Thule vs. Yakima or other?

Hey there! I am an intermediate kayaker, who is looking for a way to get her 12’ kayak to and from the local lakes, and possibly across the state to school in Spokane, Washington. I need a stable, secure way to get my kayak around, with not a lot of road noise. I like the Thule system with the one roller and the two saddles, but am not sure if its any good. I have Thule ski racks that I love!


both high quality
I have not used the rollers, but the racks and saddles from both Thule and Yakima are rock solid. If you do get excessive road noise, it is likely the straps vibrating and you can get rid of that by just putting a twist in the strap and then retightening.

You can get a ton of noise from the wind getting under the front bar. You can get rid of alot of this with the optional spoilers from either Yak or Thule.

Both of these are high quality products - I’ve sold a slew of both systems and haven’t seen a real reason to favor one or the other. Some individual accessories are easier to deal with, not nothing’s a real dealbreaker.

We use Thule gear if that helps, but really, you can’t go wrong with either.


– Last Updated: May-17-06 9:52 AM EST –

if you have a shorter car ie statino wagon you can always load it from the side...
that is what i do and i have a set of Malone Gull wings for my boats....

I’ve used Thule systems for years with largely very positive reviews. Can’t speak to the Yakima stuff. Thule’s hardware is low quality however, and rusts easily, so if you’re leaving it on the vehicle through a variety of seasons, you’ll need to keep it lubricated-the plastic knobs often crack and fall off also. I have two Thule rollers that I used briefly, then tossed in the garage. They don’t roll all that well, but my main criticism is that they take up a great deal of space; a consideration if, like me, you’re bent on transporting several boats, bikes, etc., in a limited span. A mini roller such as those offered by some independent companies would be preferable. I’ve also used the Hydroglide saddles, and while they do allow for a much easier mount/dismount procedure, their flat profile allows the boats to shift around, making for an insecure mount at highway speeds. I always use bow and stern lines unless just going to the local pond, so this helps a great deal. Beyond that, the basic ‘skeleton’ of the Thule system is very strong and secure.

If you already like your Thule then you probably can’t go wrong sticking with Thule.

I’ve used both Yakima and Thule racks and they all can make quite a bit of noise; little tricks can help (fairings, pads, bar placement) but not really eliminate the noise. Both are plenty sturdy.

My favorite Thule (for my Escape) just popped on and off - literally in less than a minute. It had permanent anchors attached to the rails in the roof. Thay way - instant two boat rack or no rack at all.

Rusty Hardware
Yes, the bolts and plastic covered nuts rusted in less than a year for me. I found stainless steel replacements. I did have to make due with SS wing nuts rather than the steel nuts encased in a plastic knob.


I have Thule
and would recommend Yakima.

Thule has square bars, and on a curved roof, this can lead to a situation where the flat surfaces of the bars point off on slightly different planes. For many racks, that’s no big deal. But with some (read: the ones I have), this can lead to situation where the rack surface and the hull surface aren’t flush. Bad news with a roto boat on a hot day.

Thule vs Yakima
Have always used Yakima and some of their stuff is quite good while other equipment doesn’t seem sorted out before being brought to market.

Yakima used to give fit measurements for their Tracks to show where to drill in vehicle roof. I would buy Tracks again if they still had drilling measurements: I’m not going to drill for the plus nuts by “hit or miss” in the roof on a vehicle.

I am going to buy Thule for my wife’s CVR because they have a higher load rating on the fixtures that fit into the rails on the roof.

Do like the way round bars allow the kayak carriers to rotate slightly to better fit the kayak hull, but the attachment places are close on the CRV, so it won’t matter. Both systems cost too much when you add up all the parts.

To add to what ret603said about
round bars the other nice thing about them is that you can lay the j cradle flat when not being used.

Malone Autoloaders
Love my Autoloaders and they fit on Yakima or Thule bars. With both Yakima and Thule saddles, they have to be adjusted in width to fit the hull correctly. If you have to remove them or have another boat, they’ll have to be readjusted.

I know this is a Thule vs Yakima thread, but I’ll butt in for perspective.

I use an old (free to me)1970’s Italian La PreAlpina bike rack. I took the bike fittings off and just jamb the foam blocks that came in a $29 kayak tie down kit on the bars. I carry my and my friend’s kayak this way on it all the time.

The interesting thing is that the rack’s hold down hooks are semi-universal and have fit on every car I’ve tried them on. Makes me feel like those $50 “fit kits” for Thule and Yak are a bit of a scam.

I guess my point is that you really don’t need a $500 rack to haul a 40-50 lb. kayak around, just something you can scrounge up from a yard sale or the basement of a former bicycle fanatic.


I am using both
Thule and Yakima on my Ranger pick up. A Thule 450 crossroads stays on the camper shell and a Yakima “clamp on” over the cab when hauling the canoe. Both are high quality and too expensive. I do like the rectangular tube thule uses better than the round. Yakimas gunnel brackets are nice and fit both round and squared bars.

Combination Too
My cars factory racks are made by Thule. But Yakima hardware is now compatible with Thule bars. I use Yakima Makos and Hullraiers on my factory (Thule) rack. They work great.


I use Thule J-cradles
They are removable (easy on/easy off–no tools) and will fit on factory crossbars. They also come with lifetime warranty (as of 01/01/06). The factory cross bars and rack on my Rav4 are very robust.

Also using Thule…

– Last Updated: May-21-06 12:13 AM EST –

... J cradles on my Forester for the same reason - they fit the factory cross bars so I can carry two boats. The first set I purchased used the older style plastic clamp which fits under the cross bar (also had foam saddle pads). The second set was the current version which uses metal clamp plates (with nylon covered pads) which seemed a lot sturdier. I wrote to Thule, and they sent me a package of the new, updated hardware, no questions asked. Also, the older style racks are showing some signs of rust. Guess they also improved the paint on the newer ones.

rack for a Forester
So what exactly fo I need for a forester?

How expensive?