I’m buying my first kayak soon. I need to get the roof of my car ready to carry it. I have a 2008 Nissan Rogue with the factory roof rails, no crossbars. I will generally be carrying 1 kayak, but will need to be able to fit 2 for shuttles. I want to leave the crossbars and rack on my car all the time so I can go paddling easily. I can paddle year round. I drive on the highway often for work and am concerned about road noise with leaving things on all the time, especially for after market crossbars. I have read that the factory crossbars are not as good for strength, but also spacing on the Rogue. Any suggestions? Would I be better off with factory crossbars despite the potential issues to reduce noise? I was looking at folding down J rack or saddles to attach to crossbars. When I carry the kayak it will be on a mix of street roads and highways. I will be traveling up to 2 hours for trips.
Road noise, factory vs aftermarket
You won't know whether you'll have a problem with wind noise until you try it. I've driven 4 rack-equipped vehicles over the years. The only rack that made noise was the dealer-installed rack on an old Subaru, and that was ONLY during cold, misty weather (drizzle or very thick fog). What this shows is that wind noise can be a very finicky thing, as far as what causes it. That also means that if it occurs, you can probably come up with a trick to change the air flow which will stop it from happening (I've heard of tricks as simple as a spiral wrap of rope around the cross bar stopping wind noise, but I bet every situation is different). None of the other racks, including the boat rack for the Subaru, which used 2x4s for the cross bars, made any noise that I could hear. In fact, the auxiliary rack for my current car (only used when needing extra width for two boats) also uses 2x4 cross bars, and it makes no noise.
I wouldn't use factory cross bars. There might be some good ones out there, but I haven't seen them. The general rule is to go with aftermarket bars, as well as the necessary bar-mounting hardware.
Some people love fold-down J-hooks, but since it only takes 30 seconds to remove them and about one minute to install them, why not just take them off, leaving bare cross bars? I take them off when not needed. I even take them off when parked by the river during a trip. After all, if I can remove both of them in 30 seconds using just my hands, so can a thief. Anyway, a folded-down J-hook is still a very bulky item to have up there compared to a bare cross bar.
Same goes for saddles. It takes only a moment to install or remove them, so if you want to keep air resistance to a minimum or not worry about the potential for wind noise, just drive with a bare rack when not carrying boats.
Aerobars & Whispbar J-Cradles
Either the Thule Aerobar or Yakima Whispbar plus the Whispbar WB400 J Cradle or the WB402 Saddle Roller. The saddles are way cool in it folds down into an aerodynamic pod. Comes with locks so the saddle can't be removed easily by thieves when folded.
I don't know of any other more aerodynamic shaped solutions out there.
See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY
Second removing J cradles
I don’t do it at the launch while we’re paddling but It takes less than 5 minutes to remove two sets and only about 10 to reinstall them. Why leave them out to get sun rot?
Thule crossbars that clamp on the rails
It looks like the Nissan Rogue has factory rails that extend along almost the whole roof. That’s what I have on my 1999 Honda CRV.
I’ve had Thule crossbars on that vehicle for 16 years – the kind that just clamp around the factory rails. They have locks. I think the rectangular Thule bars look more sophisticated than the round Yakimas.
I’ve never noticed any particular noise with any of the Thule or Yakima crossbars I’ve had on several vehicles since 1980, except when I open the sun roof on one vehicle.
I want no part of saddles, cradles, J hooks, wheels or other contraptions. Those things do make noise and look ugly on the car. For kayaks, I just use foam block cradles on the Thule bars, which are inexpensive, can be easily repositioned, and can be completely removed in two seconds.
There are kayak blocks for different shapes and different cutout holes for different crossbars. Here’s one:
either yakima or thule has rail grabbing mounts. Either works. Thule has aerobars if you worry about drag reduction
The polycarbonate wind deflectors supposedly work to reduce wind noise but I drive a FJ which has the same aerodynamics of a brick so I don’t worry about it.
For boats just get foam blocks. For my boats I wrap the yakima bars in 2 layers of pipe foam. Works well for 20k$ worth of surfskis.
disagree about factory x bars
One rule doesn’t fit all. Subarus up to the 2003 model change are rock solid. I used mine for 5 years, no front or rear tie-downs. If I recall they were load-rated.
