Saddles or J-cradles?

Not looking to start a war here but it’s time to move up from just foam on bars. I have 2 new 16’ poly sea yaks and want to take care of them. I don’t want to dent them so which would be better?



Saddles or J-cradles


Malone Autoloader
I just purchased a Malone Autoloader…attaches to my Yakima rack. It worked beautifully with the RM Tempest 170 this past weekend…holding it firmly and conforming to the hull without any undue pressures on the hull. Comparatively, I have an old set of Yakima saddles that do not contribute the weight consistently along the hull surface of either my Tempest 170 or Skerray (both plastic boats).

I am also really pleased with the ease of use of the Malone Autoloader.

And of course, I cannot post without commenting about the friendship with my RM Tempest 170…what an incredible boat. Paddled all weekend, and took an fantastic GP lesson last weekend…what a boat!



Well, since MOST poly boats…
Owners manuals say to transport & store either upside down or on their sides… I guess that would eliminate the saddles!??

My friend (Longshadow) has Malone J-cradles which he loves & have served him well.

More than likely, your two boats DO NOT exceed the factory rack wieght limits. So you shouldn’t have to buy a rack for them. That is another thing with the Malones, is they can attach to your factory rack.

Paddle easy,


Not being a devils advocate
I have used the stacker for 5 years and have never dented a poly boat. With he stacker I can get three boats on my Escape. With either the cradles its hard to get three.

Good luck


dented yesterday

– Last Updated: Jul-06-04 11:30 AM EST –

I already own a set of Thule bars/mounts. I dented the two new boats yesterday on the way back from the lake. NO cradles or J's...Just tied them down . A little disturbing since they are brand new. It was 95+ and VERY HOT.

I just don't know enough about these cradles/sadles to decide which will load easiest and be best for the boats (not denting that is). I'm sure I tied them too tight but didn't want them to get away either. I just figured cradles or saddles would support them better but ???

will work fine.

they both support the boat well and offer lots of wind resistance, not to mention giving your car that ‘techy, I kayak’ look. :wink:

steve (foam pipe insulation)

if poly boats
are sitting flat on ANY rack, even cradles and it’s HOT they will bend. no worries, they will straighten out, as well.

best is to be careful in how tight you tie/strap 'em on. secure but not ‘tweaked’.


Just to chime in
I recently bought J-cradles for my glass boat. They’re up high, on my truck, but they’re surprisingly easy to load. I went that route after reading mixed reviews on the multiple saddle options out there. I’m really happy with mine.

I also own Malone’s Autoloaders and they work just fine. However, yesterday when I was placing the racks on the roof, I noticed that the Autoloaders had a little too much play, swiveling from side to side a bit. I tightened them up and they were just fine. It may be worth checking to make sure that the fastening nuts are snug from time to time.


J cradles or stackers
saddles are a waste of money because they have to fit that specific hull to not cause distortion where the hull is most flexible, transport them on their sides.

Try Yakima Racks
If lifting the kayak up onto your roof is a weight issue, look into what I have done, I have a Yakima rack on my truck , with the Mako Saddles on the front, and the Hulley Rollers on the back for my wife’s boat.

I lift the front of the boat, and push it up on to the rollers. Then I lift the back of the Kayak, and roll it into place.

You could also go with two sets of Mako saddles, and just slide the boat up into place. the Mako Saddles have a plastic saddle that lets the kayak slide into place easily, but the strap pulls a rubber gripper into place, and the boat won’t slide when the straps are tight. I use this for my glass boat. The mako saddles are flexible enough to conform to your hull, so the hull won’t deform on hot days. Also, always use a bow and stern tie down line.

I tried the “J” racks, and it had the kayak too high in the air on my 4X4 truck to reach it.

My brother started with J-cradles. After a kayak slipped off (windy) while loading and broke his mirror off he switched. The cost of saddles being about equal to a Ford Explorer mirror he figured why break another one.

I went back to foam
I’ve removed my saddles (hulley rollers) and went back to simple foam pipe insulation. I have the widest bars you can get on a SUV and with the saddles I can get 4 sea kayaks up there. Without the saddles I can easily get 6 kayaks up top.

In fact, I have the hulley rollers sitting on the garage floor. If you’re interested in them, make me an offer . Used less than one year.


My manual sez…
M owner’s manual states specifically to “place the saddles directly under the bulkheads”. It also says “on it’s side in cradles” is fine too. So I read that as saying “deck down” is not recommended by Necky. Weird.

I’ve about decided to try the Malone Autoloaders. I’ll let you know how that goes.



Good point…
I found the same and called the company. The ‘engineer’ there said that was fine…as long as there was no slippage on the bar from one side of the car to the other.

What do you think about that?


I’ve used both

I actually have Mako saddles on one side of my Yakima rack and a Malone Autoloader on the other side. They’re both good for different reasons. The saddles are easy to put the boat on, have nice padding to protect the hull of my boat, and most importantly have some flex built into them, so when I go over a bump the boat can move a little without putting a lot of stress on the rack itself. Also, with the hardware yakima includes, I can put the saddles on and take them off by hand.

The Malone’s option is nice too, but has no ability to absorb bumps, takes a little longer to strap the boat onto, and requires a wrench to tighten. But, the Malone’s option is lighter and was much cheaper than the Mako saddles. Also, the edge of the Autoloader is much lower than a Mako saddle, so it’s easier to get a boat up on there.

Currently I put my heavy Carolina in the Mako saddles and my fiancee’s much lighter Walden Odyssey into the Malone’s side, figuring the heavier boat could use a little suspension so as not to rip the rack off of my car when I go over a bump, which has happened when it was on the other side!

Also, FYI, Yakima has a new J-cradle option this year that they didn’t have when I bought my rack last spring. Looks like it has a nice integrated strap that would make loading easy. It’s more than the Malone’s autoloader, but cheaper than Mako saddles.


Sounds reasonable.
I guess I just get nervous since I can’t see what’s going on up there while I’m driving. I posted a little while ago that the boat started to rotate in the cradle on a really windy day at highway speed. I’ve since taken some of the good advice I got, and it hasn’t happened again, but I do wonder if swiveling from side to side didn’t help the boat work itself free.


Thule Js working well
Lynn bought a Jeep Liberty and we had rackattack install 4 Thule 835 Hull-a-Port J-Cradle design kayak carriers. 4 kayaks fit comfortably on top of the jeep snuggled in these Js. We got 2 little lightweight stepstools to make racking easy. We’re very happy with this system and I plan to install the same thing on a Sabaru Outback when I buy that car.