if it’s recommened to carry an 18ft ultralight canoe on a roof rack. Most will be local 45-55 mph, but I’ll need to hit the interstate as well. Thanks in advance.

not a problem
That should not be a problem at all. The canoe is well under the weight limit of the racks. Make sure to move the cross bars on the roof rack as far apart as possible. Use bow and stern tie downs as well.

I’m more concerned with
catching air under canoe and force against the center straps rather than the weight the rack will support (110lbs capacity, 44lb canoe).

Any Wenonah in Ultralight Kevlar
is no challenge for a good rack. Any rack that will not carry an 18’ Kevlar Canoe is not worth having on your vehicle.

The limiting factor for rack security is the attachment point of the rack to the roof. Real rain gutters are the most secure, bolted on brackets to substitute for the gutter are good, gutterless towers are only as good as the clip that holds the tower to the car.

Yakima has a system of ‘control towers’ and ‘landing pads’ that is very secure. The different landing pads bolt to existing points on the factory roof rails, or thru the roof. The ‘control tower’ attaches to the ‘landding pad’ by a very secure extending bolt arrangement. Similar to the locking bars of a bank vault, bolt action rifle, or deadbolt lock.

As to your lifting action, it is a factor often overlooked by people transporting mattresses and other windblocking items that overhang the roof. In the case of a canoe on top of a car, good racks and good tiedown procedures make this easy to handle. My personal example is hauling both a 20’ Grumman War Canoe and a 23’ Wenonah Minnesota IV on a Saturn VUE with no end ropes for over 1000miles each. Yakima rack setup with gunwale brackets(the older style now called load stops)using just ropes over the canoe and tying off to the rack.

I don’t have personal experience with the Mazda MPV, so i can’t advise you on the best setup for your roof. Use a good retailer who is familiar with either Yakima or Thule and buy the most secure tower setup made for that vehicle.


you are set
1" cam straps under the crossbars and over the canoe will secure it in place. The bow and stern tie downs will prevent the canoe from rising in the front. I really doubt there will be enough force to rip the factory roof racks off of your car or to break the cam straps.

I have had a ridiculous amount of kayaks and/or canoes on factory and after-market roof racks over the years.

I second these words of wisdom, even
though they come from a youngster!

I carry a wenonah 17 foot 39 pound kevlar Jensen and a 18’-6", 19 pound wenonah J-190 racing solo and have never had a problem.

I must admit that when I first started carrying the J-190 I had visions of it folding in half from the wind shear since the front stuck out so far and I don’t use front and rear tiedowns, but I have never had a problem.

I would suggest that you use gunnel brackets, and between a double looped cam lock buckle strap over the canoe and under each bar and the gunnel brackets you won’t get any movement.

I also have Yakama landing pads on both my Ford Escape ( I took off the factory cross bars and replaced them with yakama landing pads) and my pick up truck cap, and like them better than any other system that I have ever had, and believe me I have had them all. I can only assume the Thule has a equal, but I am not sure.



Never a worry about the rack. I had it loaded with gear once and didn’t clue in to a low overhang sign. Bent a a jogging stroller to heck and ripped a roof bag off the rack, but the rack was unscathed.

Appreciate the advise.

I’m always a bit concerned…
about the attachment of the factory racks to the roof. That’s the one part of the equation I don’t have much personal control over. I use the Yakima towers that fit onto the factory racks on my Highlander, and if I’m going long distances at high speeds I’ll definitely use a bow tie down to somewhere on the front of the vehicle (getting harder and harder to find a good tie down place since strong bumpers are a thing of the past), along with the straps over the canoe and attached to the factory rack, not the Yakima bars (along with the gunwale brackets). I don’t usually tie down to the rear of the vehicle because most if not all of the upward lift would be hitting the front, not the rear…and I don’t have to untie to get into the back of the vehicle.

my tie downs seem to have been working
I keep the Pungo up there, latched about the sides always with no problems. Sometimes I tie down the front. Not normally a need to do that but in the windy conditions - it seems like added security.

no problem
I have car topped a 17’6" Wenonah for trips well over 1000 miles with just the gunnel brackets . As long as you fit the brackets so they are snug against the sides, the boat is rock solid .