Subaru Outback Factory Rack

We’re thinking of buying an Outback and notice that most come with racks. Question is, should we forget the factory rack and install our own or is the factory rack sufficient for kayak transport?

Even though I haven’t seen a Subaru rack, Malone makes a bunch of carriers that should fit a factory rack nicely.

Outback rack options
We have 1999 and 2005 Outbacks.

When I got the 99 it didn’t have cross bars, so I went straight out and bought Thule mounts and crossbars.

The 2005 had factory aero shaped crossbars. They are quiet, but they seemed pretty flimsy. I relaced them with Thule Crossroad railing feet and loadbars padded with closed cell foam blocks.

We carry either 2 CD Caribous (50# each) or a Lightspeed Phantom double (22’, 95#) on the padded bars, using bow lines to the front, under bumper tie down loops with no problems. For the double I add a stern line to the trailer hitch

Factory x-bars
are probably OK for one boat, but for longer kayaks I would remove them in favor of Yakimas, thules or Saris. I have tried Hully Rollers but now prefer Malone Autoloaders. Drop me an e-mail and I will send you some pics of the setup on my 2005 SOB.


Subaru Rack
Subaru makes a carrier rack that attaches to their crossbars. I have a 2002 and the rack is very sturdy. No problems transporting with the factory rack yet. Tim

I have an '04
First thing I did was buy Yakima mounts and 3 sets of J cradles. On 2 separate occasions I’ve transported 3 boats (totaling 200 pounds) on long distance trips (10 and 18 hours round trip).

I wouldn’t have tried that with the factory bars.


outback with yakima and Ez-Vee
It looks like you have several options for roof racks.

I’ve installed my old yakima crossbars on factory racks in my Outback 2001. This setup has worked fine for four years for transporting different boats including several trips from Colorado to Texas and Florida.

Recently, I replaced my old yakima sea kayak saddles with Ez-Vee racks (great for narrow racing boats):

Weight limit…
I have seen a weight limit of 100# on these factory bars, so keep it light. I use mine to transport my Kevlar Arctic Hawk at 40# so feel pretty safe.

Standard on Outbacks…

It looks like roof rails and cross bars are std. on all Outbacks. We were talking about that today as someone had a new one. The complaints were that new ones are now higher and that spoiler/wing thingamabob over the rear window gets in the way a bit when loading.

I have a 99 and the factory cross bars are just fine for carrying Two yaks… I use the Malone cradles

The crossbars might have a 100# limit
but the side rails can take quite a bit more.