Why use J-hooks instead of Cross bars?

Hi All,

I bought a set of j-hooks to transport my newly acquired kayak, but I wound up transporting it home turned upside down on my crossbars. We drove 5.5 hours with it like that, and it seemed to work very well. We turned it upside down because it is a fishing kayak and it seemed like it would be more aerodynamic like that.

I have a 4runner and the kayak weighs 65 lbs. without the seat. It is not that easy (for me) to get the kayak up to the roof by myself, and it is easier to just slide it onto the cross bars on the roof rather than using the J-hooks. I am in pretty good shape–I did crossfit 4-5 days per week for 2 years–so I think I could learn how ti get it onto the j-hooks. But if it works well on the cross bars, why use the J-hooks? Will sliding it onto the cross scratch the kayak and/or cross bars Why are J-hooks so popular?

Thank you–total noob here.

I use foam blocks on cross bars.
I hooks seem to require higher lifting and more tricky strapping than I care to mess with.

An SOT should be fine upside down on the cross bars.

Pool noodles or pipe insulation on the bars will reduce slipping on the bars.

It’s fine flat
People use J-cradles to get more than one boat on a narrow roof. They do expose the boat to lateral forces from cross winds and the boat sits up pretty high.

If your boat traveled well and safely flat without the cradles, there’s no need to use them. Simple methods have fewer things that can go wrong.

It’s more of a SINK thing
And quantity

1 SOT doesn’t need them.

I hooks allow more boats on short load
bars than if the boats are flat.

sometimes the crossbars put a lot of
stress on the boat when tied or strapped down directly to them. Personally not a problem for me since I’m paddling plastic ww kayaks- but the bottom of the boat does get pressed up (oil canned) when strappped down. But the indentations pop back. My boat doesn’t like to ride upside down- has quite a bit of rocker and is much easier to transport right side up. In the ww world stacker bars are used to get many boats on one vehicle.

If you got a composite boat I could see where the j cradles would help protect the boat.

flat boat vs angular boat
I carry my sea kayak using a pair of saddles. But when I transport my white water boat, I just lay it on the cross bar.

Difference being, the WW boat has flat bottom and flat deck. So it fits better on the flat cross bar. The sea kayak has a round hull and round deck. It just doesn’t sit on the cross bar securely. Put it on the saddle? It fits perfectly!

The only reason to use J cradles
is to fit more boats on the roof.

With just one or two kayaks, regular kayak saddles are the best way to go.

The main reason is they present a lower profile, The second reason is they are much easier to load.

I have regular saddles, and J cradles and am forever changing them back and forth depending what I am carrying, but my preference is for regular saddles.

They not only protect your vehicle roof, but are kind to the kayak(s)

Jack L

pretty much what they said
I just slide my wildy up on top of the stock subaru racks and strap it down. then I tie off the bow and stern to loop straps that I made for under the hood and at the hatchback. I’m getting my grandson (who is 16) a kayak so I’ll probably be looking into a trailer. Just don’t want to waste time with the j racks.

I also have a 4-Runner and wanted a way to carry 2 boats. One boat worked fine on my factory racks. I thought about J-racks but instead got towers and longer crossbars so that 2 boats can ride flat. The 4-Runner is already tall, and J-racks would have made the loading & aerodynamics even worse. My SOT kayak has a relatively flat bottom in the center, so I can carry it right side up. I recently carried a friend’s SOT that rode better upside down. If your kayak has a pronounced keel then upside down is better.

Downside on that bar ride
Is force on hull/sq inch. Is best taking the available less pressure method. No way of knowing if the hull’s tolerance for pressure causing damage WAS exceeded

until the damage shows.

Hull up on foam blocks . . .
. . . is how I’ve always carried all my kayaks and my outrigger canoe.

I like hull up because rain won’t get in the cockpit and it seems to me to be more aerodynamic.

The foam blocks can be carved to conform exactly to the hull shape, can be put on the crossbars and removed in a few seconds, and don’t leave ugly and expensive contraptions like J-hooks or saddles bolted on the crossbars of your Bentley.

you need a spare anchor?
OK, that was a bit overboard (no pun). if you have a plastic boat that deforms easily, they may help reduce that. Otherwise, IMO they’re extra weight and an additional point of failure.

I don’t have a Bentley
And the last I saw you you didn’t either

But I agree hull down is the best

But more importantly
They look cool.

I forgot that part
Especially if you plaster some decals on them

J Cradles very handy for me.
I carry my kayaks up on my shoulder. Not shoulder inside of the cockpit. I put the whole thing up on my shoulder. I’ve always found that I can carry more, longer, and much more comfortably if what I’m carrying can rest on my shoulders.

Remember the first time you tried to move an extension ladder from place to place on the barn or house - bumbling about, awkward as can be? And in short order, you were dropping it down and standing it up like you’d done it before? The easiest way isn’t always immediately natural-feeling. But you’re sure glad you figured it out once you get the knack of it. Carrying a kayak clear up on your shoulder is the same.

Given that, it’s a very easy transfer from shoulder to J cradle, and J cradle to shoulder. Not really any lifting involved there. Between saddles, foam blocks, J cradles, stackers, I definitely have found the J cradles the most convenient for me.

Glenn goes hull up.

sounds like good fortune
…that you’re the height that you are, and that your car roof is the height that it is. I must be shorter and my car taller, because my kayak slides right off the crossbars onto my shoulder.

stackers fit more boats on a roof
than j cradles do