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Reviews for Yakima Mako Saddles


Rated: 7.72/10 Based On: 43 Reviews

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  • BigStack
  • MultiMounts
  • Mako Saddles
  • BowDown
  • KeelOver
  • Hully Rollers



07-30-2013
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The Mako Aero Saddles are great! They now come with felt pads some earlier reviews mentioned were lacking. I used them on my sit-in kayak which seemed to fit the hull shape very nicely. The strap actually goes around the whole kayak, and pushed a rubber insert against the hull of the kayak. When tight, the rubber grips the kayak very well and prevents any movement. I feel comfortable and have taken my kayak across the state at interstate speeds without any bow or stern straps. These saddles are great!

However I will caution you that they do not fit every kayak well. have a Hobie Pursuit kayak as well, and the hull shape is not smooth and continuous. The saddles do not grip that different hull shape well. (I used the Yakima Bowdowns for that kayak, also worked well.)

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07-27-2013
Submitted by: Spencer JonesSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The saddles make for a great place to nest my yak on top of the car. Both my sit in and sit on top kayaks fit great on it. They hold tight to the bars and I have nothing to worry about no matter the distance.
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07-27-2013
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I am using the Mako Aero for the front of my Kayak in conjunction with hully rollers on the back. Easy to install and adjust . They have a locking feature and come with all the tie downs. I like these a lot.
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08-17-2011
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Only concern I have for Mako Saddles - need wide crossbars to carry 2 kayaks.
Mako Saddles are natural way carry kayaks on roof. Kayaks load easy in horizontal position (no need to turn heavy kayak vertical) Straps are locking kayaks rock-solid. I use Mako saddles for 8+ years with heavy plastic tandem kayaks; traveled many times with several locations over 500 miles - no problems whatsoever.
I'm in process of buying next set of Mako Saddles for 2nd tandem kayak.

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09-03-2010
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     To answer previous posts from a few years ago... I just received my mako saddles yesterday and installed today. they now come with felt pads that you can attach or not if you wish. The tie down strap(s) are actually just one strap now (same saddle design, but only one strap to thread through both and around the boat). I'll know this weekend if I like that or not as I've only used the two strap setup on a friend's saddles in the past and was expecting that in my set.
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09-01-2010
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I've been using the Mako/Hully Roller combo for at least ten years. Never had any scoffing problems on my glass or composite boats. There are two modifications I have employed:
The rubber buckle covers on the tie down straps don't last very long. I replace them with tennis balls recovered from the Chicago River and Sewage Canal.

The Hully Rollers put a serious and worrisome dent in my glass boats when I tighten the straps. To prevent this, before cinching the HR end I place one of those foam hull protector thingies between the hull and the rollers. When cinched really tight the boat seems safe from damage.

Good product. I'd buy them again if I didn't already have three sets. Beats the heck out of loading a long yak by yourself on those J Frame things.

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07-02-2007
Submitted by: BenSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Love these mounts... However, a huge flaw with the design. If any Kayak owner has a glass/kevlar boat it's going to get rubbed and eventually take off all the gel coat and dig into the hull.
Poor salesmanship and design for yakima engineers. I mean come on you're in the business of catering to the kayaking community. The least you could do is is recommend placing felt covers on the Mako saddles. Still, thats another $10 USD for these pads... Just include the pads as an accessory for the saddles. You'll have happier customers!
My suggestion for owners. Go down to your local hardware store and find a 6"x9" felt pad, usually selling as FELTAC ($2 USD or LESS!) used for the bottom of furniture on wood floors. Take the pad and place it below the saddle and the piece facing you make sure it's flush to the saddle (inside should be sticking out). This makes it so you don't waste a lot of felt. After you've drawn the outline, take a ruler and mark where you're going to cut with your utility knife. Once you're done you should have about an 1"x4" hole in the center. Tear the back paper off the adhesive and apply to saddles... trim as needed.
I have noticed the felt pad does recede over the rubber, so you may want to take a small knife and trim away some of the excess felt on top. I've noticed there's about 4 ply of felt placed on these sheets so removing about an 1/8 of it might do the trick.
Save the scraps.. You've just saved yourself 16+ bucks YAHOO anyone?!
Comments please reply...

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06-13-2007
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     Mated the Mako saddles w. Hully Rollers. Loading & unloading is a breeze. My kayaks just softly plop into place and stay there. Real simple and just like that. BTW I'm 5'3" and 115 lbs, so it's not like I can muscle them on.

No marring of the kayaks' finish (one is Trylon, the other FG). There is a soft plastic strip down the center of mine, perhaps the older models lacked this. If not, it's certainly easy to pad them with minicell or other anti-scuff pads. I see that as extra insurance and not a necessity.
Using the buckled strap and the sharkchuck strap makes for a clean, very secure cross tie. The saddle notches facilitate this.
My Matrix has a sunroof so I can observe the Mako saddles just slightly in front of the glass window. They do not move, bounce, vibrate or otherwise cause concern. I've had them on I-96 going 60-70 mph with a pretty good breeze coming out of the west.

