Rack systems

Looks like the stars are starting to align and I’ll be getting a kayak soon. Question for the group: What rack system do you use, how do you like it, and how does it compare to other systems?

For further information, I drive a 2000 Nissan Frontier King Cab.


here ya go


use the ‘fit my car’ option at the top of the page, I set up a rack on a Nissan Frontier this morning.

Check this out.
My Nissan did not come with a factory rack so I had a set of Thule Tracs mounted to the roof and have the quick connect towers. I can take the racks off in under a minute.


Good Luck,


If you are into other sports
get a good high end one such as Yakima or Thule.

I have Yakama and I can interchange my ski racks, my bike racks, my J cradles, my canoe gunnel brackets and my kayak saddles or I can mix and match them.

I like the Yakama because of it’s quality and fit, and their lifetime guarantee.

They cost a bunch, but are worth it.



Yakima – stackers
We’ve been using Yakima since before we owned boats - used Yakima for our bikes.

Our first system for boats was Stackers. When we acquired composite boats we got rollers and saddles. We’ve tried a few variations but now are back to using the stackers as they are the most flexible for carrying a variety of boats.

(Sometimes these days, we are carrying up to 4 boats at a time and that can include ww boats)

Pricey, but worth it. I carry boats, bikes, and a rocket box on my rack, in assorted combinations as needed.

Thule seems to be every bit as good. Malone makes some good accessories, too.

On a truck, you may be able to get something custom welded which will hold the appropriate Yakima, Thule, or Malone accessories.

Malone rack
fits on the Rav4 and the minivan very well. Holds the wood boat better than the Thule’s that I also have.

I have the same truck
with a shell. I bought some artifical “rain gutters” and put them on the shell.Both Yakima & Thule sell them (i think). Then I used an old set of “Quick N Easy” brackets with my own 2 x 4’s.

Quick N easy cost under $100 and I think the “Gutters” cost around $25.


I use foam blocks
on the steel bars attached to the rack on my shell. Paid $150 for the used shell system which is way cheaper than the Yakima/Thule, holds more weight and provides great support for my kayaks and a place to sleep without the hassle of tenting. The bars have a fiberglass sleeve over them and it acts like a roller when I am loading/unloading kayaks. On my old truck I had a lumber rack that I picked up in a junkyard for $60. That was the most solid and useful kayak rack I have ever owned. I like the foam blocks better than the saddles.

Clicked on one of the ads here…
…and found this. Looks like it would work well. Does anyone else use this type of rack?


Rack set up
I use the Thule 421 XSporter set up with Yakima Mako Cradles. I arrived at this after using the Yakima roof set up and finding out it was not designed to hold more then 100 pounds. (2 boats plus the rack pieces= 125 lbs), I did not want my boats to leave without my permission :-). With the Thule setup I can now carry up to 400 lbs and I have it set up to carry 3 boats and my Greenland paddles and still have the pickup bed to carry my bikes and other gear. Works great.

I have BTW 2 pair of Malone J cradles for sale and 2 pair for Yakima J cradles for sale, if anyone is interested let me know.

I have the same truck
with an open bed. I use one bar with Yakima Q Towers on the cab and one bar supported by the Yakima Outdoorsman setup over the bed. It’s rock solid and has plenty of spread (I carry 12’ to 18’ yaks). I’ve had it for a few years now & I’m happy. Just check the allen screws that clamp the crossbar in the Outdoorsman setup from time to time.

Yakima = USA
I went with Yakima years ago because they’re a US company (I hope they’re still building rack components in Washington and not in Asia…). Thule is every bit as good, but made in Sweden I believe.

Note that today you can mix and match components between Yakima and Thule. I found a good deal on a Thule ski rack that attaches directly to my Yakima bars with no problems.


– Last Updated: Dec-13-07 8:04 AM EST –

Rails and towers. We have a nice pile of rollers and saddles in the basement (some Thule), but after a lot of hauling around of boats Jim got a second set of old-style Yakima stackers (upside down U that is bigger on the bottonm than the top) on EBay so that we can have that on both cars. They are more flexible than the other since we added WW this last season, but even with the glass sea kayaks they feel more secure. And we can carry more boats.

Accessories include pads from Yakima to go around the bars where the boats lie, and pipe insulation for the stackers.

I think Yakima is owned by an Atlanta company that is owned by wealthy Arabian companies. No joke.