Transporting Questions

Just got the roof rack installed on my mini, and we’re ready for adventures :D! However, I’m still pretty new to the kayaking world and just upgraded from an inflatable this year so do have a few questions when it comes to hauling around a boat that can’t be folded up into a bag (and avoid any chance of there being some sort for Final Destination mishap on the highway).

The kayak is a Field & Stream Blade (45 lbs, 9’7’) and I don’t usually drive too far (which will likely change) but do drive on the highway most of the time.

  • Difference between using the J racks and just using the crossbars? I would only be transporting one boat so space isn’t an issue. If J racks make life easier, recommendations on something easy to load and if possible not super expensive.
  • Best way to load a kayak onto a car with a small rear spoiler (I’ve watched a bunch of videos with the “from the back method” but that doesn’t seem like it would work here). I’m also pretty small, and currently have noodle arms so unfortunately can’t just hoist the thing up there like the hulk (I freaking wish). So if ya’ll have any tips there, they would be super appreciated.

Thanks so much in advance for your help :D.

J racks much tougher for solo load than just getting it onto a flatter surface any way you can then sort out the details.

I have a bigger spoiler than yours, use the Amagansett roller loader and it clears the spoiler enough. Allows me to get one end onto the wheels then slide it on up. Look at their web site.

I am concerned about the length of your boat regardless, but your car is lower than mine. By a lot. Longer boats are easier. But l suspect you could make it work, then just onto foam on your bars.

Another alternative is supports that work with a third-party rack like from Thule, Yakima etc but l don’t know if you are ready to spend that money.

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It is good to have one of the kayak adapters rather than just going on bare racks. For one, tying to bare racks may cause damage to the boat as the boat isn’t “cradled” but is just sitting straight on the rack with a small contact footprint.

Second, tying to bare racks may not supply left-right grip. The straps you do may slip along the rack and the boat could slide one way or the other (less likely if you use bow and/or stern lines along with tying to rack). I once had just the straps on the rack (no bow-stern line) on a sea kayak, and the bow of the kayak front strap slid so that it was pointing to almost 2 o’clock position - required an emergency stop.

As for getting on roof solo, if you are strong, you could just lift and place. This gets around worries of scratching the spoiler. If not, then looking at the rollers for back (and then a cradle for front) if it works around your spoiler might be the way to go.

Nice looking Mini - I have one as well (not an S, though). I’ll post some pictures later.

I would not put a wide boat like that on a J-rack, it will stick up too far and catch cross winds. I used one on my Mini once, a strong cross wind blew the Js flat, they broke but stayed attached so I didn’t lose the boat. Never again.

I would try carrying the boat deck-side-down on the bars, bow forward. I wouldn’t try it without something on the bars to reduce slipping. You can pad the bars with pipe insulation from Home Depot, it’s black closed-cell foam sold in 6-foot lengths with a length-wise split to allow it to go around existing pipes. It should open up enough to cover the top of your crossbars, hold it in place with zip ties.

Minis have a towing hook attachment point in the front bumper. It’s behind a removable semi-circle of plastic on the passenger side. There should be a heavy aluminum tow hook in the spare tire kit, mine is under the spare (if you have a spare). The hook is a very sturdy place to attach a bow line, which you should always do. (if you don’t have the hook, you can pick one up from a Mini parts place for $$$).

I’ve tried loading from the rear of the car but don’t like it. I stand next to the car with the cockpit hooked on my shoulder, with the boat between me and the car. Tip the bow up and swing it slowly onto the front crossbar first - once it’s resting there, lift the boat off your shoulder and walk your grip towards the stern, then lift that end up to the rear crossbar. This does assume you can get the boat onto your shoulder, not sure how easy that will be with your boat - do you have a picture of the boat?

I just grab the boat and heft it up on the Subaru when help is scarce. But my friend Fritz uses this kind of system to load a 100# wood canvas canoe on a SUV.

Get a bar extension and fasten it to the front rack. This is a clothes rod. It works. Tie to rack two places.

