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6/13/2017 9:59 am  #18

Re: Driving with a canoe on long trips

Just bought a beater canoe and will have to transport it 1100 km later this summer. I have a mini-van with roof racks running parallel along the length of the car (i.e. no cross bars). I am also not particularly handy.

From what you've all said (and thank you very much), it sounds like (a) I definitely need some sort of cross bar system rather than just having the canoe on foam pads on the roof of the van, and (b) Thule and Yakima would be the safest way for someone like me to proceed (setting aside cost).

Thanks in advance!


6/20/2017 8:04 am  #19

Re: Driving with a canoe on long trips

I agree that a rack is definitely the way I would go - for the reasons cited, etc.

Is this a long-term use item or for this trip and maybe some later use? I have a Sportrack rack from Canadian Tire ( that serves the role as required (going on 3 years with occasional summer use for canoes and winter use for ski box)

*The devices to attach to the roof rails are probably more trouble than thule or yakima (but they work and hold securely)
*I suspect they are louder than thule/yakima (but very hard to say)
*I think they are considerably cheaper

I will look more closely at thule/yak the next time to try to find quieter one, but I won't be rushing that chase




6/20/2017 8:23 am  #20

Re: Driving with a canoe on long trips

I've used a pair of 2" X 2" lumber (could use 2" X 4" as well) to lay across the lengthwise racks and act as cross bars.  In fact, it was to transport two canoes so I needed extra width to get both on top, side by side.

Make sure you lash or tie them to the lengthwise rack securely so they cannot slide forward or backward any substantial amount.  Then make sure you secure the canoe to the car as well.

Personally, I use the foam pads and multiple tie-downs and find they work great on every vehicle I've ever had to attach a canoe to.  If need be, you get the foam pads with a groove in one direction on the top and a groove in the other direction on the bottom and you can slide a 2" X 2" through those and it behaves like a rack.  Good straps and ropes in the appropriate locations work just fine with the foam blocks - I've driven thousands of miles with this setup for many years.


6/20/2017 11:41 am  #21

Re: Driving with a canoe on long trips

The gold standard for me is to have Yakima metal rails installed on the roof of the vehicle.  A pair of landing pads are then inserted and positioned in each rail.   Cross bars attach to towers that clip into the landing pads on the roof.  Advantages of this system are
 1) The cross bars are easily removed when you don't need them, eliminating the extra wind drag and noise.
 2) It only takes about 10 minutes to move the towers to a different set of cross bars.   I use 48" cross bars for carrying one canoe and switch to my 78" cross bars to carry two canoes.
 3) When you buy a new vehicle all you need to purchase is a new set of metal rails and all the other hardware is reused from your old vehicle.

The only downside of this system is that you need to drill the roof of your vehicle to install the rails.  The installation on my car was done by a friend who had a consider amount of experience with this type of installation.   Unfortunately, he moved to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia so when we need to replace our car I'll have to take a stab at doing the installation myself.


8/18/2019 5:18 pm  #22

Re: Driving with a canoe on long trips

I did not read the other suggestions but here is what I just did with my carbon canoe to travel a very long distance.

I recently traveled over 3400 kms with my 15ft canoe on tp of my car using 4 MEC sponge blocks and two tie down straps. I used the ones that are NOT ratchet style. I used the ones that are blue straps and rubber coated cam buckle and hold 1500-2000lbs. I tied my painter from the bow to my hood straps to in a V formation and drove over 3400kms total and the canoe never moved one millimeter. 

I do not recommend ratchet straps on any canoe you care about.



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