roof rack, help

We need to put a roof rack system on our ford focus to carry 2-3 kayaks… we are thinking yakima, or the uni? we also want to be able to switch it to our truck top when we are camping, we know we would need other clips… where do you get your racks and does anyone use one of these base rack systems? neither vehicle has factory installed bars… thanks so much for any help

tough one…
At least with sea kayaks, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone carry three on anything smaller than a minivan or full-sized pickup. With Yakima you’d probably need two different styles of towers (the expensive part) so this might be a tough one.

I’m guessing the answer would be two separate rack systems and although you could move the kayak carriers from one to the other, it’d be enough of a pain that another set would show up on the doorstep one day… :wink: A lot of places (REI and others) run 20% off on rack stuff in the spring, or buy used?

Yeah, steve, it’s a rare case when one
set of towers fits two very different vehicles without a mess of adjustments.

We once had a '90 Accord and a '92 Ford Escort wagon where the Yakima bars and towers could go from one to another without any adjusting— but it was just pure luck that it worked that way. Never happened going from earlier to later Accords, always needed new clips and unique spacing on the bars.

EMS has
20% off all racks right now if you need to pick something up.

Advance Auto $40.00 Just strap it on

Thule and yakima make different length bars but the longer ones will extend past the width of your car. Good luck. Vaughn Fulton. Oh, Thule’s web site has a fit guide.

preference for Thule
Having used both Yakima and Thule, I have to admit I am partial to Thule due to the square bars being more stable and versatile (in my opinion). I bought the base supports and upright racks on Ebay or Craigslist (a lot of people sell them when they buy new vehicles that don’t fit their old racks.) Watch the Ebay bidding carefully – I’ve often seen frantic bidding up of prices on one set of fittings in an “about to end” listing while a few listings down is the exact same item that no-one is bidding on. When I got my second set of J-racks I dropped out of bidding when it got above $70 (you can get a set new for $99 on sale). I searched and found the same set farther down in an auction due to end the next day and ended up being the sole bidder for $40. Go figure.

Got the crossbars at REI with a 20% off coupon. How many you can readily carry depends on what type of boats you have. I’ve regularly hauled 3 fairly narrow sea kayaks on my Volvo wagons by having one flat on foam blocks in the center and two boats up on their sides via J or T racks flanking the middle.

I also spotted a clever rack last summer that someone had made of electrical PVC pipe and fittings (1 1/4" with tees and elbows)-- hard to describe but they had made four parallel raised “railings” that ran the length of the roof between two crossbars. Kinda looked like one of those old metal racks you’d sit on a desk to stand files up in. They had three whitewater boats slid between the rails, resting on their edges. I asked the guy about it and he showed me how he slid 1" steel conduit inside the crossbars to reinforce it (PVC pipe will droop under load when it gets hot enough).

gonna be a lot of work/money for you

– Last Updated: Jul-19-10 1:29 PM EST –

I looked up your vehicle as the 3 door hatchback which seems to be the most common.

For a Yakima fit you'll need the Q Towers to fit both vehicles and you'll need two sets of clips for each vehicle. The Focus takes 109 clips and the truck will need a specific clip as well (you didn't mention what truck you had). The bar length is 48" for the Focus. You'll need a larger bar for the pickup, at least the 58".

The Focus uses an extra part called the Stretch Kit because the roof line is too small for adequate spacing. Your weight limit is 100lbs on the roof of the Focus so if your boats are light enough you can probably get two up there with either a Stacker or two sets of Hullraisers.

The Thule fit will run about the same specs, however, the Thule bars are square and at a certain spacing will begin to face away from one another which will interfere with the carrying device fit.

You're going to spend about $500+ on just one rack. It will run you another $150+ to get the pieces to fit your other vehicles.

The Focus is out of the question when it comes to transporting 3 kayaks. The truck is your best route for 3 kayaks. Plus you're looking at an hours worth of work just to take the racks apart to put on the other vehicle. It'll probably be cheaper and worth your time to buy each vehicle a rack or just the truck a rack.

Also, I do not recommend Thule racks. I've installed both systems for years and Thule bars bend more after time. Also, while the bars are flat and may seem to be more "stable", with a round roof line the bars face away from one another and your carrying device will not line up to the rocker of the kayak. Yakima racks, being round, can have the carrying devices faced inside to fit your kayak.

well this is what i got
well I went to rack attack and got a pretty good deal I think

for $450 I got the following

4 qtowers that I can use on car and truck

qclips for car

qclips for truck

one set of 58 inch bars that I can use on truck and car, yes they will stick out some on the car.

and a yakima stacker. I didnt know about the car only being able to hold 100 pounds, thanks for posting taht, our kayaks are 38 each, and I was going to take along a friend sometimes, guess I wont now, or she can follow with hers.

