Truck w/cap rack advice

Just acquired a new Tundra & awaiting delivery of a fiberglass cap to cover 6’ bed. Will be mounting existing Yakima rack to carry canoes. They range in length from 15’8" to 18’6" (layups of Royalex, kevlar & carbon fiber)

I intend to mount one bar on roof of truck’s cab & other on cap to give maximum spread/support to canoes.

A friend stated he was warned against doing this as cap & cab move/bounce independently & thus could torque any tightly strapped down hulls & perhaps damage them, especially over a long trip ?

I phoned Yakima who said mounting one bar on cap & other on cab is done all the time, perfectly acceptable, & they’ve never received any feedback on damage to boats as a result. I’m thus re-assured & intend to mount bars as originally planned but thought I’d solicit collective wisdom here …

Anyone heard of boat damage from mounting racks as I intend ? (BTW 1st trip will cover 5k miles +/- & will be carrying royalex hull only. Also intend to tow a trailer- another reason to avoid having hull extend well beyond back bumper)

Thamx in advance for feedback

Use Yakima track
I am not sure of the model name but I would use the Yakima track rack that mounts directly to the cap.

The fiberglass topper likely has a very high weight limit. Do you ever intend to haul bikes or skis? This other setup would likely be to spread out for this purpose.

What kind of topper are you getting? I had a Leer on my Chevy zr2 that had the tracks factory installed on a 6 ft bed. I loved that setup.

Is it too late to get that option addedd by the factory. If not it should be an easy DIY job as you have easy access to the fiber top.

Also, all of the wind noise was behind the cab and not as noticeable as it might have been if it were over the cab.

With 6’ bed, use the rack tracks
I got mine installed at the topper factory (A.R.E. topper). I know Leer offers this option also.

You don’t actually get 6’ of spread, but you get about 5’. The shape of the topper tapers slightly from bottom to top, shortening the maximum roof length. Still, 5’ spread is pretty good. In fact, it puts the cradles right under the bulkheads in most single kayaks. With the tracks, you can shorten the spread as much as you like, too.

I know the above doesn’t answer your question. Personally, I would not do what you propose, esp. with a new truck. I’ve seen too many twisted truck beds.

BTW, toppers generally have about the same safe load limit as regular roofs do–only 200 to 250 lbs. I’ve seen a photo of one topper at one topper shop showing 4 guys standing on a topper, but the topper manufacturers are wary of even giving any load rating. When I asked around, nobody was willing to give a hard answer. They all said “probably” 200 lbs, except for one guy who said “probably” 250 lbs for one particular model with a thicker layup. (I posed the question to Leer, A.R.E., Snugtop, Astro, Jason, and Glasstite reps.)

You do have another option, but it will greatly reduce your load limit:

I know someone who put on a fancy topper (the kind that makes it look like an SUV, with the overhanging lip to hide the bedrail-topper junction). It had the rack tracks, crossbars, and cradles. He later rued that with his 5.5’ bed the 19’ kayak overhung the rear end more than he liked if he tried to place the bulkheads over the support points. Soooooo, he got a contractor-type rack, the kind that has a long platform extending over the cab.

These kinds of racks are supposed to sit on the bed rails. They don’t work with the overhanging-lip kind of topper. He ended up paying someone to modify (drill) the topper to bolt the new rack ON the topper roof. I don’t know how much the contractor rack itself weighs, but guaranteed it’s a lot more than rack tracks and Yakima crossbars weigh. So take 200 lbs as the topper roof safe limit, subtract the weight of the contractor rack AND the cradles AND the kayaks. I don’t think that leaves much of a safety margin, if any.

Now, if someone can verify that fiberglass toppers have load limits higher than 250 lbs, I’ll be pleased to see that. But so far, nobody has come up with any such thing. A metal topper might hold more; almost nobody likes the looks of those.

Thanx for replies
Much appreciate the very detailed info.

I asked local ARE dealer price of tracks. They were >$200 & w/ towers & bars, >$400 ! Realize these systems are expensive but already have 2 Yakima sets I can adapt cheaply (one set top loaders & one set Q clips) Besides, only need tracks if I wanted to mount both bars on cap(topper)or wanted to move position of one bar. They’d have required new towers, also.

I don’t think 5’ spread is sufficient for securing 18’6" boat. Boat is only item (except maybe long lumber)to be carried on roof. Have bikes but they’ll go insdide under cap. Concern was for potential stress on kevlar or graphite canoes ? Think truck bed can easily withstand any stress involved.

