Kayak Car Carriers

Now is the season to escape from the home and discover new waters or kayak down the river out of Cedar. However, to get there a safe mode of transportation is necessary.

It is better not to go down the road with a large kayak, nearly at the maximum weight limit of the rack, then encounter a rough dirt road. Many kayak carriers are simply not built for the dirt road.  When that wind picks up the widest kayaks will become like sails (typically 32″ or greater) and may rip the whole rack off!  Sit-on kayaks also are made with twice as much plastic and will weigh twice as much, adding to the risk of breaking off in the high wind.

Sweetroll carrier
Sweetroll

A kayak carrier made for tracking on the rough dirt road is at best the saddle type carrier which allows the kayak to rest hull down. Also, these keep the profile of the kayaks low in the high cross-wind scenario. Yakima provides several options for saddle carriers. Their best is the SweetRoll but if you are on a tight budget something like a pair of HullyRollers and Mako saddles or EvenKeel will work just fine. Saddles are best for long trips too! A kayak in a saddle is tied down firmly at bow, stern and twice on the sides alone. For two kayaks a vehicle may need to have the bars upgraded. A set of towers and bars may also be purchased. This option can be expensive but is more secure. 

If one plans to own small, light, sit-in kayaks then J-craddles make the best options. Yakima has the popular JayLow carrier which can be set into a stacker mode to move two light weight kayaks 32″ wide or less.  Similar to the JayLow there are stackers which make it easy to move 2-4 kayaks. These have a “T”-shape and stand upright, such as the Big Stack. With a stacker, the long straps should be able to reach over two kayaks.  Try to use this type only with boats under 12 feet long. However, either J-cradle or stacker, are not built for rough roads.

windshield-fairing
Windshield fairing

Two kayaks paired closely together on top of a vehicle will reverberate and make a whistling noise. For long trips that might get a little annoying, so Yakima provides a windshield-fairing. The fairing attaches at the front bar and will not allow the wind to travel up around the bars to make as much noise.

Remember to use the bow and stern tie downs or any extra tie-downs if needed. The bow and stern tie-downs offer superior stability. Whenever leaving a location, home or the launch, try to do an earthquake test and check the tie-downs for snugness by rattling them. If the road is rough the straps may loosen, so at least check after the first mile. Twist the straps to reduce wind vibration.  If there is any problem with the kayak carrier write the company. Yakima for example, has a “Love it till you leave it” Limited Lifetime Warranty on many carriers. See you around on the road!

Photo credit: Yakima.com