SIngle kayak on one side of roof

I sometimes carry two kayaks on my car and therefore have placed my cradles on one side (second kayak gets foam blocks). I’m not motivated to return them to the center each time for transporting a single kayak as the setup takes a few minutes.

Any problem with carrying a single kayak on one side of the roof of a compact car? Referring to aerodynamics.

very commonly done
half the folks I know have two sets of cradles and often only carry one kayak. I’ve never noticed any problem.

I’ve hauled single kayaks up to 18’ long and 60 plus pounds for thousands of miles at highway speeds on J-racks on one side of the car roof with no detectable performance issues.

I used to be really anal about having my boat perfectly centered…until I realized that I could reach to strap it down much more easily if I put it to one side or the other. A 5’3", this was a revelation! Never noticed any problems after the switch.

Wind noise
The only problem is wind noise from the bars. When my kayak is in the center, the sides of the bars are relatively short and I hear almost no noise. When I move it to one side, then I get almost 30" of the bar “naked” and that makes considerable noise (even with the Yakima plastic thingy on the front of the rack. I suspect wrapping some rope around the bar to break the uniformity of the shape would cure that.

On the other hand, strapping and loading and unloading is decidedly easier with the kayak on one side.

The 2 kayak thing
Very common to have 2 sets of racks on a car and use one.

Any river with some current or drops involves shuttling.

Paddling with a buddy is smart and enables a return to start.

now THAT is a troll

– Last Updated: Aug-30-11 5:11 PM EST –


Who said fishing isn't a spectator sport? Best of luck!

Asym better
Having the boat dead center puts the load at the point on the cross bars that can deflect the most. Having the boat near one side keeps the load near the towers, i.e. the load-bearing component. So structurally, it is more sound to mount a single boat asymmetrically.

As said above, it is also much easier to tie a boat down if it is closer to one side or the other.

Aerodynamically, the asymmetry is fairly insignificant. The drag on the boat will be at least an order of magnitude less than the drag on the car, so can be neglected for the most part.

Thanks all!

Not in my case -;(

– Last Updated: Aug-31-11 9:17 AM EST –

You say "Having the boat dead center puts the load at the point on the cross bars that can deflect the most. Having the boat near one side keeps the load near the towers, i.e. the load-bearing component. So structurally, it is more sound to mount a single boat asymmetrically."

My bars just about don't bend from the weight of a cingle boat on them when mounted in the center.

On the other hand, this way the load is distributed evenly b/w all 4 corners of the rack - any twisting/pushing load is much smaller to the mounts this way. If I had the boat near or over one pair of mounts, they would pretty much be carrying most of the boat. If the boat is in the center, each pair carries 1/2 the boat load.

Lastly, and this probably does not apply to most sturdier installations, my rack towers are screwed into the roof of my car (permanent installation). I chose this method because it gives me 40"+ inches of spread vs. the 25" or so if I had to use the door frames. Unfortunately, modern cars have thin roof panels, which limits the load bearing - anything more than 80lb worth of boats on the rack causes the roof to deform slightly (wich does not affect safety, but I suspect may cause the car paint to weaken/crack over time).

So I prefer to have my single kayak in the center so that the load is distributed evenly b/w the two sides - say 25lb each vs. 40lb on one side and almost nothing on the other...

You’ll just have rotate your tires more
Other than that, no problems. I always haul 1 canoe all the way to one side of the car.

Probably shouldn’t even worry about that

– Last Updated: Aug-31-11 4:18 PM EST –

If worried about the off-center weight, consider that the weight is probably about one-quarter as much as the average person, and most of us don't consider the effect of having one person in the car most of the time instead of two seated side-by-side (of course, you could carry the kayak on the side opposite the driver to partially balance things out). If worried about the off-center wind resistance, consider the poorly-tied-down loads you've seen, such as a full-size mattress being prevented from blowing off by nothing more than a strand of twine wrapped through the windows, or the fact that driver and passenger can prevent the mattress from up-ending and flipping off the car using one arm each. By comparison, the wind resistance of a kayak on the roof, being pushed end-wise through the air, is pretty minor and I can't believe applying that stress in an off-center manner would make a difference that you'd ever notice in the form of tire wear. I can hold a canoe in my arms, crosswise to a 25-mph wind and not fall down (I have to lean a bit), and endwise to that same wind it's a piece of cake. Therefore I suppose a kayak exposed to an endwise wind at highway speed might exert more force than you could support with your arms while in a standing position, but surely we aren't talking hundreds of pounds of force. I betcha if the only thing that kept it from blowing off the roof was a single bow line, the tension in that line wouldn't be greater than a person could maintain by holding it, which would mean of course that the force applied to the car, off-center or not, isn't much. That's my logical conclusion anyway.

Ah, now I feel bad
It was but a shameless troll on my part. I wasn’t looking for a thoughtful response like yours … just, “You’re full of crap!”

Hee-hee (nm)

I see your point about not loading up one set of towers more than the other, especially if you’re using aero bars which have a lot of capacity to resist bending.

On my humble Mini, the towers are connected to 1 inch diameter stainless posts threaded directly to the roof framing, so overloading a tower is not really an issue.

I was tempted to do something similar
To my Insight as the side frame is much sturdier than the rooftop itself. But without gutting the inside of the car to confirm placement I could not be sure what I would drill through (too many airbags and wires…). The shop manuals are not precise enough on dimensions to allow me to drill blind into frames. But good enough to drill where I did…

Different aspect
Can’t answer the aerodynamics Q, but when I rooftopped my kayak to GA and back, I put it on the passenger side. Figured that it would partly compensate for MY weight being on the driver’s side.

It’s not enough weight to worry about effect on suspension (I think), but if you’re going to choose one side, you might as well make it the people-less side.

On the snowmobile trailer we used to have, one winter of storing a kayak on one side (instead of in the middle) give it a slight list to that side. So keep long-term weight balance in mind. All the years before that, it had been level side-to-side. I was able to get the list out by keeping the kayak on the other side when it was not being used.

Wondering about your trailer
Hey Pika, did that trailer have trailing arms mounted to some kind of enclosed torsion spring? I seem to recall reading that typical torsion springs in small trailers consist of a rubber, collar-shaped cushion inside a tube, and the trailing arm (suspension arm) twists that rubber collar to create the spring action. It would make sense that a rubber “spring” of that sort would take a set if loaded for a long time. Good quality steel springs usually are pretty immune to that problem, though not always (plenty of ancient cars and trucks have sagging steel springs).

On my model year, 2004, that’s just the way the racks were connected. I had to let the mopes at the dealership drill holes in the roof to install the posts - very nerve-wracking. They did an OK job, except for the silicone sealant smeared all over everything. At least it’s never leaked (knock wood). Newer than 2007 Minis have wider bars and the towers mount to the top of the door frames as they do in other cars.

depends on wind
Shea has a Jeep (high Profile) and a Hull-i-vator so she has a LOT of weight hanging over the edge of her jeep.

She has no problem unless the wind is strong and blows from the un-loaded side. and even then, she needs to be turning away from that side at high speeds.

Mostly, it is not a problem.

I haul my 45# boat on one side and load it with gear on my Kia and never worry at all.