Thule Hullavator Pro

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Thule Hullavator Pro – Take a load off!

Thule Hullavator Pro kayak rack with lift assist… is it worth it?

In a nutshell, we think yes! The Thule Hullavator Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier is a highly rated load assisted roof rack.
In my younger years it was no big issue shoving the kayaks onto the roof but now, with an unhappy shoulder, I dream of the Thule Hullavator Pro.

I found the Thule Hullavator Pro to be a clever, well built piece of kit that would significantly improve the experience of loading kayaks on a roof rack, leaving more time and energy for the important bits! There are a few load assisted racks on the market but the gas assisted struts make this one my winner.

The Thule Hullavator Pro takes much of the backbreaking work out of loading your kayak. Instead of having to get your kayak onto the roof of your vehicle you need only get it to roughly waist height, tie it down, and then with the assistance of the gas assisted struts, lift your kayak onto the roof.

Compatibility

The Thule Hullavator Pro requires a 4 to 8” length of overhang from the roof rack anchors and so will not fit all roof racks. They fit Thule Wingbar Evo,  Aeroblade, SquareBar Evo and ProBar Evo bars, as well as Xsporter bars according to Thule’s website. Some other bars, for example, the Yakima round bars, may also work, but it always pays to double check first.

Effectiveness

The Hullavator has extendable arms that lower the cradle beside your vehicle by up to three feet, allowing you to (single handedly) load and unload your kayak.

The gas assisted struts then take up to 40 lbs of your kayak’s weight, lifting to, or lowering from the final position on top of your vehicle’s roof. This makes loading and unloading your kayak so much easier and much more manageable for one person. 

Your kayak is well supported by the 8 touch points in the cradles. The cradles are expandable to accommodate wide kayaks and the weight limit is 75 lbs. To be fair, some fishing kayaks weigh more than this and might not fit within the width limit either, so do check first that this piece of kit will fit your kayak.

They come with two centre straps and bow and stern tie downs.

Potential downsides

Some load assisted racks can be folded down when not in use-the Hullavator Pro cannot. This extra height can be an issue if you intended to leave the cradle units in place. Since the cradle units are held in place by a pin, it would be feasible to remove the top half of the unit when not in use. 

The other gripe is that Thule locks have to be purchased separately, we feel these are necessary for an expensive piece of equipment that is easily removed.

Are there any alternatives?

One alternative is the Yakima ShowDown Load-assist Kayak and SUP Mount.

The unit is lighter (21 lb compared to 39.7 lb), can carry slightly more (80 lb compared to 75 lb) and folds down flat when not in use.  Sounds good? We thought so too, until we did our research. 

While a similar concept with regards to creating a lower loading platform, the mechanics of the system means that compared to the Thule, you have to exert more force to lift and then slide it into place.

Though more expensive, the Thule Hullavator Pro’s mechanism with the aid of the gas struts means a lot less work and let’s face it, if you’re buying one of these you are buying it to aid the loading process as much as possible. This is where the Hullavator wins hands down.

Thule Hullavator Pro – Conclusion

The Thule Hullavator Pro is a back-saving invention, sure to win the approval of every person who needs a little extra help or cannot get the kayak comfortably onto the vehicle roof alone.

The kayak can be loaded and unloaded from waist height and the gas assisted struts help significantly with the lifting above that point. The Hullavator brings back the pleasure of kayak fishing by reducing the physical difficulties of transportation.

Here’s hoping for the Thule Hullavator Pro in my near future.

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