suburu outback car topping for kayak

Looking to buy a 2011suburu outback. Can anyone givve me advice on kayak carriers?..I thought the j cradles might be the way to go for two kayaks. Suburu acccessories quite expensive and would rather go with other brand like thule or yakima. Would these fit on factory installed cross bars? Thank you for any advice

2010 and 2011 Outback rails are not
designed for long loads. I have a 2010 OB and the span on the gimmicky cross bars is only 30 inches.I have a Yakima road warrior basket on the car which does give a 42" span and have Malone saddles attached to the basket.I secure the bow with webbing loops secured from under the hood and the stern is secured to the tow ring which screws into the rear bumper.I would go with a different vehicle to carry kayaks over 8 ft long on boat racks attached directly to the factory cross bars.

Will probably be fine…
I carry a 13.5’ 72lb tandem all the time on top of my Subaru Impreza with Yakima crossbars that are at about 34" apart on the factory side rails (Wagon!) Before this vehicle, I had a 25" crossbar spacing with Yakima bars and q-towers on a NEON! The Neon and kayak combo saw probably close to 1000 miles or more, with speeds averaging 60+mph and never a single issue. That was with foam pads, and of course, bow and stern lines.

I love my J-cradles. However when wind kicks up, saddles or foam blocks are a bit nicer.

Don’t forget your bow/stern tie downs. Get the blue Thule ropes, they are quieter and easier on your paint than straps. Just learn some simple hitch knots and your kayak will be secure!

Last year I had to replace my 1999 Subaru Forester. I wanted an Outback, but those ridiculous rails were a deal killer for me. Instead I bought the 2010 Forester. I recommend that you reconsider purchasing an Outback if you plan to haul boats often.

2010 Outback Rails
will not accept regular third party racks. I think that Yakima may have found that one of their systems normally intended for trucks will work to get a longer boat (over 12 ft) up there, but it’s pricey and pretty Rube Goldbergish. Your best options are to live with the limitations (and price) of the Subie add-ons, order an Outback with the European rails which are the old ones (may be a separate order then you have to get them installed) or, as the above person suggests, go with the Forester instead. Or any other car with rational rails.

This not a new issue. There is a whole online group of people who would have otherise gotten a post-2010 Outback but can’t make the racks work, and have been trying to get Subaru to respond with a decent alternative. So far no luck.

goodbye to the subaru "LL bean edition"
Hello to the subaru “Rube Goldberg Edition”!

Is to order Euro Outback rail kit, have it installed locally.

You say it is expensive? - you are right.

I am driving a new 2011 Outback
About 3 weeks old.

During REI’s 20% off sale on Yak stuff I bought a set of Landing Pad #12s, which bolt into the sockest after you remove the factory switchblade crossbars. Then a set of Control Towers fits atop.

With the 20% off my ticket came to about $150, as I already had Yak bars.

Yes, the bar spread is 30". Exactly the same as I was able to engineer on my 2006 B9 Tribecca (came w/o roof rails). I carried 13 and 16 foot open canoes for thousands of miles on that setup. No problem. Always used bow & stern tie-downs.

My impression so far: I enjoyed getting $1700 off list as a returning customer. I am averaging 26 mpg on my daily commute (30 miles x 2). On interstate trips to Pgh PA w/roof clean I get 32+ mpg. The CVT is smooth and I like the lack of kick down. The OB tracks far better than the Tribeca. The seats are more comfortable. I have a moonroof, which comes std with a back-up camera (great Old Guy option!).

I will miss the 3 ft3 that I gave up, but I will just have to haul less junk.


Thanks for the tip
First time I have seen this alternative listed.

That a bit of Rube Goldberging …

– Last Updated: Jun-23-11 11:58 AM EST –

and extra cost for just 30" of bar spread on the 2010-11 Subie Outback. Those Yakima Landing Pads will also raise your overall load even more, which reduces ease of loading and increasing wind resistance.

I often carry up to two 16-18' composite sea kayaks, plus a cargo box. I prefer at least 36" of bar spread for proper load support. I skipped the Outback 'Soccer Mom' rack experience entirely and went with the 2011 Forester. The Forester has a proper set of euro style rails, which have a higher rated load capacity (I believe they are rated for 150 pounds vs. 110 on the Outback?). I can get 36-37" of spread on the Forester with no roof rack mods or Land Pad adapters required. It also works with either my Yakima or Thule crossbars and accessories.

Outback vs. Forester
I recently bought a 2011 Outback and gave my Forester to my 21-year old son (it was tough!). I agree that overall the Forester rack is superior to the various Outback rack options.

I also installed the Yakima Landing Pad 12 and removed the Subaru factory crossbars. The 30 inch spread does seem to work ok - I have carried 3 17-foot kayaks for long distances with no problems. With this spread, tying down the kayaks (even for short trips) becomes more important.

The height of the rack is fine for loading and I am 5"8". Two nice things about the Outback are 8.5" ground clearance and lots of room for camping and kayaking equipment. Nevertheless, the spacing on the Forester racks (about 4 feet on my car) is definitely preferable.

If the bar spread is adequate then the Thule accessories or Marco Aero Bar saddles will bolt on.

For a wider bar spread I’ve helped a local 2011 Outback regrow rails to run the length of the roof bolting and clamping into the existing roof rack. This was to attache a Kari-Tek ELRR unit which has a 46" spread. A bit of a project but certainly one way to make for some real rails.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Any pics Marshall?

– Last Updated: Jun-27-11 9:25 AM EST –

Sounds like an interesting option.

As for the added load heigth, I like it because it is NO higher than my old Tribeca, and the added gap allows the rear hatch to open fairly far for access.


BTW, with my perforated leather seats, Harmon-Kardon sound system (6-CD changer w/sat radio), digital auto climate control I feel I am in the lap of luxury.

too bad they deleted the weather radio

– Last Updated: Jun-27-11 3:01 PM EST –

But it's clear who the new marketing demographic is. Which isn't the old one!