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Carrying a kayak on a Roadtrek

| Updated Sep 17, 2013

I love kayaking. Except for occasional rental places I find in our travels, though,  it's pretty hard to do while Roadtreking.

I've been tempted to get an inflatable kayak but, well, I want a real one, with a composite body. The problem, though, is how do I carry it?

Gary's 2006 Roadtrek RS Adventurous with his kayak mounted on the roof

My friend Gary Hennes from Minnesota has solved that problem with a roof mount and a Hullavator mechanism that effortlessly lifts the kayak up to the roof of his 2006 Roadtrek RS-Adventurous. He got his from a local outfitter near his Minneapolis home, from a competitor  of the folks who made the demonstration video above.

The Thule Hullavator system to life the kayak

Gary's rack is from Yakima but the Thule Hullavator works with it just fine, he reports. He has it all mounted on his 2006 Roadtrek RS Adventurous, starting just ahead of the roof vent and continuing back a little past the front edge of air conditioner.

On it, he carries a Current Designs 14′ Kestrel kayak and sometimes, in a separate rack on the other side,  a We-no-nah 16 1/2 foot kevlar Advantage canoe.

I'm sure Gary will watch the comments here and be glad to answer any more questions. The photos are of his setup. The video demonstrates how it all works.

The Hullavator in upright position next to his Yakima roof rack

I need something like this for next year. A kayak would make a great addition to our Roadtreking life.


Mike Wendland

Published on 2013-09-17

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

25 Responses to “Carrying a kayak on a Roadtrek”

June 05, 2016at11:51 am, David Michael said:

Thanks for the photos and design. Just had a rack and hullavators attached to our 2016 Promaster van by Rack Attack in Portland, OR (for two kayaks). They did a great job. Not an inexpensive undertaking ($1800) but hopefully this will keep us kayaking into our 90’s. That eight foot high roof of thin metal poses problems with carrying boats.

With our former Lazy Daze RV (Class C) at ten foot height we had a ladder mount where I could climb and stand on the roof to use a rope to pull up the kayaks (14 feet) to the racks. That rack cost was about $500. For the first five years we carried two kayaks and a canoe on top when we full-timed and travelled all over the USA and Canada. Many great adventures!

September 28, 2014at8:50 am, Paul Bulgier said:

My canoe goes inside in the hallway. Easy in and out, and no costly racks to cause wind resistance. I can get two canoes inside, a friend owns the same boat I do (Old Town Pack).

August 03, 2014at8:32 am, Gary Hennes said:

Just sold my ’06 RT RS and got a ’13 RS Etrek. Haven’t tried mounting the racks over the solar panels yet, but hope to try soon. Will probably have to remove awning to make room, but never use it anyway. ’13 is 2″ higher, but don’t think that will be an issue. Otherwise – doomed to pulling a trailer!!

September 24, 2013at3:08 pm, Jerry g said:

How about canoes ?

September 24, 2013at6:25 pm, Gary Hennes said:

Yakima has a “Boat-loader” which is basically just a concentric tube that goes inside the 1″ round cross-bar tube, with a special end stop and cam lock to hold it inside. It was almost as easy to load the 30# canoe on the right side as it was to load the 42# kayak on the Hullavator.

September 18, 2013at11:44 am, Dave Shanteau said:

Gary is a friend of mine. Rack Attach is a nationwide business that has solutions for attaching racks to all kinds of veacles. If you check on line and are able to think out of the box you can come up with a solutions. Yakama makes a rail system that allows a wide verity of rack placement options.

September 17, 2013at8:04 pm, Sue said:

Would solar panel / and hullavator work on the SS-Agile ?

September 23, 2013at12:09 pm, Gary Hennes said:

I think it would, but would be limited by the distance between the cross-bars (spread). Mine are just behind the roof vent and just a little in front of the air conditioner enclosure. There is a minimum “spread” Thule recommends, but I’m not sure what it is. I’ve seen a lot of them on 2010 and later Subaru Outbacks which force a pretty short “spread”, but of course the lift height is a lot less.

September 17, 2013at4:23 pm, Bill Sprague said:


I’d think you’d still need a step stool of some sort to reach the Hull-A-Vator handles. Isn’t you roof 9′ or so high?


