short people!


thank you everybody who helped me pick out a kayak! Yesterday I got my necky manitou and I am way beyond happy! Its an awesome boat.

I need your advice again. This boat is light but long and awkward. I drive a kia soul. I need to get a roof rack for it and I am debating on that roller thing because to be honest at my height, I cannot load and unload by myself.

I would also like to transport my friend’s kayak (a small 10’ swifty I think). She is also short.

So I would like to know from you what you would suggest for a rack that will hold two kayaks on a small SUV and which roller is best. Finally…will I need to install two rollers? I am a bit confused as to how the rollers assist with kayak placement onto a rack that places the kayaks sideways instead of belly down.

Money is kind of tight but I trust your experience and will do my best to follow your advisement.


or a trailer?
or…should I consider getting a trailer?

I always kind of wondered how safe those were but loading sure would be easier!

Learn to load from the rear .
The trick is you first rest the bow of the kayak on a pad behind the rear rack and then push the kayak into the rear saddle from behind and then push it all the way into the next saddle. You don’t have to be strong or tall enough to lift entire kayak over your head. You are lifting less than 50% of the weight of the boat. The kia soul has a very poor design for loading kayaks, a rear bumper is good for standing on while you tie down the boat. You can learn to stand on your tires to tie things on top. Buy a small step stool to aid in loading from the rear and tying things down.

Check out several videos for loading kayaks from the rear.

You may not need rollers

– Last Updated: Feb-16-14 2:14 PM EST –

Rollers are great, especially if you can afford them. I can think of some ways to load your boat by the same method as with rollers but without rollers. The first thing you need is something to set one end of the boat on as you slide it up. If that can be the rear bar, great. If not that, a rubber-backed bathroom carpet laying on the rear window or trunk lid will do the trick, and some people even lay the bath mat on the hood or windshield too.

If you can lean the boat against the rear cross bar while the other end rests on the ground, you mount your boat carriers (for instance, saddles) on one side, and wrap the rear cross bar on the other side with carpet. Slide your boat up on the carpet, and once it's up there, shuffle it over into the rack (that's actually pretty easy - you will only be working with a portion of the boat's weight at a time). Edit: I see that Seadart is recommending that you just slide the boat within the carrying saddles. If that works, so much the better. It will slide easier on carpet though, so keep that idea in mind in case the saddles are too "grippy" for your pushing ability.

Another alternative that occurs to me would be to get two loading-bar extensions. These are bars that attach to the main cross bars, temporarily providing cross-bar space off the edge of your car, over the ground. Usually they install by being inserted several inches into the interior of the main cross bars. Another type is stored within the cross bar, so permanent carpet padding wouldn't work, but you could make a big tube of carpet to slip over the bars while they are in use. What you do is lean one end of your boat against one of these loading bars, then slide it up so it rests on both of them. Then you just shuffle the boat over to its storage position on the main bars. This system would be a lot more versatile because it would leave room for two sets of boat carriers on your main cross bars.

By the way, regarding side-loading bars, if you have Yakima cross bars, you can simply buy steel pipe that's of proper size to slip inside the Yakima bars. "Black pipe" from a hardware store would be the first thing I'd try to make side loading bars from. This way you can have a perfectly good set of side-loading bars for about 1/50th the price of what they'll cost from a brand-name rack company. Okay, 1/50th might be an exaggeration, but I bet that 1/20th would be pretty close (no matter what, the rack companies really screw you on accessories - there's no denying that bit of reality).

With any of these methods, you never have to carry the boat higher than your waist. You carry it over to the car, and lay it down a little bit diagonal to the car so that when you pick up one end and swing it in-line with the car, it ends up over one of your carpeted sliding points (or the rollers, if that's the method you choose). Then, you lift the end that's on the ground and push the whole boat up onto the rack (or just the side loading bars), and as the boat slides up there, the end you are holding gets lighter and lighter, so that by the time you need to reach over your head as the boat levels out, you will probably be lifting about one-third the total boat weight or less. The same will be true when lifting one end at a time to shuffle the boat sideways into its carriers, as will be necessary with the loading-bar system. Also, the front end is harder to lift because the car's hood is in the way, but you can get around that problem by pulling down on the rear end of the boat instead of pushing up on the front end.

