Securing Carrying Gear

Has anyone found a good method to prevent theft of attachable J bars and/or saddles for kayaks?

It seems that almost every J bar or saddle carrier I looked at has no way to secure it against theft. They just screw on and can easily be removed. This also seems to be the most frequent complaint when looking at product reviews. Yakima makes a locking mechanism to address this, but you have to order the housing, and the lock core separately which can get expensive (especially when each piece that attaches to the rails secures with 2 separate bolts on each side, which means 4 locks and cores per kayak if using J bars or 8 if you need an adjustable saddle for a wider kayak). Has anyone found a good solution for this?

I tossed the nuts
and replaced them with lock-washers and my own nuts.

I need a wrench to get them on but then, that means that any thief will need a wrench to remove them which takes a lot more time than spinning off a big-knob bolt and that time is not what a thief wants.

Kayak on car 24/7 and 365

– Last Updated: Jul-19-12 3:28 PM EST –

I live in Detroit metro area and at one time the
kayak stayed on the car all day, every day, all the time.
I paddled a lot those 3 years with J bars and no issues.
No one ever bothered my gear at remote spots or
huge public metropark areas, marinas, etc., etc.

I still have those J bars in addition to Mako Saddle Set.
Never had a theft issue, never lost anything in over
10 years of paddling in Detroit Metro area.

Is your area really full of thieves ?
I just don't hear of dozens of thefts of gear in
the Detroit, Michigan area paddling community.

I don’t buy 'em
I need them even less than the thieves do.

I’m located on the west coast but most of my paddling is done along the Colorado river and its lakes. Some of the areas can be pretty sketchy, especially near small towns that have been hit hard economically.

I just take 'em off
I have home-built attachment points on my rack to accept Thule J-hooks, but attachment is the same as if I had factory-built crossbars. I think it’s unlikely anyone would steal them, but they surely could since they’re so easy to remove. However, since they ARE so easy to remove, I remove them and put them in the car when the boats are on the river. It takes me about half a minute to remove both J-hooks, and less than two minutes to put them on again later. I don’t mind “wasting” two-and-a-half minutes per trip to provide insurance against theft.

Yakima BowDown
The Yakima BowDown (folding Js) are set up to take the locking cores. I got them because I grew up in an area where if it wasn’t locked down it gets stolen – plants in yards, plastic trash cans, plastic patio furniture.

Overall seems like lockable racks are more common on the bike side and hardly anything for kayaks or canoes are lockable.

I think I could pop the Yakima or Thule locks with a flat head and hammer in a few seconds or just cut the bolt securing the Js to the bar with cutters. So only really stopping someone lazy.

I used to lock mine
…with a Lasso Lock.

When I had Thule J cradles, I passed the cable through the middle of the upright top sections to fix them to the crossbars. There was lots of cable so I would wind it around as much as necessary to make the affair a tight, complicated bundle. Someone could cut the crossbars if they brought the right device, but that’s getting more involved, more work and time necessary than just unscrewing some J’s clamps or bolts.

When I replaced the Thule J cradles with Malone Autoloaders, I was able to pass the cable through part of the cradle still. The Autoloaders have some slots in the upper backs. Turned out the Lasso Lock could just fit through those.