Folks I’d like to get some thoughts on a rack for carrying two flatwater kayaks. I have a 14’ and 15’ boat that I’d like to carry on top of a 2010 mazda 3 hatchback. Loooking for feedback on carrying two boats on either roof rack.

Both Good
I know that with Thule you can always buy different foot adaptors if/when you change your car: I’ve had a Thule through three different vehicles now and it still hauls everything I can throw up there. But Yak gets good reviews too and I see a lot of them around. Price 'em out and go with the best value.

check oem
which may well be rebranded thule’s - my 2007 mazdaspeed 3 has racks which bolt into holes in the roof. Its a rock solid rack. dunno of the 2010 are the same though.

used and like both
The round bars can be helpful if you need to tilt crossbar attachments to better fit hull profile whose camber is opposite car roof’s.

Andy has a valid point
Thule’s rectangular bars are great if you need to keep an attachment from rotating - Yaks are great if you need an attachment to rotate.


I’ve only used Yakimas, but I’ve
noticed complaints about Yakima Q-towers coming loose on the highway. It appears to me to be associated with use on some Honda Civics. Whichever system you choose, follow installation instructions exactly and consult with your dealer if anything seems fishy.

For any clip-on system, a strut connecting the front and rear crossbars is insurance. Even a bike trough can do this.

Have had 2 sets of each, both worked well for the applications I used them for. We have a rackless 3 5-Door (our '04 Mazda6 Wagon is our hauler), and it’s news to me the Speed has holes for racks -in the roof seams, I assume. If so, go with the advice above; if not, go with the one that’s easiest and least costly for you to obtain.

You may be able to get towers that attach directly to your roof and obviate the need for clips; we had something of the same thing for Yakimas that attached to small-profile feet that attached directly to the roof rails on our old Jeep.

A couple things possibly worth noting:

  1. I’ve used ‘homemade’ oak wood crossbars on a set of Thule towers which fit our old '86 Taurus (and, surprisingly, also fit our '90 Nissan 240) and they worked well for toting our 2 SOTs, upside-down & side-by side, for as long as we had the rack. I don’t know if I’d recommend that approach if you were to use cradles or Js, but it’s a good solution ifn you can make the bars yourself.

  2. I’m told Yakima towers can fit a standard-sized galvanized iron plumbing pipe (1"…?) and that if you go that route, you’ll be able to customize the length to something that will more precisely fit your needs quite easily.

    Both bars, when not loaded, will make noise in varying volumes and varying levels of annoyance. I’ve sheathed ours in pool noodles slit lengthwise on one side and slid over the bars. I like this approach beacause it makes it a lot easier to find your car in mall or stadium parking lots if you use a nice color like yellow, lime, or pink… but that’s up to you… I use clear strapping tape to hold them on the bars, and it usually lasts a year, even down here in our South Florida/Miami/Keys climate.

    You may also want to check out Malone as a potential rack candidate; many like theirs better than the Big Two.

    And for attachments, I’ve used non-rack components (a set of cradles, and a set of Js) that came neither from Thule or Yakima, one (the cradles) something of a real off-brand I picked up at a boating store for less than half the cost of a Thule or Yakima equivalent, and which has worked just fine and is holding up just fine going into its 3rd year.

    Good luck fitting your car, and then, happy trails as you tote your boat and


    -Frank in Miami

Yakima all the way, much better than Thule stuff…just compare the quality of the two and you’ll see.

Wind noise
Frank is right about the noise - the amplitude seems to vary with vehicke shape, rack location, and other factors. Yakima makes WindJammers that greatly reduce the volume, and a simple solution is to wrap a rope or bungie around the bar in a spiral to shed the vortices. Just like smokestacks.


Not just biased
Yakima does used higher grade hardware than Thule and when Yakima allows for locks, the locks lock into metal, not plastic like Thule. And who thought printing the key code on the face of the lock was a good idea. Thule’s practically advertising, “order this key from our website to take home a prize.”

For your application, choose the Control Tower fit over the Q-tower fit since they are both available for that car. You’ll have a slightly narrower crossbar spread, but a much stronger rack which utilizes the factory mounting locations.

Dont know what g2d<br /> is talking about. Have the Q towers on my Civic and have never had a problem. I check the towers every time Im ready to leave. I do agree with him however make sure whatever you end up getting make sure you learn to put it on correctly.

we have Yakima Q-towers …

– Last Updated: Mar-23-10 5:29 PM EST –

...... I like them very much , and trust them too .

