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Roof racks


I have a 2010 Prius and love to Kayak. I was told by an (expert) rack person that they would have to drill into the roof to install the proper rack system for my car to be able to transport two kayaks. It would cost over 450.00 to have it mounted. They also informed me that the clip on roof racks are not the way to go because they may cause some destruction. Not sure what to do…thought about a pull behind small utility trailer but I don’t think my car is set up for that either. Any ideas?

Missing my paddling since I bought the Prius. ~Wendy

PS I am a graveyard shift registered nurse and am plenty tired most days off…but any advise would be greatly appreciated. Take Care, radio folks!

You might want to go to a ski store to get more info about the “destruction”. I shopped one that also sold rooftop cargo carriers but was put off by the cost; found another way to carry our extra luggage for an extended trip. They had custom clamps for various car makes. I see a fair number of cars with roof racks for carrying skis in the winter. It’s hard to believe that they are all sustaining “destruction”.

A lightweight trailer would also work as long as the weight is minimal. I will venture to say that minimal is 500 lbs. max. total, kayaks and trailer which is very possible. Harbor Freight has lightweight trailers but they must be assembled and then modified with an added plywood floor or some kind of fittings to hold your kayaks. A handy DIY person could set this up. I occasionally see kayaks being transported upside down on vehicles to keep the rain out I suppose. A trailer would make it easier for you to load and unload the kayaks. I can say this from using our rooftop two bicycle carrier.

This reply is not completely specific but might help to get something started.

Web search for ‘roof rack prius’. I did, and came up with this:

The solution from your rack guy may have been the one he had available or the one he liked best. There should be several roof rack systems that clamp to the top of the door frame.

Get a Thule roof rack system with rectangular bars. Avoid the “aero” or “blade” style which are not as strong. Yakima systems are ok but Thule are superior.

NEVER is there a need to drill into a roof like this. Your “expert” is no expert. Avoid him and his place of business. Don’t let him within 15 feet of your car.

Don’t bother with a trailer on a Prius. (sorry WhaWho)

+1 for mleich. I used to travel all over Maine with my Old Town Canoe and my roof rack simply clamped on. I don’t remember the brand but I bought it at Sears.

I agree with other posters that there are a number of commercial racks available that do not need any drilling. There is a guy down the street here who has 2 kayaks and carries them on a Volkswagen Golf, a compact car. His rack looks pretty standard.

Shop around, but be prepared to pay at least $300 for a good rack that will hold 2 kayaks. Thule and Yakima are reputable makes.

Just go the the Thule and Yakima web sites, I configured a Thule kayak carrier for your exact car in 2 minutes. Guess that makes me an ‘expert’…

I used a Thule rack for years on my Cherokee, worked GREAT.

Just a comment on drilling into the roof. How do you think factory installed roof racks are mounted ? Other then using pretheaded mounts, holes are drilled.
I lament the loss of the old rain gutters for that reason. But I agree. There is no need. Does anyone make a hitch for a Prius that an extender could be installed along with pads on the roof to give you positive tied owns. . IMO, finding tie downs on the chassis is more important for safe transport of boats then drilling into roofs and holding everything on with screws. Give me line with good knots over racks and clamps… Regardless, nearly any thing Thule makes is reasonably well thought out.
@texases You are my new hero ! Before trailers and pickup trucks, I carried everything on the roof from Lasers to canoes to kayaks to bikes to …you name it, all safely done with home made racks and tie downs.

I have carried canoes on the roof of cars and trucks with no racks. If a packing quilt or similar pad is folded appropriately to cushion the boats gunnels and the boat is centered and securely lashed front and rear it can be hauled safely without damaging the vehicle. And on this subject, I am curious why most people hauling kayaks mount them keel down on the roof of the vehicle.

Your Prius was designed from the ground up to achieve spectacular mileage…Adding a roof-rack will disturb the cars aerodynamics and have a negative impact on your mileage…If you place two kayaks on it, the drag will be such that your cars overall performance may be compromised, as in dashboard warning lights…It was not designed to tow anything either…Do not ask your Prius to do things it was not designed to do…Think Escape Hybrid…

I feel boat dynamics has mandated that hull design is pretty universal in shape, allowing for easier fitting in racks. Plus, you loose little and may gain with the kayak overall enclosed shape as far as aerodynamics and the ability to handle and mount several at a time upright. They carry and raise much easier right side up too with centerr of gravity closer to the keel. They are different animals from canoes whose strongest area is the gunnels with open, air resistant grabbing topsides. This makes they and most open boats better mounted upside down. Convenience trumps all. Try to handle a kayak upside own is a loose- loose endeavor it seems…like pushing a rope, it has a mind of it’s own.

I’ll make it more plain that putting things on the roof of a vehicle requires a decent amount of upper body strength. Possibly the OP might be ok with that being a kayaker or can enlist assistance. I can’t see, however, why a Prius could not tow a total of 500 lbs. if it happens that there are not three passengers weighing a total of 500 lbs. inside the car.

I don’t think I’d let anyone drill holes in my roof. Come trade in time it’ll be a real problem. You can’t pull a trailer witht that vehicle either.

I have no experience with kayaks on land or water but the ones that I see most often on the roofs of cars are made of molded plastic and they are as open as canoes rather than covered like the eskimo variety. And as for loading a small boat, I had a 14’ wooden framed canoe for several years and could load and unload it on cars and pickups alone with no problem. Of course that was 40 years ago.

“Your Prius was designed from the ground up to achieve spectacular mileage…Adding a roof-rack will disturb the cars aerodynamics and have a negative impact on your mileage.”

@Caddyman, that’s why a removable rack makes sense. It only has to be on when @allium needs it to haul the kayak.

Plan on leaks if you drill the roof for the rack. Also you will take a pounding on trade in since it would then have a limited market.
Keep doing some research. Maybe Yakima or Thule has something for you.

Actually, all kayaks that are routinely available are not open on the top. They are all double hulled with positive flotation and a lower center of gravity. Canoes are single hull. Canoes will fill with water, while open kayaks that appear open will shed water and retain flotation. They actually do a pretty good job of shedding wind resistance too if that makes any sense. Again, the hull design shape and loading ease makes a kayak ride better in the upright position.

They also stack easier at an angle while upright making several easier to mount on a roof rack.
Small sailboats and aluminum boats all tend to be flat on top or open with stronger gunnels which make upside down mounting for me more practical. The largest boat I carried on a car roof was a 300 lb JY15 sailboat. It rode very well to regattas but took 4 strong men to lower and raise without breaking anything. The fittings were plastic and bumping anything and breaking it ended a race day. So, you got to make a lot of"best friends" when in need. We quickly decided to trailer next time. It just wasn’t worth the effort for anything much over 150 lbs which I could easily do in my youth. Cause the older I get, the better I was ! Now EVERYTHING gets tailored.

Driving a Prius on dirt roads? Maybe it’s not going on dirt roads but I have some imagination. It just seems like the wrong vehicle. Maybe I’m thinking X Games with cars.

Sorry for trying to tell jokes. How do you know you’re not a redneck? Driving a Prius may be the first clue. If I ever get a clue I’ll let you know. Or not. If not, you’ll know I got one.

“Volvo is not a make of car, it’s a state of mind” You didn’t just drive a Volvo, you BECAME a Volvo…Prius has taken over that market niche…

I have to agree with @caddyman Its a cult.