Tag Archives: canoe

8th Sep 2015

Small Car + Big Kayak = No Problem!

As gas prices go up, cars have become smaller.  Protecting the environment (and your wallet) is the right thing to do, but it can make carrying your 15′ kayak a challenge…but have no fear, we have the best solution for you.
It all starts with a good base rack system and a kayak carrier.  There are several types that will work including J-cradles, saddles, or rollers.  All of these systems will work great for carrying one (or more) kayaks on your smaller ride.

J-cradles work great for carrying multiple kayaks since you can carry them on their side.  The Thule Hull-a-port Aero or the Yakima J-low are some of the best; they have universal mounting hardware and fold down when not in use.

Hull-a-Port Aero

Saddles work great for carrying your kayak when it is flat on the roof.  They are also a bit easier to load and unload. Front cradles are rear cradles are often sold separately so you can mix and match styles for easier loading. They can handle kayaks that are longer, heavier, and wider than the J-cradles, but they limit the amount of usable space on your crossbars. Smaller vehicles can carry one, maybe two kayaks with the cradle style, depending on crossbar length.

Yakima Mako Saddles 8004037

A Mako Saddle set

Mako Saddles in front, paired with rollers in the back

Saddles work great for carrying your kayak when it is flat on the roof.  They are also a bit easier to load and unload. Front cradles are rear cradles are often sold separately so you can mix and match styles for easier loading. They can handle kayaks that are longer, heavier, and wider than the J-cradles, but they limit the amount of usable space on your crossbars. Smaller vehicles can carry one, maybe two kayaks with the cradle style, depending on crossbar length.

Rollers can make loading and unloading a breeze… without scratching up your car. Use them to smoothly roll the kayak from the rear of your vehicle to the front saddle with minimal effort. The Yakima SweetRoll is a complete kayak carrying set, with saddles in front and integrated rollers in the rear. This is especially useful for heavy and long kayaks, or vehicles with high roofs.

Yakima SweetRoll 8004074

Close up of a rear roller of a SweetRoll, illustrating the adaptability to fit most kayak shapes.

Yakima SweetRoll

Full Yakima SweetRoll set

Thule Quick Loop #530Thule Quick Loop #530

But, the most important thing to remember is that you also need some tie-downs.  It is imperative that you tie down the front and back of your kayak to ensure your kayak is secured and safely installed on your vehicle. There are several ways to attach bow/stern tie downs, one of the easiest is to use the Thule Quick Loop.  It installs by closing the hood or trunk over the anchors, providing a safe and secure tie-down spot for your kayaks.