Roof Rack Recommendations?

Hi All,

I’ve bought my first kayak this week, and now I need a way to carry it atop a 2-door Honda Civic. I’ve looked at roof racks before, and Yakima and Thule seem to be the primary options for general sporting use.

Is either of these better than the other for transporting a kayak? Some googling suggests that they’re about equivalent, but I’d like to get some first hand knowledge on the subject.

I’ve been installing racks for close to 6 years always recommend Yakima over Thule. Reason being is that the bars are round and I can adjust the saddles to face inside so they fit the shape of the hull. What you’ll more than likely run into with a Thule setup (especially on such a short roofline like you have) is that the further away you spread the bars the more they will face away from one another. Then the cradle will be facing out and away from he center of the kayak. If the cradle isn’t lining up with the hull then it’ll create a pressure point and possibly warp the hull.


– Last Updated: May-10-11 1:27 PM EST –

I hadn't thought of that alignment issue on short roofs before, that makes sense.

BTW doesn't 'nm' in the subject line generally mean 'no message'? Just wondering...

To the OP, Yakima and Thule saddles are the most popular, but there are other options that might suit short roof lines better. This is my setup on a Mini - it's a Kayakpro EZ-Vee carrier mounted on factory crossbars:

The rest of the photo album is here:

The drawback is cost, using parts that are less commonly available, and weight. The upside (in my case) is a rock-solid carrier and very quick boat loading, about 5 minutes.

The EZ-Vee comes with adapters for either Thule or Yakima crossbars. I wanted to use my factory aero bars so had to make my own adapters - not a big deal if you have a shop to work in.

Think about what's important to you, and the boat you're going to be carrying. Cost seems important up front, but after a couple of years, is forgotten. My system cost a lot, but has worked well for 5 years. Last summer I expanded it to carry two boats, and it worked well up to NS and back:

Yakima and mako saddles front and back. Don’t get the stupid rollers. The kayak will slide fine on the saddles.

Ryan L.

Those “stupid” rollers are this old
man’s life saver on getting the 100 pound 23 foot long BGD kayak on the roof of my 4x4 pick up.

I would be the stupid one if I didn’t have them

Jack L

That’s why there are so many options. It takes some trial and error to fine tune a carrying system that works for each person. Thanks for pointing that out.

i used to agree
I guess you may have a point, but those rollers stop rolling and they have left black track marks on the gel coat of my boat.

I put a 80 lb kayak on my tall truck just like I did with the rollers. And the saddles help avoid the oil canning on plastic boats.

Ryan L.

Yakima rollers
If your rollers have seized up you may be able to get replacement parts free under warranty from the manufacturer. Give them a call there’s nothing to lose since they want their customers to be happy with the products.

Round bars
That’s why I prefer them over flat-sided ones: tiltability for cradles, which allows a better fit to the hull. Nice if the kayak can sit “down” a little instead of just being strapped to the things. Especially on a roof.

yakima rollers
I bought my first kayaks two weeks ago (16 and 18 feet) and had rollers an the back rack. I have a 2006 honda crv which has only 33 inch spread between racks. It was a nightmare driving home in 50 mph wind gusts. I did go out and get another set of saddles so I hope that would help me, I’m also thinking of some how modifing the yakima rack to get a couple more feet of spread

I think Hulley Rollers would be useless on a Civic…

Bob, I would not try to modify what Yakima has approved as a fit for your vehicle. They do a lot of testing and engineering to assure the best fit. If you tamper with it yourself and something happens while you’re driving down the road it could be dangerous.

The saddles will help the cross wind. With the rollers you have to tighten them too hard to get the boat not to move. I oil canned one plastic boat on a long haul. The problem is worse on a composite boat because they are slippery. As the rollers wear out the get slippery also. The only catch to the saddles is you need a redundant strap like bow and stearn lines because you are only tying the boat to the saddle not the rack. But most use them any way. On short low speed trips I just throw a strap over the boat and loosely tighten it just in case the saddle ever breaks. But I also have a six foot spread which all but eliminates the cross wind problem.

Ryan L.

Thanks for the recommendations, everybody. I went with a Yakima rack with a stretch kit. No rollers - my boat is pretty light, but I did get a pair of those Hullraiser cradles.

Perfect setup.

Agreed on the rack system
But seriously, I’m dying to know what ‘nm’ means…

No Message. For some reason there has to be something in the subject line for you to post. Throw NM in there and move on to the message.

Then why not use “m” instead?

Not in my case
I have three sets of cross bars.

The front one and the middle have Yakima saddles (the old ones that are adjustsble to fit your hull shape).

Then I have the rollers on the rear bar which enable me to very nicely roll the BGD 100 pound boat up onto the roof while I am standing on the truck tail gate.

Then it slides nice and easy forward onto the front and middle bar saddles.

Where there is a will there is a way!

Jack L

i love that
you have three cross bars. That really never crossed my mind. Now I need it.

I still say the rollers are dumb.

Quick story. I waxed my boat the other day for the first time. I usually use 303. So I get it done and decide to put it up on my truck so I can go paddling in the morning. Let’s just say that a waxed boat and the felt on the saddles results in me nearly launching the boat off the top of my car. Fair warning.


Yep, there you go…