Submitted: 02-14-2003 by lance430
This is a addendum to all the posts on the Thule Hull-a-Port and saddle style kayak carriers . After seeing a number of posts on the possible fragility of the plastic clamps on the hull-a-port carriers we became concerned about the clamps.
I contacted Thule's tech services and was told that the aluminum mounting clamps would not hit the field until March 2003 and that it might be late March at that. They will still have the capability to clamp to bars up to 2.5" wide. They will still ship with 50mm and 60mm screws. They also stated that some (maybe all?) of the saddle type carriers would get a four position locking set-up that would allow them to lock nearly vertical for a shell on down to flat for a windsurfer.
After a lot of looking and web browsing we came on Oak Orchard Canoe's Deluxe "J" cradles. It's a couple of hours to thier store and we went up and bought two pairs. They are nearly 3/16" thick brushed stainless steel and very well padded. The cradle is wider than the Thule. At 22" high they're 4" taller then the Thule and since they are, essentially, vertical they double as kayak stackers. They are even padded on the back. They come with straps that have sewn on buckle pads. The mounting bracket fits Thule or Yakima bars and some other racks. All-in-all, these are a little more money than the Thule but they appear to be as close to "bombproof" as any accessory I've seen. I'll post a review as soon as we've used them enough to do a fair appraisal.
The "8" rating is subjective, I've never owned the Thule carrier. It's purely a reaction to the thought of trusting an expensive hull to plastic clamps.