I was really on the fence over this purchase but decided to go ahead for safety sake and boy am I glad I did.
I purchased a Sportspal 16'Transom Canoe and had to drive home from Winnipeg to Brandon (2.5 hours)through a number of wicked thunder storms. Winds in excess of 106 kmh! I could hardly keep my jeep on the highway from the wind and hydroplaning from the crazy amount of rain.
Even driving from the dealer in Winnipeg I had to take Main to Portage at rush hour to get to number 1 highway. I was stressing from all the stops and starts, lots of lights!
The beam of the canoe is 38" and my car racks usable area is 42" so I ended up having to mount this system backwards, meaning from the inside of the canoe facing outwards rather than from the outside of the canoe facing inwards. Didn't make the slightest difference. The canoe did not move at all.I was amazed to say the least.
This system is awesome and proved itself in spades from my first experience with it. From the perspective of safely transporting your canoe, to the ease of mounting and securing the canoe it cannot be beat.
Peace of mind and no stress now for me thanks to the Thule Portage 819.
Don't think about it, just do it if your looking.
I never had to re-tighten anything on my trip from hell and it was a white knuckle run, big time!
At first I was put off by the $119.95 price tag; but, what I didn't initially realize was that this system also includes two 15' Thule Load Straps 523, valued at $34.95/pair, and two Thule Quickdraw 855XT ratcheting bow and stern straps, valued at $49.95/pair. That makes the carriers’ cost only $35.05.
I learned long ago that a heavy canoe on a bar rack held down by nothing more than two load straps will twist and loosen and slide side to side, and eventually front and back. This can end in disaster if you don’t stop often to re-tighten your straps. Even with tight straps, I noticed how much my canoe’s bow and stern would travel up and down on bumpy roads and trails. I realized I needed to tie down both ends of my canoe in addition to the two load bar straps. Even with these four straps in place, my heavy canoe would still slide side to side a bit, which would eventually help to loosen the rack straps. Then I began to use my Thule bicycle wheel holders as channels for my canoe to keep the gunwales from sliding side to side. They worked well enough, but not perfectly, as they inflicted some damage on to the canoe as the canoe also inflicted on to them. All-in-all, the combination of two load bar straps, a bow strap, a stern strap, and channels to keep the gunwales from sliding were the ticket to a safe and relaxed drive; and, the Thule Portage 819 Canoe Carrier comes with all of this in the box. I finally realized that $120 is more than worth it to safely secure my canoe. I am just so disappointed in myself for not buying the Thule system sooner.
Thule's old version of their canoe carrier was the model 579XT. The 579XT was great, but limited to Thule's older square bar rack systems. The new model 819 fits virtually any type or size rack system with the help of its "FlipFit" bracket.
The four Thule 819 brackets and their channels guide my canoe into the perfect position every time I load it. No eyeballing. No measuring. The bottom and side contact areas of the channels are cushioned with rubber to provide protection to my canoe's gunwales. This rubber also helps hold my canoe in place when the straps are tightened down. The channels keep the canoe from shifting side to side, and also front and back if you separate the load bars far enough apart to allow the brackets to sit where the canoe's beam begins to narrow. This does mean that I have to lift the gunwales over the first pair of brackets until the widest portion of the canoe is past them. A little levering is also required to get the bow to jump up on to the channels at the other end. Even then, it's still very easy to load.
The Thule Quickdraw ratcheting bow and stern tie-downs are also a "must-have." I had been using a combination of climbing runners and motorcycle tie-downs before, but they were a hassle as they were too bulky and too long. Thule's Quickdraw ratcheting blocks are quick and easy to hook up and tighten, and are released with the flick of your thumb. They come with two short loops of webbing, similar to climbing runners, which help get the metal hooks past the paint on your vehicle or the finish on your canoe.
The included load bar straps are Thule's famous 15' cam-buckle tie-downs. These straps also include rubber buckle bumpers to protect your boat's finish. I would use the Thule straps except that I already have a pair of Nite Ize CamJam tie-down straps, which in my opinion are the best cam-buckle load straps available.
The bottom line: If you value your canoe, you will love the Thule 819 Canoe Carrier. It's a "No-Brainer."