Weight Capacity of Luggage Rack ?

I have 2004 Pontiac Montana with luggage rack. I put my OK Prowler on just fine and now the husband wants one too. The Kayak place says the rack won’t hold the 120lb total weight and need to spend hundreds on a new rack system. After asking the car dealer and surfing the net I am getting a weight bearing capacity of anywhere from 165 lb. up to 500lb (per the manual the roof can hold only 150lb). As you can see, I would prefer to just shove the first rack to the side, spend another $60 for a second rack (mine looks like the letter V from the rear and work great) and voila! Anyone know the correct answer to how much weight the rack can handle? Side by side the kayaks will be 7 1/2 inched wider than the van on each side—hopefully that is legal???

Check your owners manual my Jeep is
rated at 150 lbs. Just remember to you front and rear straps to take the strain off the rack as you drive.

Re: weighty problem
Your kayak dealer is just trying to sell you a rack. The weight limits for rooftop luggage racks has more to do with a higher center of gravity and vehicle stability than with actual luggage rack capacity. I carry two Scupper Pros on my Mercury Villager rack using fitted foam blocks which I got for $25-30 a pair. A friend uses large fun-doodles split and duct taped to his rack. They both work fine.

Is the
"kayak place" straight shooters? How far and afast are you going to be going? will you be able to tie the boats to the frame of the car or only to the rack?

that being said:

the racks on my first saturn were only rated for 80 pounds. I hose clamped on a couple of two by fours, put two canoes on top and drove from North Carolina to Algoinquin provencial park at 65-75mph the whole way. I had a lot of tie downs so that even if the racks failed I would loose the boats at highway speeds due to wind sheer.

My friend the canunut always suggests that if you are going to keep the car just drill a few holes in th eroof and bolt on some wood racks.

Do you have a Black and Decker drill?..


Drill holes? My husband would kill me
I just knew you all would know how to cheer up a cold day in Florida (in 30s tonight—brrr).

I had a feeling the shop was too eager to install a full Yakima system. Too bad the Pontiac people can’t tell me the rack can hold _ _ _ lbs. That way I would be more confident to just go for another saddle. I know the roof handles up to 150lb but the cross bars do “flex” some when you bounce on them as if going over a pot hole. I usually stay within 200 miles of home, but then I have a heavy foot on the gas, and hope to travel all of Florida with this kayak, especially if get the spouse geared up for it. Yes I do strap front and rear for safety, but put nearly 0 pressure on them to avoid bending the kayak going down the road.

We have the same vehicle
If the wieght of your boats will be fully carried by the cross members I think I would buy the rack. The side rails on the Montana are very well mounted, but the cross members don’t inspire as much confidence with me. I’ve carried my boat on the factory rack a couple of times and they seem to wiggle more than they used to even when tightened down. We already had the Yakima low rider towers and bars for our bikes and I’m much more comfortable with the boats on them.

Another option would be to make some foam blocks that fit the rack perfectly. I think if the bottom of the foam block I was using would have rested on the roof properly when it was slid over the bar like it is supposed to that there wouldn’t have been as much movement.

At least you don’t have the 2004 Ford minivan, my neighbors Ford factory rack separated from the roof carrying two 12’ kids kayaks across the state last year. Bow and stern tie downs saved the day.

Topside weight
My opinion is that most racks can take 2 boats, sum to 150 lbs or less. Make sure the bow tiedown is strong and well fastened.

The previous post mentioned the high weight altering the center of gravity… Just in my pickup with a half load of stuff, I didn’t notice the interstate had stopped ahead of me until the back of the car in front was closing fast. I whipped it left, then right, and almost did a balancing act with another leftward correction to keep it on 4 wheels. Quite a sensation that will roll high CG vehicles like SUVs. The left swerve was ok, the truck leaned right, then I corrected to the right to stay in the new lane, and the truck correcting itself combined with the right turn correction added to an attempt to roll over left. A bit of left held it up. Stay awake and Fly The Plane.

A agree with David
Though I haven’t seen the factory rack in question, the cross bars on such racks are usually pretty flimsy, and their attachement points to the side rails tend are sometimes failure-prone. On the other hand, the side rails and anchor points on most factory racks tend to be reasonably sturdy. Even a crudely built set of cross bars which attach to your existing side rails (I’ve even seen people make these out of two-by-fours, U-bolted to the side rails or roof-anchor moldings) is usually a whole lot better than using the factory cross bars.

Conflicting responses
Well, this issue is just like life. No clear cut answers. Looks like it depends upon how “on the edge” I want to be. It may be ok (total weight 120 lb) but then again it may not (I use good front,rear tie downs a back up to a failed cross bar). I have written to Pontiac by email, GMC (several sites kept taking me there) and harassed the local dealer who sold me the van to contact their sources and get back with me. If/when I get some reply, I’ll post it for you all. Thanks for all the input. Happy yakkin’ :slight_smile:

rack thoughts
Sounds like you somehow found V-saddles to fit your stock factory rack…that’s already pretty cool.

Maybe you could check to see if those V-saddles also fit Yakima or Thule racks - because that way you can go ahead and buy them and if you end up also buying a Thule or Yakima later…you would need V-saddles for it anyway.

Good racks give peace of mind and hold boats more securely which feels good at high speeds; personally I don’t like it when boats get blown around and wiggle all over.

I think you’ll be fine with your factory rack if you don’t travel too far or fast to paddle, or if you only paddle once a month. But in general a solid rack is something you’ll really appreciate every time you use it, so I doubt that you’d ever regret buying a stronger rack. You can often find sales and good racks for maybe $150 or so.

