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Old 08-09-2017, 03:28 PM   #1
oredith
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DIY kayak lift assist? Hullavator?

did some demo, and managed to find the wife and I a pair of used kayaks that suits our needs for the right price (X-13 for wife, and Stealth 14 for me). after a quick outting though, it was VERY apparent that i'm going to have to come up with a better solution to loading and unloading the Kayak from my Ford Edge.

I'm 5'6", and my wife is 5'0". i bought a pair of cheap kayak J-carriers from amazon for the short term. Getting the kayaks on and off was "challenging" to be very generous about the experience.

it's not just a problem of height either, it's the weight. I can manhandle the kayaks by myself to chest level, but with the bulk, pressing it above my head is pretty near impossible, at least at my current level of practice (not sure if it would get better with more practice?).

my wife is all about going paddling with me, and engaging in some light fishing, but she is totally NOT about the loading and unloading.

are there good tips/tricks to loading/unloading a pair of big kayaks on roof top? i don't think i have enough room for side by side with them flat using roller types?

I was looking at the Thule Hullavator. the mechanics seem pretty simple from what I can see on youtube videos. I'm a handy person with my own welder and have made some pretty complex welds. has anyone done a DIY? or maybe someone with a hullavator that I can come up and check out in person for a closer look?

totally did NOT anticipate loading and unloading to be a semi-large hurdle in kayaking!..
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Old 08-09-2017, 03:44 PM   #2
jruiz
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I would first conclude whether in fact you were able to go side by side with roller saddle. That would be the most economical.

DIY a hullavator may not be as easy as you think. There are gas springs incorporated in the design. You would probably need to do it with aluminum or stainless if you wanted it to last.
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Old 08-09-2017, 03:54 PM   #3
oredith
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from the videos, it wasn't very apparent how much the gas struts really help.

My thinking is that if i was able to uniformly load the kayak on the side of the car at my chest level, i would be able to pivot the weight of the kayak up pretty easily vs. essentially doing a military press. The gas struts would be good to dampen it on the way down. I still have about 30 gas struts from past projects that I can use

current thinking is maybe going to one of my job sites and get some unistruts from my electrical contractor, and use them for a sub-frame and using a roller caster (something like this)to slide the piece on and off the top.
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Old 08-09-2017, 05:44 PM   #4
Croaker Dave
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I can get two kayaks side by side on my Subaru roof using Hully Rollers on the back, saddles on the front, and crossbars that are wider than the car roof.
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Old 08-09-2017, 06:13 PM   #5
Dave Legacy
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I can relate to this! The day I got my kayak my wife was helping me unload it and it accidentally got dropped on her head. It was a rough start, but with time and experience you'll develop a method that works for you. Try not to let your first few attempts discourage you.
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Old 08-09-2017, 07:45 PM   #6
Bruntoj
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DIY kayak lift assist? Hullavator?

If you can lift one end of the kayak to roof height (the other end on the ground) then you should get one of those extending crossbars.

Edit: Something like this.
https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories...ma/Y04018.html


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Old 08-09-2017, 08:06 PM   #7
dorado123
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I would use roller saddle for stealth 14 and J carrier for X13 that's how I did for my cobra fish and dive(36in wide about same as Stealth) and X13 for my ford explorer
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Old 08-09-2017, 10:51 PM   #8
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I just got a Yakima Showdown which is their new kayak load assist much like the Hullavator. I think the gas struts in the Hullavator help with 40lbs or so when lifting.
I, too, needed an option to load two kayaks at times. I put my Prowler Big Game 2 in the Showdown and use J-cradles on the opposite side of the crossbars. I can lift my frenzy or prowler up into the cradles by myself though so that isn't an issue for me. If your crossbars are 66" or wider I think you can use two Showdown units but that gets expensive (mine was $350 on amazon in addition to the roof rack).
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Old 08-10-2017, 04:29 AM   #9
Harry Hill
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I finally went the trailer route. It was killing me lifting the Pro2T on top of my truck roof rack. I could put one end on a mat and lift the other end and then push it up but it was a job. I kept coming up with different assists but I decided it was just too much work and after the boat ramp at Dana I decided I couldn't keep doing it that way. The trailer makes loading and unloading much easier but parking more difficult.
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Old 08-10-2017, 06:05 AM   #10
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Those gas struts on the hullivator really help. I have an suv, way too high to get kayak on/off by myself.


I am a fan of the hullivator. I've seen used sell between $350 and 400. Still not cheap, especially if you have two kayaks.

