Car top carry systems

I have a Huki OC1 and have been using a rowing shell car top carry frame for a couple of years. Essentially, the frame mounts on top of my Yakima bars. The frame extends the contact points further fore and aft, so the OC is suspended in cradles at about the 1/3 and 2/3 point of the boat length.

It works quite well, but frankly the frame is a bit on the bulky side and certainly can't be helping my fuel economy.

I keep looking at the more streamlined Yakima and Thule kayak rigs and wonder if they would work just as well, offering less drag on my car, etc. I presume for lower speeds, urban transport the saddle set-ups would work fine on their own, and that if highway speeds are encountered, adding tie downs at nose and tail would be fine.

Any suggestions as to how one can rig their OC1 on top of their car with the least amount of frame/carry gear, but still allow for transport at highway speeds?

Submitted by richardg on Sun, 03/15/2009 - 3:58am

on my truck I have a rack on the back that is meant to go around a canopy and that works fine.

but as for a car purposes I would make one like my front rack part which comes off the frame two places (this is the important part,) which is more stable than one, like a tow hitch, that part is bolted right to the frame. under the front bumper and then up, to make what looks like two TT . but I can pack 10 canoes and its solid as the trucks frame . I used 1 1/2 steal bars but for a smaller version you could make one out of aluminium. you could even make like the trailer hitches pin slidein, system so you could pop it off, easy after the weekend . I just leave my rack on it looks like a 7 foot cattle pusher, One time I rear ended a guy and crunched his bumper and never even dented my rack ,so its durable. Its a multipurpose rack. I pack lumber with it on my job.

#1 Sun, 03/15/2009 - 6:59am

Burnham Boatslings carriers. Mount them to your roof rack with stainless wingnuts and split washers. Takes you one minute to mount or remove it if not being used. Absolutely the best. Yakima and Thule carriers are crap at any real speed or in windy conditions unless your vehicle has really good bar spread, and even then, they're not great.

#2 Sun, 03/15/2009 - 6:53am

if you're concerned about fuel ecenomy, why not use a trailer ?

#3 Sun, 03/15/2009 - 9:00am

Has anyone used one of these?

#4 Sun, 03/15/2009 - 4:06pm

Same idea as the Burnhams but not as nice or strong.

#5 Sun, 03/15/2009 - 4:09pm

i kinda like the rock and roll web site Hiro referenced. two things jumped out on that page, well actually three.

marketing genius.
alt text

and then there's this one. riding a motorcycle is sketchy enough without a bunch of extra weight bearing down on you.
alt text

#6 Sun, 03/15/2009 - 5:22pm

Lashings are good.......lashings for iato, lashings for roof racks.... dated system goes with dated car

#7 Sun, 03/15/2009 - 9:37pm

Has anyone looked at ROLA racks out of Australia? The crossbars are thin blades/ foiled as well as the roof attachments which helps reduce the wind noise at speed. I was able to acquire a set for a jetta I had a few years back but only after many phone calls at odd hours due to time zones and got pricey with added shipping costs. I' d buy another set for my present car vs. thule or yakima but just a hassle.

#8 Mon, 03/16/2009 - 12:24am

Hey zebinu,

I have had the thule 882 for a year now it works great. I added a surf board carrier cradle from thule for the ama and the 2 carry my zephyr no problem.

The added span it gives is great for stability. I have driven over mountain passes at 110 km/hr with no issues. Fits pretty much all rails. I have a subaru outback.

#9 Mon, 03/16/2009 - 7:39am

Some nice tubing for X-bars.


#10 Mon, 03/16/2009 - 8:13am

Here is that surf carrier, I drop some camp foam in between and the strap tightens well around the ama.

#11 Mon, 03/16/2009 - 8:43am

Hi Just Paddle,

Thanks for the tip about the surfboard carrier. Now I can finally get my ama out of my car! No more ama running from trunk to dashboard!

#12 Mon, 03/16/2009 - 9:59am

Hey Justpaddle

The Thule rack to which you the supports extend out beyond the cross bar placements? or is your boat secure with bars placed about 4 feet apart?

Do you use tiedowns for front and back of boat?

#13 Mon, 03/16/2009 - 10:21am

Hey Justpaddle

The Thule rack to which you the supports extend out beyond the cross bar placements? or is your boat secure with bars placed about 4 feet apart?

Do you use tiedowns for front and back of boat?

#14 Mon, 03/16/2009 - 10:21am

I have 2 sets of the Thule Set and Go saddles. So far, they are holding up great and can handle up to 80-85mph driving. Last weekend, we even had some 30 - 40mph wind gusts hitting us from the side, and they didn't budge at all..... I would highly recommend them.


#15 Mon, 03/16/2009 - 12:07pm

Ya Zeibignu, The ama just drops in. I went with 1cm camp foam to reduce any crush risk from the supplied compression strap the surf set-up comes with. Also camp foam is grippy so the ama does not slide around with a light tightening of the straps.

Also the new thule is the 887 slipstream I think...
FYI , I also replaced the back supports to the more adjustable kind that come stock on the front of the slipstrream....

Yes RichardG the reason I went with this Thule is it extends the supports about a foot past my front and rear cross bar. I only use the compression straps over the canoe no nose / tail tie downs Even on the Hi-way, Canoe rides upside down, this also forces the canoe to press down on the rack at higher speeds.