Looks like Yakima offers two tower systems for the 2010 Mazda 3 ... the Q's which are able to be removed and the other (which I think is permanent install).

I like the Q's because they are very easy to put on and remove (takes like 5 mins. to bring outside and put on auto) . I prefer to not keep them on auto when not being used (noise and weathering that's not needed when not being used) .

Once you perform the initial build of the towers and bars , make the fine tune adjustments for tightness (which is always "adjustable" for re-tuning after break-in) ... that's it , just pop and lock on / unlock and pop off , put away in storage room etc. .

Yakima shows there are two different Q-Clip #'s req. (for 2010 Mazda 3-5), one pair is for front , the other for rear ... the clips are custom shaped for each autos door frame openning(s) .

The Q-Towers themselves are all the same , just different clips for different autos .

I use the cylinder key locks with mine ... I think they are a good idea . Even if you are not concerned with someone stealing your racks ... there's always the possibility that some prankster might take the 1 min. required to loosen your towers while your out on the water , and you load and head home not aware until something starts to move (or worse) ... the key locks (opt.) are good insurance against stupidheads !! ... although you should grab those racks and try to shake them anyway , each time before loading and hitting the road , just to make sure they are still tight .

Sooo easy to deal with , and I believe very dependable and safe !!

Then there is also another opt. you might want to consider . That is using just the front Q-Tower & bar , and then use a hitch mounted vertical carrier in the rear (Yakima has one of these also that should hold two boats).

I have both…
and prefer the Yakima simply because the round bars aren’t as noisy. They seam to catch less wind. I have trouble even hearing the radio in my Ford Escape when on the highway. I suppose that I should take them off when not in use, but I’m too lazy.

Have used both
Now have Thule. The Yakima bars I have are older and it is impossible to keep them from rotating. I heard that this problem has been fixed but I would certainly check it out before I bought Yakima. The key is whether you can tighten down the bars with continuous range or half turns only. BTW, any Yakima carrier will fit on a Thule bar and vice versa. So you can mix and match.

There have been several complaints
on boatertalk about Yakima Q-towers on Civics. Of course, Civics are redesigned every 4 or 5 years, and I doubt that the problem would occur on more than one edition. I have had a series of Accords with various Yakima tower systems and have had no problems whatsoever. But I always add a strut that solidly connects the front and rear crossbars. If you think about it, you will see why such a strut makes it much more difficult for the failure of one clip to lead to the whole assemblage coming loose.

Company Comparison
I don’t think you can go wrong with either product.

Here’s some info about the companies themselves:

Thule AB:

Multi-national company headquartered in Sweden. In addition to racks it manufactures trailers, snow chains, towing systems; accessories for RVs, boats, and horse trailers; and wiring kits. The company also makes storage solutions for CDs, DVDs, portable electronics, laptops, cameras, camcorders, automobiles, and luggage. They have facilities in Sweden, Germany, UK, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Belgium, China, Poland, Brazil, Malaysia, and USA. Employees number 3100 worldwide, 650 USA. Operating revenue in 2008 was $8.6 billion with earnings of $78 million.

Yakima Products:

Company of 55 employees is currently located in Beaverton, Oregon. Its manufacturing plant is in Tijuana, Mexico. It has had several owners; In December 2009, Arcapita, an Atlanta based international investment firm sold Yakima to Kemflo International, Inc. a Taiwan-based manufacturer of consumer durable goods, water filtration technology, Whirlpool brand filters, and metal and electronics products. Kemflo employs 1,900 workers and had sales of $140 million in 2007. It’s worth noting that Yakima sponsors or supports National River Cleanup Week, Conservation Alliance, and Livestrong Challenge.

Coke vs. Pepsi

I have a mix
on two different vehicles, and found that the Thule hardware, (nuts, bolts, etc) is junk.

I had to change out all the bolts on two sets of J cradles after only six months of use, and I just recently had to sand the tubes and spray paint them because they were rusting badly.

Thule also claims that their hardware will fit Yakama round bars, and it does, but if you put any pressure on what is attached to the round bars, it will rotate no matter how tight you make the bolts

I am a hard user of both, but I won’t buy any more Thule stuff.



Thule hit below the belt recently…

Thule Unloads Yakima Products

BEAVERTON, OR (BRAIN)—Thule is selling Yakima products it purchased from a retailer through a dedicated Web site,

Jerry Heinlen, Yakima’s CEO, said the Web site came to Yakima’s attention about three weeks ago when it received calls from authorized dealers and consumers about a Web site selling Yakima products at prices below its established retail prices.

