Are you tired of hurting your back or risking damage your car loading your kayaks onto a roof rack? Even the strongest among us struggle to heave a 10ft, 40+ lb. boat overhead, and fewer still have the strength to delicately place it on the car's roof as if it were the star on a fully decorated Christmas tree.
For many, bribing neighbors or nagging family members for a helping hand is the only way to get to the water. Don't let physical limitations force you to make kayaking a team sport.
Well I am hear to tell you there is not only a better way, but a best product to solve your problems. The Thule SlipStream or Yakima ShowBoat both offer roller based lift assistance which will grant you the freedom to go kayaking anytime you want. The only trouble is deciding which rack is best for you. Keeping reading to find out whether the SlipStream or ShowBoat is right for you.
|Product||Yakima Showboat||Thule SlipStream|
from Price not available
from Price not available
|What We Like||Choose your own saddle, heavy duty lifting, sturdy construction, larger roller with more extension||Spec 4|
|What We Don't||More expensive for single kayak, requires additional purchases||Discontinued so limited stock, All-in-one unit ready for install|
|Bottom Line||Single, Multi, or Large kayaks||Single Kayak|
|Ease of Use|
|Width||40 in.||36 in.|
|Extension||24 in.||18 in.|
|Max Weight||80 lbs.||40 lbs.|
|Comes With||Mounting gear & 66 in. bars||Mounting gear, saddles, 2 - 15ft. Straps, 1 pair of QuickDraw ratch bow and stern tie downs, bars|
Key Features We Considered
Load Assistance - Which one makes loading a kayak easiest?
We weighted the Load Assistance category the heaviest in our scoring system because it addresses the primary reason someone would want the to buy one of these racks - You need help lifting and loading a kayak. Both kayak racks use the same roller mechanism to assist the loader, so it came down to the specification to determine a winner.
Looking at the numbers the ShowBoat's roller is head and shoulders above the SlipStream. The ShowBoat's roller is 4 inches wider, extends 6 inches further, and can handle kayaks up to 40lbs heavier. This means greater flexibility in terms of the type of kayak you want to load. Once you begin getting into larger kayaks such as fishing, tandem, and touring, the ShowBoats's 80 lbs. roller weight rating will be needed.
Durability - Which one will last longer?
The SlipStream has now been discontinued by Thule. You can still find it on Amazon, but inventories may be limited. The products physical durability may have been high, but apparently not its profit!
The overall physical longevity of either product is not a concern in this case. The foundation of both racks is constructed from steel coated with corrosion resistant paint. Steel is exactly the material you want to see on roof racks. This isn't Allstate insurance, but if something does go wrong, you are still in good hands with both products warranty.
Thule and Yakima are well-known for their exceptional quality and responsive customer service in off-chance something does happen. You are covered by a Limited Lifetime Warranty, that covers more-or-less all manufacturers defects.
Value - Which is bset for the money?
The ShowBoat comes in as the cheaper of the two racks, but for clear reasons. The SlipStream is a complete kayak rack in itself, where as the ShowBoat is more of an accessory. As such, the SlipStream will be more expensive because it offers a complete solution to those needing a kayak rack and lift assistance.
You tack on the cost of saddles such as a set of Yakima SweetRoll, the scale tilts in favor of the SlipStream. If you know, you only want to ever transport a single kayak, the SlipStream is the better value because it can haul one and only one kayak. The ShowBoat paired with two sets of saddles or stacker can carry as many as your roof can hold so it then becomes the better value.
In short, the ShowBoat is a better value if you have large kayaks or want to transport multiple boats, otherwise the SlipStream is the better offer.
Aerodynamics - Which one will impact the driving experience least?
A chief consideration when thinking about anything on the roof of your car has to be the aerodynamics. In other words, how is my driving experience going to be impacted by this rack?
A perk of the ShowBoat and SlipStream is their minimalist design. Each rack only adds a few bars to the roof of your vehicles. Due to the bars low surface area, there is almost no additional drag added in excess of the crossbars. Additionally, the weight of the rack is like adding a one-year old baby to the car. Fuel economy will be impacted minimally at worst.
Vehicle Compatibility - What Kinds of Vehicles do these work with?
Not all vehicles will work with this type of kayak rack. Hatchbacks or vans are the ideal because they have a flat, vertical trunk. Sedans can work, but you run the risk of the roller not extending all the way over the trunk. This can be a problem because when you go to load the kayak, it may scrape your bumper or trunk lid. Typically sedans are shorter in height than SUVs so this type of lift assist may not be needed. A side loading kayak rack would more beneficial.
The second consideration when selecting these style of kayak racks is the vehicle's roof length (from windshield to rear view window) compared to the length of the rack. A hatchback with a short roof may have interference with the SlipStream/ShowBoat when the tailgate is fully open. Naturally, you cannot have the tailgate open while the roller is in fully extended position, but even when the rack is not in use it can contact the tailgate.
To mitigate this problem, the rack can be positioned further forward but this may cause the front bars to hang over the windshield. It is an eye sore more than anything so it may not bother you. If it does, the final solution is to shorten the bars by cutting off a few inches. Re-attach the end caps and no one would be the wiser.
To summarize this article, both racks are quality products that solve a real problem in the kayaking niche. Loading a kayak on top of your vehicle is not easy, but do not let it prevent you from enjoying the outdoors. The Thule SlipStream is best for single transportation and comes with everything you need to hit the water. The Yakima ShowBoat is best for multiple or large kayaks and offers increased flexibility. It requires the purchase of saddles like the Yakima SweetRoll but it is not limited to only this type of rack.
Frequently Asked Questions
Thule SlipStream 887 vs 887XT
The 887 and 887 XT are often confused so allow me to clarify. The 887XT is the new and improved version of the 887 but at the same price. Thule answer a number of customer complaints including changing the color of the bars from silver to black, switching out the saddles for a newer model, and improving the clamping mechanism to the crossbars. The saddles changed from Set-to-Go's to Hydro-Glides, which have a rubbery pad that grips better than the Set-to-Go's felt pads. The new saddles also rotate to accommodate a wide range of kayak hull sizes. Finally, Thule reduced the number of clamps on each side of the SlipStream to allow for an easier sliding motion on the roller pin.