canoe rack

Here’s how it works. Photo: Alan Kesselheim

By Alan Kesselheim

The Keelover canoe rack bracket set from Yakima is a throwback to simpler, more hassle-free times. Not too long ago, when vehicles had rain gutters, a set of towers and a couple of 2 x 4s could last a lifetime. Got a new car? Just drill new holes in the boards. Want to extend the rack to accept two boats side by side? Get longer 2 x 4s.

Now, in the age of disposable phones and software systems that become obsolete every six months, cars no longer sport those reliable rain gutters, and every vehicle needs its own unique and ridiculously expensive rack. More than that, every sport seems to require another set of ridiculously expensive mounting accessories.

Good news. The Keelover returns canoeists at least part of the way to that simpler age. The set of four universal brackets are designed to fit a multitude of rack configurations. You'll still need the crossbars, but the Keelover will fit just about any kind of bar, whether it's a factory luggage rack, Yakima's round or aero bars, even the signature square cross-pieces from the other leading brand. Clam-style brackets open and adjust with a single bolt. The tightening knob is stout and easy to use. In a couple of minutes the canoe is firmly in place. On my wider bars, when I carry two canoes side by side, I place a bracket on the outside of the boats to keep them stable in a cross-wind. The only caveat: on some smaller cars, a beamy canoe might be too wide for the factory installed racks. If that's the case, you're back to foam blocks or that onerous, expensive, one-size-only-fits-one-car paradigm . . . or a narrower canoe.

The Keelover kit comes with spare, extra-long adjusting bolts and a set of high-end cam straps/bow and stern tie-down straps. All in all, pretty satisfying, especially if you pine for the old days.

canoe rack
MSRP: $99