Pros: Less expensive than other racks, Holds 4 boats, Fairly easy to use
Cons: Can be a bit tough for one person, Lots of strapping
The Stacker from Thule is a good general purpose kayak rack for people who have one or two kayaks. Its very easy to install on your existing roof rack, is fairly easy to use and overall is a good choice for a kayak rack.
That said, you do have to be a bit more comfortable with loading the boats on the roof of your vehicle and strapping them in than you do with some other kayak racks (the ones where you sort of fit the kayak in and then just tighten it down). If you can get over that, youll find, like we did, that The Stacker is a good rack.
Using it on your rack
The Stacker requires that some sort of roof rack be installed on your vehicle before you can use it. This can be a standard factory rack or a Thule rack. Either way, The Stacker can be adjusted to fit on it. All you do it fit The Stacker on the rack and tighten it down with the enclosed screws. Then its ready to go.
I originally used it on a Thule rack that I had put on my RAV4. Now that I don't have that vehicle anymore, I use The Stacker on my partner's Subaru Forester's factory rack without any problems.
The Stacker is really a very simple roof rack attachment that allows you to more easily tie down kayaks. When you purchase it, you get two of the stacker units, which are just metal loops. They each have a large, lower loop and then a smaller loop up top. This allows you to wrap the strapping that will hold the kayaks in place around and through the stackers to better secure the boats.
The kayaks themselves rest on either side of the stackers, with the cockpits facing the stacker and each other. The Stacker is advertised to hold up to 4 kayaks, with two on each side of the stackers. I cant vouch for this since weve only ever had 2 on there, but I would imagine, with some extra webbing and straps, it wouldnt be too hard to get the kayaks up there and secured.
While its not as simple as some more expensive kayak racks, The Stacker is easy enough to use that a single person can get their boat up on it and tied down. I know, Ive done it many times. It might take a bit of finagling, but without too much effort, its easy to get the boats up, tied down and ready to go.
Strapping down the boats is a pretty easy affair. The Stacker comes with two of the Thule Load straps along with some other webbing and tie downs so that you can secure the front and back of the boats to your vehicle.
I would suggest getting another set of Thule Load Straps, that way you can use 2 on each boat and you dont have to try to wrap a single strap all the way around both boats.
Actually tying the boats up there is pretty simple. The Thule Load strap wraps around the boat, through the stacker loops and then is cinched down. As for the rope to hold the front and back of the boat, just loop each piece through the front and back of the boat and then tighten it down with the ratchet device that comes on the ropes. All you have to do is pull to tighten it and then when you are ready to remove it, just release it and youre good to go.
Does it work?
Ive used The Stacker for several summers worth of kayak trips and I havent had a problem with it.
While I can get the boats up and tied down by myself, I do find it is easier to have my partner help me out. With the two of us working on it, I can get the boats on the roof and tied up to The Stacker in less than 10 minutes.
Taking them down is much easier, just loosen and remove the straps and the front and back ropes and then remove the boats.
In transit the boats have always seemed very secure. I havent had any problems with the boats moving or coming loose on The Stacker, even on longer trips or when Ive been driving at higher speeds.
Overall even though its not quite as easy as some of the other kayak racks that Ive seen, Ive been quite happy with The Stacker. First of all, it cost less than those other racks and its been easy to use and worked like it has been advertised. The Stacker has gotten my kayaks to where I wanted to go without too much trouble and thats exactly what I wanted in a kayak rack.
If you are considering a roof rack for your kayaks, you should take a look at The Stacker from Thule. While its not for everyone, it is a solid rack that can hold up to 4 kayaks at a time without too much effort.
Its easy enough for one person to use, doesnt cost quite as much as other racks and overall, should be a rack that will last for quite some time without much maintenance or effort.
So if you dont mind a bit of extra work of organizing and strapping the boats down to The Stacker, youll have made a good choice if you get it for your kayaks.