Rack on 2017 Subaru Outback

I had a 2012 Outback

– Last Updated: Nov-15-16 12:22 PM EST –

And used the Yakima towers and fit kit to get rid of the stock bars. It was a really solid setup, the bar spread wasn't great, but would hold two 17 foot kayaks really well. The only drawback was it raised the bars another inch or two on an already tall vehicle. I think the wonky stock rack system is marketed to the recreational weekend warrior, it stows and deploys quickly and easily, it just doesn't carry anything well. Great for mpgs but not for heavy use. And Subaru seems to have gone out of their way to make sure it was difficult to swap out.
I found my 2012 Outback with a stick a completely different animal than the 2002 WRX wagon I had, and bought the car hoping there would be a little resemblance, just in a family friendly iteration. I was pretty disappointed with the new Outback, no power, terrible numb handling, dumbed down display (I like having an engine temperature gauge) and was not great in the snow the traction control seemed to get in the way. My 02 WRX was an absolute mountain goat with minimal traction control to interfere. The only benefit of the new Outback was the heated seats, and a little more room for the trunk. The Outback has become much more of a crossover than earlier generations, which were tough little efficient awd wagons, and there a lot of really great crossovers out there from more reliable and proficient manufacturers. If they still offered a low slung awd wagon (especially with a turbo) I might have given them another chance, but nothing they currently build is even tempting. I traded out the Outback for a Ford Flex (which gets better mpgs with boats on top strangely enough) after owning the outback for a year.

works fine for most
The outback racks work fine for the majority of users who only carry one boat. Also, I see lots of complaints about the span being too short, but on my 2013, there are two positions for the rear crossbar, and I carry an 18 foot canoe with no problems at all.

Certainly not for me. So far I’ve stuck with the Forester for sea kayak hauling. It has a set of bomber roof rails that allow adequate crossbar spacing. The Forester also has great tie-down points for bow/stern lines. I wouldn’t try to put a long boat on my wife’s 2015 Outback.

Fwiw, I have only seen an occasional Outback (2010-2016) carrying a kayak and they were all short rec boats. I have yet come upon one with a longer kayak, but I am sure someone out there has tried it.

I will give the Outback 2017 Touring model (with Euro rails) a long hard look next year. I need to see if it has any bow/stern tie down points on the under carriage. My wife’s Outback does not.

No problems at all
I’ve noticed that there’s a huge variation in people’s degree of satisfaction with crappy tie-down methods. I even posted about that a couple months ago, after seeing at least a hundred canoes being carried to and from the BWCA, most of which were anything but solidly connected to the car. I’m sure all those folks thought they were doing just fine, or they would have found a better method.

The thing is, when there’s any tendency of the front of the boat to be pushed sideways (or up or down), this creates stress on the on boat-to-rack connections, and the boat itself, which is many times greater when there’s such a narrow spread between the bars than is the case for a rack that gives you five feet or so. And the bars themselves on that particular Subaru rack are abysmal when it comes to strength/stiffness (I mention that because it sounds like you are using the factory bars, and not very many people who carry canoes are willing to trust those, hence all the talk about attaching aftermarket racks to the factory rack).

I’ve seen many

– Last Updated: Nov-18-16 10:28 AM EST –

I've seen many newer outbacks carrying all types of kayaks and canoes on the factory rack, and none appeared to be having a problem. If the racks were inadequate, wouldn't there be hundreds of reports of roof rack failures, and canoes flying loose on the highways all over North America?

The spread on my cross bars is 3.5', and I doubt you are getting much more than that on a Forester - the entire roof is barely over 5' long.

Tie down points also aren't a problem. Attach a set of tie down loops under the hood for the bow, and the stern gets tied to the tow hitch.

Have you seen any of these Outbacks
carrying two 17’ sea kayaks and a Thule Atlantis 1200 cargo box or a 17’ sea kayak and 16’ canoe? I can fit those on my Forester. They will not fit on an Outback.

not that I’ve noticed
but my comment above was that the factory rack was fine for most people who only carry one boat.