Here's the problem. Yes, rack manufacturers have come up with all manner of ingenious rigs for hauling boats on mini vehicles. But then everything else gets crammed in the car. So much for taking friends, or keeping the gear explosion down to something below 7.0 on the Richter scale every time you open the back hatch. Actually, many smaller cars have surprising cargo space, but it's the riff-raff that defeats the packing strategy – paddles, PFDs, bailers, small dry bags, all that essential stuff that tends to rattle around loose in the load.
Here's the answer. A narrow cargo box that fits on top of the rack next to the canoe or kayak, that opens with the boat in place, and that accommodates all that pokey, bulky, hard-to-contain gear. The Yakima Pro 11 is such a beast. At 2-feet wide, it fits with even a tandem canoe on 66-inch bars, and still opens easily. In go the paddles, the life jackets, a dry bag or two, and off you go to the put-in.
The Pro 11 is advertised as a box perfect for skis and snowboards, but it is equally appropriate for paddles and PFDs. Installation is a piece of cake and requires no tools. And the rack mounts far enough forward that the back hatch opens fully - a big advantage for those of us over six feet.
The limitations? Paddle lengths greater than 210 cm. won't fit, so go break-apart on the kayak and SUP front if possible. Watch your load ratings. In some cases the load recommendation is as low as 100 lbs., so be thinking about the weight of boats and gear and concentrate on the bulky, light stuff in the box. Finally, all the newer generation boxes only open with the key in place. From a security standpoint, I guess it makes sense, but it's a pain.
Intel: 38 lbs., 24" wide x 89" long, opens on both sides, $359, www.yakima.com.
–Learn tips and tricks for Tying Down Boats.