Plus you might post an ad or a posting looking for something used to fit your vehicle. I have 2 Yakima racks that I’d sell pretty cheap…one fit a 1993 Mercury Tracer and one fit a 2004 Explorer. But you’d have to come to Ann Arbor to pick one up. I’m sure that other paddlers have racks from previous vehiclss in their garages too.

Double cross
I am currently using a Yakima double cross that attaches to the rack on my Subaru Legacy. I dont use the factory cross bars. My racks have a curve in them so I cant use flat bars. If your rack is straight, you can get away cheap. Home Depot carries Unistrut in 10’ lengths and assorted clamps or u bolts. Cut the strut to the proper length and clamp or u bolt it to your factory rack. Probably cost you less than $30.

I worry about wind more
than weight. I only haul very light kayaks (all under 30 lbs) but big gusts on overpasses can be pretty scary! I have a Jeep Grand Cherokee & my Yakima cross bars use the side rails on the Jeep. What worries me most, is the strength of the side rails where they fasten to the roof. I carry a 21’kayak & always try to use my front tow hook for a solid bow tie down & tie the boat to both sides of the rack in front, in the event one side rail might break loose.

Last year my Jeep was rear-ended & I had to put a downriver kayak on a Saturn with only 26" between crossbars. This was a nightmare, even with tons of rope. I couldn’t drive on the interstate,(truck wakes) & this made for a long round trip from Kansas to Montana. Good luck & if ever in doubt, extra rope or strap is cheaper than a UFO!

Got answer from Pontiac people
The luggage rack is good up to 90 lbs. they suggest their sport rack for kayaks etc ($104). When asked about how much weight that would hold, the reply was “at your discretion”. Cop out if ever I heard one. I will be getting either a Yakima or Thule, once I figure out which seems better. Yakima is #1 in volume sales but the round bar would allow slipping of attachments, the Thule is square and not slipping, but sqUare is inherently less stronG than a tube shape. Trade offs everywhere. Thanks to one and all for the input.

Most roofs and racks can hold alot of weight in a downward direction but the real question is how much weight can they hold in an upward direction. Some factory racks are only held on the roof with a couple of sheet metal screws and depending upon your boat shape it might be creating alot of lift while you are crusing down the road. Hurricaine winds start at 70 MPH.

If you’re happy and confident in your vehicle’s roof, and in your vehicles rails, get one of the rack manufacturer towers that will attach to YOUR factory rails, and put the rack manufacturer’s crossbars on the towers.

We got the Yakima railrider system for our Jeep Grand Cerokee -not because the rack wouldn’t support the boats, but because we couldn’t lay our 2 boats side-by-side flat on their backs on the factory racks. We went with 58" bars to accomodate our OK Scupper Classic & Scupper Pro TW, each 26" beam.

We put them on the rack upside down, and strap them in and snug them down tight. When I push on the kayaks, the car moves and sways, so I know they’re down for the count. I also tie them down fore & aft for travel, but not for shorter, non-expressway slow-speed local street trips to the beaches & similar put-ins around here.

Tie-downs’ll also help keep your boats on top when you’re dancing from lane to lane like Steve did… Or, as Keith Jackson might’ve said: “WHOA NELLIE!”. Glad to see y’all made it out of that one alive, STeve!

If you like paddling and are going to be doing it for a while, and if you’re going to get your best friend involved in it, and if you’re going to keep your vehicle for 3-4 years, and get another with a roof rack (or at least rails), bite the bullet and buy the rack: it makes like SO much easier, everything fits A-OK nice & tight, and you can use the system -with a new tower adapter (probably -for your next new car.

It makes life so much eaiser to pack the boats up so you’ll WANT to get out there and

Paddle On!

-Frank in Miami

2 different stories…
I have been facing the same problems with my subaru forester…

I have the factory crossbars on and a loadwarrior basket mounted to the bars. In the summer, I have 2 fork mounts for my mountain bikes but end up taking the hardware off for the winter because of all the corrosive salt poured on the roads in MI.

BUT, I need to mount 2 kayak carriers on top, like the Yakima hullraisers, and when I went to check out some carriers at REI, they told me that I absolutely could not mount the hullraisers onto the loadwarrior basket for 2 reasons…

  1. It would be well over the weight limit for my forester with 2 yaks and the basket up top.
  2. The basket would place the yaks too high above the vehicle and I risk loosing the whole thing going down the freeway.

    So the REI sales guys proceeded to try and sell me the mounting hardware for the hullraisers without using the basket on my vehicle…quite a lot of $$.

    So I spoke with YAKIMA and they told me that I would have no problem mounting the yaks up top on the loadwarrior, the carriers could be secured to the crossbars on the basket, and I would just have to make sure that the bow and stern tiedowns are secure…

    I’m still a little apprehensive about this…

    I hate to have to remove the basket and mount my carriers on my factory mounts everytime I want to take the kayaks out, and for that matter, in the summer when we’re cycling, this could be a real hassle…

    just my 2 cents.

It’ll be worth it.
The good news is that I’ve got 61" between the bars when the Yakima is attached to the side rails at the very front and rear on our Montana rack. You can also get longer crossbars, I think ours are 54". You can then carry wider boats or kayaks and bikes at the same time. You won’t regret the purchase whether you go with Thule or Yakima. Most of the stuff we have has been used on several vehicles over the years. Our Yakima was purchased 10 years ago. We’ve had to puchase new clips twice and new towers last year for the Pontiac, but the rest of the assessories are origonal.

If I remember right, the rack should stick out the sides no further than your side mirrors.