Heinlen subsequently sent a letter to Yakima’s 5,000 U.S. dealers last Tuesday to inform them that Yakima did not sanction or service the Web site. “A lot of dealers were very upset by it. Our goal was to make sure they knew we were not the ones causing the problem,” Heinlen said.

In the letter, Heinlen stated, “ is not currently, nor ever has been, an authorized Yakima dealer. In fact, from our investigation, it appears that Racks4Cheap is directly connected with Thule, Inc., in Connecticut.”

Thule president Fred Clark admitted Thule set up the Web site, which does not anywhere bear the Thule brand, to unload a large amount of Yakima inventory it had acquired from a former Yakima retailer. “We came into possession of quite a bit of inventory that was from an account that had flipped from Yakima to Thule,” said Clark.

According to Clark, Yakima initially told the retailer it would take back the inventory for a restocking charge but later went back to the retailer and refused to take it. At that point, Thule offered to buy back its competitor’s product at the dealer’s cost. “Yakima had the opportunity to take care of this inventory issue and decided it didn’t want to. It left us with no choice,” Clark said.

Clark said the value of the product was larger than Thule was able to write off so it decided to liquidate that inventory online. He said Thule’s intention was to match dealer pricing on product currently available but it had to discount quite a bit of dated inventory. “Our plan all along was and is to sell the current product in line with retail policies so as to not offend customers, and anything older to sell at a distressed price,” Clark said.

However, Heinlen said discounts on range from 20 percent to as much as 50 percent or more off Yakima product that is actively being sold through authorized channels.

And, he said, the issues go beyond discounting. “A key concern is that unauthorized retailers do not offer consumers the brand benefits that authorized Yakima dealers provide,” Heinlen said, citing rights of return, excellent customer service and, potentially, a manufacturer’s warranty.

Heinlen said Yakima also has concern over the condition of inventory that has been outside the control of Yakima’s authorized distribution system since it could include returned goods, damaged product, or even product that could have been tampered with.

Heinlen called this practice of “lifting and dumping” competitive inventory deplorable. “We all thrive on good competition, but we believe there are some ethical boundaries that should be followed,” he said.

In his letter to dealers, Heinlen wrote, “We are concerned about the confusion and inconvenience this situation is causing. We hope that those responsible for it decide to do the right thing and cease and desist from this unfortunate choice of business practice.”

Clark said Thule’s goal is to move through this inventory and then shut down the Web site. “This is not a business model we see going forward,” he said. “This is an attempt to clean up this inventory in the field that no one else wants to take care of.”

—Megan Tompkins

As a long time Yakima owner I have

– Last Updated: Mar-27-10 9:50 AM EST –

followed this discussion with interested.
Particularly since I must replace my existing roof rack system.
Some have indicate that Thule hardware does not hold up well. I was dismayed to hear this.

I live in Upstate, NY. In the winter it is the land of snow, ice and salt and we use our rack to carry a gear box and cross country skis, so the rack is exposed to the elements year-round. Yakima hardware does not hold up particularly well in these conditions.

I have already had to replace the crossbars twice in 8-9 years. At the moment I cannot get our rack off the car for two reasons. Corrosion at the ends of the Yakima crossbars has swollen them such that they will not fit back through the towers. If I replace the bars with Yakima it would be a third set. This problem is an often reported with Yakima bars (both here and elsewhere). Folks seem to blame it on the end caps, but the bars simply are not terribly corrosion resistant.

Even if the bars had held up my rack is at the moment 'locked' to my vehicle's factory rails. Even after repeated applications of 'Liquid Wrench' and WD-40 over several days, I cannot unlock 3 of the 4 SKS cores. They are frozen. I just contacted Yakima and they were no help.

"I wish I had better answers for you. Good luck in getting the locks to open up." - Yakima Support

So, if and when I get this d@m thing off my roof, what do I replace it with?

I was considering this new product from Malone:

However, it has a weigh limit 30 pounds less than Thule's (130 vs. 160). I am not sure on Yakima's weigh limit, but I think it is close to 150 pounds.

For those of you who have used Thule on salted roads through the winter, how well do their cross bars and core locks resist corrosion?

I just received my REI dividend and it would pay for either a replacement set of Yakima or Thule towers and crossbars

Thanks, Joe