#16 Mon, 03/16/2009 - 12:39pm

Modern boats have to be transported resting on strongest
part - cockpit coaming - and upside down.

I've been carryng HUKI surfski and OC-1 on the same
rack - "Yakima canoe brackets" - padded with little
extra foam.

I easy alternate the width depending on ski or canoe. Between the brackets there is a plastic pipe w/foam insulation free rolling on Yakima bar so I can "push" boat
from behind if need be. Bar spacing is about 54" - from
toestrap to back of the bucket.

Rubber ties in town, nylon straps for highway, works like a charm and cost less than $50. I had it for 6 years and
do not see need for anything else.

#17 Mon, 03/16/2009 - 2:58pm

Thanks everyone for the feedback - appreciate this!

If I can get enough spread between crossbars, I think Serge's solution seems the most streamlined and least complicated (and least expensive!) I saw the canoe brackets by Yakima and wondered if I could make this work, given its simplicity.

i have been carrying my Huki upside down as well, and find it more stable in this position.

#18 Wed, 03/18/2009 - 3:57am

Here is the Ama attached on the surf carrier.

This set up works well and is relatively inexpensive considering it is not all foam and will last years....

#19 Tue, 03/24/2009 - 10:02am

Here is the extra span you get with the slipstream.

#20 Tue, 03/24/2009 - 10:08am

Old Thule 554 surfboard carrier can be found on E-bay and retrofited for ama:

It can be attached to Yakima brackets and rotated
horizontally when not in use.

#21 Tue, 03/24/2009 - 4:21pm


I've used it just over one year. It's starting to rust(my only complaint on product) it also limits the # of boats you can travel with. I was able to make it work for the boat and ama at the same time as you can see in the pic as well using original set up with some pipe foam and bungees. Much like the previous post. it frees up interior room.
Have had it up to 80mph with no problems(that I can see). It gives a good spread compared to the standard distance on my old racks.
Sorry only pic I have so you get my ugly mug as well.
Works well. As my girlfriend said as I complained about the 300 bucks..........".How much was that boat?"

If i repeated others...sorry...just sharing my experience.


#22 Tue, 03/24/2009 - 7:37pm

I have just purchased a Yakima rack with the intention of transporting an oc-2 on my Ford Focus. While assembling it I read in the notes that you're not suppose to carry anything over 14ft. Does anyone know a way around this such as using straps or should I be looking for a different method for transporting?

#23 Thu, 04/02/2009 - 6:16pm

What's the distance between your bars? If you're talking a Focus wagon, and you can get one on the front of the roof, and one on the very back, you're probably OK. If not, then you should just find somewhere to keep your two-man that's right by the water.
I wouldn't attempt to load that thing on your car unless there was at least 6 feet between the bars.

#24 Fri, 04/03/2009 - 5:39am

It's a 4dr w/ hatchback with a distance of 30" between the bars. Notes for this vehicle include #139. "Loads limited to Skis, Bikes, Boats, Gear Baskets, SpaceCadet15s, Platinum/BlackTop16s, and SkyBox/SkyBox Pro16s. No long loads that cannot be tied down at the ends." Are tie downs not to be used on oc's? There are no storage options where I'll be paddling. Looks as though I may not be getting an OC after all?

#25 Fri, 04/03/2009 - 11:07am

Yes, you are.
Try to install the hitch and buy one of those
hitch extenders for kayaks:

#26 Fri, 04/03/2009 - 11:49am

I once had thoughts of using such a hitch extender, but they require a 2" receiver, which is a Class 3 or higher hitch. Hitches for most cars are Class 1 or 2 and have a 1.5" receivers. It might be possible to retrofit a Class 3 hitch to fit your car, but it will require drilling holes into the frame of the car.

#27 Fri, 04/03/2009 - 12:38pm

They do make and sell Class 2 to Class 3 Hitch adapters.

Since you're not really towing anything, it should handle that Extend-a-Truck system for carrying an OC-1.

#28 Fri, 04/03/2009 - 4:03pm

Wow, that is slick. It should work well. Thanks E7M, I'm going to try that.

#29 Fri, 04/03/2009 - 4:15pm

I was just looking into that. You guys rock! I believe I have the answers I need. I'm gettin' all excited now!!!

"Good Luck"

#30 Fri, 04/03/2009 - 4:19pm

I use to carry my old double Honu canoe on my Honda Accords on Yakima cross bars spaced 3 to 3 1/2 ft. apart and hull resting on 1st generation Yakima saddles. The only problem I had was when I listened to all the experts tell me to tie down the ends of the canoe. So I did, and almost snapped the canoe in half when the tires ran over the strap that loosen coming over the Pali. So now, I never never tie down the ends. In Hawaii, with strong winds and all, no one ties down the ends. In fact, the best canoe race I ever witness, wasn't on water, but on land: You ought to see these Big Island paddlers race to Hilo from Pohoiki with their canoes on their pick-up trucks and cars when they found out that the canoe race was changed to Hilo instead of Pohoiki. If you want to know how for strap down your canoe, go ask one Big Island paddler, for they know how secure it to any car safely for drive the Saddle Road. And these paddlers no tie down the ends.

#31 Fri, 04/03/2009 - 4:37pm

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