Hitch / trailer or roof rack for kayak / paddleboard?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by sciencekit, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. sciencekit

    sciencekit Junior Member

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    I am trying to make a decision between installing a roof rack w/ accessories or a hitch and buying a kayak trailer. Roof rack w/ accessories is $350 cheaper. If i go the roof rack route (Thule w/ aerobars), it will stay on year round (not the accessories).

    I am uncertain how much mpg decrease the roof rack will cause. Also not sure which way is better to haul a kayak or paddleboard... rack or trailer?

    Any advice? I appreciate your thoughts on the subject.
     
  2. cyberpriusII

    cyberpriusII Prodigyplace says I'm Super Kris

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    Roof rack decrease your mpg. No doubt. I remember when I googled, it was a pretty big hit. But, the estimates, even within the "dudes with the beer cans" and the "dudes with clipboards" varied wildly.

    So, go crazy google it. You get more answers faster than here.

    Having said that, hitching and towing a trailer is a pain. I have to do it all the time for work (not with the Prius). Also, all those hitch accessories, including the bars that permanent on your car also weigh a lot.

    Backing up with a trailer can be a challenge. Playing jacknife with a trailer is fun.

    I opted for a roof rack.
     
  3. maestro8

    maestro8 Nouveau Member

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    Let's do a back-of-the-napkin calculation. Drag is a function of frontal area. How large is the roof rack (in area) in comparison to the rest of the car? Does the roof rack come with a frontal spoiler? This area would suffice.

    Let's say the frontal area of the rack is 5% of the frontal area of the rest of the car -- a gross overestimate. This increases drag force by 5%. We might be able to compare this to a load increase of 5%... about the weight of another passenger. If there is an MPG hit, I think it would be quite minimal, perhaps a percent or two at best. Tough to measure!

    One or two kayaks can fit on the roof easily. Any more than that, you're looking at a trailer. No need to hassle with a trailer for a small load.
     
  4. Kermitt

    Kermitt Junior Member

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    What a heck of a calculation!! Kuddos sensei!!! :)
     
  5. JimPHL

    JimPHL Member

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    sciencekit
    Timely thread, as I'm looking at kayaks and need a hauling solution too. Thanks for starting this.

    maestro8
    I love bar napkin analysis. Very weel done. I can envision the picture you drew to illustrate!

    On to my dilemma...
    My head is trying to wrap around a roof rack, with strong preference for a multi-car rack (e.g. Prius and Highlander), or simply a tie down.

    Anyone gone with the tie down method? Any regrets?

    On one hand, I'd like to put the roof rack money into outfitting the kayak for fishing. However, I don't want to pay twice; remove roof and hood dents and scratches, then end up buying a roof rack anyway!
     
  6. Fong

    Fong Member

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    I haven't seen the MPG major impact yet based on the inno rack
     
  7. Sfcyclist

    Sfcyclist Senior Member

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    You'll need to compare your mpg before and after. You just bought the car no? My guess it's about 8 percent based on past cars I've owned.

    Not a good idea to leave the rack on the car, they will permanently leave a mark.
     
  8. HaroldW

    HaroldW Active Member

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    I have roof racks [Yakima] and haul my Tote and kayaks when on camping holidays . I remove them asap when not in use. They remove in less than 5 min. . Same for install. But if you get racks buy the one's with square tubes as that way attachments will not turn when clamped on. With Kayaks and tote I average about 5.5 ltrs. per 100 kilometers I think around 43 US mpg. :) H
     
  9. Fong

    Fong Member

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    Thanks for the tips
     
  10. DGH

    DGH Thread Terminator

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    Yep, all of 8% unloaded. Loaded is another story
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Sfcyclist

    Sfcyclist Senior Member

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    yes..forgot to mention that.. 8% is for unloaded.

    With my tail hitch bike rack loaded, though I haven't used it substantially, I didn't see or feel a significant drop. When I bikes loaded on roof rack on any of the other cars, you can easily feel the drag.
     
  12. DGH

    DGH Thread Terminator

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    The load shown yields between 22-32mpg at 75mph depending on terrain and headwinds. And yes hang on to the steering wheel.
     
  13. Sfcyclist

    Sfcyclist Senior Member

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    hilarious avatar.. which Jaws was that?
     
  14. DGH

    DGH Thread Terminator

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    I'm guessing it's a still taken during filming.
    Robert Shaw was only in the original Jaws.

    Thanks,

    Dan
     
  15. stevemcelroy

    stevemcelroy Active Member

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    You did not mention using whatever you pick for other things - you might want to think about that when making your decision. Just my opinion, but a roof rack has very limited uses, but a hitch and small trailer is far more versatile. Also for bikes I love my hitch mounted carrier and will never go back to a roof or hatch rack.

    I have only taken 1 long trip with a trailer - transporting my sailboat to Cape Cod and I was surprised just how good the fuel economy was - in the mid 30's with a 17 foot sailboat. Towing with the Prius is not hard at all - you just need to be a bit more careful and parking/backing up, etc take a great deal of care.

    Someone mentioned just strapping stuff to the roof. I have an Ikea nearby and they give out cardboard wedges to support roof mounted loads. I keep a few sets in the garage and used one recently when I bought a ladder from Home Depot - they worked like a charm. Since they are cardboard they have some obvious limitations, but also have their uses.
     
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