Solutions for Vehicles with Factory Racks

This blog is a continuation of a series designed to help our customers identify which rack system best fits their needs. In this article, we offer some advice to those who own a vehicle with a factory rack.

You’re ready to get to the water with your new or future boat but are realizing that you might need more than just the basic factory rack that came installed on your car. Why? There are three main problems that can arise with factory racks which include low load capacities, incompatibility with aftermarket accessories and a lack of cross bars.

Common Factory Rack Issues

The problem that many factory racks pose is that they just aren’t designed to hold a lot of weight. In general, factory racks have weight capacities that average half of aftermarket base rack systems. Sometimes this means that carrying more than a single boat can be a problem. Of course, load capacity will vary based on the make and model of your vehicle so you’ll need to look into specifics with your car’s manufacturer. In some situations, it might be possible to remove your factory rack to replace it with an aftermarket system (though sometimes it won’t be) or you might have to look into mounting a trailer to your vehicle.

Another problem is that even well designed factory racks can be incompatible with the wide variety of aftermarket accessories that exist. This makes sense because these accessories were designed to fit their respective rack systems but can pose a problem when you want to customize your loading options. That being said, some accessories will be designed to fit particular kinds of factory systems so checking specifications and fit guides should be your first step. Sometimes you might even be able to replace factory cross bars with aftermarket railing systems outlined below which are compatible with many accessories.

If you are satisfied with the customization and load capacity of your factory cross bars, then there are a few products you might find helpful. Of course, for any rack owner looking to carry a kayak it will be necessary to own a pair of tie down straps but you will also want to look into padding for your rack. We offer a number of pads (find them all here) that will protect your roof rack and kayak from suffering damage when loading the boat, the most common of which is simple scratching where the surfaces meet.

Finally, cars often come outfitted only with railings which won’t be very helpful for loading a canoe or kayak. We wanted to outline options for vehicle owners with factory railings but no cross bars, as we carry several products designed for these situations.

Temporary Pad & Strap Systems

The bottom line: Inexpensive, fast & easy to install system that’s adequate for carrying a single boat.

For those who don’t have a whole lot to haul or money to spend, a foam and strap system is something to consider. These temporary rack systems involve straps that circle through the inside of your car along the roof and over the top, where they are attached to foam padding. These are compatible with factory railings IF the straps have adequate space to slide beneath, over or through the railings – however they are not usually designed with railings in mind. Quick and easy to install and remove, these racks are great at carrying a single boat. However, it is important to keep in mind that the foam pads are usually located around the middle of your roof so this is where weight and pressure will be coming down. If your car’s roof has a sensitive area like a sun roof, you’ll want to see if these can be installed around it, otherwise a foam and strap system might not be a good fit for you.

We currently carry four different pad and strap systems: Malone Canoe CarrierMalone Kayak CarrierMalone Handi Roof Rack, & the Quick Sports Strap Roof Magnum.

Basic Railing Crossbar Systems

The Bottom Line: Your average rack compatible with factory railings, great for hauling heavy loads and compatible with a number of accessories.

Vehicle’s outfitted with railings but not crossbars can install these systems designed specifically for this situation. Compared to strap and pad systems these crossbars can carry a much heavier load and are compatible with a number of accessories that allows you to customize your setup, all of which can be found here. These systems involve installing four towers or footpacks that attach to the railings and then connecting a cross bar between each pair. A common misconception is that the installation of these is complicated and permanent when in fact they are fairly easy to install and are considered temporary though they can be left on permanently.

We currently carry three different railing crossbar systems: Thule Load Bars with Thule Crossroad Railing Foot Pack, Yakima Crossbars with Yakima RailGrab Towers & the Malone Universal Cross Rail System.

Premium Railing Crossbar Systems

The Bottom Line: They cost a little extra but are sturdy, look good and make almost no noise compared to the basic cross bar systems.

If you want all the extra features and are willing to spend the money, look no further. These are the newest and most top of the line rack systems, with sleeker, aerodynamic designs meant to reduce driving noise (it is significant) and increase fuel efficiency. Otherwise, these systems are very similar to their less expensive siblings as they are temporary but can be left on permanently, are compatible with most accessories and can hold on average between two and three hundred pounds.

