saddle vs. j style kayak holder?

Okay, so I broke down and bought a roof rack for my car. Now, saddles vs. j style kayak holder? Pros and cons for each type. Why do you like one vs. the other?

I am looking at:

Thule Hull-A-Port Pro 835 - J style and they fold down when not in use.

Malone seawing - I like the idea of plastic vs. the metal Thule Hull-A-Port.

Landshark saddles - seems to be the easiest to load and unload? Also could be the cheapest if not for the fact that you have to buy universal mounts for them (boooooooo).

So what say you? Other options will be considered.

My current setup sucks. It is foam blocks. The roof of my car doesn’t have a rack, so, now it has a lot of scratches. Thus I am biting the bullet and getting the cross bars (already on the way - Thule Square crossbars). I just need opinions on what else I need or should use instead of my foam sucky blocks of doom…

better gas milage
1. Just use surfboard pads on your rack.

2. Landsharks

3. J cradles -worst option for gas milage

If you carry your boat upside down on the pads it stays in the profile of the slipstream going over the roof. J-Craddles stick way up and have a lot more drag. Also they suck when traveling and you have to go into low clearance garages at hotels.

My .02…
Surfboard pads allow wiggle room. I prefer cradles. In my experience, cradles have less problems in cross winds.

I use Malone J cradles, would recommend if you need to stack more on your bar than a hull cradle would allow. Narrower horizontal area, greater vertical area.

I also use Yakima Landshark, Mako, and Hully rollers.

The less expensive saddles work as well as the more costly ones. The rollers are not needed for a light boat, but handy with a heavy one.

Not knowing your boat, I would also add that the J cradles seem to support the hull the best. The hull saddles work well, and the rollers and surfboard pads the least well.

You don’t want to oil can your poly boat, or add too much stress to your composite.

Hope this helps,


You answered your own question
With your reply about the “Landshark Saddles”

Seems to me that if they are the easiest to load, then you should use them.

I have a bunch of boats, and use both J cradles and saddles.

The only time I use the J cradles is if I am carrying three boats.

Like you, I use the saddles when I am just carrying two boats, because they are the easiest to load.

If any one is worrying about gas mileage to the point where they think it will make a big difference between the use of J’s vs. saddles, they shouldn’t be putting anything on their roof.

A second draw back to the J’s is that ever so slight worry about them sticking up too high when going through a drive through fast food place or a low head room parking garage.



I like my saddles and rollers …
I have a composite boat and Yakima Mako Saddles and Hully Rollers. As an aging baby boomer, I find the rollers help me get the boat onto the roof of my car with less difficulty. It certainly helps that the boat is composite but, then again, I’m not getting any younger!

I agree with one of the other posters - the saddles provide great support but you have to be careful with the rollers. I can crank the straps on the saddles down pretty snug and can see no deformation of the hull because there’s so much surface area on those saddles to spread the load. I do have to be careful with the rollers - if I snug them down pretty tight I can see a slight deformation in the hull. The rollers provide basically four small points of support rather than the wide area the saddles provide. It does help that one roller on each set locks to prevent the boat from moving back and forth. So I just have to make those straps a little less snug and I’m not sure it would do any damage to the hull anyway if I’m only carrying the boat around for an hour or two before it goes in the water. I would be more concerned if I were hauling it around all day and/or if it were a plastic boat.

But in all honesty, I’ve found that I don’t have to snug the straps down all that tight anyway. I have a strap around the saddles and another around the rollers. The rollers lock. And - maybe most importantly - I faithfully use bow and stern tie-downs. That boat ain’t going anywhere.

Have both saddle and J style
Use them with my trailer. I use the Malone Autoloaders (J style) more often though. I have several boats and I have to readjust the saddles for each one. With the Autoloaders, I just put the kayak in them and strap it down.

if any one is worried about
them sticking up too high when going through

a drive thru, they shouldn’t be eating fast food

I have both
but like redmond, prefer the J racks. They’re just easier to use.

Malone autoloaders
is what I use. I like the way they fit my boat and very easy for me to load. My paddle partner has “J” and saddles, for anything that is a bit heavy to lift, like a tandem. I can fit more boats on my roof with the autoloaders. Foget the economy of either. The boat is in the slip stream no matter how it’s loaded.

Rack options
I am also an aging baby boomer with back problems. The saddles with rollers on the rear works well for me but I have them mounted on a camper shell so all that I have to do is sit the bow down between the rolls, lift the stern and push. I have a friend with the J cradles on top of his truck and he has problems getting the boat up high enough. This shouldn’t be a problem with a car.

My wife and I have Malone autoloaders (J-Cradles) for our poly sea kayaks that we carry on a Honda Accord. We have been very happy with them, and would reccomend them to anyone. Pior to the Malone J-cradles, we had Yakima J-cradles (hullraisers?), and we definately prefer the Malone cradles to the Yakima cradles. If you are loading onto a high vehicle, such as an SUV, the J-cradles would be more difficult compared to saddles, but if you have a car or lower vehicle, the J-cradles are easy to load.

Landshark plus minicell layer works well
I’ve used Landsharks with a variety of boats, both composite and rotomolded. I duct-tape a piece of 1" thick minicell to them. Then you can get the starps good and tight without worrying about deformation of the boat hull.

i use a mix
Malone Gullwing (predecessor to a seawing)…

Malone Stacker

Surf board pads…

you can see pix here:

i carry a kevlar squirt boat & plastic ww boat & plastic rockhopper & plastic wildy tempest 165 & glass wildy tempest 170

You have a Subaru Forester (not an SUV, but taller than a car) and a Pungo 120. Taking a look at the Yakima website, I see it indicates that the Landsharks are compatible with both round and square bars, so the universal mount kit may not be necessary.


narrowed it down to saddles OR seawing
Okay, thanks everyone!

I have narrowed it down to the saddles or malone seawing.

Only thing is now that I am looking at saddles there seems to be 50-quad-trillion-billions of them…confused???

I emailed Malone to make sure my Pungo 120 will fit their seawing. Pretty sure it will, but, I don’t want to waste money or time…

Thanks again for everyone’s input.

RodeGear saddles
I finally made a decision on this…I got

RodeGear saddles. They were on clearance

as they are discontinued. I only paid $46

for a set of them.

They work great. I wish there was a way

to lock them down, but, I don’t really think

anyone will steal my kayak saddles…

This has really helped me in not damaging my


for transporting a kayak. The only way I would

even try them is if I had a rack installed on

my car. If I had a rack though I would just

spend the money on another way of transporting

my kayak, like saddles or a J-style holder.

Just my thoughts…