If you can design and kick them out like rod leashes or bamboo gaffs... then you may have something!
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Old 08-10-2017, 08:28 AM   #11
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after looking the loader types some more, I came to the conclusion that making a complicated contraption for side load is probably a net loss on the cost:benefit front. I think instead, I'll try to load from the back hatch, and maybe extend the yakima bars if needed.

this is the current thinking:

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Old 08-10-2017, 08:50 AM   #12
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After loading a PA14 on top of my GMC Envoy (about 7 ft height on racks)and hurting my Achilles I carpeted a couple 2x4s and added a ladder hook to each so I could slide the kayak up easier by myself. It helps a lot, but I ended up getting a trailer for the PA.

I think the hitch-mounted Tbar would be a good bet. You could use the rollers to get the first yak loaded and then flip it into the J racks.
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Old 08-10-2017, 09:05 AM   #13
oredith
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Now i just need to clear enough of the garage out to get my welder out, and then reclaim my CO^2 tank from my kegerator.

I will say this. it warms my heart to know that i'm not the only one that struggles with manhandling the kayaks..
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Old 08-10-2017, 09:45 AM   #14
Hunters Pa
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Originally Posted by oredith View Post
Now i just need to clear enough of the garage out to get my welder out, and then reclaim my CO^2 tank from my kegerator.

I will say this. it warms my heart to know that i'm not the only one that struggles with manhandling the kayaks..
Yeah, it may not seem that bad when you are loading up, excited about going out the next day. But when you get back and are tired from a day on the water it is a different story.
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Old 08-10-2017, 09:52 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Hunters Pa View Post
Yeah, it may not seem that bad when you are loading up, excited about going out the next day. But when you get back and are tired from a day on the water it is a different story.
Same with me. I NEVER have problems loading up to head out. It's always at the end of a long day, when I'm dog tired, and its breezy outside. LOL

This is the exact reason I tell every newbie to make sure you have comfortable handle the boat dry. It's a PITA to load after a day's worth of paddling....



OH, I absolutely HATED loading loading the Malibu yak. It was an absolute barge both on land and in the sea....
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Old 08-10-2017, 10:03 AM   #16
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OH, I absolutely HATED loading loading the Malibu yak. It was an absolute barge both on land and in the sea....
are the Malibus more difficult than others? they seem to be "relatively" light compared to other comparable length kayaks?
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Old 08-10-2017, 10:18 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by oredith View Post
are the Malibus more difficult than others? they seem to be "relatively" light compared to other comparable length kayaks?
I had a really hard time managing mine when I had it. I think it has a lot to do with the 14'+ length and the 33ish" width. Any boat that size is going to be awkward as heck to lift after a long and breezy day....
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Old 08-10-2017, 10:41 AM   #18
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I got the Hullivator last year and its has made loading up solo an option.

The system takes a number of trips to get used to but is really not meant for heavy kayaks.

I really love the system since my Revo is on the lighter side. One of the things I as always worried about is pulling my back due to the awkward size and weight of kayaks. So only lifting to waist level really prevents your back from getting into weird positions with all that weight. Works for me but it sure wasn't cheap.
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Old 08-10-2017, 10:50 AM   #19
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Good Idea but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by oredith View Post
after looking the loader types some more, I came to the conclusion that making a complicated contraption for side load is probably a net loss on the cost:benefit front. I think instead, I'll try to load from the back hatch, and maybe extend the yakima bars if needed.

this is the current thinking:

I made one similar to the Rhino T-load hitch mount, and I like it for my outback onto a CR-V. It also works for two yaks with J hooks, but not quite as easy. Two differences from your design that you might consider. Instead of rollers, make the t bar wider and put a wide cargo strap across to nest the yak. Then you can slide it to either side for loading onto J hooks. Also, like the Rhino, I can lower the T-bar to about 45 degrees to make it much easier to get the nose of the kayak onto the strap. Then as you push the kayak up, the T-bar moves up so the yak clears the roof. It saves on the high up work. If you need I can send a pic of mine later. Good luck.
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Old 08-10-2017, 12:07 PM   #20
oredith
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Originally Posted by kirkdavis View Post
I made one similar to the Rhino T-load hitch mount, and I like it for my outback onto a CR-V. It also works for two yaks with J hooks, but not quite as easy. Two differences from your design that you might consider. Instead of rollers, make the t bar wider and put a wide cargo strap across to nest the yak. Then you can slide it to either side for loading onto J hooks. Also, like the Rhino, I can lower the T-bar to about 45 degrees to make it much easier to get the nose of the kayak onto the strap. Then as you push the kayak up, the T-bar moves up so the yak clears the roof. It saves on the high up work. If you need I can send a pic of mine later. Good luck.
I'd love to see how your's is set up.

i actually had not seen the Rhino T-load setup, but that give me better ideas!
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