I had a roof rack on my Dodge Dart a few years back that was perfect. It was clamped solid for years. The one on this Chevy Volt came lose after a few weeks - I opened a rear door and it the mount clamp was lose… I may not have understood a direction properly - not sure. I could try again I suppose.
I could have clarified I suppose - part of my the muscles around my shoulder were injured a bit last April doing exercises and it’s been intermittently causing issues for me when lifting heavy stuff up so I had started leaning more on a solution that would minimize lifting the kayak too high in case it flares up again after some fitness activities – my Doc wasn’t very useful for it. If I can avoid lifting, it’s a plus. But that issue might go away soon I hope. Hard to tell
But you are right – the only reasons I want a truck are:
Put mountain bike over tailgate easily
Occasional transport of large items for house.
I might have other needs in future but not sure at the moment.
I made my own rack and loader as my boat was a bit of a bear to load myself. The Kia Soul is a tiny car but it handles 60 MPH with two boats on it. Not that I drive much over 40 MPH with them on i did give it a test just so I knew I could. Lot cheaper than a truck.
If you are going to buy a truck get the 6’ bed. If the tailgate can go flat you can carry lots of stuff, not to mention bikes, kayaks etc. It you have kids you will find having a truck is very useful. I used my king cab ranger with a 6’ bed to sleep in the bed on surfing trips in Baja, and camping trips in Arizona ( far fewer scorpions in the bed) than out on the ground. You can rig a very simple pop up camper in the bed with ropes, a board and a tarp and store your gear in the cab. I would actually suggest you get a rack for the truck and then you can carry multiple boats, camp, and carry manure for your wife’s roses. Happy Wife = Happy Life.
Go back and rethink the roof rack. It is the safest and most legal way to go and it leaves the hatchback shut and empty for hauling gear.
I agree with Bud16415–safety & no legal issues with a roof carry. I’ve got Yakima racks on the cab roof of double cab Tacoma–works great and is very secure with a pair of 18 ft kayaks. Loading is simple with a partner. When solo, I stage the loading: first placing the kayak cross ways on top of the bed’s side walls, then stepping into the bed and loading the kayak over the rear of the roof. It’s easiest with a roller on the rear bar, but I can do it with J cradles too. As always fore & aft tie downs are crucial, but easy with a truck that had good tie down points front & rear.
As an avid motorcyclist, I can assure you I’d MUCH rather come up behind you on the freeway in your Chevy Volt, carrying the way you show in your pic, than in the pickup carrying scheme you mentioned.
If your sole reason for buying the truck is to carry your kayak better, stick with your Volt (or any other sedan or SUV) with a roof rack and some V-racks. Not only will it be a lot safer AND easier for you, your boat will thank you.
About the only thing a pickup carries better than an SUV is a load of coal.
I appreciate all the comments from everyone. Great ideas. I’ve been watching some YouTube videos as well to gather more ideas.
I liked the racks where it looked like you can prop up one end of the kayak and then just push it the rest of the way to minimize the forces on the shoulder (in case of some injury). I may try to rethink my current rack or get a different one that allows me to prop one end at a time.
Current Rack System That I don’t Trust:
Currently I have cross bars for my volt that I added j racks to. That doesn’t make it easy to prop one end of the kayak up at a time unless I make something like [bud16415] showed. I generally have had to just pick the kayak up and bring it up over my shoulders which may not always be easy, especially if injured. The racks that I was using that came lose are these: BaseLine System – Yakima
. It’s entirely possible I did something wrong.
New Idea: Yakima Pads on top of roof:
Has anyone tried one of those types of racks? If I’m going to go back to using a rack system on my Chevy Volt, I think I’d like to keep it real simple and use one of those that does not require clamps around the door and are fitted to a specific size car. The install would be a lot easier, plus it can be transferred to another vehicle if I get another car… Another benefit I think this one would have is that I’d be able to prop up one end of the kayak at a time like what appears to be possible with the rack systems on the bed of trucks and SUVs that others are showing. To load, I’d place a large towel down over top of the driver’s side door to prevent scratching the roof, then lay one end up above the driver’s door and just push and position the kayak once it’s on top of the roof. Seems easy. That would be an alternative to just continuing to put the kayak in the rear of the car which I’ve been doing okay for a few years. I could probably hold off a while longer until I have more uses for a truck and go with this as it seems like it should have nearly all the benefits I was hoping to get. Anyway, just another option I may consider - not sure if I’ll like this more than just putting the kayak in the car like I pictured above a few posts ago.
Edit to using the padded rack above:
I found this roller that may make it easier to push the kayak onto the roof from behind the car instead of at the driver’s side door. See
I’ve used that style of rack, I call them soft racks. I bought the one from Best Marine because it had the widest pads. I initially tried loading exactly as I think you described. Put a moving blanket in the “V” formed by the open drivers door and the doorframe. Lots of scratches, it did NOT work well. My situation is a little complicated because a plastic spoiler adds 6 inches of non structural roofline to the rear of the minivan. So I put a folded up moving blanket at the back and a suction cup roller at the back of the roof. Then it’s easy. Prop up one end, lift the other end and slide it up. For around town, not on the freeway, totally viable and it takes very little time to attach the soft racks. I didn’t find that the straps scratched the car at all.
