type of roof rack to use?

I wanted some advice about which type of roof carriers are better to use. I am rather short 5’2 and sometimes have difficulty getting the kayak on the roof of my SUV. Before I buy a permanent type of kayak carrier, I wanted to know if anyone has strong opinions one way or the other about using J hooks or just the standard roof carriers.

Thank you.

J vs saddles
J racks are often used buy people who have more than 1 boat, as they make it easier for people to fit 2 boats on the roof, where saddles sometimes don’t allow this for wider boats.

If getting boats up is a challenge for you, and you only want 1 boat (or 2 boats, if you have narrow boats), you may want to look at saddle/rollers combo. You put the rollers on back, saddles on front bar. To put a boat up, you lift the bow of the boat up and place it on the rollers. Then more to back and push the boat on the rollers until it is far enough forward to be on front saddles in right place. Works better for longer boats (and wouldn’t work at all for short boats like white water boats).

Yes like Peter said
I sure wouldn’t get J-Bars. I would go with some type of V-saddle that load from the rear of the SUV. This is assuming you have a kayak of at least 12 feet or so. Malone makes V-saddles so do several other places. Oak Orchard kayak also does. I have the ones from Oak Orchard. The roller is a separate piece that fits into the slot for the back door. Its much easier to slide a kayak onp from the rear than to lift it up from the side of the car and set it into j-bars. Especially at your height onto a tall SUV.



I’m short (5’3") and drive a Subaru Forester. When going out alone, the only thingsI can use are saddles. I have the Thule Glide and Set and augment it with a rubber-backed bath rug laid over the back of the vehicle. Just set the bow on the rug and slide it up. This works for my 9-footer as well as my 14-footer, but may not work for such a short boat if your vehicle is really tall.

Kayak flat + rear loader
For loading by yourself I find the easiest method is to load the kayak from the rear of the vehicle, rightside up, into saddles. The Thule Glide and Set saddles are felt in the rear to facilitate sliding and rubber in the front to grip the kayak.

With a tall vehicle the challenge is to clear the rear edge of the car without scraping it. There are various devices that make this possible, mostly rollers that extend out past the rear of the car.

How it all works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2NBWCar8fg

This stuff is all expensive, but all of it can be obtained much cheaper on Craigslist. Be careful though: the feet on the rack need to be specifically for your vehicle’s roof. Get the exact part # of the feet and check compatibility with your vehicle online.


2 square bars

4 feet

4 saddles like the Thule Glide and Set

1 roller like the Thule 884 Roll Model

2 long straps to go around the middle of the kayak and attach it to the bars. Avoid ratcheting straps (the ratchets rust and stick). Get cam buckle straps.

2 straps to attach the bow and stern to your bumper

Use a cart
I am very small at just over 5’ and I use my kayak cart to get my Tarpon 100 on my Corolla.

Similar to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SN55Jfu94c

that video is
This video you posted a link to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2NBWCar8fg is fooling people. It doesn’t show the hard part of getting it into position its just all of a sudden up on the back in the video. That Thule rack doesn’t have the slider part in the back stick any were near far enough out to keep kayak off car. I know someone who has one and it requires two people with a heavy kayak. Thule does make one that the slider part extends out farther to actually work BUT that one doesn’t at all. It stinks. It would work if another slider was added like the roller from Oak Orchard that I pointed out but without something extra it stinks big time. BUT like I said Thule does make a better one but it cost more that the slider part can extend farther out back and actually be useful, the one in the video is the crappy one they sell. If you look at the Malone one I put a link to above you can see how there slider part extends out back to keep kayak off back of car/suv.

Now, that’s determination!
And creativity.

You’re right!

– Last Updated: Jun-20-14 7:56 PM EST –

I completely agree with you and that's why I mentioned that there are other devices. I think the Thule Roll Model is poorly designed. On May 6 I posted instructions for modifying the Roll Model to extend out past your car roof (by screwing wooden dowels into the aluminum arms). The modified loader has worked very well for me on a car with a square back.

But why would you have to modify something so expensive? Buy it on Craigslist and you won't resent it so much.

I agree that the video is deceptive.