Specific questions about Hullivator

If I am going to have this for a major trip coming up I have to pull the plug soon. But I just spent some more time on Thule’s web site and have a couple of specific questions. If anyone can help…

It appears that the aerobars only go to 40 inches. While lack of noise is good, this may create a width problem for 2 boats if I also account for a Hullivator. It appears that the Hullivator would occupy 22.5 inches at the widest point of the boat plus an inch or two on the inside for the arms of each cradle and an inch or two of space between its outer edge and any other boat.

I come up with less than 20 inches left of the 40. My second boat would be another 22.5 inches wide. That is not enough room to work well even with a vertical stacker, I know from past experience the second boat would twist and head to the ground half the time.

Taking the Hullivator down and re-installing before every trip where I bring a boat for a friend sounds like a plan sitting in a chair, but it would never actually happen.

I actually have saddles that would work, we got Thule saddles for the Yakima rails in our brief dalliance with saddles. But then the boat is on its hull and I have the width issue. Not sure I could gain the 4 to 5 inches of width I need by shifting the saddles to the outer edge even if I thought the angles were good to use with my Roller-Loader (I don’t).

From this morning’s work, it appears the only way I can make the Hullivator work well for solo load/unload and carrying two sea kayaks will be to get the noisier square bars, where I can get a 50 width.

Note on J-bars if anyone suggests them, I would need to hear from another wimpy female who has solo-loaded long boats into them. From what I have seen at launches, they get tricky for most of my solo techniques. And I would have to buy even more expensive new equipment, not my fave idea. Putting the radio up louder appeals to me more right now.

Thanks all!

Installing/removing cradles

– Last Updated: May-18-16 10:19 AM EST –

Celia, while I'm sure Marshall or others can answer your technical questions, I can give you feminine feedback on removing and installing the Hullavator cradles.

My Hullavator was installed March 13 (I was still in physical therapy for my fractured shoulder). The guy who installed my Hullavator told me I'd need help removing and installing the cradles. I believed him until I tried. He was so wrong.

Using a step stool, it takes me 30 seconds to remove each cradle and less than two minutes to install each one. My right hand inserts the pin and my left (and weaker) arm pulls the cradle out to align the pinhole.

They weigh 15 pounds each. When you start to install the cradle, its weight rests on the pin bar. You do need to pull it out a bit so you can push the pin through, but once you get the hang of inserting the pin, it's really easy. And even if you don't get the pin through the first time, the cradle is still resting on the bar. You're not holding 15# with one arm.

As to loading with a Hullavator - it's incredibly easy although it takes me a couple of tries to get the boat positioned properly because I'm new at this and still learning. For you, well, you'd have your boat secured and tied down while I'm still thinking about things.

I have 60" Aeroblades on mine
What are you mounting this on? When I looked at the fit guide for our 4runner it said 53". Searching online didn’t give much info so I called Thule customer service. When I asked if the 60" bars would fit they said maybe. I ordered them thinking I would have to lengthen the slot on the bottom for the foot with a grinder. Turned out the 60" just fit without modification. Hullavators need to mount right at the the end of the bar so they do stick out a little. On the plus side it will be difficult to contact the car when loading with the extra space.

Celia, I have the Hullavators on my Santa Fe mounted to a 50" Thule Square Bar. Wind noise hasn’t been a problem for me and I leave the bar attached year round.

I leave the Hullavator bar mounts (the metal pieces that the cradles attach to and pivot on - they bolt on to the Square Bar) all summer. Again, I have no significant issues with wind noise.

As Rookie says, removing/replacing the cradles on the bar mounts takes just a minute - if that - for each one. A step stool comes in very handy and there is a little bit of a trick to it (as shown on Youtube) but it’s really easy.

The critical part with the width of the bar is that you need the cradles to be right at the very edge of it so that when the cradles fold down they clear your car.

If any photos of my setup would help you just let me know.

Square bars + Fairing
If there’s too much noise, add an Aeroblade (fairing).

Aerobars are quite quiet until you add moose antlers aka Hullavators or J-Cradles.

Go with whatever length square bar you need.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



And the offer is not present on the Thule siten for any other length of aerobars. But the 4Runner is wider - it may be that the aerobars cannot extend beyond the towers. That may be an issue, I have always had a few inches out from the towers and it comes in handy. I will call Thule to see.

