etrailer.com J-Style Kayak Carrier Review

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Review of the etrailer.com J-Style Kayak Carrier


Hey guys. Today we're going to be taking a look at the etrailer J-Style kayak Carrier. Now this is a universal mount system, so it's going to work with your round, square, aero, elliptical, and most factory roof rack systems. Now, right off the bat, I can tell you that I've worked with a lot of kayak carriers. This one is the best deal. It comes with everything you need to transport your kayak, which is a big deal because most of the time they don't come with all the straps you need.

For example, your balanced stern straps, with this kit, they are included. You also get hood and rear hatch anchors. Most carriers don't even include these. Again, you have to pick them up separately. On some vehicles, you don't always have easy access to an anchor point, like a tow hook.

You may even have to get on the ground, get underneath the vehicle to find one. These save you the hassle. They simply set in place underneath your hood or rear hatch. You close it and then they're anchored.The carrier itself is comparable to most other J-style carriers. With that being said, let's take a look at our roof.

If we choose to go with that J-style carrier, we've got room for a second set for an additional kayak, or we've got room for other accessories like our bike rack here, versus if we we're to go with that saddle style carrier, we would only have room for one kayak. Now, I'm going to go ahead and take the kayak off. That way we can get a closer look at the carrier. Plus, this may help you on how to take it off, or how long it may take to take it off.I would like to point out that all of the straps do feature a padded sleeve that goes over that buckle. We'll take a quick look here.

That way if it we're to come in contact with the vehicle or the kayak, it's not going to damage it. Now when you get to this part, if you need an extra set of hands, you can find somebody to help you. Otherwise, if you think you can muscle it up, go ahead and go for it. As you can see, it is a little bit of a process to take the kayak off, but it's a lot more economical than picking up a trailer that hauls a kayak. It can be a little bit more expensive, plus you'd have to store that somewhere, maybe in your garage or on the side of your house. This way is going to be a lot easier when it comes down to it.So as I said, this kayak carrier is comparable to most J-style carriers, it has that J-style design, that way it's going to hold our kayak. We don't have to worry about it slipping out from underneath. Now, they're all either made out of an aluminum or steel construction. This one's made out of aluminum, so we don't have to worry about the elements causing any harm to it, like rust or corrosion. They're all padded in some way to grip and keep our kayak safe. Along the whole support, we've got some adjustable padding so it'll better accommodate that kayak. Now as far as the padding itself, I want to say it's a little bit more resilient than most padding on other carriers. We don't have to worry about it tearing right away. It seems like it'll hold up for a while, though I wouldn't trust it to hold out as long as maybe a rubber coated kayak carrier, so just keep that in mind.Now, about that whole support here, I want to say that this one's a little bit wider than some that I've seen. It's actually about eight inches on center. I'm not sure if this is going to add to the support of the kayak. Sone are a little bit more narrow, but in my opinion I would think wider is better, so we've got that. Now, what I really like about this carrier is that it is adjustable to fit a wide variety of kayaks. We can pull the levers here, and it opens up those hubs and we can adjust it further out. I know that there is different size kayaks out there that may have a different hole size, so rather than having to worry about picking up a different kayak carrier, this one will accommodate those. Now when not in use, it folds flat. That way we don't have to worry about the elements smacking it along the road, and we most definitely don't have to worry about pulling in our garage or maybe a parking garage. When in this position, it only sticks up about 4-5/8" from the top of our crossbar.When it comes to installing the carrier, it's pretty simple. I'm going to raise this up, just so we can get a better view. The clamp goes underneath our crossbar, the flat washers go on, and then the wing nuts go in place. Here, you can see the bottom portion of the clamp. Turn this on its side so you can see it. Now, both portions of the clamp are rubber coated for grip and so that they don't harm or scratch our crossbar, should we want to take it off someday.Now, I did mention that it will work with a wide variety of roof rack systems. However, if you're using a round or a square bar, it may have a tendency to want to either roll forward or backward. When the kayak's in place, there's less of a chance of this happening. If this concerns you, then you can pick up a carrier that specifically attaches to a round or square bar. What I'm going to do now is go ahead and just reattach this. Of course, when you're installing these, you want to be sure that they're in line with one another, and that you installed them on your crossbars straight up and down. You want to be sure that your crossbars are at least 24 inches apart, that way you can safely carry that kayak. With them in place, you can see they're not going anywhere and we're all set.We'll first start by putting our hood and rear hatch anchors in place. So again, just want to find a good spot underneath your hood and we'll just shut it. We'll make sure it's secure, and then we can put our rear hatch one in place. Now for my 4Runner here, I don't need to use the anchor if I don't want because I have a trailer hitch. What we can do, is we can take our strap without the buckle, can run it through our tow loop, and get that set up like so. I'm just going to leave it here for the time being. Now again, if you think you can muscle it yourself, go ahead and try it. Otherwise get an extra set of hands. We'll want to be sure that its centered. I'd say it looks pretty good.Then we can run our straps on the back side. I'll take the padded end, I'll toss that over first. Then I'll take the other end and I'm going to run it inside the whole support, just like that. Then, toss that over. I'll do the same for the other one. We'll come around to the front, climb back up. Now I'm going to make sure the shorter end is the one with the pad, and we can rest that on our kayak, because as we said, it's not going to cause any harm to it. We'll take the longer portion, going to go down through my carrier, underneath my crossbar, and then back up, so it'll look like this. Then I'll go through my buckle, and I'll pull it nice and tight.Take my strap without any buckles here, go through, pull it up like so, same as up top, and then we'll go through our buckle and pull that nice and tight. Now this doesn't need to be extremely tight. This is just going to prevent the kayak from lifting in high winds, or when we're traveling at high speeds. Now, if you'd like, on the ground before you put your kayak up top you can have these done already, whatever's easiest. We'll connect it here.Now that we have everything secured, we can head out and see how it performs on our test course. This is our test course. Let's start with a slalom. This shows side-to-side action such as turning corners or evasive maneuvering. Then, on to some solid speed bumps. This shows an up and down action such as pulling in and out of a driveway or out of a parking lot. Then finally, onto those alternating speed bumps. This is going to show a twisting action, such as going over potholes or uneven pavement.


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Info for this part was:

Video by:
Andrew K
Test Fit:
Colin H
Test Fit:
Randy B
Video Edited:
Chris R
Test Fit:
Hayden R
Video Edited:
Zach D
Video by:
Jacob H

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