Lift front of boat up onto the extension.

Lift back of boat up onto the rear rack. Move front of boat back onto the roof rack. Remove extension. Tie down boat.

Use cradles on roof rack as shown. Cheap are these foam ones.

Check out Kayak Racks and Loading at . It may give you some ideas. J-racks are generally more challenging for solo loading unless you are tall and strong or your car is short. They are best used for carrying two or more boats on a narrow roof. Most people use two people and load from the side when using them. With a wide boat cross winds can put a lot of strain on them.

Normal saddles or a saddle/roller combination generally works best. They offer side assist or back extensions to make solo loading easier. An old bath rug is your friend to avoid antiquing your car. Foam blocks are an inexpensive option, but they may tend to roll over if loading from the rear.

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One trick that I found on YouTube is to get a piece of line and attach it to the bow or stern of the boat, whichever is on the ground and attach the other end to the car or truck. I use carabiners for this so it is super quick. You make the line exactly the right length, figure this out the first time you try it.

What is does is prevent the boat from sliding away when you do the initial lift. This really makes the “side bar” trick far easier.

Rhino Rack sells something called the Universal Side Loader which is just an extension bar that attaches to most racks and an expandable support post. The support post does make it more stable but I’m not sure it is needed.

Thank you all so much!

@Celia The Thule Hullavator looks amazing, but is unfortunately out of my price range :frowning:

@carldelo That’s definitely one of my worst nightmares (having something go wrong and having the thing fall off or even come close to it).
And thank you! I don’t have a spare, but did find the hook with the jack in the trunk (honestly never knew what that was for, figured it was just another weird thing that German cars had lol).
Pic of the kayak below (not my pic, but same boat). For the foam pieces, would pool noodles work? They look to be essentially the same thing.

@Overstreet This is awesome :smile: How is the clothes rack attached to the car?

@NotThePainter I was actually looking at the Rhino Rack :). This YouTube video sounds interesting, do you possibly have the link? :smiley:

The Hullivator is not in most peoples’ initial budget, no. But that kind of device did not exist when I first started as far as I recall. So if you start paddling now, it is an expenditure that you can start planning for. I suspect that pool noodles would as well or better than the foam blocks, due to the forces at work when you shove the boat further forward once it is up.

Most smaller SUV’s have that hook and the popout. You will likely not leave that category of vehicle behind as long as you are paddling.

Well, it took a while but found the photos I was looking for. When I only had one V-bar carrier on the roof, I would occasionally carry a second boat directly on the crossbars. This worked fine, but I eventually went to using two V-bars.

I didn’t use foam on the crossbars, since the skin boat shown has a fairly sticky surface (nylon fabric with a flexy coating), and the other rack prevented lateral motion.

It’s on the passenger side so the bow will be over the tow hook for the bow tie down. Note the line goes through the forward grab loop and is wrapped around the hull - that puts the load on the hull and prevents over-stressing the grab loop.

Pool noodles are a little slippery compared to pipe insulation and won’t last as long, but should work OK. The foam cradles shown by Overstreet may be a better idea, but it depends whether the deck of your boat is mostly flat where it sits on the crossbars - test it on the bars and see how it lies.

Rope…tied to rack. The far side in this pic was hooked to something. But tie both sides.


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My system has evolved to: foam cradles (I wore through multiple pool noodles and pipe insulation before I sprung for the real thing); hardwood stick that fits in the end of my Thule rack to put one end on; towel to prevent rubbing on car; two hose with webbing through them things that fit under hood and back hatch (I made the first ones, but then found some so cheap I couldn’t pass them by!). I’m not the strongest person out there, but am only getting it as high as needed on my Hyundai Elantra, and am usually solo so don’t have help. Or I’m driving my camper, and can put up to a 14’ kayak in the center through the back door!

