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Thule Hullavator Vs Yakima

In the past, securing a kayak or canoe to the roof of a vehicle was a pain. The endeavor required a ton of effort, lifting, and complicated straps and locking mechanisms.

But today’s kayak racks allow you to mount your kayak with ease.

Two of the leading products on the market are the Thule Hullavator and the Yakima Showdown. How do these racks compare? We’ve taken a look at each to help you make the best purchase decision.

Yakima Showdown Vs Thule Hullavator

ProductMaximum Kayak SizeWeightWarranty
#1. Thule Hullavator
Our Best Pick

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36 inches wide; 75 pounds39.7 poundsLimited lifetime warranty
#2. Yakima Showdown

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28 inches wide; 80 pounds21 poundsLimited lifetime warranty

Lift Assistance

Both of these kayak racks were designed to make lifting your kayak onto your car an easier endeavor than it’s been in the past.

Many people who previously couldn’t transport their kayaks on their vehicle roofs now have access to much easier means of lifting.

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With each rack, you can load the kayak onto the side of your vehicle at around the height of your waist. This is the part at which you’ll put the kayak into the carriers and strap everything down.

There is a difference in how the products move the kayak from the side to the roof, though.

The Hullavator is designed with gas struts. When the kayak starts to move upward, these struts provide additional upward thrust to help lift the kayak further.

They offer exactly 40 pounds of force for kayaks of a maximum of 85 pounds. 40 pounds taken from 85 pounds means that almost half of the kayak’s weight is no longer being borne by your back and shoulders!

These gas struts provide a major advantage in terms of the Hullavator’s value over the Showdown. The Showdown’s design doesn’t include gas struts, so all the lifting force has to be generated from your body.

With that said, there are still aspects of the Showdown’s design that make loading accessible.

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The Showdown comes with guide rails that help you move the kayak to the roof. After you’ve strapped the kayak down, you can push it up the guide rails rather than lifting it entirely on your own.

This removes anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the necessary force for loading a kayak. The Hullavator also uses a guide rail system.

If you want the easiest loading and unloading experience possible, the Hullavator’s gas struts make it a winner. In addition to removing force through guide rails, it takes 40 pounds of force off of your body immediately!

Warranty – Thule Hullavator Vs Yakima 

Each rack includes a limited lifetime warranty. If there are any flaws in the workmanship or design, the manufacturer will replace the broken parts or provide an entirely new rack.

You can be assured that the racks won’t break down easily, and you’ll always have the manufacturer to help just in case they do.

Installation Process – Thule Hullavator Vs Yakima 

The racks have complex designs. With guard rails, gas struts, lifting force, and other components, you may be worried that putting them together is a job that requires an entire day and a certified engineer. But that’s not the case with either of them.

The Showdown only takes around 10 minutes to be completely ready to use from the time you open the box. Seriously, 10 minutes is the only time that’s necessary.

This is because the Showdown comes completely assembled within the box. Each screw has an attached knob that allows you to tighten it by hand, so you don’t have to use any tools except a measuring tape.

The most difficult part of the Showdown’s installation is putting the gripping down on the carrier surface. It’s tedious, but it also reduces potential slippage and adds padding to protect your kayak.

With a crossbar-grabbing clamp design, attaching and detaching the Showdown is easy.

Clamps are a good choice if you don’t like keeping the carrier on your vehicle throughout the year. There are a few potential downsides, though.

Hand-tightened clamps might become loose when used on round crossbars. You should double check that the rack is secure before each use.

Unfortunately, the Hullavator isn’t quite as easy to assemble as the Showdown. It comes in pieces rather than arriving completely assembled.

The main assembly you’ll have to do involves tightening screws. The initial setup takes around 30 minutes to put together.

Once this is done, you can add and remove it from the vehicle quickly, though there’s a different mechanism causing this.

There are two main parts of the Hullavator: the arms and the crossbar attachment. The crossbar stays on your vehicle throughout the season, but the arms can be removed by detaching a single pivot pin.

Removing them takes less than a minute and requires no tools, and they can then be set in storage.

Compatible Kayaks

Both racks cradle the sides of the kayak’s hull to offer extra support. They’re compatible with the majority of kayak shapes and sizes, provided said sizes don’t exceed the maximum limits.

However, the design isn’t good for V-shaped boats.

These boats rest against the bare metal arms of the racks. When the straps apply pressure, the arms can lead to bending or warping of the kayak.

You can fix this by gluing some foam padding to the arms, though.

Final Thoughts – Thule Hullavator Vs Yakima 

The best rack for you really depends on whether you prioritize ease of loading or ease of installation.

Since the Hullavator has gas struts, it makes loading the kayak much easier. There’s not the same amount of force necessary to lift it. The Showdown’s guidance system does remove a good deal of force, though.

The Showdown comes totally assembled in the box. Getting it ready and attached to your car takes 10 minutes at the most.

Meanwhile, the Hullavator takes around 30 minutes to put together because it ships in pieces.

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