roof racks -any tips

I have a Chevy Equinox and am planning a trip to Porcupine Mountain area in MI. Wondering about pros and cons of different rack systems, do I need a lock? Also I am thinking about ground transport-wheels to tote kayak to the water any tips?


seems like you are either a Yakima guy or a Thule guy. But once you choose one, you probably will stay with it.

I am a Yakima guy. I think the lowriders/railgrabbers from Yakima could be used to attach the crossbars firmly to the factory railing. Then, you would use any number of different Yakima saddles and things of that sort to hold the kayak in place. Go to Yakimas website and use their fitting system to find what would work. Then buy it on eBay or Austin Kayak or the Rack Guys or any number of other folks who sell Yakima stuff cheaper than MSRP of the Yakima website.


Rack advice

– Last Updated: Jun-01-12 9:52 PM EST –

For the base crossbars I like the Thule square bars over the Yakima round bars and I also feel that the Thule railing foot pack attaches a bit better to my existing roof rails.

It seems with the Yakima round bars any rack attachment that only attaches to a single bar, like 95% of all kayak racks, ends up twisting on the bar as the clamps eventually wear down. For anything that the crosses both bars, like cargo boxes or bike racks, Yakima round bars are probably a bit better as you will always have a flat surface between the two bars, but never had a problem with my Thule square bars in this regard for bike racks or cargo boxes. The Yakima bars do seem to produce less wind noise but I drive a Subaru so road noise is a constant friend anyway.

Overall, the Thule square bars I feel provide a more secure fit for gear.

Except for the base rack, everything else I own is Yakima -- 2 sets of Bowdowns, 2 sets of Sprocket Rockets, and a Sky Box. Pretty much all of the racks between Yakima and Thule are interchangeable as long as you have square or round and not factory crossbars.

With kayak racks you have three options -- J's, pads and/or rollers, or simple center rods. The center rods are good if you have a bunch of small boats and want to go cheap. The pad/roller systems are nice if you have a high roof car, like a mid-sized SUV, and would rather slide your kayak on the roof from behind the car/SUV, but depending on the car and/or boats you may only get one kayak up there. The J's are great if you want to port two boats and have a lower roof car but can be a bit difficult for some people to lift their boat on to a high roof alone. I have newer model Forester which is almost a mid-sized SUV and at 5'8" I can just get my 50-60 boats onto my Js but it does pretty much involve a power lift of the boat over my head.

I grew up in Philly, so I lock everything. Main reason most of my gear is Yakima over Thule. Lots of Thule racks cannot take a lock while pretty much all of Yakima's high end racks can. I see a lot more Thule kayak racks around here, which cannot be locked, so I guess most people don't have a problem. Probably would take like 5-10 mins to pop either brand lock but without them all you have to do is unscrew a bolt to remove your 100-200 kayak rack.

Some of us go both ways…
…for racks that is…

I am a Thule guy
for the basic reason that round bars always create a problem of rotation within the rack system. But the real truth is that almost any rack system will work with both Thule and Yakima bars since both make attachment hardware for the other.

Whereas Thule rectangular bars
don’t sit flat on modern sedans with their curved roofs. Or has Thule done something to allow the bar angle to be rotated in the towers?

Nope still the same design
Still the same. I just had to play the location of the bars a bit to get them mostly level. I can see them having more of an issue if you have fixed mount points then if you have an existing rail on your car.

roof racks -any tips
I also have an Equinox (2007) and Thule makes the “TK10” that attaches to your rack rails. You will need the “Tracker II” Foot Pack (#430), and bars, but I have used it for over four years without an issue. The great thing about this set up, is the racks can be easily removed from the vehicle, leaving only the rail attachments, so you don’t have to always have the complete rack on your roof.

Boat carriers twisting on bars.

– Last Updated: Jun-03-12 3:57 PM EST –

I made a small set of stubby round bars for the sole purpose of mounting a friend's Thule J-hooks to a generic home-made rack.

I find the round bars to be ideal, because if the J-hooks could not rotate on the round bar, both of them would be aligned perfectly straight, which would provide very poor support for the boat since the hull is curved, and is therefore not horizontal at the support locations. If the J-hooks could only stand straight up, the broad boat-support block at the bottom would only contact the hull on one corner instead of across the full surface as is best. If the J-hooks are free to rotate, they simply tilt to conform to the contour of the boat to provide the maximum possible contact area against the hull. Depending where the padding is on other styles of J-hooks, as wall as on the overall size of the boat and how it fits into the hook, the degree to which this matters will vary, but it makes sense to me to use all of the contact surface that is available instead of a small portion of it, and that can only be accomplished by mounting the hook to round bars. Once each J-hook is strapped to the boat, no additional rotation can possibly occur, and the whole setup becomes rock solid.

Oh, one thing to add on this topic. On small cars with very pronounced front-to-back roof curvature, J-hooks mounted on Thule bars will tilt in the opposite direction from that which increases contact area, making an already-bad situation even worse. Cars like that have been on the road for 20 or 30 years now, and still their racks are designed as if all cars had straight roof lines.

A J-hook that's free to rotate is also great for loading from the rear, at least on my home-built rack, where rotation toward a laying-down position isn't possible like it might be on a normal bar.

Malone cross bars
I use Malone crossbars. They are square like Thule and very economical (Amazon around $110).

The Malone J cradles are well designed, but for daily use, I have Thule set and go cradles so I can slide kayak on and off from rear of vehicle. this helps on an SUV if you are under 6 feet tall.

The other advantage to Malone bars is that they come with locks included.

As far a set of straps, buy the Thules. They have rubber padding around metal end so you don’t scratch up your car.