Roof Rack Optimal Spread Width

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by Jurfie, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    So I'm in the market for a roof rack. Both Thule and Yakima have racks that will fit my truck; the Thule spread is 27" and the Yakima is 30". I know some here have made shorter spreads work, but I'm wondering if there is a big difference in safety/boat protection spending a little more for the 30" Yakima over the 27" Thule racks? Also the Yakima has a 58" wide bar, vs. 50".

    I guess my question is: what is the optimal spread width for carrying an ocean kayak or two?
     
  2. Alana

    Alana Wave Seeker

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    I would say that the wider spread the better... but I don't think 3" will make much of a difference. It really depends on your truck's roof profile.

    I have heard to stay away from the round Yakima bars, as the cradles (or whatever you are attaching) tends to slip and rotate while loading and unloading. This isn't from personal experience but a few people have mentioned it to me.

    Thule also has bars longer than 50"
     
  3. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    I've been using Yakima racks on my vehicle for 5 years now and this has never been a problem (I've got a rack system that holds 3 boats).

    Jurfie, Thule or Yakima, either way you'll be fine.
     
  4. rider

    rider Paddler

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    I think the more spread,the better,for ocean kayaks anyway. Currently I have a Toyota Echo with a homebuilt system,shortest spread of any I built, around 42 inches. Imho,the shorter the spread, the more important bow/stern tiedowns become. Also,with spread as short as the ones you're talking about, I think you can forget about carrying boats upside down(the way I like to carry my plastic sea kayaks). The shorter spread you mention is great for whitewater boats and also lets you use a paddle holder for 1 piece paddles. It'll work for sea boats,especially with cradles. But bow/stern lines become something of a necessity ( I know what Dan will say,but I still dislike them)
    I'd go for whatever has longer spread and wider bars,and I'm also not a fan of round bars,unless you have cradles that you just put on,tighten and forget about them.
     
  5. Gecko Paddler

    Gecko Paddler Paddler

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    We installed the Yakima system on our full size truck canopy using the 58" round bar on Control Towers which are 43" mounted apart (side to side) on the canopy. The distance between the front bar and back bar is 7 feet allowing good support of the kayaks. We use Hully Rollers on the back and Mako Saddles up front. The rollers and saddles are mounted inside of the width of the towers and with both of our Delta's (24" wide) loaded there is about 1.5" between the hulls. The spread of the saddles and rollers at the center attachment point is about 10". The system works good for us.

    http://geckopaddler.blogspot.com/2011/1 ... kayak.html

    http://geckopaddler.blogspot.com/2011/1 ... dling.html
     
  6. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    Hm. I was all excited to get a roof rack for my truck, thinking it would be better (and cheaper) than the one for my car (24" spread, plus stretch kit = ~$600). I was hoping 30" was plenty, but part of me figured bars at the bulkheads would be best.

    Maybe I should get a single roof rack, and one box-mounted tower to increase the spread. I was planning on using bow and stern lines, regardless. Thanks for the input!
     
  7. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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  8. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    I think this would be your safest and best method.
     
  9. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Have a universal flex mount (or an attached separate rigid mount for the yak - like for shells) on one of them to account for the relative movement and twisting of the box versus the cab - otherwise boat damage possible. Probably depends to a major degree on the cab/box structural organization
     
  10. rider

    rider Paddler

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    I random thought on the truck rack systems that have one bar on the cab roof,and one rigidly mounted on the box. Assuming it's a normal body on frame truck(as opposed to an Avalanche or a Ridgeline), the cab and box move around a wee bit in relation to one another as the frame flexes. So in theory you can have twisting and bending forces applied by the towers to the boat hull. Plastic boats won't be bothered by that, but I wonder if in extreme cases(super supportive cradles on both ends, tightened tight) this can cause issues(split seam at worst?) I'm sure it's a theoretical question since in real life the boats have a fair bit of flex and usually so do the cradles...
     
  11. Roy222

    Roy222 Paddler

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    If you have a newer truck with a tubular frame a cab/bed system might not be a problem. If you have an older style "C" section frame it could be a big problem. (the newer tubular frames are intended to increase torsional stiffness and thus provide a car like ride) To be safe stick to a cab or the bed mounted system. Almost any truck's bed will have a longer spread than your cab. The big disadvantage of a bed system is that it will cost more and the rollers/saddles might need to be adapted to fit.
    A bed mounted system with rollers will be the easiest to load if the bed is 6 ft or longer.

    Roy
     
  12. greg0rn

    greg0rn Paddler

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    Here is my home-built rack:



    Posts are made of gum wood for strength. Round bars are aluminum bought by the foot at the Metal Mart. Posts are secured to the truck using woodworker's inserts and bolts. Holes that accommodate round bars are reinforced with aluminum flat bars and ss bolts. Rollers are on the back and saddles on the front.

    The aft segment is purposely lowered for ease of kayak loading. All together an reasonably easy project with some basic tools, although a drill press has been used for most holes.

    I've used this rack for the last six years, carrying a double and sometimes two yaks for hundreds of miles without problems. For longer transporting I use bow and stern lines.

    Construction note: vertical posts have to be constructed of super strong wood. Regular spruce will most likely lead to disaster!
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    Thanks for all the replies, folks. Geez, you give lots to think about.

    I didn't think about the box/cab independance...but a good point. Problem is box mounted systems (unless homemade like gregn's) are $$pricy$$ (about $600-700 for a base system), and I don't like how far back the boat sits. I would prefer it to sit over the cab so I can see what the bow is doing while driving and determine if something needs adjusting/tightening/etc.

    Maybe I'm back to a cab-mounted roof rack, modified to widen the spread of the cradles, but maintain the spread of the bars? I'm thinking bars perpendicular to the cross-bars (and attached with skookum fasteners), with a secondary cross-bar with cradles between these. And bow and stern lines, of course.

    Or maybe I'm just overthinking it. Just get a standard roof rack since it will probably be fine for 95% of the trips I would take, and use bow and stern lines.

    Anyways. Thanks again for the suggestions. :big_thumb
     
  14. Whidbey

    Whidbey Paddler

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    Whether you go with Thule or Yakima, it's worth it to go for longer bars.

    James
     
  15. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    Longer bars=more boats= :D

    (Mine are 78", but I'm not compensating for anything.)