Threading straps on J racks

This may seem trivial but I’d appreciate any advice.

I have Yakima J-racks on factory roof racks on a Dodge Durango. I find it difficult to thread the straps through the top of the J while the kayaks are sitting in the rack. Even standing on the rear wheel, with the kayak on its side in the rack I can’t reach over the top edge of the yak down to the J. I’ve tried leaving the kayak flat until I get the strap looped through the J, but it’s pretty unstable and I’ve caught it falling off a couple of times.

Are there any tricks to getting the straps in the right place?

When I had Js…

– Last Updated: Jul-21-15 12:53 PM EST –

I would thread the straps before loading the kayak.

You can use longer straps and let the tails hang down where you can reach them.

Thread before loading
The bight hangs down the side, the buckle hangs down rear window or on the windshield.

Load the boat

Toss the buckle up and over the boat

Thanks, I’ll try that next time.

That’s the trick. Shoulda seen how long it took me to figure out.

strap to crossbars
Lately, before loading, I have been threading the strap under the crossbar (toward the middle of the car roof) and then both ends of the strap up through the top of the J. Then, after loading the kayak, I run the non-buckle end around a crossbar before attaching to buckle. This may be overkill, but I use the J cradle like a cradle only, all the stress is taken by the roof rack crossbars; I don’t have to place my confidence in the J rack (which with all its plastic, strikes me as a weaker link).

That is how I use “J” racks too. I only use them when I need to carry extra boats. The “give” in Mako Saddles lets me avoid slack in the bow and stern lines without pulling hard on the boat.

Add a leader if…
If concerned about hitting your vehicle’s paint and dinging it with the buckle, add a leader of survivors cord (paracord) or other lightweight rope or bungee with some plastic or rubber weights on them. My Expedition is tall and by using the cord and some rubber grommets tied to the end, I can toss it anywhere without worry, especially in windy conditions. Then just pull up the buckle slowly over the yak and catch it.

thread before loading NM

my technique
For loading just on crossbars or with j-racks is to use long straps (i think my Thule straps are 12’) and loop them around either the midpoint of the crossrack OR through the top loop of the j-rack and then fasten the buckle to the first couple inches of the free end of the strap and drape the front straps down over the hood and windshield and the rear ones down over the tail gate. After loading the boats I grab the buckle end of the looped straps and toss them over the boats toward the outside of the vehicle, unbuckle them and then wrap them down and around the roof rack (NOT the lower loop of the j-rack – like some other p-netters, I don’t wholey trust j-racks as anything more than a positioning device – the straps and stress go on the roof rack. I have factory longitudinal racks with Thule cross racks – the straps always go around the factory rack.

BTW, those little plastic step stools that fold flat can be awfully handy for kayak mounting for us short folk. I always keep one in the back of my station wagon.

Rubber boot on buckle
Thule straps have a big rubber boot on the buckle. It can bounce off the glass without a problem.

I probably could have mentioned that.