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Recommendations for Kayak Carrier Setup

  • Looking for recommendations on best way to transport Hurricane Sweetwater 126 and Skimmer 116 kayaks on a 2018 FORD Expedition Max.  I purchased the Ford cross bars and a Yakima JayLow.  Mounting positions for the cross bars on the Expedition are limited, really only 2 configurations (3 attachment choices).  Recently transported the Sweetwater about 7 hours and had some issues.  Wind effects were significant with the vertical orientation, JayLow started to separate at the forward location, movement of the kayak at the bow, etc.  Had it tied off in both the front (tow hook) and back (hitch). 

Also, the Ford cross bars seem to be secure at the side rail point of attachment but the actual bars are pretty "loose" and move around a little side to side, not sure if that is normal?  The bars themselves seem generally not very robust.  Anyway, would appreciate any recommendations on a secure system preferably with the kayaks not mounted vertically.  Thank you 

5 Replies

I never really had a use for bars until the SO got a Rav4. I thought the same thing about them being "loose". It appears they are not. Best guess is there is a little give for expansion and the general twisting of the car body.

With a kayak, you need straps at each J hook, AND tie it fore and aft.


The straps at the J hooks are the main securing location. The ropes front and back are only for if the straps give up to keep the boat near the car and not across 2 lanes of traffic. With the straps on the thinner parts of the boat, the fat part of the boat wont pass through the smaller loops at the J hook. Use good cam buckle straps. You can use ratchet straps, as long as you know when to stop cranking because there is enough ooomph to mess up your boat.

Your boats are kind of chunky and have a lot of things to catch air. They are going to feel the wind.

Another option would be a set of boat saddles. That would make the boats sit more level, strapping would be the same.

I agree with everything @GregA has said.  I always found the larger kayak saddle to be much more conducive to car topping and travel.  My first set was the Yakima Mako saddles (for a Jackson Cuda 12) and with the purchase of my Hobie PA 14 I went to the Yakima Big Catch (pictured below)...both of these are for a hull side down transport.  What was the real game changer for me was going to the Yakima Rack and Roll trailer, just hitch and go.  No more lifting 70 lbs kayaks onto my roof.   IMG_0590.jpg

Keep Calm and Paddle On

It also helps greatly with aerodynamics and kayak movement on the racks if you put cockpit covers on your kayaks.

Found Myself Outside

OPs are SOT, no cockpit


I watched video on Yakima site and everything they say to do in terms of securing boat I do (eg run cam straps under cross bars, bow/stern tie downs). My x-bars are after mkt. My J racks are Malone fold down (Malone adapt to pretty much every x-bar made - never looked into Yak or Thule b/c I thought they required proprietary x-bars). I have not had problems driving at highway speeds (70mph) with 2 ww kayaks or 2 sea kayaks on top.  My x-bars are not loose, but do flex some when I shake the J racks.