trying to decide: hullavator or trailer?

With the intro of the new Hullavator from Thule, I am again playing with the idea of finding a better way to carry my boat solo (a 16’ poly barge). With a pregnant wife and the distinct possiblity that many of my future paddling trips will be solo, I need to do something different. My truck-cap rack is tall and even with my home-made outrigger to assist loading onto my Malone autoloaders, it’s stil a bear to load the kayak alone. And with the possibility that little Maggie may develope the love for paddling that her Mom and I have, I need a future carrier that will accomodate the whole 4 boat fleet.

So the question remains…spend $400 NOW on the Hullavator to get me on the water easier solo or spend more than twice that to get something that will serve us all in the future? Money is tight right now due to all the baby expenses and honestly I just don’t know what to do. Please send any Paypal donations to poorpaddler@… :slight_smile:

Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks -


Get a trailer
Your family needs you healthy. Throwing your back out wrestling with a kayak on a windy day would be a lot more expensive than a trailer. A trailer is safer, easier to load and unload and more versatile. I believe the SportsRig is the best and you can find reviews and information about it and others on this site.



Not quite double
Hi P,

Another option that isn’t quite double the $ of the Hullivator would be a Trailex SUT-200. Single boat trailer. Comes in 2 UPSable boxes. Takes about 2 hours to assemble with a 9/16 wrench and a screwdriver. All aircraft alum. = very light. Costs $660 + shipping. Might be an option. I’ve had good success with some of my students where their lifting a boat up or overhead clearance issues have made a roof rack impractical.

See you on the water,



Trailers are great! I use a utility trailer, got it from Harbor Freight for about $225. Some assembly required and doesn’t include plywood for the deck. 4x8’, 12"wheels, and it folds and stores upright in the garage. I’ve trailered poly and a wood/epoxy kayaks on this thing and never had any trouble. It does bounce some on rough railroad tracks, I just slow down for them. It doesn’t look as classy as the more expensive ones, but it serves my purpose. Plus, now I’ve got a utility trailer for other stuff (motorcycle, riding lawn mower, etc.)

I don’t understand why it is so hard…
…for you to get your yak on your truck cap.

I have a full size Ford pick up, and I put two 17 foot plastic yaks on it.

If you have a good solid rack such as a Yakama with the rear cross bar as close to the back of your cap and you have their saddles, glue some pieces of indoor outdoor carpet to the saddles.

Bring your yak up to the back of the truck and put the bow on the saddles. Then go to the stern of the yak and pick it up and slide the yak forward as far as you can get it. Next put your tailgate down and climb up on it and push the kayak the rest of the way on.

I am only 5’9" and 160 pounds as well as being a senior senior citizen and if I can do it you can too.

With a trailer you get involved with license plates, inspections and extra insurance.



Trailer registration is inexpensive
I’m sure this varies by state, but our trailer costs less than $20/yr to register. Insurance is also inexpensive–after all, it’s not a motor-powered set of wheels.

Learning to back it up isn’t bad, either.

The main problem I have with trailering is that on a long trip, it limits choice of camping spots and parking. And if you want to do some 4-wheeling on the same trip that you’re going kayaking, forget about pulling a trailer.

But for the person who posted this thread, I think a trailer makes the best long-term solution. There is less chance of injury or damaged (from dropping) kayaks. Trailering also affects gas mileage very little, if at all. And if it is a utility or flatbed-based trailer, it can be used for many other haul jobs.

Hullavator problems
I recently picked up the Hullavator and have had some problems. It is a freaking pain in the neck to get that darn boat up there. I use 2 people with 2 ladders to get it on and off. If I am going solo, I can’t use the rack, I switch to the good ol foam blocks. I am 5 5 and drive an trailblazer. Just letting you know ahead of time what you may be in for.

Try a roller
I have a Pamlico 145T, weighs about 70 lbs, and bought a Thule Rollercoaster. I put the bow of the boat on the roller and just slide it up on the rack. I’m 5’6" and have a small SUV (Tracker) thats just tall enough to be a pain in the a**. I also use a piece of old rug under the roller when loading and unloading.

