Xterra Owners (Transport Questions)

Hey all,

I’ve read through all the recent (and not so recent) threads concerning kayak transportation. While they address some of my questions, I’d like to ask some more in depth questions.

First off - some quick history. I currently use the kayak stacker for my two boats (Acadia and Perception). This setup just doesn’t seem to cut the mustard as the mighty mounts can’t handle that much weight concentrated into one area like that. I’ve even had a mighty mount “pop” it’s washer right out of it’s casing. Bad news for those that don’t want flying torpedoes.

That being the case, this season I want to upgrade to Yakima mako saddles and hully rollers. Since two kayaks laying flat won’t fit on the Xterra stock rack, I’ll have to buy a larger rack. Will the Yakima lowrider fit on an Xterra, or will I have to go with the Xtower?

I’m also assuming that the 58" crossbars will be enough for two touring/rec. kayaks. Correct assumption?

Now onto some specifics. I was thinking of going with mako saddles in front and hully rollers in back. I only want the hully rollers if they indeed to make it easier to load kayaks. I can see where it benefits normal cars, but the Xterra is so high off the ground, is it still possible to utilize hully rollers? I have no problem loading the kayaks from the side of the truck, but it seems like it would be easier from the back. Anyone with experience want to chime in??

Thanks in advance for any answers to my questions.

check out the rack on that one. oh
wait they’re fake. buddies of mine including self drive jeep wrangler’s. one has 32 inch tires, 4 pairs of mako saddles and we have no problem sliding the yaks on the saddles from the back side of the jeep. i’m not sure how much easier the rollers slide a boat but it can’t be that much more. i’m awaiting 2 pairs of saddles with the anit-scuff pads meself. and yes went with the 58" bars. hope this helps

X towers…
I have Xtowers, and one set of hully rollers/mako’s and one set of padded rollers on my Xterra and paddle a CD Caribou. The other boat is usually a Boreal Design Ellesmere.

The hullys are mounted just in front of the rear rack mounting to the car. I find that it’s hard to load single without the bottom of the boat hitting the edge where car roof meets back door. When 2 are loading, you just need to lift the front a little higher up onto the rollers. This doesn’t happen as much on the side with the padded rollers (from Mirage’s truck rack system).

It’s also a reach to strap in on both ends of the Yakima system. I find myself standing on the tires to make the reach most of the time (ok, I’m short - but not that short - 5’5"). It’s easier on the roller side, but, as you mentioned, the Xterra is a tall car.

Haven’t tried the low-riders, and don’t know about the widths of your boats, as they are much wider than mine. The 58" bars work fine for my boats. The rollers are, of course, inside the X-towers and the rollers/saddles are one inside/one outside the towers, but only just.

You can go with Lowriders and 58" bars

– Last Updated: Jan-06-04 4:51 PM EST –

They work really well. I have Landshark saddles on one side and surfboard pads on the other. This gives me a lot of versatility. The landsharks would be hard on a fancy composite boat (scratches when covered with sand) but they are fine for my plastic boats. I have had as many as four surf yaks on my 58" bars.

Here are some pics my X in action. (see links below)

Load the boats from the back... put a foam pad on the back roof in case you make a mistake and drop a boat or miss while lifting. If you need to reach over the top standing on the tires works for tieing down the back. However if you plan ahead and put your straps in place first you can keep both feet on the ground even if you are 5'4''.




I have also used my racks to carry irrigation, pipe lumber, school science projects etc. They are really well made. Check out Rutabaga in Madison WI online to get a real good price on the Yakima systems.

Well…I’m what you would call a cheap SOB…so all I did was go to the hardware store, bought some thick foam pipe insulation, put it under all points of contact with the factory roof-racks, and threw the boats on top. They strapped down fine and have made several 200+ mile trips without any problems whatsoever. :slight_smile:

Here’s a picture of our last trip to Carters Lake, GA with our yaks on top (Wilderness Systems Cape Horn 17’ and 14’)



Solar Yellow Rules!
Picked out by my wife of course …

she calls it mid-life crisis yellow.

Cheap is good in my book too, but its hard getting four boats on the factory rack.

Heads Up!
I seem to remember a post last year warning of Xterra crossbar failures at the T-shaped junctions (which are apparently plastic). I’ve seen NT’s rig which uses the Yakima mounts designed for the Xterra rack.


Xterra only has
a 125 pound rating on the factory roof rack, I had 2 thule hull-a-ports mounted on mine with kayaks loaded and the factory crossbars ripped off while going down the road. I took 1x2 square tube welded 1x1 anglesat four point on each and use stainless u-bolts to hold to the long factory bars nad have hull-a-ports on these, and can then get another boat to lay flat on bars in center.

Well…I tie down each boat individually using 2 cinch straps which go under the cross bars in the middle…but then I go over both boats entirely with 2 additional straps that ONLY go around the outside metal bars (along the long axis of the roof)…so even if the cross bars fail, the two other straps will (should) keep the whole kit from flying off the roof. Plus I have 2 bow and 2 stern lines attached as extra-extra protection. So all told I have 10 straps/ropes holding them down. Hopefully they will continue to do the job… :slight_smile:


More details please?
What were the kayaks?

How fast were you going?

Wind load?

Rapid stop?

How were they tied down?

Did you have gear in the kayaks and the basket?

The roof top rating is actually much less than the rack should be able to hold. The engineers usually divide by 2 for safety and the lawyers divide by 2 and put in warnings. I’ve heard of lots of people breaking the cheap plastic cross bar pieces but have never seen a rack on an Xterra fail.

why not go to the yakima.com and do the Interactive fit thing to see what they recomend?

Thanks for the great advice thus far…

– Last Updated: Jan-07-04 9:24 AM EST –

"why not go to the yakima.com and do the Interactive fit thing to see what they recomend?"

Already did that. They are kinda vague at that site. Plus I feel one of the best utilizations of the internet has been the readily-available amount of "personal review" type information. Nothing beats actually talking with someone who has tried a product that you want to buy. I've saved countless hundreds of dollars in unmade, would-have-been-crappy purchases thanks to forums like this.

As for the crossbars failing, I can see this happening - though I think in some cases the reason my be much less sexy than randomly busting plastic. I've noticed that the screws holding the crossbars in place need to be tightened a few times a season, or they begin to mis-align. This misalignment, I suspect, makes up a large portion of the snap-offs (as pressure is then concentrated on small area of the crossbar).

Thanks to everyone else who has given advice. Keep it coming!

All you Xterra owners should check out www.xterraownersclub.com if you want great advice on your purchase.

I agree…the fittings on the roof-rack need to be checked and tightened regularly. When I first went to install our cargo net on the roof rack I was amazed at how loose many of the fitting were…good advice for ALL roof-racks I imagine…