Loading my Sea Kayak onto the roof of my Van

I am often asked how I get my sea kayak on the roof of my based campervan. Here is a video I’ve made on how it is done.

First of all I had better mention the I am using the rectangular Thule roof bars (called square by Thule) with the following fitting kits (751 and 3031) which I bought from www.roofracks.co.uk and are made especially for the Fiat Ducato van. These two kits allow you to connect the Thule roof bar feet to the vans existing roof mounting points. Take a look at the fitting instructions for both kits (there are multiple pages for each pdf which can be selected via the controls[at the bottom left of each PDF)m

3031

 

751

 

And for those of you (and I get asked this a lot) who need to know the height of the roof bars above the vans roof when fitted, it is about 100mm.    

Height of Roof bars above van roof
Height of Roof bars above van roof

Fitting the roof bars to this van was not very easy for me with the satellite dish causing me the biggest problem. You will note I don’t have much room on the roof with the various skylights, vents, solar panel as well as the 85cm satellite dish! 

The van has four roof rack points. However due to all the clobber on the roof I am only able to use the 1st and 3rd of these mounting points. This is is a close call with the satellite dish. The dish closes like a clam, with the LNB arm closing one side of the roof bar and the dish on the other. In fact to get it to fit properly I had to bend the Thule roof bar ever so slightly, to give about 1cm of clearance either side of the Dish and LNB arm when closed.

It's a close fit
It’s a close fit

I fitted the rather excellent KCS v-cradles to the Thule Bars . These are extremely well made v-cradles, manufactured from 12mm polypropylene with 10mm of closed cell foam on top, to give your kayak a nice snug fit. Not only do these look good but they have minimal wind resistance and do save fuel over other more bulky designs. They come with a strong stretchy bungee to secure your kayak using the hook shown  in the picture below. But I always secure with additional straps for safety.There’s nothing wrong with a bit of redundancy.

also make a rather excellent expedition trolley which I’ve been using for the last few years. Be sure to check it out on their web page https://www.kayakcarriers.co.uk

The extending ladder I use was bought from ebay for £34.59, which is a bargain. It’s had plenty of use with the van and has come in handy around the house too! Glueing some closed cell foam to the top rung of the ladder protects the roof from scratches etc. I’ve since improved the “van protection” shown in the video with a long strip of closed cell foam across the entire length of the top ladder rung.  

Van Protection
Strip of closed cell foam for Van Protection

As for the aluminium rectangular tube used as a roof bar extension, this too was bought from Ebay. The size to fit the Thule Bars is 25 mm x 15 mm. I went for a 2mm thickness for extra strength. I found I needed to round off the corners ever so slightly, to get it to fit inside the Thule bar.  Approximately 75mm fits inside the Thule roof bar, which through testing, appears to more weight than the maximum roof bar load!  ie.  way way waaaaay more than a kayak!

The white block you see in the video on the end of the roof bar extension is just another piece of closed cell foam to prevent the kayak from flopping to one side and potentially falling off. I’ve attached this to the bar using lots of super strong tape.

When the boat is loaded on the roof, the satellite dish works without being impeded by the kayak in anyway. But the large electrically operated roof vent can only be partially opened about 3-4 inches. So far, this has not been a problem in our lovely British summertime weather.

I now have the same arrangement on a newer van, a Fiat Ducato , having now sold our old lovely . Both vans use the same Fiat Ducato body, but with completely different layouts inside. Instead of having issues with the satellite dish, the doesn’t have one (and to be honest I won’t be rushing out to buy one),  I had issues with the awning. In that the awning fitted to the uses the vans fixed mounting points! But that is another storey…

2 Comments

  1. julie b
    10 August 2018

    Please ignore my previous comment, your video eventually played. Great solution!

    Many thanks,

    Julie

    Reply
  2. Julie Bills
    10 August 2018

    Hi Simon,

    I’ve only just come across your blog. Thank you for sharing so much info. I cannot get your video ‘loading a sea kayak on my van roof’ to play, even with cookies enabled – it just keeps stating content unavailable. Do you have your video uploaded anywhere else online? I have a very similar challenge, trying to get a 25kg kayak onto my transit van roof, 2.3 meters high. I am trying to come up with an affordable solution. I am fairly strong, but not very tall!

    Thanks in advance.

    Best,

    Julie

    Reply

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