roof rack

Trying to load my Pygmy Osprey kayak (just under 16ft) on a 2011 Subaru Outback. The cross bars on the top of the Subaru are closer together than my previous vehicle. My Thule Hull-a-Port carriers don’t hold it tight, if at all. I’ve tried foam block carriers with the kayak upside down, but the front foam block (even with additional padding) dents my roof when strapped down front and back. Any luck with other racks?


I think that’s the year that Subaru went from elevated metal rails to the pivoting crossbars with plastic flush rail housings. Yakima has a fit kit for it that will provide more stable bars but not a greater bar spread. For a greater bar spread you’ll need to channel your inner MacGuyver and molly bolt a connection point further forward/aft on the plastic flush rail housing to attach some Thule or Yakima Bars. You could do this with the Thule Podium foot allowing you to connect either the square or aero blade bars.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

ditch the hull-a-ports

– Last Updated: Sep-21-15 10:38 AM EST –

Yes, j racks work poorly when too closely spaced. Get a couple of pool noodles and split them lengthwise to slip over the racks for cushioning, then lay your boat deck down directly on the rack and strap by running buckle straps down and around and over and back (and, of course, stern and bow tie offs to the bumpers).

I carried two Greenland style kayaks, 15' and 18', with even steeper bow upsweep than your Osprey, that way on my '02 Outback and still do so on my new CX5 that has even closer crossbar spacing. A standard coaming usually fits nicely between the rack bars and this makes for a very secure carry. A snug cockpit cover helps reduce turbulence (make sure you secure it to the rigging on the boat so it doesn't blow off if it comes loose.)

Good suggestion
Marshall has the best solution for you. Subaru really, really blew it on their re-design, and the 2015 bars are even closer. Some Outback forums are full of questions about this. Great car, crappy rack. If you’re not handy or not ready to tackle Marshall’s suggestion, visit one of your local rack shops and get some advice and perhaps a professional installation that does not cost a fortune. I know a couple rack shops in Oregon are dealing with this problem.