Buying a New Car - Roof Rack Advice - Mountain Buzz

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-22-2012   #1
Placerville, California
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 40
Buying a New Car - Roof Rack Advice

Okay, so I know nothing about roof racks for kayaks... So, I'm hoping you can help me out.

I'm looking at buying a compact SUV and I can pretty much get any features I want for the car. However, I'm not sure how I want it outfitted to best accommodate my kayaks. So, I'm assuming I need the roof rack rails but do I want the factory-installed crossbars? It seems that most folks use Thule type racks... Not sure if that's because they just didn't buy a car that had crossbars or if it's because the Thule racks are longer and seem like they would hold more kayaks. Also not sure if you want to put stackers on factory installed crossbars.

I'd appreciate any help here! Clearly I have no idea what I'm doing. Thanks!

kirbz is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 02-22-2012   #2
lmyers's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 4,781
Aftermarket rack systems (Thule, Yakima, etc.) have heavier duty rails than a factory rack. The factory rack would probably work ok if you only boat occasionally. You can throw 1 or 2 up top and go.....but if you're into doing roadtrips with lots of gear or carpool to and from the river with other boaters you will be happier with a Thule or Yakima system with stacker bars. It will hold up better over time and allow you to carry more gear. I regularly rack 5-6 kayaks on top of my Subaru Impreza with a Thule system with stackers.
lmyers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2012   #3
st2eelpot's Avatar
Professional Transient, See above.
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 350
Thule and Yakima kayak racks

I agree with Imyers.

That being said, you can add a Thule or Yakima system to most every car with or without the factory roof rails. If the car has no rack of any sort on top, there are little feet that attach to the Thule/Yakima racks that clamp inside the top of the door frame. You don't have to have the roof rack rails from the factory, though they are convenient and possibly more secure? I never had problems with their racks on the Honda's I owned when I was younger, for example, that had no roof rack from the factory.

In my observation, Thule racks seem to sit slightly lower on the car (which I like), though their mounting system has several small parts to assemble to get it to mount to your car.

Yakima racks seem to be engineered so everything lives together/one piece (less small pieces to lose if you're like me and take the rack on and off), but it sits a couple of inches higher. Simpler/less fussy to work with in my opinion.

My girlfriend and I each own Subaru's. I have Thule cross bars. She has Yakima cross bars. This is where I've seen this. shrug.

As far as the actual device to carry the kayaks, I have Yakima Big Stack (got a deal on it), though I really prefer something more like Thule's 830 The Stacker:
Thule*-*830 The Stacker

The main reason I like the Thule version is it's hollow, and on the older one like this it was a great place to shove paddles on the drive there (strap them down of course). Haven't used this one I put a link to, though I'd guess it would still be a place to shove paddles for the drive.
st2eelpot is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 02-22-2012   #4
(800) 369-4165
A1 Wildwater's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 8
I think it depends on the car. My Volkswagen brand rack system is way more bomber than the Thule or Yakima products I compared it to. It's also sharper looking and doesn't make much noise, because it's tested in the wind tunnel with that model car. If you check these out at the dealership you can usually find them for about 1/2 the price on eBay. Just go with something that actually attaches to bolts, not the clip on tension type. I had a Thule go flying with 2 snowboards on it in Denver once!
Rafting Colorado since 1981
A1 Wildwater is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2012   #5
Placerville, California
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 40
Thanks for the great advice so far! I am actually looking at a Volkswagen Tiguan so perhaps I'll visit a dealership and ask about their rack systems...

It sounds like I'm hearing that I definitely need the rails and having the crossbars wouldn't necessarily interfere with getting an after-market rack system... Good stuff to know!
kirbz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2012   #6
FatmanZ's Avatar
Northern Utah, Utah
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 682
You'll likely pay more for factory/manufacturer racks vs. Thule or Yakima, but that may not be an issue if buying a new vehicle.

If you end up going with Thule or Yakima racks, find the model you need by visiting the Thule or Yakima website, then save a some money buying a used set locally on Craigslist. You should be able to find a good used set to fit your vehicle for around 1/2 of retail price. You can also order replacement parts via Thule/Yakima directly.

If you go with Thule or Yakima, I suggest getting factory installed roof rails. The Thule/Yakima sets that attached to factory rails (in my opinion) are easier to setup and less likely to damage the vehicle's roof.
FatmanZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2012   #7
st2eelpot's Avatar
Professional Transient, See above.
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 350
Oh, forgot about mentioning this earlier-
I had a rental subaru in NZ that I requested to have cross bars. The car I got had bars directly drilled and bolted into the roof rack rails that were built into the car. This worked fine, but the weakest part of the system proved to be where roof rack rail attached into the roof.

After lots of runs with many different kayakers strapping their boats down (some pull harder or lighter than others), I noticed that we had actually ripped off the rack rail from the roof on one corner. Oops.

Fortunately, when I turned the car in they failed to notice this or didn't care.
st2eelpot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2012   #8
Beaverton, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 572
A fair number of the factory systems are made by Thule or Yakima, btw. The Tiguan bars look a lot like Thule's aerobars. I'd go aftermarket just so that you can use wider bars. It looks like the factory pieces are around 40" wide, while the aftermarket bars range up to 78", expanding your capacity from 3-4 to 6-7. It makes a difference.
brandob9 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2012   #9
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 98
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 19
Should have bought a truck.
jcandersonco is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2012   #10
pbowman's Avatar
Cody, Wyoming
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 249
only one thing to know for roof racks: yakima - several posts by yours truly

something like the yakima rail grab towers may work with your factory rack. i have the older style low rider towers on our subaru outback factory roof rack, and they do ok. since installation in 2004, i have had to re-adjust the low riders once due to them creeping around a little bit.

if your new vehicle comes with factory rail tracks and the yakima control tower will fit into those tracks, that would be my top recommendation. the control tower mechanism locks directly into the track, and looks to be a more solid connection than the compression clamp style of the older low rider or the new rail grab tower.

my 2c fwiw.
pbowman is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Raft on Roof Rack lncoop Rafting | Gear Talk 27 10-25-2010 03:10 PM
Do I need a roof rack? mateojames Kayaking | Gear Talk 27 10-18-2010 10:15 PM
Roof Rack Questions Gorams Whitewater Kayaking 1 06-12-2010 03:05 PM
Advice on choice of roof rack? schubutt Whitewater Kayaking 1 06-27-2008 01:14 PM
roof-rack building advice? &d Whitewater Kayaking 10 05-03-2007 08:07 AM

» Classified Ads
Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:47 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.