I will be car-topping 2 kayaks on a 2017 Nissan Rogue and like the J-Style mounts. Is this the best way to go, or another method?
Also, does brand matter - Yakima and Malone are almost 4x as expensive as generic but I don’t want to lose my kayaks either! Any thoughts?
All feedback appreciated!
What kind of kayaks do you have? Brand? Length? Weight?
J racks are a pain to load, although the Malones are easier to load than my Yakima’s. I much prefer cradles. Not familiar with generics.
The advantage of the major brands is proven performance and replaceable components. Don’t know what generics you are talking about, but should also check out weight loading. Possible that Thule or Yakima are rated higher.
I would never had Jracks because at 5 ft and a few inches, loading a sea kayak onto them would have been more difficult than other options when my husband was alive and a horror show loading solo. Have used stackesr, also saddle/glide pad combo before the Hullivator. Still have the saddle/glide pad combo for the second boat. Have found ways to manage all of them without taking my back out.
As to which kayaks, I am preparing to buy my first pair and have not decided yet, but they will be less than 15 ft. At any rate, I have to be able to move them to buy them.
As to which ‘generic’ I was looking at, I provided the link. I don’t want to spend a fortune, but it costs whatever it needs to cost, I don’t want junk (unless it will work just fine).
I really don’t have any preference, I’ve never done this. Which ‘cradle’?
Are the Thule stackers easier to use than the J hooks?
The Hullivator looks like single-kayak only? I have to be able to load 2 kayaks.
I really want to know what you guys are using and happy with, Thanks!
Your car has cross bars already? If so, likely your generics would work fine. They do look to be thin steel, so likely after a bunch of years would rust.
No, it has the long bars (rails) only, I will have to buy cross bars (assuming the system I end up with requires them).
I’ve had two sets of Thule J hooks on top of a Forester. What a pain to load/unload- and I’m 6’2". I went with the Hullavator for mine- talk about a life saver. I cried when I bought it, but I go kayaking a lot more now. The second kayak was on J hooks, but I tended to go solo since it was literally a pain loading that one.
I’d pay the money (craigslist is you friend) to get Yakmia or Thule racks. Peace of mind when you’re going 75mph. And get longer cross bars to use cradles and not J hooks.
If by long bars you mean the ones that go parallel to the length of the cars, those are often called rails. You will need mounts/feet to attach to those rails, and cross bars (ones that got across the car from side to side) that attach to the mounts. Some cars come with bars that attach to the rails and go across, and if so that would take away the need for the mounts and cross bars (though the factory ones generally aren’t as strong as aftermarket, but should be good enough for 2 kayaks).
Once you have all that, you can then add the attachment for your kayaks (j-racks being one).
You may want to go to the Yakima or Thule web site and go through their fit kit and see what parts they say you need. That should get you the basic parts, but then you can go see if others can provide at a lower price. The J0racks are a place you can possible save some money with aftermarket, but the part that attaches to your car (the mounts) you want to make sure are ones designed for your car.
Just about anything is easier to load than Jbars for longer boats. Because there are a bunch of options to slide boats up in the approximate direction then get it settled in place. Jbars are more specific.
Stackers mean all you have to do is get the boat onto the top of the car, then you have to flip it onto its side for the best ride. Once it is up there I never found it awful to flip the boat onto its side.
After getting the Hullivator for one boat I went to saddles and glide pads for the second one. Not sure the stacker wasn’t easier, but with the Hullivator the saddle/glide pad combo fit up there better. I use the Amagansett Roller Loader and it works OK for when I carry two boats.
Hullivator is one boat only, two cradles for each boat, and requires a full third party system to mount. It is pricey. But it makes a huge difference in my ease of getting a boat out now that it is just me. The cost is probably too big a gulp for starting out for two boats. That said, if you think you might eventually want it you should look at Thule for the towers and cross bars.
I’ve found Malone SeaWings to be the easiest for loading/transporting two kayaks side by side.
