One specific update is that I did not widen the factory rack spacing of my 2013 Subaru Outback from the earlier (relatively narrow at 24" found in my 2010 Outback). I didn't change things given the extended support of the Slipstream and I was concerned there might not be quite enough clearance mounting the Slipstream on the back (rear-most) crossbar and opening the rear hatch. I didn't see any advantage to change/widen the Outback crossbars although I will when transporting my canoe or perhaps using J-hooks instead of the Slipstream.
After removing the ineffective Thule adhesive and applying the Lepage product according to directions it seems to be thoroughly "stuck". I've since checked the other three pads on the Slipstream and they all seem a bit loose, so I may use the Extreme Repair on all four pads.
I've downgraded the Slipstream rating from 9 to 7 because of the lack of quality control -- first there was rust dripping from the metal tubing and now the pads are becoming loose.
At first I wasn't quite certain about loading from the rear with the bow on the rear Slipstream rollers and the stern on the ground, but as I've done it a few times it has become easier and easier with lots of clearance and I no longer feel the need to muscle the kayak into the air and on to the racks for loading. Ideally I'd have some sort of mat on the ground or duct tape on the stern of the kayak which touches the ground (or I could park my 2010 Subaru Outback in a better/grassy location) so there were less chance of scratches but, given rocks etc. I've touched over the years while paddling, I'm not so worried. I'd echo knotbob's comments about spacing, etc. on the Outback.
I'm pleased with the Slipstream for ease of use, extra strength/spacing, and overall design.
I have Thule 450 crossroads feet and 54" load bars that I have used with the factory rails in their stored position and this is very strong but only has a spread of 24.5" center to center so I think I will just use the Slipstream on the factory bars to make it easier to r&r every weekend.
This is my wife's daily commuter and she doesn't appreciate fine contraptions being mounted to the roof of her car.
I'll comment on this set up after I've used it a few times and trust it to do the job.
However, if one looks at parts 9 and 10 of the instruction manual (available for download at various vendor web sites) it suggests sliding the frame and roller as far back as possible, and it shows a user resting the bow of the kayak on the rear felt rollers while the stern is on the ground.
In reality, the rollers of the 887XT can't extend this far out from the rear of a vehicle like the Outback because such an extension would interfere with the rear door opening upwards. So, in practice, I lift the kayak onto the rear rollers (with or without assistance) and slide it forward while supporting the kayak in an elevated horizontal position about shoulder height. The 887XT would be well suited to a vehicle which has a rear door which opens sideways. If your vehicle has a rear door, like the Outback which opens upwards, then this should be a consideration.
As mentioned, I've used the 887XT for about a month when I noticed some rusty water on the Outback roof under a coupling nut. The nut was rusty. I suspect water/rain was getting in somewhere and running to the nut/hole where it was draining. I emailed photos and a copy of the invoice to Thule on a Saturday and a replacement 887XT rack was at my door on Tuesday entirely under warranty. I am impressed with Thule customer service!
In conclusion, I give high marks to the 887XT as a very useful kayak rack.
I've been quite happy with my SlipStream 887. The reason I needed it is because I have a car with a short, angled roof. The Yakima crossbars are supposed to be 30" apart. With a 20.5' kayak/surfski to carry, that seems imprudently short. Ideally, the saddles would be at about the one-third and two-third points of the hull, I'd imagine. For me, that means about 82" spread would be ideal. The SlipStream 887 gets me to a max of 55". This is not ideal, but it is a dramatic improvement over 30".
I've used the unit with a kayak on top at 70 mph for multi-hour trips. There were no problems on the road.
I'm happy with the Thule Set-To-Go and HydroGlide saddles too. The Set-To-Go has kind of a chintzy plastic mechanism, but for my lightweight (33#) boat, this hasn't been an issue. I like that the HydroGlide saddles allow effortless sliding on/off and quite a bit of surface area contacting/supporting the boat (unlike the Yakima HullyRollers). The built-in plastic rollers that are supposed to further make loading easier may be useful for use with a big vehicle and/or very small person, but neither is the case for me -- so I never use it.
I Like the relatively quick installation of the unit onto the crossbars -- just four plastic nuts to be manipulated with your fingers -- it is difficult to imagine a more quick attachment mechanism that is equally secure.
Alternatives to the SlipStream that I considered include:
> > KayakPro EZ-Vee (http://www.kayakpro.com/kp/kayakpro2/wwwhtml/contents/ez-vee.htm). This is pretty expensive. It would allow me to get as much as 8 or 9 feet of spread. The downside of the EZ-Vee, as I see it, is:
- relatively high cost
- relatively difficult/long installation onto crossbars
- very little contact area with hull provides little support, high stresses
Another interesting alternative is the Adirondack Rowing Shell Rack (http://www.adirondackrowing.com/economy_shell_rack.htm). This costs about as much as the Thule SlipStream, but provides dramatically more spread (72" or 96"). It comes with two sets of Thule Set-To-Go saddles, which probably won't work too well (needs a set of Thule HydroGlides in conjunction with a set of Thule Set-To-Gos for easy loading/unloading). It isn't clear how easy to load onto the crossbars this unit would be.
Overall, I'm really pretty happy with the SlipStream. I expect the new model (i.e., 887XT) will be no worse, perhaps a bit better.
The only thing that I'd change about this would be to increase the spread and slightly increase the strength of the aluminum tubes to accommodate that (the latter seems to have already been done for the XT).
My 17 foot brand new FG Chatham FELL OFF the Slipstream 887XT while loading and unloading. It wasn't bad while loading because it landed on an open door of my SUV, but while unloading in hit the pavement pretty hard, yes I cried. I was parked on a flat surface loading and not parked on a flat surface while unloading; however it wasn't that bad an incline. I had to take my boat in for repair (the reason for the tears) and asked one of the staff people to watch me unload or load the boat to see if I was doing anything wrong or if there was anything that needed adjustment. The pads were spaced fine; they thought I might have been a little too quick to move the boat up or off.
I would say this is not a system that is fool proof, YOU NEED TO BE CAREFUL LOADING AND UNLOADING and GO SLOWLY; BE PREPARED TO STEER YOUR BOAT. I would say that heavy poly boats would probably not stray off the system better than light slippery ones. I can tell you this fool will load and unload much slower next time!
I also bought one of these for my wife's minivan, and I am reconsidering whether it was the right purchase (I haven't taken it out of the box yet). I'll need a few more loads and unloads before I'm completely comfortable with the design.
It is extremely easy to install and very quiet on the roof. I have a Mitsubishi Montero Sport with Factory Racks and all I had to buy was the Slipstream, no other adapters were necessary. The Thule Web site was very helpful in determining what would be required.