Thanx again.

Been hauling canoes on top of my Ford Ranger for years. Fiberglass cap, with gutter plates, 2 bars and another bar on the cab, on Q Towers. Yes the bed moves vs the cab, but I’ve had no trouble even on 600 mile one way haules and running on dirt forest service roads. Hauled aluminum, fiberglass, kevlar, and custom built wood stripper canoes.


No Problem
I had a 1993 Ranger extended cab pickup w/ a fiberglass topper. The topper had Yakima racks on the back (mounted on what were then known as artificial rain gutters) and the other bar mounted over the cab. Took road trips of over 5000 miles with one or two canoes on top, including 80 mph on MT interstates and bouncing along down two-track dirt roads. No problem whatsoever. My straps (NRS) always stayed tight. After 13 years and 150,000 miles (most with canoes on top) I traded the truck for a small SUV. I miss the 9 foot spread I had with the pickup and topper combo. To me, there is no better boat hauling rig.

2000 Ranger with cap and fleas
Ford Rangers is a dog with fleas, but it still goes.

My truck cab has 2 (1 left, 1 on right)adapter plates to simulate gutters that fit my old Quick-n-easy racks. The other brackets are on the cap rear area, through bolted in the fiberglass.

The fronts: partly pulled down the headliner, looked at the available frame and roof supports, and used some flimsy supports and the flimsy roof with washers to combine them, and through bolted the cab brackets.

Never a moments problem.

I snug the web straps around the boats, but not super tight. I also use bungee straps as a secondary strap system to keep them from bouncing but allow some flexing. Works well for me.

Cab + Cap is ok

If your Tundra flexes so much between the bed and cap that it would damage a canoe, Toyota has done a bigger snow job about their truck quality than even i would give them credit for.

I hauled canoes on a really beat 69 Chevy short bed that groaned on dirt roads, and i am sure there was a lot of side to side flex. But we never had any problems with the canoes coming loose or even visible gunwale rub from the gunwale brackets. We had top-loader Yakima brackets riveted to the cab roof, and a homemade set of uprights bolted to the bed sides just in front of the tailgate. A Schedule 80 pipe across the supports mounted Yakima gunwale brackets. This rig hauled 4 canoes from Rochester to Massawepie more than once. We put 2x4’s with carpet on top of the first layer and then put the second layer of canoes on the 2x4’s and tied them down to the crossbars. Not pretty, but it traveled well. And the road to Forester didn’t shake anything loose.

I think you are better off using the cab+cap set up vs two racks on the cap. Keeping the rear overhang down will make your life in parking lots a whole bunch safer for your boats. They will be up high enough that most people will not see them in their mirrors and yet a lot of SUV’s and vans can smack them. And mounted on the cap only, you can’t see the boats from your drivers seat. With the front rack on the cab, you will see the fronts of both boats above you.

Have a great winter, maybe we’ll see you at the Round the Mountain Race in Saranace Lake in May. Its our combination Massawepie Water & Gas + Canoe Race weekend.


I run a kayak school and we purchased a truck this year…I had my worries about the glass cap, but was told not to fear. I pick up the Thule rails and feet and have not had any trouble, even with 4-5 kayaks on the roof.

Been doing this since 1991 with …
Yakimas and even longer with Quick and Easy rack. Have had two Dakota Club Cabs with Yakima Q Towers on the front and 1A on the truck cap with the factory installed (by the cap manufacturer) Yakima Top Loader rain gutters. These are installed by the factory so as not to void the cap warranty, but that’s the only reason I did not do this myself. I have a nine foot spread on the Dakota CC and have carried both canoes (stripper, WC and royalex) and kayaks (grp, SOF and poly) without any problems. Heck, you’ve probably passed me along some road.

Good luck!



no problem.
I have an F150 with an 8’ bed. Its a 95, and they were still putting rain gutters on then.

I have a Quick and Easy set of car tops. One over the cab, towards the back, and the other mounted on the back end of a cheapo aluminum topper, which is at cab height. I bolted a set of the short rain gutter substitutes through the side of the topper, and through a piece of 2"x6" that runs down to the side rail - all the weight is on the rail, not on the topper that way. I could carry 500 lbs or more on that setup on the topper, not sure what the cab would hold.

