Roof Rack Bar Spacing For Kayak?

I am setting up my roof rack on my camper for a pair of 14 ft kayaks. What is a sufficient distance between bars to support the kayaks? I can only get the bars 46 inches aprt on my camper. So then I measured my roof rack on my Jeep Liberty and the farthest apart I could get the bars is 36 inches. Is this sufficient? Do the kayaks flex and bounce with such a small section of the kayak supported? On the camper I can not have the kayak bounce or flex. If it does it may hit a dome window on the roof. Anyone with info on flexing of the kayak hull during transport? I don’t think it matters but I have the Yakima TLC Kayak mounts. Thanks for your help.

Mine are set at 43"
on both of my vehicles and I have never had any problem.

I set them based on my bike carrier.

I have never had any “flexing” problems and I carried two 17 foot plastic kayaks on a 16,000 mile round trip to Alaska.

I use camlock buckle type tie down straps and never use front or rear tiedowns.



I have composite boats and have the boats positioned in the racks so that the bulkheads are very close to the support cradles. Ive used this set-up for about a dozen short trips and have not seen any indications of flex.

I have Tuhle rack systems and use the included web straps at each rack support. The set-up came with rachet lines for the front and rear. I have not used those yet and figure that I will put them on for longer trips.


Sounds OK…

– Last Updated: Apr-06-05 8:07 AM EST –

My wife and I have a Thule rack on our car, and we haul around two 14’ glass kayaks (Impex Mystic and Mariner Coaster) on trips up to 1,250 miles one way at highway speeds. The maximum spacing between the bars is about 30”, and we only use foam blocks and straps for support. We have done this for several years now with no apparent damage.

Where you place support also crucial

The width of the support pads relative to the bottom and sides of the hull are also crucial. Kayaks are made thinner on the bottom of hull where just have to support the water. It is important to place the support pads so they are mid way between the bottom and sides, where there is maximum curvature. This the strogest place. Otherwise, depending on the type and thickness of lay up you can damage the hull when tightening the straps.

onto the water!

Again thanks for the info.

Bar spread.

– Last Updated: Apr-06-05 6:09 PM EST –

I carry a 21' "Thunderbolt" on a Jeep Grand Cherokee & have 4'3" between bars. My older little Cherokee had about 5.5'spread, with real rain gutters. Two years ago, my Jeep was rear-ended & I put a DR kayak on a Saturn, with only 26". The big bow caught crosswinds like a sail!

I think the most important thing is to run a bow tie to something solid, like the frame or a heavy bumper. I've always used the front tow hooks on my Jeeps. You will need enough spread to cover the cockpit length. I use Yakima crossbars/stackers on the Jeep side rails. You could get a rack extension for the Liberty, if you have a class III hitch ( 2.5-3'). Good luck.