Roof rack outrigger for heavier boats

For those of you who paddle alone, do you use an outrigger to lift one end of the boat at a time, or do you just shoulder press it up onto the rack? I’ve got Thule square bars, and I’m looking for a better way to load up heavier boats on top of a focus hatchback.

I’m too wimpy to lift even a kayak up to rooftop height, so I made wooden end bars that connect the ends of my Thule bars. I then load the boat from the side and pivot it into place. There’s also a removable upright that helps keep the boat from sliding off while pivoting. The third picture shows the same concept on my older car where I used PVC pipe to connect the ends of the Thule bars.

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I press up my 22’ 100 lb. Libra XT tandem on my 7’10" high Excursion. Step on short ladder at the end. Back saddles have rollers.

Bath mat on the back end of the roof (I have a hatchback) - put the front end of the kayak on the bath mat and slide into the cradles. I have done this for years with some fairly heavy kayaks and I am not a gorilla.


I have an Amagasett Roller Loader, hangs off the roof just beyond the spoiler, on the side w/o a Hullivator. That unit has been with me for over 20 years, thru various cars with unfortunately ever taller roofs. I have never been tall or strong enough to heft 55 plus pounds of sea kayak onto the roof the hard way.

I like my back working. Have run into young men in their early thirties who had already blown out their backs loading without tool or assistant based help.

My canoe is about 80# and her kayak about 45# I started using my DIY rig for both boats. When loading the kayak I put the ladder bars on upside down and just slide it up the smooth side of the ladder/ramp. IMG_1185

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For my heaviest boat, a plastic sea kayak, I ditto @Brodie with using a rubber-backed bathmat or foam sleeping pad on the back of the car. Lift the bow up to the mat, then go to the stern and slide onto the rack.

For slightly lighter boats, last year I made a homemade rack with 62in bars, so they stick out just a bit further than my 50in Thule square bars. That little bit makes a different between lifting up and over vs just lifting up. The bars stick out past the roof a few inches, but aren’t wider than the widest part of the car, let alone the side mirrors. (Also allows two boats to sit flat on the racks, making tie-down way easier.)

Back when I was using the 50in Thule bars it was always dicey loading the second boat and making sure the first wasn’t knocked off, so I added U-bolts to one side of the Thule bars to stick up a couple inches, similar to the vertical posts some have posted pics of above.

I just lash the clothes pole from the back seat on the factory front cross bar

Then lift up the front of the boat to the extension…

Then swing the stern over to the cradles with the bow to follow. Afterwards I take the short lashing line off and put the clothes pole back in the car.

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I have some club members that paddle Sterlings. One picks it up from the water then rolls it onto his car with a system simular to the Yakima rear roller system. Boat weighs little.

This topic has come up many times before, but right now I think it’s one of the most concise lists of options for loading assist devices that I’ve seen.

Yakima bars slide out on front both sides to get bow up if you like that way.|%20Smart%20Shopping%20-%20Accessories%20and%20Parts%20-%20Zombie%20SKUs&adgroupid=78449019583&campaignid=6895757453&creative=389708278730&device=m&devicemodel=&feeditemid=&keyword=&loc_interest_ms=&loc_physical_ms=9011544&matchtype=&network=u&placement=&position=&gclid=CjwKCAjwtfqKBhBoEiwAZuesiGVSVgs5Syo_8nthLztiOaM0eFlgVOTeYwRnS4JoJe9yPl3fxuB1ShoCjJ4QAvD_BwE

I have Yakima JayLows because I’m often carrying multiple kayaks and I can use it as a stacker or a j-hook, but this technique should work for any j-hook with any kayak over 12’. I would come at an angle and feed the bow up into the front hook and then left the back into the other hook. I no longer do that because a couple of years of I decided on no kayaks over 50 lbs. Now I just lift them over my head and drop them into the hooks.

I drive a 1992 full size Blazer - a tall SUV that is getting taller the older this gal gets. When I load my 70# Necky fiberglass kayak, I do it over the hood. It’s a much shorter lift than up onto the roof and keeps the kayak at a lower angle, nice if it’s windy.

Purchase a length of by-the-foot carpet runner with rubber backing at the hardware store; I think I use about 8 feet but smaller vehicles would need less. It gets tucked over the front crossbar between the saddles and unrolls down the windshield and over the hood. I set the stern on the roof just above the windshield then gently slide the kayak up into the saddles.

The only downside is making certain the stern is on the roof before you start pushing. A well meaning gentleman jumped in to help me load one day before I could stop him. He put the stern into the windshield which then cracked.

I roll the runner up and store it behind the spare tire in the cargo area.

Well, I got the inno kayak lifter load assist, which is basically a clamp on outrigger that bends parallel and perpendicular with the thule crossbars. Thule’s own outrigger version is sold out everywhere.

I guess learning how to lash a poll would’ve been cheaper, but how tight would that really need to be for heavier things like canoes or hypothetical fish kayaks.

I load my 20 footer onto my 4x4 pickup with a t-post that fits into my trailer hitch and sticks up as high as the cab. I mounted a roller onto the cross bar and to roll it over the cab I shoveda broom stick into a pool noodle. I put the bow onto the back roller and push it forward until it sets on the noodle roller. Once it is far enough forward I put pads under both ends and tie it down.

Kayakerbee…we had a young lady in the sea kayak club that used to load her kayak on a sedan by placing her kayak cart upside down on the trunk lid ( think hood with wheels up, bunks down) then rolled boat up wheels to rack on roof.

Save your pennies and go with the Thule Hullavator. I’ve used same to load an 18 foot Solstice on a 4Runner for years. The outrigger idea is prone to slips and falls, in my opinion.

The Hullavator has a capacity limit of 75 lbs.

Personally, I am very hesitant to spend $750 for something that I will immediately break the warranty on and possibly break the device as well.

What do you need to carry that is more than 75 pounds? Even our plastic sea kayaks didn’t go that high?

I have used it for several years w boats up to 65 pounds. As long as you take it off and pay attention to the sliding parts sometime during the year it is not fussy.