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Submitted: 04-12-2013 by apex
I have one season of use of my Hullavator rack system and I do recommend it. I bought it after tearing my rotator cuff made using my other rack difficult and painful. The rack does what it is advertised to do, and it is quite ingenious. I was very pleased to see that Thule offers an inexpensive adapter kit that allowed me to mount the Hullavator onto the new Thule AeroBlade bars I bought halfway through the season to replace the horribly loud Thule square section bars I had been using.
Mounting the Hullavator bases to the AeroBlades takes a bit of measuring and cutting of the rubber strips on the bars, but it is a one-time thing. Note that with the Hullavator you will mount metal base pieces onto your bars that are not easily removed. Certainly you will not remove them with each use--they are meant to be there semi-permanently. They have some protruding metal tabs on them which I think pretty much rules out using a car wash with your bars mounted, even if you "remove" the Hullavator cradles. Touchless car washes are the ticket.
Also, removing and mounting the cradles is not for the weak as you have to catch a rod in the heavy cradle piece onto a small tab protruding from the base that is mounted permanently on your bars, all the while holding the heavy cradle vertically, trying not to have it come down on you. You then have remove one hand from supporting the awkward cradle to pull the cradle away from the base just slightly to insert a retention pin into some holes, working against the return struts in the cradle mechanism and being careful to pull down the whole time. Lift it even a nudge and the heavy cradle assembly can unhook from the small tab and come crashing down on you and the side of your vehicle. It's not hard, but you do need some strength and you have to be careful. If you want to leave the cradles in place you don't have to worry about this after the first time mounting them, but they are VERY tall and on my SUV they prevent me from going into any garage when mounted. Plus, as expensive as these are, I prefer storing the cradles with their gas struts, linking and locking mechanisms indoors when not in use.
So I rate them an 8. They work and are unique, but they are expensive and in some ways finicky. There is nothing that in my mind is a good alternative if you need or want these, including the competitor product that has you hanging stuff off the side of your SUV for loading to "walk" your kayak up alternating front to back. That might work, but not as elegantly as the Hullavator.
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