Thule 830 Stacker v. Yakima Big Stack?

Good Morning. Looking for some advice on car top transport of multiple kayaks.

We own a 2004 Chevy Trailblazer with factory installed roof racks. With the Thule “J” style carriers it has been very easy to transport two kayaks.

We are now preparing to add a third kayak to the mix and I have been looking at options for their transport. I would like to avoid a trailer and after a little internet research have found that both Thule and Yakima manufacture similar stayle racks for car top transport of up to four kayaks.

Can any fellow users offer insight on use of these racks, recommend one versus the other, and more specifically, their use with my particular vehicle?

All suggestions welcome.

Thanks very much…Andrew

We have the big stack
It worked good when we had 3 kayaks, but the fourth put us over the weight limit (the roof rack is only rated for 150 pounds). We bought a trailer for several reasons, including the fourth kayak and my inability to reach the top of the van :slight_smile:

If you are thinking of 3 kayaks on top of your roof, make sure you check the weight limit of the rack/roof. If you just have playboats or small recs you should be OK, but the 70+ pound boats might cause a problem.


Thule 830 Stacker v. Yakima Big Stack?
Thanks Karen.

How do you know the true weight limit
for your racks? The weight limit provided by the vehicle manufacturer is usually a very conservative estimate influenced by company lawyers. The weight limit specified by Yakima or Thule is usually higher and more realistic. You will often see people carrying double the vehicle’s stated weight limit, without a problem.

On Vehicles that have roof rack rails, the consumer should examine the rails. Our Subaru Outback, and an earlier VW Quantum, had very sturdy rails. But I have seen SUVs with cheesy, hollow rails that I would not trust to carry much weight.

It’s a shame we don’t get really objective limits from vehicle and rack manufacturers, but it is clear that they don’t want to get sued, and so provide rather conservative limits.

I have Thule loadbars
attached to the factory installed rack on my Pontiac Montana Van. I wouldn’t trust the cross bars on the factory installed rack alone, but with the loadbars, its much sturdier. I have had two heavy canoes and a kayak on it with no problem.

I see a lot of people with the Thule Stacker - but don’t have it myself. If I am carring multiple kayaks, I strap them down individually on edge, then run a couple of long straps over all of them to hold them together - works fine once you get the first one strapped down.

I think either syestem would work fine.

Good system
I use an older Thule Stacker (#520, I think) on my Outback. Last summer I carried four sea kayaks at a time for relatively short trips, and it worked fine. I like using the aftermarket load bars, and wide bars are a necessity on the Subie for loading this many boats. I don’t trust the factory bars with much of a load.

The stacker is an easy, simple way to go - maybe not as good for the aerodymanics. I like having easy access to the hatches with the boats tilted toward you - they are a nice carrying spot for lightweight gear when traveling.

Needless to say, four sea kayaks put me way over the listed weight limit. I took it easy around corners and had no problems.


Malone Stax!
gotta throw them in the mix…thats what i use…

Both are good
Factory crossbars are very weak. I second the motion someone else made about adding Thule or Yakima crossbars to your factory rack for some additional strength and peace of mind.

Once you’ve got the strength, the number of kayaks you can mount is limited only by your imagination and the amount of webbing or straps you’ve got.

  • Big D