I’d be a bit skeptical of the Rogue since it’s a crossover or faux-SUV, but there are other vehicles out there on which I’d trust the factory cross bars.
I shouldn’t have used the word “rule”
I can still say I have yet to see a factory cross bar that won't flex a lot under a pretty light load. Maybe I should say that the "usual situation" is that factory cross bars are weak. I wouldn't use any factory cross bar for anything though, even if it were strong. They don't have nearly enough width to be useful unless you are strictly a kayaker, which of course I'm not.
Malone makes crossbars too
Malone makes Crossbars too. I like to pad the bars and then use stackes instead of J cradles. I put the stackes closer to the drivers side so if I am just carrying one boat I can place it where it is esiest to tie down and have room for a canoe or three kayakes on the other side when I need it,
IMO width is the biggest drawback
I had to do some finagling to get what I wanted on the rack, beyond one kayak.
In this case, if the owner doesn’t have the factory crossbars, it’s probably nearly a wash costwise between getting the factory bars, or a set of thules or yakimas with more span.
Thanks everyone! I will get after market crossbars and use foam blocks on them to start with. I will look into saddles or J rack after I have my kayak a while and see what works for me.
makes aero crossbars to fit roof rails as well. Somewhat less expensive than the big two.
II also second the recommendation of the Malone Stax. You can carry one or two kayaks (even three if you have the width) without buying extra J-cradles.
roof bar frustrations
My experiences, yours may differ:
Yakima (round) and Thule (square) roof bars make considerable noise, don't let anyone tell you different. The extent of the noise varies by vehicle speed, wind direction and aerodynamics of vehicle bars are on.
Cars that have a sloping roof (most new cars) place the two rack attachments out of level due to the slope of the roof-Thule sq. bars are the worse. Yakima bars do round allow attachments to rotate, allowing them to be level in spite of sloped roof. However this is a mixed blessing as they are always rotating out of position when boats are not on top.
Thule areo bars were very quiet on my Rav4 except for occasional strong crosswinds. The Rav4 has the roof set inside the width of the doors, so a wider bar is needed to carry two canoes; A most frustrating dilemma as I sometimes carry two canoes. I removed the Thule Areo bars and bought the Yakima system that clamps onto factory rails with the longest round bar Yakima makes. Then cut the bar to the length I needed.
I think the screws (to flimsy to be called bolts) Yakima uses to attach this rack system are so inadequate that I'm probably going to reinstall the Thule Areo Bars when the snow finally goes. Also don't trust the durability of Yakima plastic attachment parts-when did metal disappear?
Should you decide on Aero bars, go to a dealer and find the widest that will fit your car by trial and error-don't just go by published "fit" guidance. My Rav4 accepts wider aero bars than the recommended ones in the book.
As an old coot, I still reminisce about the roof gutter days when all one had to do was buy the rack ends that clamped to the gutters and then install a 2" by 3" hardwood crossbar cut to what ever length desired and slightly rounded edges to be quieter. Did two cross country round trips with such a system carrying two canoes on top with no problems.
roof rack noise
I never mind the roof rack noise, reminds me its kayak season…
You can spral wrap a 1/4 to 3/8 inch line around the bar from on side to the other and it really quites the noise and eliminates whistle.
I like the comparison between "Your experience may differ" and "Yakima and Thule racks make noise. Don't let anyone tell you different."
As I mentioned in my earlier post, wind-induced noise is very finicky, as far which conditions make it loud and obnoxious or completely unnoticeable. That's why if there is noise, it can often be very easily cured by making minor changes (such as a spiral rope wrap, or even a small piece of stiff plastic sheeting, folded back onto itself so it's shaped into something like an airfoil, and loosely fitted over the front bar. Those methods are dirt-cheap. If you don't mind spending more money than what a product is worth, you can get a fairing for the front bar).
If you are one of the unfortunate people who ends up with roof-rack noise, you don't need to resign yourself to that fate. You can fix it. "Don't let anyone tell you different."
Don’t you guys and girls have a radio in your car? I cant here a darn thing when driving.
Did I miss it or did no one mention using a fairing? Mine cut the wind noise 101% Mazda CX5, Thule square bars.