Worse that happens is I go with square bars that can extend beyond like I am used to and turn up the radio. The fairing I got for the Yakima system on the Subie may also work, put it up just to see a couple of weeks ago and it does seem to cut the noise. And I have a box of lightly saddles that are actually Thule saddles, they worked with round bars but would probably be happier with square.

OK - so once I add a Hullivator…
The aeroblades don’t get me squat for noise reduction.

I like that answer, means I can also pull out the rollers and saddles I already possess for a guest boat. In droves. Jim never purchased minimal amounts of anything. I am sending the third spare set of decent compact speakers to a new home as soon as my sister next visits Saratoga.


– Last Updated: May-18-16 3:20 PM EST –

Celia, as you probably know, Thule square bars are less noisy than Yakima round ones, but they're still a problem. We slit pool noodles and cut to appropriate lengths to cover the bare section of the bars, and tape them on with clear packing tape. It helps quite a lot, tho' they're not silent by any stretch of your imagination, or ears. I've also heard that wrapping them with a wire coiled around the bar with about a quarter-half inch between the wraps, akin to the wraps on the auto roof antennas used prior to the current gen shark fins.

Hopefully, these -along with your sound system -will help you more pleasantly get to & from the places -especially on long trips to Maine (and possibly Miami?) -where you want to


-Frank in Miami

making bars quiet

– Last Updated: May-18-16 3:55 PM EST –

If you wrap your bars similar to the butt end of a hockey stick - a bead of rolled tape or rope, underneath more tape - it creates an uneven surface that reduces the wind noise.

Here's a video of the general idea.


Not sure if the rolled tape is large enough, but a section of narrow diameter rope does the trick.

Quiet Square Bars
I do a spiral wrap using 1/8" line along the bars.

This eliminates the noise.

Vehicle size makes a difference?
I drive a subcompact (Honda Fit). It has the Thule AeroBlades with the Hullavator mounting bars attached.

I hear no noise from the rack, with or without the Hullavators attached or while I’m carrying my boat. My windows are up and my audio system isn’t loud.

Maybe vehicle size and width makes a difference? Maybe I need my hearing checked?

For what it’s worth…
…I don’t find square bars to be too noisy. Obviously after I first installed my rack system, I noticed the sound, but I almost always drive with a radio so between that and just having time to get used to it, I don’t notice it at all.

Vehicle shape makes a difference
And there is little rhyme or reason to how. That said, I have never experienced a vehicle where you could not hear some amount of additional noise with a rack system up. So I am not sure what to say.

Will chalk it up to good
soundproofing in the car as Honda beefed it up in 2015.

I might have a different opinion driving over 55 mph, but that’s the limit on our roads up here.

Hullavator on Rav4
Hi Celia,

The Thule “book” recommendation for Aero Bar width on present Rav4 is ridiculous. When I bought my 2013 Rav4 I went to a Thule dealer and placed wider aero bars on the Thule feet to see what the widest I could attach and still fit my 6"1" body into the car without hitting my head. Chose aero bars that measure 54" and have had two kayaks and a bike on top.

Presently experimenting with a Hullavator on the aero bars. There remains room for at least another kayak on top. Still have to make adjustments to front/back spacing of bars get the ideal position, as the Rav4 roof slants too much, like most newer cars. Also have to make side to side adjustments as the Thule recommendation in the directions sheet has the Hullavator skewed too far out. Directions cover square and aero bars and are in 4 languages, so I had to reread many times as I attached the first Hullavator arm. Second was then easy after I had figured it all out on the 1st.

Hullavators are harder to move when placed wide and more stressful on arms/shoulders. As a smaller person you will have to keep the crossbars somewhat narrow to comfortably use the Hullavators.

Have fun,


kari tek
An alternative to the hullavator is the Scottish made kari tek easy load kayak roof rack. I bought mine from the Virginia Sea Kayak Center, maybe 3 years ago. Like the hullavator you load the kayaks on at the side of the vehicle, strap them, then hoist - just one rack for 1 or 2 (or maybe 3) kayaks. A clever design allows the first kayak loaded to become a counterweight for the second.

I did not try the hullavator and cannot make an intelligent differentiation. However I am small (5’5"), 75 years old, and puny … but the kari tek works for me. Our 17’ kayaks are about 50 pounds each, but I have carried slightly heavier boats.