So many adventures and expeditions require traveling to get to the point of beginning whether you plan a snowboarding or skiing trip, mountain biking or a weekend of kayaking you have to transport your gear with you. In many cases these items don’t fit into the vehicle with you therefore you’re left trying to find a way to transport it and which company, brand or rack is the best one or choice to go with.
This spring and summer we had several kayaking trips planned in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming and were thrust into this exact situation. Not knowing which would be the best rack system for our needs we began to do our research and tried to find one that was affordable, easy to use and durable enough to withstand the abuse we throw at our equipment and tools. We don’t intentionally try to be rough with our gear but we do expect it to hold up when we are in a hurry and have the occasional “hurry up and get it loaded” syndrome when we are either excited to get on the water or get back to the camp site so we can begin the evening of fun.
Here is the install of the “BigStack” on our Jeep as we prepared for a kayaking trip in the Black Hills of South Dakota. When the box first showed up I had to stare and just wonder “how could a rack that is going to carry 4 kayaks to the put in fit in such a small box”? Once I opened it up and began to inspect the contents I saw how simple the system really is considering it mounts to the factory cross bars on the 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee we would be installing it on.
The base of the BigStack comes with small rubber cushions to keep from damaging the factory cross bars so they need to be installed into the carrier itself before proceeding.
Next a T-bolt will need to be installed into the base from underneath and a thumb screw will screw onto that from the top to hold an additional bracket that wraps underneath the factory bar to grasp and hold the base of the BigStack in place.
Another nice feature of Yakima’s “BigStack” kayak rack is the fact that when you are not using it to transport any boats it conveniently folds down and out of the way.
Next it was time to load our 4 kayaks up and head for the hills to get on the water for a little white water boating in the local area around Spearfish South Dakota. The boats are held in place by a simple strap system provided with the rack that wraps around the boats and securely holds them in place. A quick loop around the boats to the factory cross bars and all 4 were locked in and ready to go. As I began to lock them down I had different thoughts of whether or not I should try to run the strap through each individual pull strap on the kayaks to insure they would stay with us for the ride up the canyon and decided, “I wanted to test the security and stability of this rack” and just strapped around the boats per the instructions that were included with the rack.
Once the boats were in place we headed out and got on our way. I was waiting to hear the boats or rack fluttering in the wind as we drove but I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that we were driving down the road with 4 kayaks on the roof of this Jeep and there wasn’t even so much as a vibration from wind noise. The boats were staying in place and we traveled with confidence that they would be safe until it was time to unload and put them in the water.
My overall review and thoughts of Yakima’s “BigStack” is that the product is affordable, sturdy and simple to use and install. One thing that did surprise me was the fact that this is a rack that a person can install or remove from a vehicle in minutes without the need for a single hand tool.
The rack system is lockable if you are in or traveling thru an area that may be of concern if you are afraid of someone running off with your gear, unfortunately the lock is not included with the system but can be purchased separately.
The product has held up to our demands and so far I couldn’t be happier with it; I highly recommend Yakima’s kayak racks and suggest that if anyone is looking for a way to transport their boats that you check out www.Yakima.com first and see which of their racks is best suited for your kayak transportation needs.