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Improved Thule Hullavator

Gary Jacek

Dec 11, 2009
Victoria, BC
I’ve owned and sold my Thule Hullavators because the awkward cradles don’t hold the kayak as securely as I would like, and the hard rubber bumps tend to oilcan rotomolded kayaks.

Now check out these Mallone cradles adapted to a Thule Hullavator.
Holds kayak securely on edge so no more oil canning.

Brilliant solution by Steve Cooper of KASK (Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers).
Cool mod, thanks for sharing.

I love my Hullavator, but agree with your assessment; those rubber nubs are poorly thought out and provide very limited contact with the hull (not to mention the oil canning issue on plastic boats).
My problem with the Hullavator was the two arms raised independently. So my "wingspan" had to reach both cradle arms. That meant the supports could only be about 4 ft. apart. It seemed awfully narrow for a 17 ft. kayak. I asked Mariner about it and they said it was okay. But still ... it just didn't look right. If the arms had been linked together, so raising one lifted the other, then I could have spaced them better (in my way of thinking).

So I have to say, when I've seen them used, they've all been with sea kayaks and I've never heard of a "two close together" problem.
Interesting idea, but I'm pretty sure that those cradles wouldn't fit my kayaks any better than the Thule ones.
Having to organize that little foam block under the strap each time could get tiresome, for me.
I am not a huge fan of hullavators for various reasons, but I do wonder if that vehicle is really tall enough to justify them anyways.

If I'm taller than the car my solution is usually just "lift".

Regarding span of supports, most crossbar installations end up being around 30" or so. Extensions can be acquired but not really required for most boats.
I was happy to get a set of Hullavators really cheap since my lady is to short to load her yak herself and I ended up doing all the loading. I agree w/ the issue of them being independent makes it challenging to lift them but my main problem is that the rubber part in the middle is starting to breakdown and is becoming gummy. Now it leaves sticky black spots on the hull. Now I have to figure out how to stop that.
… I do wonder if that vehicle is really tall enough to justify them anyways. …

This is quite funny, as the owner shown is actually really tall.

He used to own a motorhome and he had to use a ladder, calisthenics and faith to get his kayaks on the roof!

Maybe he has bad memories of those experiences and has now taken the gentleman's approach. :)
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This is quite funny, as the owner shown is actually really tall.

That's too funny; I felt like my sense of scale was all thrown off but couldn't put my finger on why.

Whatever system makes it easier to get out paddling is a good one.
There have been a few mentions of the rubber stops on the bottom oilcanning the hull. I just loaded our yaks and they're going to be up there for awhile as we're nomadic and are currently leaving an encampment that we've been at for quite an extended stay.
When I loaded them I adjusted the cradles so that they are the major support and the hull is just lightly touching the rubber stops.
Maybe this will help those that have had oilcanning issues w/ these racks?