The Makos are like a pair of soft flexible hands gently cupping the hull of my kayak. In good hands with Yakima? Hmmm, maybe so, but that slogan's already taken.

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11-01-2006
Submitted by: CVSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I just bought my Impex Mystic Kayak in glass/composite and the dealer reccommended the mako saddles over the J/bar.Cinched down I went at 70mph for an hour home.Then I read the reviews and freaked.I checked my boat for damage and there was none. I went back taking a chance and didnt notice any movemement other than the saddles flexing during the ride.Again no damage.I called and talked with Yakima nd they sent me 2 sets of anti scuff pads-free.Should be no problem now but there didnt seem to be one to begin with.I still like the way the canoes are faced down so I give this an 8.
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10-31-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I just drove 300 miles with the Hully Rollers and Mako Saddles for my Wilderness Systems Pamlico 145 tandem kayak. No scuffs. No scratches. The boat did not move even an inch during the entire ride--even when we were hanging on the kayak, to determine if it would shift in the 70+ m.p.h. drive (we did this *very* briefly). Outstanding. Why isn't this rating a 10? We had to cinch the straps extremely tight because the saddles' shape was slightly different from the hull of our huge kayak. I think we bought the best transport available. I have no regrets.
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06-13-2006
Submitted by: AYSend Email
Rating: 4 of 10

     I don't like the Yakima saddles for 2 reasons: they allow the boat to bounce despite proper installation and tie down. On a very rough surface, my glass kayak will bounce excessively - this contributes to problem 2 - rough surface that contributes to scratches of the gel coat. I know that you can buy felt covers but - come on - what sense does it make to sell a product for a specific purpose (hold kayaks) knowing that the product is actually harmful if used as directed. The felt pads should be included with the saddles, part of the the actual design or at the very least, recommended in the instruction manual with the boat. Also, Yakima says that the saddles work by having the central strip rising to grip the boat when the straps are tightened. Seems to me that covering with felt will limit this feature. All in all - avoid these saddles.
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08-09-2005
Submitted by: mark bSend Email
Rating: 4 of 10

     ok - but fail at preventing hull wear due to abrasion. I now use a 30 x 18 inch piece of doubled up carpet, cable tie at the edges, with a sheet of 1/8 inch plexiglass in between - like a sandwich. Also ran a bungie through it which hooks over the hull to help conform it to the hull. This eliminated abrasion (I kayak on Lake Michigan - sandy beaches) and also INCREASES the square inches of support under the hull be a factor of 10+. I noticed that even a composite hull can be damaged with these saddles if the hull is held too firmly (the saddles, in my opinion and not large enough in area). Good product that needs an upgrade in order to provide long term boat protection.
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07-28-2005
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 2 of 10

     What an utter disappointment. The saddles themselves maybe warrant a 6 rating, but my experience with the saddles as well as Yakima and the retailer has led to the 2 rating.

I researched all over about kayak carriers and was firmly convinced that Yakima Mako saddles would be the best (from customer reviews). I took the $200 plunge and bought the saddles from Marathon Sports in Toronto. At the time the sales lady was very helpful and convincing...obviously selling me on these saddles. Very excited I tried them out with my 17.5 ft boat. I was horrified after getting the boat secured and driving down my street that the boat was moving a good inch or so from the car/wind. I immediately called Yakima and Marathon, and basically was told that I'm stuck with these saddles. Both tried to pin this on my "improper" set up/use of the saddles, and would not allow me to exchange them for something else or return them. (I found it an absolute crock that I set them up incorrectly as I work at a canoe/kayak store and strap boats down on a regular basis.)

So the long and the short of things go with the Thule Hullaport instead - my boat didn't move a hair (even on the highway) and pass over Marathon. Their unhelpfulness and no return policy bites the big one.

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07-26-2005
Submitted by: PaulSend Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     Boy what an easy to please bunch around here. I have trouble giving a high rating to a product that requires another to insure your boat is not damaged. I used the Mako's once, scuffed my boat up, and have used a foam pad since. Had I known I needed a pad I'd have gotten another (cheaper!) cradle. Nice to hear Yakima is selling a pad that they should have incorporated in the first place. On a related note, I also have Hully Rollers and they work quite well. As for the Mako's I think Yakima should give pads out free to all customers because they certainly do not work as claimed.
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04-25-2005
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Great Saddles. The felt pads are a must when using these on glass. I carry a Current Designs Gulfstream and a Necky Tofino, both glass. No problems with either one. I would purchase these again.
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02-09-2005
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     After reading the scary stories about the Makos scuffing up composite boats, I actually purchased the anti-scuff pads before I bought the saddles themselves. My Dagger Specter 15.5 Airalite boat slides easily onto the saddles and straps down very securely. A panic stop the other day that resulted in a minor impact with a deer didn't budge the boat an inch. Ease of use couldn't be better, after the initial strap adjustments it only takes seconds to load and secure the boat. Wind noise is no more apparent than with my bike mounts.
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01-02-2005
Submitted by: P.J. T
Rating: 10 of 10

