Pre-Kayak-purchase Yakima rack Q's

-- Last Updated: Mar-13-13 1:46 PM EST --

OK, a little closer to genuine kayak shopping. Last night, after a Craigslist possibility blew up, I bought from a friend a (very) used Yakima rooftop rack. It needs clean-up and such and I think I've figured out how to mount it on my 4x8 utility trailer.

Alas, the rack came up rigged to hold four bicycles. OK, I'll pull the bike holders and retain for possible use but now need to get kayak holders. I have not hit the Yakima site and anyway, right now I don't even see what model # the rack is, the crossbars are about 1-1/4" (est) diameter tubes. So, will any Yakima holder fit? Would a Thule one fit? Any particular one I should look for (hoping to find on Craigslist used before resorting to new)? I see the J-shaped ones offered, maybe lower lift-over height (although trailer-mount means lower anyway)? For all I know there are "400 series" or "Type Seven" racks and they don't interchange.

Spending money and not even looked at my first kayak yet… well, anyway, I'm partway through "Kayaking Made Easy" and see that a brace is not something I need to BUY. :)

Yakima round bars are pretty standard

– Last Updated: Mar-13-13 11:34 AM EST –

They may have some other types now, for all I know, but you say the rack is old so I'm betting you have their standard round bar. Others here will know more than I, but the Yakima accessories I've seen have all been interchangeable, fitting their round cross bars.

I sometimes mount Thule J-hooks (I have no idea what they are actually called) on plain round steel pipe. Thule bars are rectangular, but the J-hook clamps "designed to fit" those rectangular bars actually have half-round clamping faces, with a radius that's greater than that of any round bar you are likely to find. Still, they clamp to a round bar having roughly a one-inch diameter perfectly well. They can and will rotate (as the clamps slip) on a round bar, but that's fine because that means they can turn to a position in which they fit more tightly against the hull at a particular location (this is easy to understand when you see it, but not worth the long-winded explanation that might be needed to make it clear here). Once two J-hooks rotate to their best-fit position and are strapped to the hull, they can no longer rotate on the bar at all (the boat, J-hooks and cross bars, and the roof between the bars all become part of "one three-dimensional structure") and everything is solid.

“guideboatguy”, your input plus a visit to Yakima’s site tells me enough to have some confidence when I shop for holders, won’t worry too much about round-vs-square.

I’ll keep an eye out for a pair of the J-shaped ones and then for a second set later(who cares if they are mismatched?) so we can provide transportation for another paddler or two.

Looks like I should consider bow & stern tie-downs too.

For what it is worth.
You sound like a do-it yourselfer, so:

I have Yakama bars with Thule J cradles. No matter what Thule says about them fitting round bars like Yakama; yes they will fit, but they will roll if you are pushing the boats on from the back or front. Problem solved by drilling a quarter inch hole through the bar and along with Thules clamp, I have the J cradles bolted with stainlees bolts washers and nuts that I can easily remove when I want to.

You can also get innovative and save a bunch by getting various rollers and fittings at West Marine or a boating shop, and use L shaped brackets bolted to the bars.

Jack L

my advice.
I have a yakima rack with the yakima J-cradle. My paddling buddy has the thule rack and Thule J-cradle. We mounted one of his J-cradles on my yakima and it worked great! I found that I like the Thule cradles better because when not in use, you can fold them down flat and leave them on your rack. The yakima ones I have don’t have that option so I am always unscrewing them from my rack when not in use and its kind of a pain. Especially now knowing that the thule cradles can just stay on and fold down with the push of a button. Get the Thule for an easier system.

Another viewpoint
The Thule J-hooks I use (they belong to a friend and are used to carry the friend’s boat) do not fold down, but I still “unscrew” them, as you say, during every river trip (and naturally I take them off the rest of the time as well). It takes roughly five seconds to remove each one, and I can’t see how that’s inconvenient (it takes about 30 seconds to install each one, which is “a lot longer” but still no big deal). This is also the very reason I DO remove them while on the river. I’d hate to come off the river to find that someone who thought they needed them more than we do decided to take advantage of the fact that they can be removed almost instantly.

I leave my J-racks on
during the boating season – makes it easy to find the car in the parking lot!

(I’m usually just driving around town, and if not, I probably have a boat on the car anyway!)