Learning about racks (of the kayaking variety)

img_6462.pngWhile at the paddle fest we went to a class on securing kayaks (put on by a man who works at rack and road).

This would have been especially helpful before we purchased our carrier and before we ever tried to put the kayak on the rack.

When purchasing our carrier we mainly thought about space on top of the car. After all, if we had two single kayaks in the future and bikes to bring we would need a lot of space, so we bought a J carrier.

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Apparently the J carrier is really not a good idea after 75lbs (phew, we’re right at 75!) due to the torque put on the kayak with winds/driving. Instead you should get the belly down carriers and just get expanded bars (though don’t poke an eye out with that thing!). This guy’s recommendation is to not drive over ~60mph and you can add a line securing the top of the J carrier to your rack as back up if you’re right at the edge like we are.

When putting the kayak up we usually heave it overhead, me with a kitchen stool to make up for my height. Apparently you can use the J carrier to your advantage by hooking the front onto the j rack then bring rest of boat up to not lift the whole boat overhead (especially to protect the shoulders!). . Or if you have the belly down kind you can assist yourself using the car from the back by getting something to protect your car. His current favorite is sweet wheels. It’s still effortful to start getting the kayak up but once you hit the sweet wheels it’s easy to get it on top the rest of the way.  You can also use a a wet towel on the back of the car to act as a slippery surface for a load assist from the back.

Thankfully we never attempted to climb on the roof to secure the kayak, as many have done apparently. Always add the straps first so you’re not getting up on the car. We did make our lives much more difficult by putting the kayak on backwards, with the seats facing into the J carrrier.


Not sure what we were thinking.
Instead of flinging the straps over as we do now he suggested pulling them to the front and back and walking them around. We have the rubber ends over the buckle part of the straps so throwing them seems just as effective and faster. Just make sure you know whose on the other side.

Tying down the front and the back are probably the most important part.


If there’s any damage to a rack it’s because they didn’t tie the front and back and the wind got under the kayak and lifted it with too much force. From the exhaust burning a hole in our rope we fell upon an even better way to do this, as he also showed us. We got the hood loops, which attach under the hood / trunk. No more getting on the ground! Though I still attach it under in the front of the car but I could instead attach it under the hood. We also have the ropes that use a pulley system that makes it easy to tighten everything up (doesn’t have to be too tight).

All in all we’ve been loading our kayak mostly “right” but could have saved ourselves the struggles of trial and error if we’d known this before.

 

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One thought on “Learning about racks (of the kayaking variety)

  1. It seems like on your first boat, you look and around and think, “well, everybody’s got a roof rack so how difficult can it be?” I’ve carried other things on top of my truck so I typically go a little bit over-board on making sure the boat doesn’t come off. One time . . . just once, I carried my 13 foot kayak with the woodstrip deck out to western Colorado without bow and stern tie-down straps. I watched it vibrate up and down in each gust of wind. When I got back I immediately added pad eyes and have always strapped it down since. If the boat flew off the car I could live with it, but if it flew off the car and went through someone’s windshield I’d be sick. One other thing to note. I regularly drive 80-mph with J-holders or gunnel mounts with kayaks and canoes, even in Wyoming with some questionable cross-winds. It’s not so bad with tie-downs, but it does kill your gas mileage!

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