“Sideways vs Belly-Down”

– Last Updated: Feb-16-14 1:54 PM EST –

I forgot to address this part of your question. Rollers on the rear bar are normally used in conjunction with a front saddle, so the rollers not only allow the kayak to slide up onto the rack, they support the kayak once it's up there. With this method, the boat is carried right-side up (you could flip it up-side down once it's up there too).

Carriers that hold the boat sideways normally are not used with rollers, though it WOULD be possible to mount a set of rollers a little to one side of the carriers, so you'd use the rollers to get the boat up on the roof, then shuffle it sideways into the carriers. I've never seen it done that way, but it would be possible. You could also make use of any of the carpet-padding methods I describe in my other post to help get your boat onto the roof before working it into position into racks of the sideways-carry style.

I use a Roller Loader onto stackers

– Last Updated: Feb-16-14 9:26 PM EST –

Which means I roll a boat up on its hull and it ends up sideways against the stackers.

But I can't tell if you mean rollers that the boat rests on to transport and are a part of the rack system, or something like the Amagansett Roller Loader that temporarily attaches to the top of the rear hatch. The purpose of this device is to allow you to roll the boat onto the rack from below, and from the rear.

Get the boat onto the crossbars, then flip it up on its side. You will probably need a ladder or step stool to get the the right height to do that. But you will find that if you find the right point the boat will flip up onto its side quite happily.

One Roller Loader or similar, then reposition if for the second boat... IF the other boat is long enough. Honestly, you may find that the Swifty is too short to load using the roller from the back. If it is a friend's boat enlist them to help. You may find that it is better to put the Swifty on from the side, slide it over the forward bar then shove it onto the rear one with someone standing on a step stool.

I got rid of my rollers and use 2
saddles because one of my rollers rolled over and the attachment bolt gouged my hull.

get some bars…and a J-saddle(name?)
Many more options with a pair of bars…along with minimum extended height. There are a lot of different types of padding that will wrap around a bar…that will provide padding yet make it easy to pull a kayak off to the rear of the KIA to unload & load. Both kayaks on the bars seems fine but if you purchase those J-saddles(name?) you can load one kayak from the side.


short people don’t like J bars
Perhaps I shouldn’t be making a blanket statement but here goes… short people don’t like J Bars, especially on tall cars.

Personally, I use stackers but load sea kayaks. I use a side bar loader onto the roof. Then get on my stool and pull the boats onto their side and strap them to the stackers. With stackers it is important to use front/back tie downs. I don’t think it is possible though to put a wide rec boat on their side to a stacker. They tend to transport better flat.


yep, definitely agree Suz…on medium to
high vehicles…

try the malone system
I am 5’2" and used a pair of Malone J cradles compatible with Malone’s Telos loader to load and carry both a 16 foot sea kayak and a Perception Swifty on a Nissan Xterra. You probably will still need a step stool to finish things off at the top (I did). But it has worked well for me. It’s difficult to carry two kayaks on a car without at least one set of J cradles or extended width bars. Hope this helps.

Malone SeaWings
I carry two kayaks side by side on my Hyundai Elantra with Malone Seawings.

My shuttle buddy has a RAV4 and can do the same.

Easy loading with a bath mat on the trunk, just slide them up.

We’re both short—I’m 5’3" and she is shorter.

Disagree re the J-bars
We have regularly carried four sea kayaks (or a mix of sea and whitewater kayaks) on our cars using stackers on third party bars. We tried saddles for a bit when we got fiberglass boats and have traveled in groups where folks have J-bars. We went back to stackers because the saddles were so limiting, and we have seen people struggle to get past two boats on a car with J-bars while we just put up the third and fourth boat the same way we put up the first two.

Went to Maine, an 8 plus hour drive with stops, with four boats up many years.

"got no reason"

but with a setup like that who could resist?

Not just short people dislike them.
They’re bulky, add unnecessary weight and at the end of a long paddle can be cumbersome when loading the boat. All that weight stresses a pretty small point where the j bar connects to the crossbar.

I never could figure out the need for that specific design, the stacker is so much more efficient. One product I would never recommend.