We currently carry two different premium crossbar options: Yakima Rail Whispbar and the Thule Aeroblade with the Thule Rapid Crossroad.

A factory rack is not always something that needs fixing. However, they are limited in what they can offer paddlers when compared to aftermarket rack options. It’s also important to remember that each situation is different and what works for one vehicle might not for another. For those looking into adding aftermarket crossbars, check out the very extensive the fit guides from Thule and Yakima. If you have questions or comments remember to share them below! – Joseph@ACK

If you are interested in finding out more about accessories for your factory rack system, click here. We also have articles for truck owners and vehicles with a ‘naked’ roof.

Shhh…Can you Hear That?

My newest ambition is learning how to use a stand up paddleboard. However, before I can go paddle my favorite body of water, Lady Bird Lake in Austin TX, I need to be able to transport the board there. I drive a beastly SUV without any crossbars and before joining the ACK Team, I had no clue where to start. I don’t have a lot of experience with paddling in general, much less vehicle rack systems so I did my research and wanted to share with you what I learned.

It all started when our in-house product photographer was shooting some pictures of new items that had just arrived. My attention was immediately turned to what he was doing because I was already looking to find something to help get me on the water quickly. It was Yakima’s new Whispbar Crossbar system. The first thing I noticed is how aesthetically pleasing the products were. Most racks seem a bit bulky but not this one. In Yakima’s words, they are “here to make the smartest, quietest, most elegant roof racks on earth.” Yup, the entire planet and based on looks alone, I have to agree!

My research yielded that Yakima’s new series of Whispbar Crossbars is all about carrying the most amount of gear without compromising the appearance of your car or truck, while simultaneously being easy to install and use. These crossbars are extremely functional but with a sleek and quiet design. Tested in wind tunnels and inspired by nature, they were engineered to be the quietest, most aerodynamic and fuel efficient rack systems in the world. Their new sleek design is not only good for looks but reduces noise from vibrations and wind, as well as decreases drag by up to 70% resulting in much less of a gas-guzzler effect. And we all know gas ain’t cheap these days. Looks are not everything though. Did I mention durability? From what I have learned, this design is virtually indestructible and they also come with locks for added security.

Don’t worry coupe drivers, these are for you too! Yakima’s Smartfoot system allows the Whispbar System to be easily transferred to essentially any car. In fact, Whispbar comes in four different designs, to fit your individual needs:

Whispbar Rail
Rail bars are intended for those vehicles, which already have side rails (much like mine!). They offer this system in a variety of lengths so that you can attach to what you already have for a solid foundation. It’s easy to install and requires no additional hardware, it simply mounts on your side rails and you’re ready to hit the road! Click for more information.

Whispbar Flush
Probably the best looking of the bunch, the Flush bar blends in naturally with over 600 vehicles. It comes in a variety of different lengths to ensure a perfect fit and includes Smartfoot mounting hardware and vehicle specific pads so that your ride is protected. A great option for today’s slick car designs. Click for more information.

Whispbar Through
Quiet and fuel-efficient like the rest of them but better equipped for a larger load. Through bars provide a wider stance creating extra room on your crossbars. More stuff = more fun! It also includes Smartfoot mounting hardware and vehicle specific pads. Click for more information.

Whispbar HD
Need to take your whole life with you — wherever you’re going? No worries, Yakima has provided a heavy-duty option for those gear heads with lots of cargo. With this model, beauty meets beastly hauling capability. Can hold up to 220 pounds, while still holding true to the quiet and efficient Whispbar performance. These also come in a variety of different lengths and are equipped with tie-down points to keep your gear in place! Click for more information.

Though I think the Rail bars are best suited for me, I’m impressed by the entire Whispbar system. Yakima’s “take it easy” philosophy definitely shines in this series. I also must note their commitment to the environment. Planet Payback is Yakima’s reduction objective, to “reduce what we can, offset what we can’t and support those who are making a difference.” For more info:

All in all, I was convinced that the Whispbar series excels in all areas and definitely gets my two thumbs up. I can’t wait to get mine all set up and ready to go for a real world on the road experience that I can share with you!

What do you plan to carry on your Whispbars??