Some folks have reported plastic boats deforming when sitting on j-racks…cradles will spread the load better and help avoid pressure points.
There are lots of used Thule and Yakima racks on Craigslist and other sites made to sell used stuff…you can often find stuff in great shape for less than half price of new stuff.
Hullavators are expensive indeed - approx $500 per kayak - but they are probably the best option IF you have back issues or you are “not as young as you used to be”. They are so good because the cradles swivel down letting you load your kayaks at waist level. Then they have gas struts which take the bulk of the kayak’s weight as you lift them on to your vehicle’s roof.
But, there are other options. Just don’t buy junk and then have to buy all over again when you realize the limitations of cheaper systems. Don’t ask me how know!
I use the Thule DockGrip (front and rear) for my sea kayaks. I like how they distribute the load over the larger surface of each pad, and the pads are very grippy.
Thule sells a different system, the DockGlide, which has the grippy Glides on the front and felt covered cradles for the rear. What I do, instead, is to throw a handtowel on the rear cradles when I’m loading or unloading the kayak and then lift the kayak slightly to remove before driving off.
Makes it much easier to slide the kayak onto the rack, and then provides the additional grippiness while on the road…
I tend not to skimp on this stuff…I also use my Thule rack to transport a good bicycle or two, and I keep the racks a long time. The Thule and Yakima racks allow me to swap mounting options as necessary, and they tend to last a long time.
When I’m driving down the highway at 70 or 80 with $$ in bikes or kayaks on top, I don’t want to have to worry about the construction of the rack…
I didn’t see you answer kfbrady’s question. What are the boats? If you are looking at Dick’s or any stores like that ,you need to look elsewhere. Pelicans are cheap for a reason and it isn’t efficient manufacturing.
Ask here again for advice on decent boats
Include your sizes, where you plan to paddle, what you want to get out of it.
Case in point. A guy joined our group this past weekend with borrowed gear. An 8’ Pelican barge and metal shaft paddle. Every stroke, he hit the edge of that plastic tank. I loaned him a good paddle that I hope helped. He was a trooper but had to be exhausted at the end of 16 miles.
Generally speaking, we want paddling to be enjoyable instead of a chore.
Yeah, I said, “As to which kayaks, I am preparing to buy my first pair and have not decided yet, but they will be less than 15 ft. At any rate, I have to be able to move them to buy them.” To your point on the Pelicans, I’ve eliminated a lot of makes and models already and am scheduling up some demos this Spring.
Anyway the point of this thread is to collect experiences on car-topping hardware so I can ‘choose wisely’ in that regard. There’s been a lot of good input, and I’m investigating everything mentioned. Thanks a lot, and I’ll continue to watch the thread.
Search for two pair of Thule Hullaport Pros. Phased out this year. They’re all metal aside from the pads and base. Folds flat when not in use. I have 4 of them in my SUV. Been a staple of mine for years of near industrial use.
According to Thule it looks like you have elevated rails. The formerly known as 450 Crossroad Foot Pack would work. I have a set with locks available $85 would otherwise be $280 new and a set of bars you can have for free. They’re not pretty but functional and free. Can ship.
See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
9 W. Market St.
Hyde Park, NY. 12538
Thanks for the info - the Thule Hullaport Pros look really nice, but I’m hoping not to have to spend quite that much if I can avoid it - I really like the Malone Sea Wings that Sissy103 suggested as well, and they’re priced a little friendlier - also I see how they could be an easier loading/unloading job.
BTW: It looks like you have a really nice operation going on at The River Connection!
eBay Hullaport Pros, for $35 to $80/pr.
Malone has good systems too.
Avoid that Amazon option. There’s better choices out there.
Buy the right gear, once. …
See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
9 W. Market St.
Hyde Park, NY. 12538
Buy Yakima towers that clamp on the rails and the long cross bars 66 or longer, and carry the boats hull side up. This is the easiest way! J-racks are a PITA.