Subaru Forester racks.....

Just bought a Forester and the book says that the racks are rated for 150#…I am wondering if anyone has had any problems with putting Thule J’s and hauling 2 kayaks on them? They seem much flimsier than the Thule rack we have on the other car.

Shouldn’t be a problem. The Thule bars are sturdier, but my husband and I regularly carry a two boats which total over 100 pounds using a stacker. The j-cradles are probably even more secure. We tie down the front and back when going on for distances on the interstate. Never had any trouble.


I have a Forester
and have used the factory rack, both as is, and with Riverside foam blocks for one canoe.

For two canoes, I use a Yakima rack with canoe gunwale brackets.

No problem, rock solid. Be sure to use bow and stern tie downs.

On my Forester
I use a thule glide and set and Malone J-hooks to carry 2 kayaks. No problems

Subaru rack crossbars
I have always ditched the Subaru crossbars and used either Yakima or Thule racks. On my '07 Subaru, I have Thule crossbars…they sell a specific footprint for the '07 rack.


99 Forester
When I bought my 99 Forester I wanted Thule racks but the only Thules they made to fit the Forester at that time came with integrated crossbars that were only as long as the original Forester crossbars. I wanted longer crossbars to carry two canoes at the same time.

I was forced to go with Yakimas and put on their longer crossbars with gunnel brackets. I still prefer the Thule square crossbars over the Yakima round bars. I have had no problems carrying two canoes with that setup. Even doing 85 into a 40 mph headwind on the interstate in South Dakota.

Thule OK, but…
I removed the factory racks on my 2006, but only because I already had various Thule attachments. The Subaru square bar carrier, sold as an accessory, has the same bar size as Thule, but I found the method of attachment a bit cumbersome for frequent on and off. I settled on the Thule integrated bar, made for the Forester. The attachment method is easy and secure, but I wish that the bars were longer. I also wish that the foot height was taller, thinking that if it was, there would be less wind noise and vibration when driving with an empty bar.

OEM racks, not worth the risk
This subject has sparked alot of threads and alot of controversy, so you may wish to search the archives.

Ultimately, you are responsible for anything you put on your car, and to those that share the road with you. Every year people are seriously injured and killed by debris on roadways! Please, chose and use your transport system responsibly.

Reliable aftermarket cross bars look like a fairly large expense up front, especially with your pretty-looking OEM cross bars sitting there already. However, good aftermarkets are usually orders-of-magnitude better than most OEM’s, even on the Forester. OEM’s are designed more for show than real use.

Disclosure: I transport 2-3, 16-18’ composite boats on my '02 Forester with a Thule aftermarket system and I always use bow and stern lines.

Buy the Thule adapters and use the Thule crossbars . I have a Forester and i did the same thing and have had no problems. Vaughn Fulton.E-mail me if you have any questions.

are you speaking from experience?
How many people have had the OEM crossbars fail on a subaru or any other make? I backed the stern of my boat into the garage wall in a fit of stupidity and guess what? The boat moved but the subie rack crossbars didn’t budge (I will admit tightening down the screws is tough but I don’t move my rack much). I’ve carried two boats totalling over 100# more miles than I can remember.

Not me. And plenty of miles to back it up. And as I said in the other thread, I had to remove an OEM rack from a pathfinder and believe me, it was secure.

If there is an epidemic of subie cross bar failures then so be it, I’d like to see some data. but otherwise I think this is a bit alarmist. I hate giving thule or yakima what amounts to extortionary dollars for their product (which BTW doesn’t hold up all that well after a few seasons in the elements).

Just my $0.02.

Drove my wife’s Forester
from Ohio to Massachusetts and back with two kayaks and three bikes on top. Got a set of the Yakima Forester Towers and used 58 inch bars, J-cradles and bike racks.

Here’s my two cents, I have a 03 Forester with Malone easy loaders. Have carried two kayaks from central Jersey to Florida twice ,to Outer Banks three times and to Maine at least eight times.

Never had any problems, racks have never loosened, which is maore than I can say for my old Yakama’s.

Also I always use bow and stern lines no matter how far I’m going.

Just snug them up with a truckers hitch.

Like I said , never a problem and have complete faith in the stock Suaru racks.

