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Kayak Cradles

by Spring Creek

Reviews

Time for a follow-up to add something I neglected to write about…

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Time for a follow-up to add something I neglected to write about in the first review.
We used those Spring Creek cradles on a 5000+ mile western road trip, with two sea kayaks loaded on the roof of a Chevy Tahoe. The kayaks stayed put very well without supertight strapping.

We only occasionally rooftop, preferring to use a trailer for most of our kayak transportation. But sometimes we cannot use the trailer (that trip was one of them). Today was another example; this paddling location prohibits trailered boats. The drive up includes a long, washboard dirt road switchbacking up (and then back down) mountain terrain. The kayaks did not move even an inch on any part of the drive, and their fiberglass hulls remained unmarked and undented. Again, we do not need to crank the straps supertight with these cradles. (We do use bow and stern painter lines.)

The long, thick, sticky rubber cradle pieces wrap partway up the sides of the hulls, giving gentle, flexible support.

I am so pleased with these cradles that I plan to order one more set to put on another vehicle's crossbars. Kudos to Spring Creek for making an excellent product. It is a shame that these are not more well-known to sea kayakers.

Castle Craft sells these cradles, which are made by Spring Creek. I consider…

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Castle Craft sells these cradles, which are made by Spring Creek.
I consider these the best production cradles I've ever seen. This is the type of product that exemplifies "Made in America", and I'm no flag-waver.

The hardware is sturdy, thick aluminum. The cradles themselves are long flexible rubber pieces (like wide straps) that can wrap well up the sides of your kayak (depending how you set up the cradles). Nothing harsh touches the kayak, just that forgiving rubber.

The clamping pieces will fit standard round or square crossbars, plus some rectangular bars. In other words, you are not bound to using crossbars from "The Big Two." For hull-down cradles, I have yet to see anything better than the Spring Creek cradles, and I recommend them to anybody who needs to transport sea kayaks.

After having tried the following kayak transport aids, I've decided the Spring…

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After having tried the following kayak transport aids, I've decided the Spring Creek cradles are the best of the bunch:

  • Padded 2x4s: simple and cheap but dent hulls; not a secure hold without overly tight strapping.
  • Custom homemade wood-and-minicell-foam cradles: perfect for the S&G kayak I built them for but do not fit other hull shapes.
  • Thule 835XT Hull-a-Port J cradles: pads wear out quickly at pressure points; plastic parts seem less than durable; weird shape for sea kayaks.

The Spring Creek cradles (sold by Castle Craft) appear to be the most durable and well-made of any cradles I've seen. The machined aluminum clamps are thick, stiff, and fastened with substantial bolts. The rubber cradles are extra-long AND flexible AND sticky, so they wrap around the hull and conform to it better than any other product (this is with a Tempest 165--they might not fit my S&G's hard-edged hard-chined hull as well). Probably help to avoid denting also, as the holding pressure is spread out a fair way up the hull sides, not just at/near the bottom.

My husband and I normally use a trailer with other pieces (see above list) but we bought Spring Creek cradles for rooftopping on a very long road trip with ferry stretch, 5000 miles between Colorado and British Columbia/Alaska. They held up beautifully with no problems whatsoever.

The one downside is that, like most non-J cradles, it takes a while to adjust them to the right positions and spans when initially setting them up. But that exacting set-up is one of the things that makes them work so well. The fit is very tuneable, unlike with J cradles.
Although we first intended to keep the Spring Creek cradles on his rooftop bar set, I just might take mine off and figure out some way to use them on the trailer while leaving the padded 2x4s in place for other purposes. They are superior to everything I've seen so far, though I have to admit that I've never seen Saris cradles.