Yakima Carrier System

-- Last Updated: Feb-06-06 12:39 PM EST --

Howdy Folks,

I've decided to upgrade my kayak cartop system from the homemade one that I've used for several seasons to something new. Sure could use some user reviews and suggestions. I'm looking at the Yakima system, but not quite sure what would be the best holder for my kayak ( I have a Prijon Kodiak- about 17' in length). I'm thinking that the Hulley Rollers in conjunction with the Mako saddles would be the best bet, but they also have the Hullraiser J racks.

Sure would appreciate any input/suggestions. I'll be putting the system on a 97 Windstar minivan.

Thanks much,

Roof Rack
But if the homemade setup works, why bother?

I’ve been using Yakimas for years, some friends have been using Thules for years; both work very nicely. You may be able to use either’s 'yak accessories on the other’s crossbars, have to check with your retailer.

Yakima will tell you that their round crossbars create less wind noise than Thule’s square ones, but that’s a long stretch by the marketing department – the difference is imperceptible to my ears.

There are probably other brands out there that I don’t even know about, that may be perfectly good.

Did that muddy the waters enough?

Paul K.

I use Yakima bars with Q-towers and
the kayak stacker. The system works well, is simple and easy to put on/take off, and holds from one to three (might do four but I have a Scion Xb and my roof is just not wide enough) boats with no problem. I have nothing bad to say about the products.

The nice thing
about the round bars when using saddles is you can lay the saddles down when not in use.

Marketing people
Do really think marketing people stretch the truth! :slight_smile:

Stay away from J-Hulraisers on a van
Unless you are 8’ tall, stay away from the J-shaped hull raisers on a van. I had a set on my Dodge Dakota 4X4 for about 1/2 hour, and couldn’t get the kayak high enough to put it in the racks.

I have a Yakima rack on my 4X4, and I am very happy with it. I have a 17’8" long Impex “Assateague”. and my wife has a 14’ Hurricane “Tampico”.

I have the Mako saddles both front and back on my Assateague. I’ll explain why, as I called Yakima on this point.

The Mako Saddles have flex built in, to cushion the ride for Fiberglass kayaks. If you hit any bad pot holes in the road, the flex in the Mako Saddle absorbs the shock, instead of damaging the hull. A more rigid saddle will transfer the shock right to the hull. You will notice the straps of the Mako saddle don’t go down to the cross bar. This is the reason why. They said they designed them this way, after having hull damage before, from rigid saddles.

I also put the felt pads on my Mako saddles. This protects the hull from scratching, and cushions the hull a tiny bit more. I feel the felt pads are very much worth the money.

I have the Hully Rollers on the back, and Mako saddles on the front for my wife’s kayak. But I find that after being in the sun for a year +, the hully rollers tend to make eraser like rub marks on the hull while rolling the kayak onto the rack. I tried 303 on the rollers, and it made them worse. Don’t put 303 on the hully rollers!

If you use the Mako saddles front and rear, with the felt pads, it is a great set up. Then use “Star Bright Marine Polish with Teflon” on the kayak, and it will slide like it is greased onto the saddle. (Be careful, as it really does slide like it is greased). The Star Bright has UV protection, (see my review on this here at P-Net) and the Teflon makes it easy to keep clean!

Happy Paddling!

Yakima ticked me off
Yakima Q towers succeeded their SST towers which succeeded their X towers. Who knows why they redesign the towers, but a side affect is that whole generations of Yakima owners find that they need to go buy new towers because Yakima stops selling the clips you need to adapt the older model towers to new cars…or any cars. They just don’t sell them anymore. Thus, in order to reuse in 2002 the Yakima racks I had on my 95 Intrepid, I would have had to purchsace not just clips for the new vehicle, but the whole tower assemblies, for about $300. That seems a lot like planned obsolecence, it ticked me off, and I’m done with them.

It is good stuff, and it should be because they charge top dollar. That’s okay in my book if you can get years of use out of it. The stuff will last years, just don’t plan on being able to move it to another vehicle.

~~Chip Walsh

Mako saddles
I use the Mako saddles front and rear and really like them. I find that they are flexible enough to conform to most hull shapes and yet really hold the boat secure. I have used mine to haul several different fiberglass kayaks and surfskis including a poly Prijon Kodiak and have no problems whatsoever. Just be sure to get the felt pads if hauling glass boats to prevent scuff marks. Look for sales. I got mine at REI when they had a 20% off. They are pricey but worth it in the long run.

