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  I'm your size and here's my take
  Posted by: willowleaf on Apr-08-13 2:16 PM (EST)

I'm female, 5' 5" with an older Outback with J-racks, also had an 850 Volvo wagon and a Hyundai Santa Fe (probably closer to your car height) with the same rack setup. I had a Dagger Magellan, which was around 62 lbs and 17' 4" so I know the drill you are facing. Honestly, I won't carry kayaks that heavy on the J-racks, especially on an Outback where the bars have to be so close together. I did it on the Volvo but there was at least another foot or two of spacing there AND it was lower. But regardless of car height, anything over 40 lbs goes flat on my Thule bars, with shaped foam blocks cradling it if hull-down and directly on the bars if hull-up.

To load the Magellan I would lay an ensolite foam pad or piece of carpet draped over the rear rack bar and the top edge of the rear of the car, then place the kayak behind the car with the bow towards the tailgate and lift up the boat's nose. Depending on the kayak model you can load it deck up or hull up (if the stems are not too high I think they ride more securely deck down). pPull it until the nose rests on the rear rack, make sure it is stable, then walk to the stern and lift it and shove the boat forward until it is on both racks.

You CAN get a long boat into the J-racks by angling the bow into the front rack then walking to the stern and lifting and shoving it, but it's really a bear and if you are not strong and confident enough you can lose control of the boat and damage it, the car and yourself.

The best suggestion is to get yourself a lower car or a lighter boat. I have no trouble loading my 30 lb 18' skin on frame or 35 lb 15' folder on the J-rack, even on the Santa Fe. But my 15' 44 lb plastic kayak was about the ultimate extent of what I could safely load alone on that car, and I am fairly strong and experienced with balancing heavy loads.

In fact, I found the Santa Fe such a pain for loading ANY boat, regardless of weight, that I bought a 2002 Outback. I can even solo load our 85 lb. canoe on it, using the slide onto the bars from the rear method.

I'll be interested to see what others weigh in with on this. As I said, I don't trust J-racks with heavy boats nor does the process feel safe to me in loading them.

 Great Products from the Buyers' Guide:

Women's PFDs

Kayak Seats


Wall Mount Boat Racks

Sport Cases (Electronics)

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