I just purchased a 2005 Subaru Outback wagon.

It has crossbars and I want to get some cradles for my 2 sea kayaks. THe bars say they will support up to 100lbs, but my boats together weigh about 115. Can u recommend solution?

Another crossbar? Also, I like the J cradles I have seen on cars that cradle the boat any thoughts? ALso, I am guessing I Will need adaptors for crossbars too…

thank you!

For Yakima bars get the Lowrider adapters #00118.

They are about $130 for set of 4. You can also get the Mighty Mount adapters #24H to use with existing crossbars but you still have the weight issue to deal with.

You have asked the right questions…

– Last Updated: Sep-08-05 3:33 PM EST –


My 2005 is the latest in a string of Subys, so I fancy myself an expert on All Things Racking.

My suggestion is to remove the factory x-bars and opt for Yakimas, Thules, or Saris (I have Yaks). Size your new x-bars for the widest loads you can envision (two yaks, a cargo box etc). I have ummm I believe 52 inchers on mine.

As for J-cradles, I have settled on Malone Autoloaders. They make solo loading very easy, especially when combined with my Yakima Boatloader extension bar. The cradles will rotate around the round Yak bars to mimick the sheer of the boat - not so with Thule or Saris.

In addition to the belly straps I attach lines to the bow and stern as safeguards against disaster. I fabricted tie-down anchors similar to the ones sold by Its A Cinch, but a length of flat webbing tied in an overhand knot would probably work just as well. Front anchor is between the hood and the fender, rear anchor is wedged by the hatch.


I will be reinstalling my rig this weekend, so if you want I can take some pics. Send an e-mail if you are interested.

PS: You MIGHT be OK attaching two sets of Malones to the factory x-bars, which are stouter than the average car's. The Suby catalog shows two WW boats on a wagon using a stacker.

I have
A 2005 Sub Forester and I mounted a set of Thule cradles on the factory crossbars and used that set up for quite some time with two kayaks weighing 58lbs a piece.

I recently mounted some of the Yakima crossbars so I would have a more workable system for other setups such as our bikes and the cargo basket we use when not hauling kayaks. The Thule “hull-a-ports” are compatible with the round Yakima bars and with both kayaks now on those bars…the setup is rock solid. The kayaks barely flutter even in high winds on the Fwy at 70 mph.

I really like using the cradles, they’re easy on/easy off for me and the height of my roof is not bad at all for one person loading the boats on the roof…that may be different for some people though.

The products can get quite expensive, however.

100 pounds is way conservative
Get rid of the Subaru crossbars. I have installed Thule cross bars but Yakima and others work fine. There is no problem putting two sea kayaks on the rack. Or five whitewater boats. This is my third Outback and I have never had a problem.

me too
I have a 2005 Outback wagon too. I replaced the factory bars with Yakima 48" and low riders. I use Malone Super J racks for the kayaks and they are great! BTW - with the two Super J’s back to back in the center of the roof, there is still room for two Yakima (Steelhead) bike racks to be mounted, one each on the outside of the low riders. The bike racks are so low that it’s no problem to pass the kayak over them and onto the Malones. I’m very happy with this setup. I would not hesitate loading the yakima bars with up to 150 lbs if I had to.


You need “real” racks,
and not those “toys” that come with the car. I just bought a Forrester, and replaced the factory crossbars with Thule crossbars…the factory racks seemed so light and puny when I took them off that I personnaly wouldn’t trust them with anything near 100lbs. I also installed Thule J saddles, and I can securely transport my Tsunami X-2 (almost 100lbs) and my Tsunami X-15 (about 60lbs) at the same time with no problem.


You’re on the right track
I’ve had five Subarus, and both Thule and Yakima racks. These points:

I recommend taking off the Subaru cross bars – they look good, but really are not meant to work hard. Keep 'em, so you can remount them when you trade the vehicle.

I went with Yakima because Thule did not have a fit-kit for one of the years for Subaru. Yakima has laways had the fit and the options for every year, Thule has been a little sporadic with fit kits and its expensive to shift.

