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76 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Wife and I are flat water kayakers with two boats one is 13 feet long, the other 17 feet. Both are about 23 inches wide. I have a 2019 Ridgeline. As I was thinking about the project I had a few criteria:

Had to be inexpensive (I am into this about $180 plus effort)
Had to make loading and unloading easy enough for two retired people.
Did not want to modify the truck in a permanent way.
Needed to be able to access the trunk without having to take the boats down.
I wanted to play with the welder and plasma torch.
Here's what I ended up with:

20190529_104851 (1).jpg

Uses OEM roof rack and crossbars.
Purchased 2 sets of Universal cradles ( Amazon, $47 each)

I modified the middle carriers to allow both boats to fit by bending the outside edge to contour the crossbar, then cut longer brackets because the ends of the crossbars are wider and thicker than the center part of the bars. The screws that came with the cradles are enormously long and silver so I cut each one down and painted them black.

The real fun and what makes this so useful for me is the rack on the end of the truck. I looked at pre-made racks like this from various manufacturers and found prices running in the many hundreds without some of the features I needed. So, I bought $75 worth of steel, a can of spray paint and built my own.
This is in road carrying position.

For loading, the rack drops down by about 22 inches by pulling the upper pin.

The rack removes completely by pulling the lower pin and lifting the entire T off a stub I welded on the hitch. I have two versions; one for use with a trailer and one for use with a bike rack. This is the bike rack version.

This is a close-up of the roller (about $5.00 at Sportsman's Warehouse. The red blobs are to tell me I have the boats positioned correctly.

When I want to access the trunk, with the boats tied down this is what it looks like:

Drop the T down, lift off the hitch stub, open tailgate either way.

I've had this out on the highway and it seems to work great.

76 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Current Designs, Solstice GT. Older model. I've had it for about 10 years. In my younger years I did many trips in kayaks of all different styles. This is a great "all-in-one" that can be used for day paddling or multi-day trips. The important thing about kayaks is that length equals tracking and speed (as a general rule). I am a lake, ocean, calm water paddler. Not at all into white-water.
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