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Gear Review

2 5

Great concept...falls a bit short

I purchased 2 of these from Backcountry to use for my 16' touring kayaks. I previously had Yakima Landsharks with 1/4" closed-cell foam glued to the cradles. I guess the glue only lasts 3 or 4 years because 3 of the foam pieces came off within a few days of each other. The Hullavators looked like the perfect replacement. I have a few sets of Thule crossbars in different lengths that I played around with for the perfect fit on my SUV with the Hullavators installed. I spent about 6 hours installing, testing, tweaking & so on before I had to pack them back in their boxes and return them.

I'm used to a rock-solid mount with my kayaks. That means that the straps attach to the bars and grip the top 1/2 of each kayak. With the Hullavators, I found 2 glaring problems I simply couldn't work around. For one, the straps attach to the curved cradles & not to the load bars. That wouldn't be so bad, except that the longest curved cradle is well above my kayak, and the shortest cradle is about even with it. With the straps in place, 1/4 or less of the kayak was actually held down by the straps. This resulted in a very loose (dangerous) fit. My only option would be raise the kayaks & hullavators to the travel position & then attach more straps that would attach to the bars. The other problem I had is when the kayaks & hullavators were in the travel position, there was excessive play, wobble, or whatever one would call it. These things lock into place, but they do not firmly lock into place, thus the excessive wobble. Again, the only solution I had would involve strapping the Hullavator to the load bar so that it won't move. All in all, far too much work & far too many straps involved for a safe travel load. Since typical highway/freeway driving exceeds 80mph, along with a number of bumpy dirt roads for lake access, having a safe & secure mount is absolutely my top priority. All they (Thule) would need to do is provide a few solid strap locations on the Hullavator that would accomodate various sizes of kayaks, along with a much better closed position locking mechanism and/or some way to firmly secure the Hullavator to the load bar.

Responded on

Well, in the first place, 16' touring kayaks probably exceed the rated load for the Hullavator, secondly, if installed properly on acceptable load bars, there should be no wobble, and lastly, mounting an eyebolt on the downside of the Hullavator to attach one end of your tie-down strap to, then pass through the loop of the tall bar and fastened to the lower bar should solve your fastening problem. but it sounds like you aren't very handy, and would rather lift those suckers up on the vehicle roof and fool around up there with tie-downs... good luck!!

Responded on

Same exact problem here. Jun105613815 doesn't know what they are talking about. Installed correctly, under load limit, if the cradles are taller than the back deck of your boat, it doesn't work. No discussion. Thule should list minimum specs for the Hullavator so more people dont experience these problems.