What style carrier for small car?

My first kayak is due to arrive next week and I am without a carrier. My car is super small at 11 ft (over 1.5 ft smaller than a Mini Cooper). I currently have an Inno Rack on the car with a load of 100lbs. I go kayaking with other people and would like the option to carry 2 kayaks if possible (this would max the weight out, but the fastest I can go here is around 35mph.

I’m not sure if J hooks or saddles would be best for stability on a car with bars not too far apart. So far I’ve been looking at the Inno INA450 or any type of foldable J hook like the Yakima BowDown. Height isn’t an issue as I can easily lift a kayak onto my roof. If I need saddle mounts, I haven’t figured out what to get for those.

To give you an idea of the size, this is my car with my buddies 16ft kayak on it.


Even though the rack maker may not
say so, I think the rear bar of your rack could be mounted farther back.

If you find a way to strut, or connect, the front bar to the rear bar, it will greatly increase the stability of the whole setup.

Our Honda Accord’s Yakima bars are only 32 inches apart. But strutted together, they will allow two kayaks, even two light canoes, to be tied on.

Sometimes I use cradles, sometimes I use towers and tie the boats to them resting on edge. Many ways to skin a cat.

One solution

– Last Updated: Oct-19-14 12:56 PM EST –

I have a Mini, and have used a V-bar setup for 9 years, with no problems:



V-bars are nice in that they allow the saddles to be farther apart than a normal cradle setup, so the boats are highly stable. Also, boat tie-down is under 5 minutes. The downside is the size of the setup - depending on how you attach it to the roof, it can be difficult to mount and demount a full V-bar system.

Those pictured are Kayakpro EZ-Vees, but I hear they are going out of production. Good Boy Kayaks makes a version that is quite a bit less money, and is well-regarded by many on the board.

PS - forgot to mention width as below. V-bars get the boats far apart. I carry 24" and 25.5" wide kayaks side by side on the Mini with a couple of inches clearance, cf picture 2 above.

I’d guess that width will be a problem for you too.

J racks will get the boats on their sides. That will help.

Or just foam blocks and a stacker bar could accomplish the same thing for less than half the price. http://www.yakima.com/shop/water/roof/kayak-stacker

I think you could move your front rack forward.

Where in Japan are you?

Ah’d diffidently…
Put bow an’ stern tie-downs on dat!


your rack looks fien
Your rack looks fine.

I second what another had said that if you can move the front cross bar forward and the back bar backward to give more space, it would be better. The wider the distance between bars, the less leverage at the points.

And second what another said about adding at least a bow line. The thought is that if a line gives out, you still want the connection to hold. In short boats, like whitewater boats, 1 line may be enough should a second go. For most everything else, you want at least 3 connection points.

If the width of the rack is not enough for 2 boats to sit side by side (so this is both the width of the rack and the width of the boats), then going to something that angles the boats could help. J-racks is one way. or go all the way on the side with some sort of stacker setup.


We use the INA450 for our kayaks and it has worked fine for the past couple years. I mount the vertical stacker bar in the middle of the crossbars though, rather than off to one side like the Inno website shows.

You can move both the front and back crossbars to give a wider base. If you had the rack installed by Autobacs or a similar car shop, they will only install it according to the factory instructions, but we’ve had no problems with moving ours farther apart. Just take your time when you do it and adjust each side little by little to make sure the crossbar is equal on both sides and secure. You have a super flat roof, so it should be even easier than our car was. We drive a Honda Freed, so it has a curved roof that limited the maximum distance I could move the bars.

The rubber feet on the INA450 keep the kayaks very secure, but sometimes they leave black scuff marks on the kayaks. The stacker is very versatile though. You can use it as I described above to carry 1 or 2 kayaks, or you can use just the rubber feet to carry a single kayak.

looks good to me

– Last Updated: Oct-19-14 6:31 PM EST –

I'd add a bow and stern line for longer trips but that looks good. I wonder if you can spread the racks further apart, the roofline is long and flat. Would be nice to take advantage of that.
If you can't, the next best solution if you're still concerned is the one cardelo posted.

Tie a bright colored rag on the bow and stern so people can see it. They overhang your car significantly.

Cute, cute, cute, that car!
For carrying two kayaks side by side, Malone SeaWings work really well.

parallel tubing

rectangular tubing of steel or aluminum `1"x 1.5" or whatever you could salvage run either side yak and forward 3’ and back bolted to the tranverse carriers…stabilizes yaw and lift with cord looped around yak fro eyebolts into the new members.

Now, you need bow lines, 2 from straps’ loops lined out from underhood sides there bolted down.

Nice rig…ultra light.

try a solid pine/spruce 2x3 each side

I agree. I tell myself
that the maximum span between racks provided by the manufacturer has an engineering tolerance, and give myself another 6"-8" if the car will allow it. I’ve done this with every car I owned.

I like carldelo set up
I like the bolt on set up of carldelo but I would mount it differently. As somebody mentioned earlier I believe in a bigger spread between the rails.

In my latest car I did not like what was offered by Thule or Yakima as “clip-on” so I decided to drill.

Since your car has perfect roof line (not curved) I think you could mount the rack directly onto it.

I have done this to mine: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/review-best-roof-rack.html


– Last Updated: Oct-20-14 11:23 PM EST –

I would like a greater front-back distance between cross bars too. The Mini I have is sort of an exception however - each tower bolts to two big (3/4") threaded inserts that are screwed directly into the roof frame. To mount them, the dealer drilled holes through the thin roof skin to expose the mounting points in the frame. It's unbelievably solid, and too bad Minis after 2007 don't have it.

The second-most bomber approach is Gnarlydog's, with the riveted pads and bolts, which looks great as long as you have a car with a solid roof structure - and the nerve to drill into it, of course...