I have

– Last Updated: Jul-09-07 10:18 PM EST –

Ive seen factory racks fail. Not specifically Subi racks, one was a Blazer and the other a Cherokee. Both of these racks were held on with sheetmetal screws. Granted, the Cherokee had around 12 screws verses the Blazers 4 (if I recall correctly). These racks werent carrying boats at the time, they had oversized spare tires on them while off roading. The screws pulled out of the roofs because of the weight bouncing around. Its not the weight pushing down on the rack that causes it to fail. Its the weight pulling at it, as in bouncing up and down, that pulls it off the roof. I would imagine that gusts of wind, such as those encountered while driving, would have the same effect.
The point being, most people dont know what exactly is holding their rack to the roof yet they feel confident to speak up and tell other how strong and secure it is. They really just dont know. Do you know what is holding a factory rack to the roof of a Subi?

Had me wondering.
Your question about what’s holding the factory rack on the car got me to wondering, so I did a little investigation. I couldn’t find all the information I wanted, but I was able to find out that in the Forester each rail is held on by 8 10mm bolts. Sounds better than sheet metal screws. I’d still like to find out just what the bolts bolt to.

I think it’s indicative of the sturdiness of the system that the cross bars say maximum load of 150 pounds. In this cya world, I would assume that the rack is capable of more than that, not that I need to try it. My husband’s Vibe load limit is a worthless 75 pounds. Now there’s where an aftermrket rack is a necessity.

I work in a shop that sells Thule, but I think they’re over-priced for what you get. Sometimes I’m even embarassed to tell folks how much their rack pieces cost. If I needed a longer cross-bar to carry two canoes or such, then I’d go with the full rack, but until then I’m sticking with my factory rack.


We have a ‘04 Forrester. We put Yakima towers and tubes on the factory rack and carry 2 plastic expedition boats, 17’ and 16’, with no problems .

thanks for the research

– Last Updated: Jul-10-07 2:13 PM EST –

As I suspected. I did some poking around yesterday before posting above but the only thing I could find was the absence of info. Damn right I feel confident, ray. A subaru is not a blazer.

Making blanket comparisons of blazers and cherokees to all OEM racks is just as silly as blindly accepting that all OEM racks will work. But I know of no one who has had a subaru rack, NOT the rails, fail, nor crossbar failure, other than because of inadequate tightening of the crossbars.

Let me throw the question back to you in another form, rayh and grey: can you say for a fact that no aftermarket systems have failed? Do you have a complete understanding of the OEM brake system components of your vehicle compared to some aftermarket product? Do you know how your engine components work, how your airbags are designed to work, materials? Yet you trust them.

Repeat of my main message
Ultimately, you are responsible for anything you put on your car, and to those that share the road with you. Please, chose and use your transport system responsibly.

see gnatcatcher’s post above
sounds like the scooby rails are more than adequately attached.

Youre asking the wrong person

– Last Updated: Jul-10-07 8:55 PM EST –

If you want to make the point that people dont know their vehicles.
Yes I do know the brakes on my Cherokee. Yes I do know the rack on my Cherokee, yes I do know most of everything about my Cherokee.
Im not saying that a Blazer is the same as a Subaru. The question was asked, "has anyone seen a factory rack fail on a Subi or other vehicle" I answered the question. Then I asked if you KNOW what holds your rack on. You obviously didnt until you looked it up. So my point was that people push these racks as being safe and secure when in fact they usually have no idea if they are or not.
I assume that there have been aftermarket rack failures. I had a Thule quick attach system that attached to the factory rack at one point. It was full of plastic components. I got rid of it for gutter mounts that I trust 110% more. I once ordered a cheap aftermarket rack system off Ebay years ago. I never even used it. Actually I didnt even feel good about reselling it, I threw it away.
Im glad that Subaru is putting some thought into their racks. Now that you know that, you can honestly and intelligently tell people that.

and you’re missing the point

– Last Updated: Jul-11-07 9:44 AM EST –

I wasn't addressing just you, ray. I was addressing the same audience you were. And if you think that audience knows all you do about their OEM brakes and airbags, well, you're delusional. Yet people trust these with their lives.

I'm sorry you've experienced or know someone who has experienced OEM rack failure on a blazer or cherokee. Those are not subarus. If you think subaru or any other automakers place their customers in a position of liability or dqnger any more than yakima or thule, well, see above. Or someone at yak or thule has you wrapped around your finger.

BTW: how are those archaic drums on the cherokee? Or have you already replaced them with superior and safer aftermarket discs?