Haven’t had any issues with carrying canoes, though most of my miles are on blacktop when carrying canoes, with just a bit of gravel road or two track down to the put in. Any canoe I can think of would be flexible enough to bend and twist with the topper without being damaged. (So how “stiff” is a carbob fiber boat?)

If you are going to be driving down really rough jeep trails, you could have an issue, and it would be best to not tie the boats any tighter than necessary, and I’d put some padding under the gunnels to allow for a bit more flexibility. Definitely would not use gunnel clamps then. I do a lot of hunting, and there really is a lot of twisting between the cab and the bed when going down a jeep raod - a lot of the time, all four wheels are going over a different sized boulder or into a hole at the same time. After 10 or 15 years of that, my old aluminum topper had bad cracks in each corner, including the framework. It really was busted up, but fixable with extra bracing. That was all caused by that different twisting of the bed and cab- even the bed twists differently at the front and back at times.

roof rack

– Last Updated: Jan-11-07 1:47 PM EST –

I have a GMC pickup with a leer fiberglass camper top. I got the camper top from ebay and it came with yakima bars already monted on it. I installed land shark cradles on the bars (the bars are about 4 ft apart) and this setup works great. I usually carry two kayaks at a time. The lift to the rack is pretty high but I just lift one end of the kayak to the back rack and then lift the up the other end and slide it foreward. No problem even for an oldish fart like me.

I also use
a rack system on my Ranger with a Yakima bar and towers on the cab and artificial gutters and a Yakima bar on the fiberflass cap. Like others I have hauled up to 2 canoes many miles with never a problem. It is a great hauling system.

I have done exactly what you are
proposing and have had no problems. Most of the 40k miles on the truck were made with a canoe or canoes on top.

Tacoma Cap
I mounted the Yakima tracks and bars directly onto my ARE cap with no problem. This is probably a shorter span than you’d have on the Tundra cap. Carry 17 ft kayaks with no problem. I was more squimish about drilling holes into the actual cab. Can send pics if you’re interested.

Thanx again
Much appreciate the helpful replies.

I’m fully re-assured now & give much more credence to experience of fellow paddlers than to manufacture’s self-serving info.

Replies also brought up few additional reasons I hadn’t considered for monting one bar on cap & other on cab.

See you on road (or better yet, on the water !)

Maybe experiment with the flex
I personally wouldn’t put one rack on the topper and the other on the cab due to flex between the two, but those who say they do this are probably correct that it usually isn’t much of a problem. Here are some things you can do to check flexibility though. First, drive the truck diagonally against a steep hill, and proceed up the hill until the rear wheel on that side starts to come off the ground (this will mimick what can happen on very uneven ground at unimproved landings). Set the brake to keep the truck there and look things over. Odds are you will see about two inches of flex where the side of the box meets the cab. The amount of off-centerness will be greater on the roof line because this is farther from the frame. Are you comfortable with the idea of twisting your boat that much? If so, go for it.

You can also mimick the effect of big bumps in the road by putting a big load way forward in the box. Measure how close the front edge of the cap is to the back of the cab with and without that load. You’ll proably see that gap close-up by about one inch with the load, and my own observations (looking out the back window while someone else drives) suggests that a good dip in the road will cause nearly as much flex as this. Whatever amount that gap closes by on bumps is how far your canoe will slide on the bars. Strap it down really tight, and that’s how much the canoe must “scrunch” as allowed by hull flexibility. Again, maybe no harm will come of it, and that’s up to you.

rack on fiberglass top
I want to mount a Thule or Yakima system to my fiberglass topper. My concern is the height of the rack system being about 4 inches. With my 16 foot canoe on top and about 7 inches of bow(pulled string tight end to end and measured to center of canoe) I might be close to hitting cab of truck. Anyone had any problems with this setup? I want to pull my travel trailer while carrying my canoe, so I wouldn’t want canoe to hang out back over 2 foot or so. Rackoutfitters suggested maybe a gutter mount and high foot system, but that limits the bars to one position. I would rather have the sliding track mounted to topper which would allow repositioning of the bars as needed.

I have a 2001 Dodge extended cab with short wheel base. See this website for a visual of my concern. Imagine a Thule or Yakima system like the one on the silver truck, but installed on the burgandy truck like in the second picture. I intend to install both bar/racks to the fiberglass top and none to the cab.

I would appreciate any advice or input.