It’s not perfect. Although the foam will conform to the bottom of the kayak, the fabric cover offers limited traction to prevent slipping. Also the instructions are not the safe way to use them, you need to put your kayak straps through the car. Strapping your kayak to the soft rack, you’re just strapping it to fabric, not to anything solid. Reading many reviews told me that the most common failure point was where people attached their kayaks to the soft rack.
As you can see in the photos, my car came with a bare roof, no rack at all. Since then I’ve installed factory rails, Malone aero cross bars and Malone Seawing saddles, one with the Stinger load assist. The Stinger slides out and rests at the back of the roof. I plop the front of the kayak in the Stinger and it stays. It slides into place well enough that one good shove gets my 13.5 kayak in place.
Doing a quick Google search for “Chevrolet Volt roof rack” there seems to be a number of racks available, including by Thule and Yakima. With a set of saddles or a saddle/roller setup it would seem that you would be all set. The distance between the crossbars should be fine for a 13’ boat, and you could load from the side or rear without too much problem. This is not a tall car.
The “soft racks” which some have mentioned are probably just as bad as the cheap foam blocks as far as scratching the roof of your car.
As far as deformation of the kayak, avoid leaving the kayak on the car for extended periods of time, especially in hot weather. Do not overtighten the straps and always use bow and stern lines. Nylon straps do not stretch and need only be snug. Some people who have plastic boats tend to store and transport them upside down. In the unlikely event of a little deformation of the deck, it would not affect the performance of the boat.
We all come with different physical abilities and as we age and have injuries things also change. When I bought the canoe used last spring the neighbor I bought it from a bear of a man tossed it on top of his pickup rack like it was a feather and put a strap on it and delivered it to my driveway. When I went to put it on 2 sawhorses it was all I wanted to do and it was quite awkward and I could see easily messing my back up trying to get it on the car. I drove around to where we would be putting in and taking out and thought about parking and should I get a trailer and realized I couldn’t count on help and needed a procedure that worked around all the problems I could encounter. I also didn’t want to be tired after a long day on the water and then faced with this task of loading the boat or boats and getting home. I wanted to load from ether side and do it with the least risk and the greatest ease.
I didn’t see any solutions that were cheap and efficient and easy to use. Some guys had trucks with 8’ beds and they would 5-6 rec boats I and one strap around them and off they went. I really didn’t want to buy a truck for this one task.
I decided to DIY. Quite often when I’m about ready to load the canoe a couple people will offer to give a hand and I normally decline the help telling them thanks but I have to be able to do it alone and I need to keep doing it for the practice and so I know I can still do it ok. Most of the time they will stay and watch, maybe thinking I might still need a hand. But as they watch they comment on liking the idea and knowing someone else that would benefit from something similar.
The weight of these boats is not as much the issue as the size and stability loading and unloading with wind or even wind and rain. People get hurt when they hurry. A lot of it is preplanning each step. I keep improving my process each time I launch or take out.
Stick with it and you will come up with the solution that works best for you.
Bud16415, I’m pleased thst people offer, but I have the same fear. 5 years ago I slid the boat from the water to my shoulder in one swoop. Now . . . Next year will be a good year. Glad you have a solution.
I’ve used both. I used the Malone foam blocks (premium foam blocks?) and they have a rubber coating on the bottom. The foam blocks get better traction on the roof from it, but the texture of the rubber works well for holding grit that will scratch the roof. The “soft rack” is covered in Cordura which is much less good at holding grit. So they are definitely quite a bit less danger of roof scratches. But the danger is still there. With either one, or their red haired cousins the pool noodles, it’s really best to ensure that the roof and the things are all free of grit before each use.
I know several people that have cracked their windshields, so stop toting the boat like a passenger. In general, perception roto molded boats are very thick and durable (you may have noticed the weight). They hold their shape very well and only deform when strapped too tight or pulled too tight on the bow and stern lines. The issue really doesn’t seem to be boat length but how you strap. Strap securely around the cockpit combing (always the strongest part of the boat). Never pull lines at either the bow or stern tight - just snug and you will be fine.
The best vehicle for transporting a kayak is a small sedan or hatchback with a quality roof rack like Thule or Yakima. Why? The lower height makes it much easier to load or unload the boat and to manage straps. Add a suction-cup roller to allow you to roll the kayak onto and off of the rack and you are all set. Rear tie-downs are usually no problem but the front tie-down points can be challenging. You can buy web loops that attach to fender bolts under the hood to facilitate front tie-downs. You don’t need a truck or an SUV. In fact taller vehicles just make it a lot harder.
I see this come up pretty regularly on FB. This is a real thing that happens and I think that people underestimate how easily it can happen.
It’s possible to carry a SOT safely inside the vehicle, but most kayak/vehicle combinations don’t allow this kind of fit. The parts you don’t see are wedged in so it doesn’t really move fore/aft or laterally.