What's a good kayak saddle?

I have been comparison shopping kayak saddles and it seems the only options out there for a rooftop type saddle is either Thule or Yakima. Basically I am looking to mount the pairs of saddles on a trailer rack with cross bars to haul my boats securely. I see these foam v shaped boat pads that look like they might be a way to go as well but nobody here seems to be using them. Is it because they don’t have the coolness factor of Thule or Yakima or because they just don’t provide decent support?

Are there any other saddle makers out there I should be looking at. I read the Yakima saddles mar your boats finish after awhile. I want to transport my yaks flat not on their sides by the way. Seems all the saddles are right around $100 for a set of 4 pads. The v shaped foam ones can be had much cheaper of course since it doesn’t have a foreign name on it…lol.

1 vote for foam pads
You can find them with the vee cut in different angles, if you look somewhere that carries more than one type. If you can find a set that resembles the cross section of your hull (or deck, come to think of it), why not use those?

I use foam pads
on steel bars on my camper shell. Work awesome.

But transporting on their sides is smart

Mail order?
I like foam pads, too. But the only ones we’ve found are the wide shallow rec-kayak-hull type.

Hah, I knew the ones I saw on a Subaru factory roof rack (carrying an Aquanaut and a Romany LV) had a narrower V section!

Please post here if you know where I can buy the sea kayak version of those minicell pads. Thanks.

I am not satisfied with J-cradles, and the excellent Spring Creek ones are needed for another vehicle’s set-up. So we’ve been making do with the rec kayak pads on our trailer’s crossbars, but I’d like something that fits better.

Soooo nice to just pop those pads off and throw them in the back of the truck while paddling. No worries about theft of expensive cradles.

we use malone gull wings.

Pads seem a good solution
Ok well I thought the foam pads would support the kayaks well and they are cheap like $10 a pad. I was afraid to be “not kayak cool” by using such a basic solution. I see people paying hundreds of dollars for expensive saddles and then complaining they ruin the finish on their kayaks. Sometimes simple is better. The cost of 4 foam pads is like $40 versus $200 for 4 pairs of saddles for 2 kayaks. That seems like a no brainer to me but I am a rookie paddler and haven’t earned the right to complain yet…lol.

Malone Pads verses
saddles. I have both and found the pads to be more secure than the expensive Yakima Saddles. hey also do a better job knocking off a little beach sand and I feel more comfortable with a full strap rather than those little grey plastic things with the shark logo.

I hadn’t given it much thought until lately but that little grey piece of plastic has to degrade over time, may become brittle, and snap.

The pad also conforms better and should spread any pressure over a wider area and they are cheap.

Yakima Mako and LandShark
"I read the Yakima saddles mar your boats finish after awhile."

I have two sets of saddles. The Yakima Mako’s have a soft rubber pad and you can also get felt pads to prevent scratching the hull. I also have the hard plastic Yakima LandShark saddles. I could see these marking the hull quite a bit (out of the box) but I put thick strips of 1.5" wide foam tape on the saddles which seems to prevent scratching/marking the kayaks.

if you can, buy some saddles
I have used both foam pads and spring creek saddles( http://www.canoegear.com/catalog/product.php?productid=359&cat=46&page=1 ),and the saddles are my favorite option because they have a secure mounting to the rack and the strap applies even pressure to the boat so it can be pulled nice and tight and it will not distort or oil can your boat . foam blocks are great also, and inexpensive, but imo work better with composite boats than with plastic, and are not as secure ;just last weekend we had a cd extreme start moving on a Thule rack with foam blocks after about 20 min of drive time nobodies fault, just seems to happen with blocks once in a while .


Interesting answers
I am rather shocked at the response to my question. I thought for sure everyone would be tauting the saddles over the simple foam pads but not true thus far. I am getting a trailer with a rack that I think I will just put the foam pads on for a start. How can I go wrong for $40? I can always move to saddles if I find it isn’t working but I don’t see why it wouldn’t.

only foam
wide ones, thick ones, rounded not v’d for my boats, coddles their bellies very well. large contact area, easy to slide over (i put slippy tape on them) and as mentioned, just put em in the car when not in use. cradles suck compared to good foam pads. also lower profile, not sticking way up off the vehicle. best mate owns a major rack outlet, i’ve had access to all the cradles and tried them all, they all suck. go foam or go home.

J saddles for me
I have 3 German made J saddles on my 1993 Golf. I carry 3 sea boats.

I used to use 2 sets of pads but it would not accomodate the the third boat.

My new Jetta has two propper VW saddles so we can carry 5 fibre glass boats.

If I had my time back the $300 spent on the VW Saddles would be $40.00 on the foamies.

The foam ones are great.

Mako saddle felt pads
I spent so much buying the Yakima rack stuff (even after saving $$ by getting much of it on eBay) I decided to spend the extra bucks for the felt pads that stick to the Mako saddles. I’ve had no scratch problems with them at all.

Which foam?
When you say “thick/wide” how wide is wide? Just trying to get a feel about what I need to be looking for.

I inherited a set of Yakima rollers and Thule pads (rubber), but the pads do not fit on my round bars, plus it appears they had a fine layer of my boat’s hull finish from when the previous owner used them. Enoug “proof” for me that they will strip the boat over time -;(

So, to expand the question, what do you think of the yakima rollers? Still worse than another set of foam (for a fiberglass boat)?

Yakima TLC
I use the old Yakima TLC saddles - they haven’t been made for about 10 years but they show up here and on ebay occasionally. Mako’s left scratches on my boat (worried about eventually rubbing thru the gel coat), and the rollers turned on the bar. I think they’ve improved the rollers since I bought them several years ago but holding out for two sets of TLC’s was the best money I spent…

Make stoppers on the sides
We are reverting to foam. The $130 Thule J-cradles aren’t worth the bucks and they’re too easy to steal. I was cable-locking them to the trailer when I went paddling!

That said, if you have round crossbars the foam pads will slide laterally unless you tighten the straps hard (bad for plastic boats) or you put something to keep them in place. The amount of lateral sliding isn’t enough to cause real problems (and I always run the straps under the deck rigging), but it’s annoying.

I am mulling over the possibilities for stoppers. Could be some small clamps at each side of each pad. Could be a “lump” made by wrapping a rope and then taping it over. Could be sections of pipe insulation foam tubes taped down.

Are these the ones?

They make them in 14", 16" lengths for narrower boats. Which would be best for kayaks of 21" to 22" beam?

Problem with Foam
Most foam supports support the boat in the middle of the bottom when most of the strength is on the chines (sides). I’ve seen folks use foam and they had a pretty healthy dent in the middle of their boats. The Yakima saddles support the boat on the chines. I use Malone’s J cradles, the boat rides on its side which is very strong. I also have several boats and you don’t have to readjust the Malones for every boat. The Yakima saddles have to be either pushed more together or spread out to handle the various hull shapes.

cut the foam
It’s true that the foam blocks will bend the boat in the middle. It will be much more secure and strong if you CUT the foam block in half, so you can spread it out a little more, so it is supporting the bottom/sides of your kayak, not the middle of the bottom. I’ve tried this, and it works wonders.