Rack attack said I probably can get by with the stretch kit as we has swifty 9.5 long kayaks, but did recommend tieing down at bow and stern. so, do you think this is ok?? we will only use the rack on the truck when we camp which is about 4-5 times a year and we may not take the kayaks on every trip. We wanted to use the car as much as possible because of the gas savings… it wont cost so much to drive an hour or so to put in the water… I hope I can also use the stacker on my Lexus 330, then maybe we can do 3 kayaks at a time if needed… thanks for everyones help…

I’d go by Yakima’s recommendations
Yakima only recommends using the rack with the Q Stretch Kit. And believe me, these guys do some serious testing with their equipment. I wouldn’t put kayaks on it without that part. If anything happens to your kayaks or car, and you stay within their recommendations, Yakima will cover warranties and expenses of loss or damage.

You can go with the wider bars as Yakima lists the minimum bar length you can use. I have 66" on my Ford Escape and the minimum is 48". You cannot go wider than your rear view mirrors as that is an issue with street legality.

Your gas mileage is going to take a hit with a roof rack. I lose 3mpg with just the rack. With a single kayak I lose 4mpg. At 70mph with a kayak I lose 7mpg. With four kayaks at 55mph I lose 8mpg and at 70mph I lose about 10mpg. Your truck may not take the mpg hit at the same percentage that your car will due to the differences in engines.

Well, on your Volvo wagons, Thule’s
rectangular section bars will be dead level.

But that doesn’t work on most sedans, such as our Honda Accords. The Yakima bars allow me to easily level fittings relative to one another or relative to the ground. I think Thule makes a good product, but they don’t have a chance with me until there’s a way to level those bars in the towers.

Roof Racks
Might want to take a look here:

One sale
I just bought a Thule roof rack and Kayak attachment at EMS (7/18). They are on sale for 20% off right now. In-store prices were a little less than online, too. Complete, I paid $405 for my system for a Subaru.


stretch kit
I went back and ordered the stretch kit, I would rather be safe then sorry… Thanks for the proline link, their prices were the same as rack attack. 90 percent of the time we will use the focus for the 2 kayaks. We will only use the truck when on camping trips. We will be in Va Beach for 9 days in September so hopefully we can find some good spots in the area.

Will we be able to use the stacker rack on top of a lexus SUV?

VA Beach Trip
FYI…I just visited the Back Bay NWR, about 30 to 40 minutes south of VA Beach. Beautiful, great kayaking and fishing, and to my amazement, no bugs the day I was there.


Va Beach Paddling

– Last Updated: Jul-21-10 11:57 PM EST –

Lots of great paddling in and around Va Beach. I lived there in the late 90s (grad school) and pretty much left my kayak on my roof all summer!

Back Bay NWR is, hands down, my favorite place to paddle in the area (it's actually one of my favorite places to paddle, period). Mostly shallow, which means not much motorized boat traffic. Lots of wildlife, including wild ponies, which most folks don't realize. Between Back Bay NWR and False Cape State Park below it, you have 10 or more miles of refuge/park with little to no development. See the refuge map at

To my mind, the Back Bay NWR/False Cape State Park combination easily rivals, or even surpasses, Assateaque Island National Seashore for paddling. Much less crowded and less developed. It's a hidden gem, really!

Back in 98 I wrote an article for a local newspaper about paddling in Back Bay. It's dated now, and was written for novices, but might give you some basic info:

Parking in the NWR itself is pretty limited, but shouldn't be too much of a problem in September. You can also launch from Little Island city park just north of the NWR and paddle from there. A much bigger lot and off season it's free to park there (they also have changing rooms and showers there, unlike at the refuge).

While in Va Beach be sure to stop by Wild River Outfitters on Virginia Beach Blvd. A great paddling store and resource for where to paddle in the area (maps, advice, etc.). They have a really good selection of kayaks and canoes, accessories, etc. There's also a Blue Ridge Mountain Sports location in Hilltop Shopping Center near the beach that can provide advice, too.

Wow, thanks for the Va Beach Info
I am looking it up and printing it out! I am very excited to go there now… We really dont like the beach much but wanted to check out Williamsburg along with a day or two at the beach and we were hoping for some kayaking too… thanks, if anyone know of any great areas around southern lancaster co, pa let me know… that is where I live and we are still hearing of spots here and there but havent actually found any yet…except for state parks…

Forgot to mention: the area of Va Beach with Back Bay NWR is called “Sandbridge.” It’s south of the resort area strip. Feel free to PM directly for more info on the area.