Thule Hullavator ? What do you think ?

I am looking for the best kayak rack system to place my 15’ Eddyline Merlin XT on my Ford Explorer roof. I have hully rollers, but think the Hullavator would be even easier. It slides down to waist length on side of my truck, so no lifting overhead. Thoughts ? Any one try it or have one ?

I heard you need to be tall enough
to reach some lever or handle.

Oh, I am fine with reaching a lever. I am 6’ and can easily reach onto the roof of Explorer. It is just a matter of savign the back in trying to lift an aclwardly long composite boat onto the back of the Explorer when a Hullavator would help me at waist or chest level and it does the rest.

Plus and minus on the Hullavator
The Hullavator is wonderful. I am able to load and unload my kayak with minimum effort. Having said that, I must add that it has problems. The arms are supposed to latch in the down position so you can load the kayak. They often do not latch and will rise by themselves. This is especially a problem when unloading the kayak. It is hard to get the kayak off an arm that rises when you lift the kayak. L.L. Bean took back the first set when I had this problem. The replacement set has the same problem on one of the arms, but I needed to get off to Maine so I did not return it. I stick my finger in the back and insure that the latch is engaged. One of the arms has to be latched manually when it is in the up position, it never engages by itself as it should.

The other problem is with the locks. They do not work: a serious engineering problem recognized by Thule. I complained through their web site and this is the response: “At this time Thule will provide cable locks to resolve the problem as we are out of stock on the Hullavator until January. At that time we will then replace the entire carrier under warranty.” I do not advise the purchase of a Hullavator until they resolve the problem.

I have two sets of the Hullavators, both have suffered from the problem of latching in the fully extended position and in the loaded position. “Tweaking” the latch has helped, but they will still occasionally not latch when extended. I have not had any problems with the locks as they seem to work properly. (Perhaps they have solved this issue.) However there is obviously a problem with the tolerances in the manufacture process. I have also had a problem with the powder coat finish coming off the base assemblies at the pivots and “loaded” latch area. An e-mail to Thule about this confirmed that they would handle it as a warranty problem, but after I had removed them and re-painted them with epoxy paint I have been reluctant to mess with the warranty issue. On the plus side they work great, as I am able to load even 60 pound poly sit on tops to the roof with out needing any one to help !

A first-gen product
I had pretty much the same experience as previous posters. One set wouldn’t latch either extended or on the roof. Thule promptly sent out a replacement set that latches properly for driving. I still don’t entirely trust them, though, and strap down everything to a fare-the-well if driving more than a couple of miles.

Using the arms extended is another matter–a slight bump or uneven pressure when removing the kayak, and they often fly up. That said, they’re a great concept, especially for an older who goes solo often. And I expect they’ll be more fit for use as-is when Thule comes out with the second iteration.

Interesting thread
Yakima bought the Talon side-loading system, and has yet to offer it to the public. Looks like they are having similar teething problems. Still, the concept is a valid one and will be sweet once the bugs are worked out.