Thule Aero load Bars vs. square ones

-- Last Updated: Jul-03-11 11:01 PM EST --

Happy 4th of July, my dear fellow paddlers!
I am deciding to get a roof rack and kayak carrier for my soon to be purchased first kayak. According to my research, it looks like J cradle is the most favored type of a kayak carrier. Thule Hullaport seems to get the most overall positive reviews. (someone correct me if I am wrong) Based on that, I am going with Thule rack and deciding which load bars to go with. I see that oval shaped Aero bars are made of aluminum , have special T-slot, and may be more aerodynamic. (although some say, they still get noise). I wonder, did anyone compare the two types? Are Aero bars worth the $40 price premium? Also, is there a way to secure the bars so that they won’t be stolen? Do you guys take them and J-cradle off when not in use?

Thanks for helping me make a decision!

My old rectangular steel
Thule bars - don’t know how old because bought it used for 1/4 of the cost - got rusty inside and on the ends, so that vinyl coat cracked in some spots. I would think it had taken them at least 15 years in rainy Northwest to reach this stage. I’m still using them. Kayak is a light load so until the bar corrodes, say, 75% through, it’s not going to break.

They all are not hydrodynamic and they all increase gas consumption even without a kayak.

Securing bars? I think there are optional locks on Thule site, they secure bars to legs. I got locks new, previous owner didn’t bother installing them, and neither did I. It’s a kayak that usually gets stolen (if at all), - not bars.

get the square bars
There’s not that much difference in noise and efficiency. There’s a ton of stuff on a rack that causes noise. Cross bars are just one component. You will not notice any difference in efficiency.

You can kill some rack noise by wrapping a piece of 1/8 to 1/4 cord across the bar at about 2 inch spacing. The turbulence kills of some of the vortex related noise (by killing off the vortex).

which Thule bars
Had both in use on my last truck cap and over the cab. I’d get the steel square bars since I didn’t hear any difference in wind noise with the aero aluminum plus the steel bars can be bought in longer length so you can add more boats, bikes or luggage carriers. Thule and Yakima fit guides always recommend the shortest bar length you can use on the vehicle and most paddlers opt for the next size up. NOTE: with the steel square load bars you can always cut OFF any surplus length you find troublesome but chances are you won’t. Your bars will have to attache to a Thule foot of some sort that is the actual method of latching onto the roof. All the Thule footpacks that I"ve seen have lock cores you can insert to keep “would be” crooks from just running off with your rack. The lock cores sure seem expensive but it’s cheap insurance in my book.

Get a true Aero bars, skip Thule
Yakima bought a company called Whispbar ( and on Tuesday, they are shipping to select premium dealers. The Whispbar line is made form aluminum, has the same T-slot, and are completely quiet. You can use both Thule and Yakima accessories on the bars. The cost of the base rack seems like more, but they come standard with locks and you will never need to buy a fairing. Thule redesigned their fairing a few years ago so that it would fit their Aero bars. What does that tell you about noise? When you factor in locks and lack of fairing, the price is pretty comparable to Thule’s rack system.

Old Yakima Aero Bars were best
I first got them for my 1991 Buick Roadmaster Wagon but recently bought rails from Proline so I could put them on my Ford Focus.

If you see any of these old Yakima Aero bars, Buy Them! Or at least tell me about them so I can pick them up. They reduce your mileage by less than 1 mpg and make less noise than other racks with the fairing.

Pick of my rig are here:

Whispbar = O mpg loss
They are that good, plus more fitting option compared to the old Yakima Aeros.