I have an Elantra and a 12’ tandem. Am 71 years old. Easiest is this: Open a rear door.
Cover the rear door well with towels, etc. Cover near end of crossbar also. Kayak is on ground open cockpit up and bow forward. I use loose plastic shelving under kayak to move on ground, even down a boat ramp to water. Place kayak with stern even with and 4’ from rear of car. Tie stern to rear of car. I try to have stern of kayak against a parking curb or tied to a tree so it won’t slide away when you lift the bow. Place a Welcome mat under the stern for protection. Kayak is parallel to car with rear door open. Lift ONLY the bow and place it on the open car door. Now obvious why you don’t want stern moving away. Move underside of kayak to the crease between door and cross bar. Move to stern/ Pick up stern and push kayak onto top of car. YOU NEVER have to lift entire kayak or push very far. Lift, step over and place on door.
Leave it with cockpit up if you are not going on long trip at high speed. Also, I use a bicycle cable lock and additional 6’ of 1/2 " cable to tie stern to rear of car. This is great feeling in case of sudden stop. Steel cable! This is also a great security set up. For security for a sit-on-top, move bike cable from stern of boat and put through one of rear holes where drain plugs go. Thief will have to cut thru the boat or cut the cable, not just cut your stern handle rope.


Interesting use of rope to hold stern. I have been dealing with taller cars and we went with an Amagansett Roller Loader years ago so I go from the back of the car. Thru three car models with increasingly big rear spoilers this still works, tho’ I admit that the current spoiler off the back of the Rav4 is probably at the limit of what it’ll handle w/o getting bigger wheels.

But I also have added a rope to prevent unforeseen motion depending on the hull shape of the boat, except from the bow of the boat under the cross bars and back to me, where the hull shape had an occasional desire to twist to the side as it went forward and the roof got taller. Been known to use the added rope for my old CD Squall and at times for the Romany.

Once I get the Nordlow rerigged I will probably reserve hauling that via the Hullivator because it is so round. Makes for an easy roll but same works when it is in the air going up onto gliders and saddles.

This is the first time I have read of anyone doing something like that. Thanks for the input!

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Thank you so much everyone, seriously :smile:!

@carldelo I love your mini!! I was wondering what my tiny car would look like with a boat on it, you definitely answered that question. My other car is a Miata, and that definitely wasn’t happening with a kayak so it’s good to see that this will work out :).

The Chesapeake paddler guide is a very good overview. But my favorite part was the photos for Cat Not Included and Check Winter Storage infiltrators!

I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone for their advice. I got it up on the car (and down like 10 times, is it weird I wanted to practice? :rofl:). Though, I tried tying it down and when tightening the cam straps the bottom started to press in (quickly released that and left it be, which is why it’s not tied down in the pic). I have the pipe insulation around the rack, did I somehow miss a step or put it on wrong? I also tried loading it deck down as that side was much flatter (the bump behind the cockpit was only a couple centimeters from the sunroof which def freaked me out a little :rofl:). Or should I just invest in cradles (the v ones, not the j)? That seems like it might be a better idea then trying to put a rounded object onto a flat surface tightly.

Nice, looks good, the pipe insulation is sitting fine, no worries there. I was worried about the sunroof too, you can always turn the boat deck down with no straps and operate the sunroof to see if it touches the boat. If it’s not strapped down, it will just push the boat out of the way.

I do believe deck-down would be better, as tightening the straps will not deflect the hull so much that way. The position of the boat as shown is good, the bump behind the cockpit would sit just behind the crossbar. Worth a try, but don’t bother if you’re worried about it. I was careful to make sure the sunroof did not interfere with my rack system, or vice versa. Keep going, soon you may be taking a pair of boats on a 1000 mile 2-week road trip:

What is that bump?

If you put the boat on deck down and backwards, the bump could help limit any backward movement from the wind caused by driving,

Bump depends on the shape of the top of the kayakm Whether it exists is a variable thing betwern the boats l have. Your deck may not be shaped the same, don’t worry about it.
Regardless of bump or not, you do do have the lip of the coming.