September 23, 2013at11:50 am, Gary Hennes said:

At first I used a 5′ collapsible step ladder that folded up into a 4″ square. Might be OK on a paved surface, but I found it a little too unsteady when using it in the more typical places I go – soft, irregular sand! I got a 3-step “project” aluminum ladder (9#) which gives me enough height and stability to get the job done on both sides. It’s a little bit more of a storage problem, however.

September 17, 2013at3:51 pm, Michael said:

Do you have an awning on the passenger side, my RS Adventurous has a channel for roof racks on the drivers side however the passenger side does not. Is there a way to rig the roof racks on a RT with an awning?

September 23, 2013at11:43 am, Gary Hennes said:

I have an awning on the right hand side of the vehicle. Thule specs for the Hullavator limit overhang from the tower to 8″ – too much leverage otherwise. Yakima has a “Boat-loader” which is basically just a concentric tube that goes inside the 1″ round cross-bar tube, with a special end stop and cam lock to hold it inside. It was almost as easy to load the 30″ canoe on the right side as it was to load the 42# kayak on the Hullavator.

September 17, 2013at1:40 pm, K. Tanner said:

we don’t have a RV yet – in dreaming stage – but we do have bikes and kayaks!! We got a Indian Head Trailer we pull behind a car custom made here – and we love it!

September 17, 2013at10:05 am, Pam Hicks said:

FYI: Jim Hammill posted a photo quite a while ago of the Thule hullavator on a Chevy chassis RT. One thing you have to take into consideration is the added weight of the rack & two kayaks. These racks are not lightweight (or inexpensive – it’s quite an investment)!

September 17, 2013at8:35 am, David said:

My question would be; How are the roof rack towers attached/installed on the fiberglass roof. We have a 1999 190P and I would be very concerned about roof leaks if holes were needed to attach the roof-rack. I would love to employ this system…

September 23, 2013at11:37 am, Gary Hennes said:

I had the tracks and towers (not the Hullavator) on a 2000 LTV previously – mounted it myself. Got the planking diagram from the factory as to where the 3″ x 3/4″ pine boards were embedded in fiberglass top. Carefully (!!!) drilled holes for mounting screws and put plenty of marine waterproof silicone glue in each hole and on the screw threads before assembly. Did have one leak – after a downpour that bordered on a nearby tornado. When back home, backed out all the screws and re-did the “Goop” process. Never another leak.

September 17, 2013at7:56 am, Mike Wendland said:

I think it would fit okay but the kayak would cover some of the panels while driving…. the panels would still work, just not with full efficiency. But while driving, the engine is charging the batteries anyway so no loss there. When boondocking, the kayak would be off the vehicle and the charging via the panels would be complete.

September 17, 2013at7:56 am, Judy said:

Wish they made something like this for bicycles! What a neat idea.

September 17, 2013at7:53 am, shari groendyk said:

It’s a great solution for toting a kayak, for sure. But, like Elizabeth, I’m wondering if it can be used on a vehicle with solar panels??? Did you, or can you, Mike, ask about that? Thanks.

September 17, 2013at7:52 am, Laura H P said:

Wow. This looks good! I’m looking forward to learning more about this. Thanks for posting this, Mike.

September 17, 2013at7:46 am, Mike Wendland said:

That’s my only concern… need to do some measurements.

September 17, 2013at7:44 am, Elizabeth said:

Looks like a great idea! Would this interfere with the solar panels on your rig?

September 23, 2013at11:56 am, Gary Hennes said:

The Hullavator mechanism, plus the cradle the kayak sits in, adds about 8-9″ clearance above the roof. If that’s not enough you could probably add some foam pads to lift it a little more.

September 28, 2014at8:32 pm, Gary Hennes said:

Sold the ’06 RT RS and now have a ’13 Etrek. Only problem we had moving the Hullavator to the Etrek was the awning mounted on the roof instead of the side. Also, “Spread” between bars was reduced a little, but not enough to be a problem. Clearance on solar panels – just fine. Can’t carry another boat on other side, though – had to use shorter bars. Might have machinist friend of mine work up something boost another bar – make it two levels to clear the awning box. Sorry – don’t have any pictures yet.

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