Submitted: 06-28-2009 by aarong
I purchased the Yakima rack system from ORS for my Old Towne Guide 147 with the additional Showboat and 66 inch extension bars and the gunwale kit to fit on my 08 Mercury Mountaineer.
My needs were that I needed a safe and easy way to load the canoe and not ding up the SUV in the process and free my wife from having to help load/unload a 76 lb canoe.
I installed everything myself and it was painless. You have to measure the distance between the support bars and make sure you have the correct distance between the extension bars. There's a handy ruler printed on the outside of the box but I opted for a tape measure.
I practiced taking the rack system off and on a few times to get the feel for it and I'm amazed at how simple it is.
The extension bars and the Showboat roller work very well and I know how to make adjustments if the bars feel hard to pull. It's mainly a matter of alignment and how tightly the brackets for the extension bars are set and does require a little patience in finding the right tightness.
The biggest problem I had was with my fat canoe. When loaded over the center of the vehicle it sits on the towers so I had to offset it over the driver side a little in order to use the gunwale brackets. I have 44 inch bars and it is crowed between the rack towers and the brackets for the gunwale kit and the showboat system.
Loading the canoe if exceptionally easy. Just follow the directions of setting one end of the canoe on the roller (fully extended and locked) and pick up the back of the canoe and push it on while keeping the angle above the racks until it's in a position to be on the racks where you want it to be. It will hang on the brackets otherwise. Unloading the canoe is equally simple. I just pull it back and stay underneath the canoe until the yoke is on my shoulders and I back up and wander off to the water in a portage carry.
I am very pleased with this product so far and I find it a very clever solution for loading a canoe by yourself.