JackL, It’s not that I can’t…

– Last Updated: Jun-16-05 9:33 PM EST –

because I do's just big, bulky, and heavy by myself. I'm a big sweaty guy and I hate to have a nice relaxing paddle and then get all hot and bothered loading the boat. Besides, I have a history of dropping my Pungo and I just don't want to drop that Necky. I just want something easier.
Thanks to a fellow P-Netter's suggestion, I made a homemade outrigger out of a 2.5' piece of 5/8 threaded rod with lock nuts, washers, and a swim noodle (pics are available if anyone is interested). I shove it into the end of the bar. It works great but if I drop that boat I'm going to be very upset. Especially if it lands on that rudder (no rudder cracks from anyone OK?). With the rack investment I've already made (Malone Autoloaders and Thule Bars) I'd hate to re-invest in rollers and saddles just to find out it's still an pain in the arse. I'd just be throwing good money after bad when a trailer sounds more like the answer.

Thanks for all the input folks. I can always count on you guys and gals to give me points to ponder.


I couldn’t believe how much
. . . nicer a trailer was until I got one. I wound up with a Trailex and I highly recommend the product. My local kayak shop was a dealer so it was sent to them and assembled for me. The aluminum trailer is very lightweight and I can maneuver it around by hand to store it. Registration is a cheap and easy in Georgia and maintenance is not really an issue beyond the wheel bearings. You don’t need a bearing buddy unless you plan on dipping the wheels in the water and bearings should be repacked every other year or so.

I was able to mount an aluminum truck box on the center post (they sell a mounting kit) so that all the gear can go inside leaving more room in the car for my family of five and their other stuff. I still have the roof rack and can still use it if I ever need to carry more than 4 boats.

The Trailex models are on the expensive end - you pay for the aluminum. A utility trailer would help with the cost and also be available for other jobs.

Customer Support
Call Malone Autoracks at 1-800-295-0042 tommorow morning and ask for Tim. Mention this post and explain the problem your having. I think we can help.

Confusion about hullavator?
My Thule 897 Hullavator makes my 56 pound Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 weigh zero. In raising it I can stop half way up and it is perfectly balanced, going neither up nor down. I put a 35 pound kayak on the Hullavator. When I had it half way up, I let go of the Hullavator handles. The kayak actually continued to go up slowly. Gidorah: are you sure you have a Hullavator?

When I got my Hullavator it came with a great DVD on how to install and use it. Some great hints that I would have missed had I not watched the video. I’ve found that I can easily load a 70 lb kayak on my pickup’s topper shell with no problems. If you are having trouble loading your kayak, I’d watch the DVD. Overall, I’ve had no issues with my Hullavator. It’s worked like a charm and been a lifesaver (backsaver!).

3rd on the Harbor Freight trailer
I have one and use it for many purposes. I do wish it was longer but I’m rigging up a rack system to use so the bow will actually sit over my trunk lid.

Hullavator vs Trailer
I only carry one boat, so a trailer isn’t really reasonable for me. My Hullavator has worked great so far. It lowers the boat over three feet from where I would have had to load it without one. So far I’ve been very happy! A trailer would be nice, but I have nowhere to store it when not in use (too often I’m afraid).

From my experience, the trailer works fine with just one boat. As for storage, the Harbor Freight model folds in half and stores upright. Once upright, it can be moved on casters that are mounted on the trailer. The only downside is that the casters are a little small, but they’re fine for a garage floor.

Hitch Extender
Why not get the $125 hitch extender (if you have a receiver hitch) and just carry it in the pickup bed. I carry a 13’, 14’ and a 15’ yak in my 8 foot bed with the tailgate down and without the hitch extender. Proper straps and bungies of course. Super easy to load and unload. Safety flags are carabinered to the bow handles at the bows while transporting. ImpalaBob

trailers are nice
There is a guy selling them on Ebay periodically for around $400 shipped, they go together easily and work well.

FYI - I sold a kayak recently to a guy who had a really clever system, he had Yak racks and put some PVC pipe over the middle racks, and he could slide a kayak right up there. Useful and as cheap as it gets. If you are alone, you pop one end of the kayak on the rack, and slide it up. Works great because the PVC rolls on the Yak rack.

Hitch Extender
Hitch extenders are great, I used one when I had a pickup. Mine was $20 from Harbor Freight. If anyone wants it, come to Huntsville, AL and its yours!