Yakima kayak review with Subaru Forester
John Goreham's picture

Why Yakima Kayak Racks Are A Great Match With the Subaru Forester

We are vehicle experts and kayaking novices, but in our review we found that Yakima kayak racks work perfectly with the Subaru Forester.
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We at Torque News consider ourselves vehicle experts, but we do have many other interests. One some of us enjoy is kayaking. We recently purchased a complete kayak rack system for our own (much loved) 2016 Subaru Forester and found that the two go together like Forest and Jenny. Here's our review of the Yakima kayak system and in particular, how it works with the Subaru Forester. We think the Forester is a great test vehicle for th eYakima rack. After all, everyone knows that Subaru vehicles are among the best to take fishing, camping, and kayaking.

Review Note: We bought all of these items ourselves with no free products, special assistance, or discounts for the publication of this review.

yakima jayhook

Selecting a Yakima Kayak Rack System Step One - Boat Holder
Yakima offers multiple kayak hauling systems. Which is right for you depends on your vehicle and the boats you need to haul. Our vehicle is the iconic outdoor adventurer, the Subaru Forester. We opted to purchase two Lifestyle Tamarack 100 ten-foot fishing kayaks (from Walmart). Since these are flat, wide, sit-on-top kayaks, we chose the Yakima JayHook system to hold our boats.

yakima timberline

Selecting a Yakima Kayak Rack System Step Two - Crossbars and Towers
The Forester we have (2.5i Premium) came with raised rails along the sides of the vehicle. These are ready to accept crossbars. We phoned Yakima customer service for help with selecting the right crossbars. The CS person was helpful, knew the Forester's dimensions by heart and suggest the Timberline kit small. This kit comes with the towers that attach the crossbars to the rails. Ours were 50 inches wide and the bars are the CoreBar style.

Related Story: Subaru Forester Sport Plays Well In The Dirt, Wins Best AWD Compact At Mudfest

Installation - Yakima Kayak Rack System
There are many great videos showing the installation of the Yakima rack system. We won't reproduce that work here. We will say that the install is pretty easy. Yakima has a torque tool like a ratcheting screwdriver that helps you ensure proper tightening. There are very few parts and the system is very intuitive. My teen son and I had the products unpacked and on the vehicle in under an hour the first time we tried it. The JayHooks themselves are easily removable with no tools.

Yakima Rack System - Noise When Driving & MPG
Our Forester is not exactly quiet on the road. The panoramic moonroof lets in a lot of wind noise anyway. Adding the crossbars (but not JayHooks) added no extra noise we could detect, even on the highway at "high speeds." The JayHooks also don't add any noise around town if you leave them on.

We are MPG geeks here and my son and I joke the Forester always gets 28.8 MPG on long trips to our cabin. With the crossbars on, we got 31 MPG! So, there is certainly no MPG penalty for driving with the crossbars on.

Yakima Kayak Rack System - Loading Boats & Accessories
The Yakima system is simple. You put the JayHooks on and then you pick the boats up and place them on. There are high-quality straps that come with the kit. You loop them over the boats, inside the JayHooks, and around the bars. Then you pull them snug. Yakima also includes bow and stern lines. To add connection points, we added optional "hood anchors" than you place inside the open hood, then close. It pokes out a little loop you then tie to. In the Forester, the best place for the loop to be placed is to the sides of the hood, so we got two sets. You do the same in the rear. You close the hatch on the anchor. We liked that Yakima's straps were well thought out. The bow and stern lines have soft plastic over the strap so it won't abrade your paint. The JayHook strap has rubberized ratchets.

subaru forester with kayaks

Yakima Kayak Rack System - Travelling With Boats
We drove about an hour with the boats on the rack system. They were very secure. We traveled both paved and unpaved roads and had no shifting. On the highway ar 55 MPH, the boats stay in place. We did see a drop in MPG, of course, and the vehicle noticeably slows due to wind drag when you lift off the throttle. We felt very confident the Yakima system was strong.

Yakima Kayak Rack System - Cost, Availability
We paid $689 before tax and Yakima added $32 for shipping. There are less expensive options on the internet and at discount shops. However, we wanted a high-quality complete system we could open and use immediately. That is exactly what we got. The racks came quickly and were in stock at the very peak of the season.

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Yakima Kayak Rack System - Conclusion
We would recommend the Yakima system. We wanted a quality system that we could get quickly and with zero fuss. The parts all work well and you get all that you need. One thing we liked as well is that we called Yakima and they answered the phone when we wanted help selecting our system. When the bulk of the order arrived with one line item missing we phone Yakima and they answered immediately and told us one item would arrive the next day. We like companies that offer this kind of help.

We are very happy with our Yakima system and it works great with our Subaru Forester. The two seem like a great match and we look forward to many years of reliable use.

In addition to seeing him here, John Goreham can be followed on Twitter at @johngoreham.


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