Rack Systems for Truck Owners

Sometimes even truck owners need help to haul all the gear they want. For example a truck bed might not be able to accommodate a long kayak or canoe or be big enough to pack enough gear for longer trips. As a point of reference for truck owning paddlers, the center point of a kayak should rest at least two feet within a truck’s tailgate, otherwise sagging over the end can cause dents and even slight bends or even worse cause an auto accident. To avoid these issues, there are a number of rack options to customize your vehicle for your specific needs.

Before reading, remember that regulations for overhanging loads behind vehicles vary from place to place. Most often a red flag is required to be attached and in some cases tail lights are necessary. Visit your local auto regulations website for details.

The Horizontal Bed Extender

The simplest and most cost effective option for truck owners is the bed extender. The bed extender attaches to your trailer hitch and when laid horizontally (vertical extenders will be discussed in next the section) will offer lengthened support that is adjustable to your needs. This is a good option for those who own longer kayaks or canoes. The cross bar at the end of extender is wide enough to hold up to two kayaks (depending on the width of your bed and kayaks) or a single canoe.

We offer one horizontal bed extender: the Darby Extend-A-Truck Bed Extender.

The Vertical Bed Extender

Bed extenders can also be attached vertically and used in conjunction with a single cross bar or foam pad on top of the vehicle’s cab. In doing this, you are able to carry a kayak or canoe above the cab, leaving the bed available for storage space – making this a popular option for those who take longer or multipurpose trips and require more gear. This method is also relatively inexpensive, especially when using a foam pad rather than an aftermarket cross bar on the roof of your truck. That said, if you decide to purchase a more secure and semi-permanent crossbar rack system for the top of your roof, be sure to use one of our Thule or Yakima fit guides.

We offer three vertical bed extenders: the Thule Goal Post, the Yakima Dry Dock and the Darby Extend-A-Truck Bed Extender.

The Utility Rack

Finally, you have the option of an over-bed utility rack. This option does not require any mounting to the cab. Instead, these racks extend up from each corner of the truck bed and include cross bars at the front and rear of the bed, offering maximum load capacity for any truck. These racks allow for the bed to be utilized for storage, can hold several boats and let users take advantage of additional rack accessories from Thule or Yakima. These are premium racks that in general require that you spend more than you would for a bed extender but the benefits outweigh the cost.

We offer three truck utility racks: the Thule Xsporter, the Invis-A-Rack Truck Rack and the Yakima Outdoorsman.

Just like picking out your kayak, you should pick a rack that is specific to your needs. We hope that this blog gets you started in the right direction, and be sure to check the Thule and Yakima fit guides to help you find the best fit for your specific make and model. If you have any questions or comments please write them in below, we’d love to hear them! – Joseph@ACK

A Father’s Day Paddling Adventure

The cars loaded with yaks, bikes and more.

This Father’s Day my dad and I ended up having a bit of an unexpected adventure. We started with plans of my dad trying a stand up paddleboard for the first time but when I showed up the day of I found myself being talked into an overnight camping trip and a five hour paddle at Colorado Bend State Park here in Texas. We had some hesitations (namely the triple digit heat and low water conditions) but I think we were both looking and ready for an adventure so a week later we put our plans into action.

On the day of the trip, we loaded up our vehicles with a Wilderness Systems Ride 135 for my dad and a Dagger Zydeco 11 for myself. Along with the kayaks our cars were packed with camping equipment including a Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pad that I was excited to try out. My dad also attached his Yakima SwingDaddy Hitch Mount to bring along his mountain bike.

Slow moving waters made up the majority of the paddle.

One of the tricky things about paddling down a river, and the reason we brought two cars, is transportation between your put-in and take-out. Luckily, we surveyed launch points online before leaving and had been able to find an area where we could park a second car that was only a twenty minute drive north from the campground. We left our shuttle car and got ready for our paddle!

The section of the Colorado River we paddled was made up of long, slow moving bends that were broken up by faster moving shallow sections. The slow moving sections gave us ample time to take in the beauty of the Texas Hill Country and all the wildlife that made its home there but never became too dull because of the faster moving stuff. We passed by a few coldwater springs where we stopped to find some relief from the triple digit temperatures. We also made sure to make pit stops on the bank to rest and reapply sunscreen. I noticed that the Zydeco had trouble keeping up with the Ride 135 during the longer sections but really came in handy when it came to maneuvering around the shallow rocks. It also offered some protection for my legs from the sun (my poor dad’s legs were beet red by the end). All in all, it was a great boat to paddle.

Tents all setup, no rain fly's for us!

By the end of the 12 mile stretch, we were dead tired. The constant paddling and the heat really had taken it out of us so before we set up camp we jumped in Colorado Bend’s spring fed swimming hole. Contrary to what we expected, the water was warm, but still very relaxing. Eventually we made it back to camp and there were beers, steaks and stories around the campfire before finally getting to sleep. I was able to enjoy a very comfortable night’s rest using the Therm-a-Rest, although I had some trouble rolling it up for the first time the following morning (I watched a how-to and feel ready for next time though).

For those who might be considering their own paddling trip this summer, take it from me that you shouldn’t let the heat get you down! Start by picking a destination that has water nearby and plenty of trees for shade. Then remember to pack smart – you’ll need lots of drinking water, shades, a hat, sunscreen and breathable, lightweight clothes. Finally, there are lots of little things you can do like not putting a rain fly on your tent if you’re camping (unless it might rain) and taking lots of rest stops. The heat can definitely be an obstacle, but it isn’t worth missing out on a great outdoor adventure!

The springs were beautiful and relaxing.

In the end the trip was an awesome experience and a great way to spend time with my dad. Prior to the trip he kept saying how he “just wanted to see what he was capable of” since it had been a while since he had gone paddling. I think we both learned that a little 12 mile paddle wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. Thanks for reading and happy paddling!

– Joseph@ACK





More Savings From Yakima!

Yakima keeps on bringing the savings this summer. They just announced an awesome rebate opportunity for a Rocketbox and a number of Skybox rooftop cargo carriers. Rebates vary from $75 to $125* depending on the qualifying model you purchase. So get those summer outdoor vacation plans moving along and take a look at the all boxes we have to offer by clicking here.

*Click here for full terms and conditions.

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: http://www.yakima.com/planet-payback/.

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??