Stacker belly strap question

Hey all-

I’m having problems with the belly strap on my stacker setup slipping off, and wanted to see if I’m doing anything wrong.

I just put a Malone stacker on my TracRac on my pickup. The bars are huge, and they’re ~6 feet apart. In the past, I’ve only carried two kayaks deck down on foam blocks, but now I want to carry four. They’re all 10 foot recreational sit-ins, around 29-30" in width.

I put the first two boats up, with the foam blocks and two straps each (through the hole in the stacker, over the boat, then around the crossbar, as described in the manual). I put a belly strap around the widest part of these two boats and cinched it down, followed by retightening the other straps. I put on the next two boats the same way. I added another belly strap around all four boats and retightened everything again.

That 2nd belly strap keeps slipping off. I can see why. It’s at the widest part of the boats, so if anything can jiggle at all it’ll migrate toward the narrower parts.

Any thoughts?



Belly strap probably not necessary
You should only need two straps per side. Here’s what I do with whitewater boats and a vertical stacker system. Should work similarly with 10 foot rec boats.

Stack all of the boats for one side up on their edges, and run a single rope or strap from each stacker over the top of the whole stack and down to that stacker’s bar. Do the same on the other side.

Attach bow and stern lines as insurance policy, especially if you’re carrying 6 or 8 boats this way.

bar distance?
Are your bars as far apart as mine? Since the stackers are so far apart, the boats are considerably narrower at that point. I have done snub lines a few times, but there’s less than 2 feet in front of and behind the crossbars.

To understand?
If I have it right, you are talking about a strap that goes around both boats on a side of the stacker once they have been separately attached via straps to each stacker. Do I have this right?

If you have the outer boat separately attached to the stacker - which will likely take at least a couple of pairs of longer straps, and bowlines to all four kayaks, the belly strap should be optional. If the outer boat is only attached dependent on the inner one, I would suggest you change things so each boat is independently attached to the stackers and rails.

may just have to test it
I had bars about 5.5 feet apart on a truck I used to have. No issues with 7-8 foot boats on that setup, but the only way really to tell is to try a test mounting. Strap them on good and tight front and back, and then try yanking on the boats, pulling on the straps forward/back from the top, etc. to see if the straps will migrate off the tapered ends of the boats. I did run into that sort of issue with short, highly rockered canoes on a canoe trailer with an 8 foot or so bar spread. The typical belly straps would just sort of flop off the curved ends of the boats. Ended up having to tie those particular hulls on by their grab loops instead.

All boats are independent
Yes, the outer boats’ straps thread through the stacker and over both boats, and loop around the crossbar. It’s not dependent on the inner boat.

I really can’t do proper bow/stern lines for a couple of reasons. First, less than 2 feet stick past the crossbars. Secondly, as I understand, those lines should both pull in, or both pull out. My stern lines need to pull in, because they’re behind the back of the truck. The bow, however, sticks about 1 foot over the cab of my truck. I’d either have to go up and over the cab to the front (which will mean both lines pull forward), or back to the crossbars. “Snub lines” are the best I can do, I’ve been told.

No problem
I’m OK with the main straps that go over through the stacker. Though if my boats were any short I’d have problems. It’s just the belly strap. I don’t see how that can ever work, since it’s free to migrate when installed as specified.

For what it’s worth, I have all boats facing deck-in to the stacker.

I think I understand
I experience something similar while carrying two ww playboats on top of my car

I am lucky - both boats have safety grab loops, I thread straps through them, cinch it down, straps stay.

Perhaps something similar you could rig up - using end grab loops, intermediate strap between them. The intermediate strap wouldn’t be meant to hold the boats, but provide tension for the bow and stern rack straps?

Bow and stern lines

– Last Updated: Apr-22-13 2:59 PM EST –

I am not sure where you got the both pull in or both pull out thing from - I haven't heard it be a reason not to use them. It is simply not possible to do that on most cars anyway, and having imperfect lines is a better idea than not having them at all. Bow lines especially, because they tell you if a boat is coming loose before it has gone flying off the roof.

We have loops coming up from the bumper guards and tie off to that on each car. We have used bow lines with long boats as well as my Innazone 122 - a boat that is surely shorter than any rec boats you are carrying. The boat is a tea cup.

Stern lines are more problematical for us - we don't have something easy like a trailer hitch in back. After ourselves and others nearly having flapping stern lines wrap around a wheel well and leave half of a snapped off boat on the highway, we don't use them on the kayaks. For a long trip we double up the regular straps, something which came to us from one of the gods of kayaking in the US so we presume it is a good idea. I do add lines in back for the canoe because it is such a wind sail, but the canoe doesn't get carried across states like the kayaks. The stern arrangement for the canoe probably faces the wrong way against what you were told. It doesn't matter, and it hasn't failed me regardless of it tucking in or out.

Later add re the directional thing - if you wanted you could always run a line from each side up front, put a loop in the middle to establish the top of the triangle, then tie off the bow lines from the boats to that. I am not sure this is a winner for two reasons - as any climber will tell you, more knots actually weakens a line. And it could reduce the information you are getting that will allow to to easily tell if a boat is loosening up on the roof. But it would be possible to do this.

Bow and stern lines
The reason I heard you must have your lines either both running in, or both out, is if they both pull forward, there’s nothing to counteract that force, and it will tend to migrate the boat forward. Likewise if they both pull backward.

Putting lines over my windshield is tricky, based on my layout.

You understand
Yes, you’ve got the problem understood. I don’t have anything on those boats to thread through. Perhaps I can rig something up like you suggest, though, or use the loose end of the other straps to secure that belly strap.

Not sure what they were thinking
I just looked up the manual for the Malone stackers, and I don’t see any way that “safety strap” setup wouldn’t slide and come loose, unless it could be routed behind a cockpit coaming or other raised bit on the hull.

It seems like a completely superfluous “safety” feature anyway - perhaps put in by a lawyer or armchair lawyer with no engineering or paddling background :).

There are 2 different lines of thought
Two lines of thought regarding bow/stern lines.

  1. The bow/stern lines are there to prevent the boats from shifting fore/aft. In that case, they need to pull in opposite directions.

  2. They are there as rack or rope/strap failure insurance. Main goal is to keep the boats somewhere in the vicinity of the vehicle until you can get off the road.

    I subscribe to #2, so I don’t care that my bow/stern lines don’t oppose one another. They just are there so the boats don’t go through a following car’s windshield if a strap or rack mount fails. As an added bonus, they give a visual indicator if a boat shifts.

Ok - would this work?
I stand corrected - I did not realize that the boats were over your truck bed.

Is there no carrying handle on these boats, fore or aft? I was thinking of using the pillars for the rack and running lines from each boat to the bottom of those pillars - you’d be able to see the lines and count 'em from the rear view mirror. It would at least tell you if a boat was trying to lift up. But I am unclear about the presence of carrying handles.