In an earlier post I covered some basics and previous experiences with base roof rack systems without getting too in depth regarding attachments. My next few posts will talk about some of the various attachments I’ve had over the years and my experiences with those.
I’ve traveled extensively both regionally and cross country with different rack systems and things attached. My main travels have involved toting snowboards, kayaks and surfboards with a few bike mixed in here and there.
For the time being I’ll basically talk about kayak transport and may save the remainder for future posts. As most of you already know my main rack set up over the years has been the Yakima round bars until I recently upgraded to the Whispbar thru bar system for my later model Chevy Tahoe.
My first kayak stacker was the old U-style Yakima kayak stackers. Although they were rather archaic looking even for the times they were quite functional and there were several things that i liked about them at the time and did’t realize it.
There were a few things I also wasn’t very fond of but now that I have reverted back to the U-style stackers I can let everyone in on a little secrets about it.
First the bad. There’s a few things about the traditional Yakima stackers that I don’t like.
- They’re UGLY! Although you don’t really see them while they’re laying down and not in use they are still up there and sort of add an unnatural and bulky look to your rack.
- They are a GIANT pain in the ass to install. Two twisting nuts and screws for each bar. Just when you think you’ve got them tight and give them a jiggle one will jostle loose and then back to twisting screws again.
- They take up valuable space on the roof. If you’re already pressed for space and close to hanging off the edge these stackers may be the make or break point for you to not get that last boat loaded due to space constraints. The U part sits parallel with the bar thus taking up a little bit of space between the kayaks on either side.
Now all things aside I have used the U-style for the longest period of time and have the most hands on experience with this model than any other I’ll talk about below.
A few years ago I wanted a sleeker look and figured I’d try the latest and greatest Yakima had to offer in the kayak stacker realm. Or maybe I just had a few extra bucks or bonus points burning a hole in my pocket. Either way, I bought the single pole style with the arrow looking attachment on the top.
It provided a more sleek look for sure but had a few issues of it’s own right out of the box.
- The arrows were terribly difficult to weave your rope or webbing through when tying on boats. Many times you’d only be able to get one end of the spear to catch onto the straps. I’m sure this isn’t the intended use but when you’re cold or excited to get back up to the top for another run this lack of security can easily be overlooked.
- Due to the nature that kayaks lay on their side and butt up with one another I don’t really feel the spear style really saved much space at…if any.
- Although I didn’t have this issue personally I know others who had troubles with part popping off and the arms bending. Not what you want when traveling 70 mph down the interstate.
This system no longer fit my newly outfitted roof rack so we had to part ways after a very brief honeymoon.
I don’t this style lasted very long before Yakima redesigned and seemingly tried to beef it up. Since the last iteration I had switched from the round bars to the oblong and aerodynamic shape that Whispbar now offers.
So I held on to my old U-style shaped kayak stacker all these years. I used an attachment that Yakima put out to accommodate the stackers with the Whispbar racks. It again wasn’t easy to install and probably even more cumbersome than putting them on the roundbars. I never really felt comfortable placing those bars on my new ride but with a little wiggling and a lot of twisting you can get it fairly secure….again…to me a MAJOR drawback.
I used the old-old style for a few months but I just didn’t care for the bulky look it gave to my sleek new and expensive ride. So I began researching kayak stackers yet again.
The latest on from Yakima seemed to address all the issues of old. PLUS it had the capabilities to be locked to the roof rack! Maybe I could even get the same lock core number and match up all of my Yakima lockable accessories. HOW EXCITING!!
So unpacking this new rack was like opening presents on Christmas morning. I was so overjoyed to get it installed and was hoping for ease of use. Boy was I WRONG!!
- It’s UGLY!! Big fat gray round bar. Very disappointing from the company who bought Whispbar. This things looks and feels like something from the Sears catalog.
- It is once again a BIG GIANT pain in the ass install. So much for taking it easily on and off for quick local saying runs. You’ll miss all the water trying to get this thing on and off your vehicle. Thumbs down.
- Not only is it ugly but it’s not sleek looking at all. Big, bulky ugliness on the roof of a $60,000 vehicle. No thanks Yakima.
I guess there were some slight improvement over the last model but not enough to even talk about other than to say that Yakima did make it easier to loop through with the bigger arrow spears and an added hole….which made it sort of like the U-style. Sort of….close…but no cigar. FAIL!!
So I guess I’m back to using the original U-style Yakima kayak stackers. I’m also very VERY tempted to cross over to the darkside and try Thule’s version just to see if they make me feel any better.
But for all the drawbacks all the systems have there are some things I really like about the u-style.
- It’s by far the easiest one to thread your straps through. Once you’re through it you’re through it. No hoping it won’t pop off between here and the put-in.
- The ability to strap paddles inside of the loop if you’re short on space. The middle of the u-style stackers are a great place for paddles when space is limited on top or even inside of the vehicle. No more fiberglass in your fingers as you try to make room inside the cabin.
- These things are rugged and sturdy. Nothing plastic and no worries that something won’t hold up. I’ve had this system the longest and worry about it the least.
I’m still leary about the attachment system onto the Whispbar racks but here’s what yakima recommends and so these are what I’m using fro the time being.
So there you have it. My evaluation of those three iterations of the kayak stacker by Yakima. I am constantly looking on Whispbar’s website for a T-channel compatible option. I do believe I saw one on their Australia or New Zealand site at one point and I debated trying to order one.
The shipping combined with Whispbar’s already high prices made it not really a smart option. Besides, i knew as soon as I ordered it that Yakima would come up with something here in the States….but as of today that has yet to happen.
My main concern is that Yakima isn’t putting enough research and redevelopment into the Whispbar brand and that it will struggle in the USA for a number of reasons.
If you have experience with the Whispbar system and using kayak stackers please drop me a line. I’d especially like to know if anyone has tried it out with Thule’s stacker system and your personal review of that product.
Drop me a line here or leave feedback in the comments section.