I use Yakima racks with Malone
J-stackers on my Element. It is a good system although it probably takes a few extra seconds to get the straps secure over the ones that come with the Mako saddles. Oh, I just purchased the Yakima Bow/Stern tie-downs. I was using bungee cords but felt I should get with the program and do it right! I have pictures of my Yakima/Malone/Element set up at:


On the left hand side of the Photo Album viewer is a drop down menu that will let you flip through other photo albums. In a couple of the albums I also have pictures of the Yakima & Malone setup on my F150 SuperCrew.

We started out with Thule towers & feet, bought used in Seattle, flown as our luggage back to Miami (;-> -no, we didn’t make the trip just for a roof rack) made my own wood bars, worked well for our '86 Taurus (& also our ‘91 Nissan 240! -yeah, they setup fit both well, tho’ designed for the Ford.)

We rarely kept the rook rack setup on top, and would almost always take the bars down after paddling.

When we got our Grand Cherokee, we decided on a Yalima setup, which we still have 5+ years later. Wind howl was so annoying on one trip back from Tampa to Miami I stoppped at a K-Mart and bought pool noodles and packing tape & covered them up right in the middle of a t-storm. The howling was reduced to a lower volume, lower-pitched sort of rumble we could very easily live with.

Actually, Sally could’ve easily lived with the unclad Yakimas, it was me who was bothered.

When I got my Perception Eclipse, it came in a package with a full Yakima rood rack setup -feet, towers, bars, and a saddle setup. I never used it because we were well set with the Jeep. I eventually sold it to Brasilbrazil, who found feet to fit his Echo, and who now carries any of his 4 boats (Otter, OK Scupper Pro, WS Tempest 170, Black Bomber SOF) on that solid setup.

When we got our Mazda6S SportWagon (it’s a FINE, smaller hauler that’s VERY nicely lower than the Jeep, pick-ups, and all SUVs) we went with Thules again because Yakima hadn’t yet come out with a setup to fit the Mazda’s factory rails, and the rails allow a wider and more stable bar spread than towers (of any make) would) if fitted abouve the doors.

The noise from the Thules was so bad even Sally complained. Not only did we again clad the bars with pool noodles (it also helps ‘seat’ the boats better -we don’t use saddles, but strap our boats in downside up), but even then, the roar was greater (perhaps because of the sqaure cross-section, by itself, and then, after cladding, not fitting the round noodles particularly seamlessly?) than we appreciated, so we slide the front bar back on the rails, and move it forward into kayak-carrying position when we load our boats.

As a poster notes, there are probably several brands other than Yakima, Thule (or Saris, another good and relatively popular make) out there that few know of. They may do just as well. Or not.

And as another poster notes, if the shoe fits, why not continue wearing your home-grown setup?

So my 2 bits worth? We like Yakima by a decibel, and we don’t worry about saddles. Bit if I were to consider a yak cradling ‘device’, I think I’d look at the J-cradles. Several of our friends have them and like them.

Just make sure whatever you get is solid, and that you’re happy with them, as you tote your boat to & from wherever you go to


-Frank in Miami

kayak racks
While the hully rollers might be useful on a taller vehicle, I find on my car that they do not provide any useful function at all. In fact, I don’t like the smaller surface area pressing against the hull when I’ve got the boat lashed down for highway travel.

When the boat is wet, the rollers don’t even turn when I slide the boat on. In retrospect, I wish I’d gotten the saddles for the rear as well as the front.

Just a small data point you may wish to consider…


The rollers have a little clip that you engage or release, to allow the rollers to actually roll. Took me about 4months to figure that out… spoze I could have read the directions, but what fun is that???

Just bought some Thule (that’s tooly)
Hullaports. These are J-cradles that can be easily attatched and removed from almost any factory rack. They also come with a lifetime warranty as of Jan 2006.

Plastic Boats
The Kodiak is an RM boat, yes? We briefly used saddles and rollers on plastic boats when we had gotten the rack components for our glass boats before the boats and arrived, and were not thrilled with the combination. Even the Necky Elaho, made of very dense plastic that rivals Prijon’s plastic, started acquring small oil-canned spots where the rollers were on a warm day. We almost put the stackers back up, but the new boats arrived just in time.

I’d suggest the J-bars for am RM boat. It’s nicer to the boat and could be argued to be more secure.