I use the “hullyrollers” and cradles, carry two kayaks, and use tie downs front and back.

I have the 48" bars so that I can leave the bars on permanently and it wtill looks good whdn naked (no attachments to create wind drag.).

Finally, when I researched the loading capacity at both Subaru and Thue/Yakima, I found out that the rated capacity is very conservative and pointed to the low side. Experience has taught me that two boats, or one box and two bikes, or one canoe can all be handled without any problems. It does require some common sense and centering the load.

Good luck,


Why Remove factory bars?
I just moved my factory cross bars closer to the middle of roof out of the way. I figure they provide “some” additional support to the side rails, and I don’t have to store them in the garage with all my other stuff.

Why move bars?
For me, it’s really two things: I have kayak “holders”, bike “holders”, box “holders” and ski “holders”. Each of these seems to require some type of tie down, cable or come other thing and I got tired of fiddling around with the obstacles presented by the factory bars.

Second, the vehicle seems to me to look “cleaner” with the factory bars off.

One other thing while I am posting: about a year ago I asked if anyone had problems with rocks cracking windshields on Subarus when the rack’s air dam was mounted. (I had three windshields cracked because of rocks coming in at them.) I got lots of advice, including staying farther away from the vehicles in front.

I finally figured out that two things were operating together: I had a factory Subaru plexiglass nose protector on the venhicle to protect the front of the car and a Yakima air dam on the top. For whatever reason, the two combined to produce a vacuum pointed toward the center of the windshield. I removed the air dam, and haven’t had any problems since. I suggest using one or the other, but not both.


Thank you
Some great advice.

I’ll look into some of these suggestions.


A little test
With your Suby rails bare, grab hold of one with both hands and violently rock the car back and forth. Note the sturdiness of the system

Now perform the same test with other vehicles. You will be impressed with the rigidity of the Suby rails.


I’ll second that,
I have the prescrided set-up on my Forrester and I tote a Eddyline Night Hawk 17.5 and a Necky Zoar Sport and it is solid.

Use the standard rails…
I have been using them with Thule J racks for my two yaks (a Pamlico 140 with rudder and an OT Otter. I’d guess I’m in the 100 to 110 pound range and everything seems safe and secure. I may add Thule or Yakima crossbars next Spring only because I will probably end up with a third yak to transport.

After looking into Subaru crossbars and Yakima…

I found out both of their weight limits are the same…100lbs.

So why would I pay more for the Yakima crossbars and towers?

You shouldn’t.
Unless of course, you need the added width of wider bars for friend’s boats, cargo boxes, bicycles, etc.


Any thoughts on this idea ?
A few months ago I was talking to the guy at the parts desk at the local Subaru dealer (I’ve got a Legacy wagon and a Forester).

We found something called a bike rack attachment clamp for the Forester. It fits over the factory cross bars and secures with a standard 1/4 inch bolt like from any hardware store. The clamp makes a perfect form fit around the cross bar and has a flat top surface.

Now here’s what I am thinking. Drill and countersink a set of 1/4 inch holes in two 2x4’s . Run the bolts through the 2x4’s and ratchet down securely into the clamps.

Result - quick, easy, inexpensive wide load bars.

What can go wrong?


kayak cradles
I have a subaru forester and would like to use cradles to carry 2 kayaks. I really don’t want to spend extra for crossbars. As I read this thread this seems reasonable. Is there any strong disagreement why I can’t do this?

Weight limits
The weight limits are more of a liability/safety issue to prevent rollovers with that extra weight on top of the car rather than the actual limit that the bars can support. Personally, I felt that the factory bars were flimsy compared the the Thules I put on. I carry two expensive composite boats at highway speeds alot. For me the $300 or so that I spent gives me peace of mind.

I do it…
with my 05 outback. Two kayaks in cradles on factory crossbars. Honestly, as long as you are not grossly over the 100 lbs factory crossbar limit, I don’t think you will have any problem.