     I purchased 2 sets of Yakima hull raisers. They work very good. No scratches! Only problem--unloaded doing 75 miles an hour they will flip over if you do not overtighten.
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08-09-2004
Submitted by: JOHNSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     ABOUT RON'S PROBLEM WITH ROLLING ROLLERS -- Initially, I found that my Hully Rollers shifted/rolled down when I removed the kayak. It took time, but I fixed this problem with better usage and wear/tear. First, the butterfly clips, attached to the rollers, were not tight enough. Second, the roof clamp screw, which locks onto the rubberized bar, was not tight enough. Third, the rubberized bar itself was very slick (almost had an oily finish) when first purchased. With six trips under my belt and driving through some heavy downpours, the oily finish on the bar is gone and the rubber exterior on the bar is more scuffed up. It seems to hold better. Right now, I don't see this as a problem.

But if it persists for Ron, I would scuff up the bar a little where the various brackets attach to it, or add a little double-sided tape. Then, it should work fine.

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05-17-2004
Submitted by: RonSend Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     I don't know if I'm doing something wrong,but my Hully rollers roll over when I load any of my boats . I'ts a pain. Icrank them down as tight as I can on that round cross bar .
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05-07-2004
Submitted by: JohnSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The Hully Rollers (in back) and Mako Saddle (in front) are an awesome combination. My kayak is a Wilderness Pungo 120 (12 feet long, weighs about 50 pounds). To load, I carry kayak to my Jeep Grand Cherokee. After I place a soft blanket over the edge of the roof hatch, I gently place the front of the kayak there. I step back, lift the rear, slide it an inch or two over the blanket until it touches the H-Rollers. Once there, I push and it rolls right on up until it settles neatly on the Mako Saddles. The straps tighten snugly, the Mako Saddles (which have a good rubbery surface that touches and holds the kayak) bend enough to wrap around the base of your kayak. The hold is rock solid. Don't forget to tighten all wing nuts on your units before you leave since they can loosen a little, and also, lock the Hully Rollers switch (which stops the wheels from rolling). To remove, I reverse the process. Since I worry about hitting the brakes at 65 and watching my Pungo race ahead of me like a Saturn rocket, I also tie down the front and back end of my kayak. I loaded it the first time in about 20 minutes. Next time, should be even quicker. Doing this, I can drive 65 easily with no movement at all by the kayak. Great system. I bought mine at Galyans.
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03-08-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I liked that mako saddles but hated what they did to my composite kayak...voila! the anti scuff pads solved the problem...Don't even try the saddles, with a composite boat, without the anti scuff pads.
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02-12-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I use the Yakima saddles to secure my Tarpon 140 to the top of my Mini Cooper. I know these things were made for SINKS, but they work quite well on my SOT. I simply lay a towel on the back top and push the plastic kayak up until it slides right into the saddles. The Tarpon is supposed to weigh in at 62 pounds but is no problem for me to car top this way.
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02-11-2004
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     These are great. I use them with a 22' outrigger canoe and a Tracrac rack system. The canoe is about 13" wide so I use custom cut foam that I contact cemented to the saddles. Makes for a perfect fit, no scratches and I can easily load the boat and strap it down in about 2 minutes. No problems what-so-ever.
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02-09-2004
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     The saddles work well for soft chine boats, not so well for hard chines, but OK. I use rugular straps and go under the bat in the middle so that if a saddle failed the boat would still be attached to the bar. I deducted for the fact that the original design did not have pads, and was sold to carry boats and was not fit for that purpose without modification. If someone sells me something, and says "yes it could do tht job" and it does not, it is no "10". So there are lots of folks out there who do not find this system a 10. Please understand anything 7 or above I would do again if I had a need.
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02-06-2004
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I don't know what all the flack is about with these Mako saddles. Any idot should know that hard plastic will cause damage to a get coat when hitting the road. I like the idea of cementing pads made of closed cell foam onto the racks to ensure a safe ride. These are the foam sleeping mats sold at camping stores. Cut to fit and glue. Also Yakima does sell felt pads for there racks, to prevent scratching and gouging of the color coating on your boats, guess everyone is in just too much of a hurry to first investigate this problem, would rather hit the water first then complain of there problem afterward. Good job Yakima on your racks. Oh I'll add also good job on the Hulley Rollers to they work hand in hand together.
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12-09-2003
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 3 of 10

     Thank goodness I discovered the problem of the hard plastic Mako saddles scratching the gelcoat, while using a loaner Current Design Gulfstream while waiting on my new one to be delivered.I noticed white powder on the saddles,(gelcoat) after each use. I cut foam pads the shape of the saddles out of thin closed cell foam, and contact glued them to the saddles. I left a slot in the middle,for the soft rubber on the saddles to stick thru, so I would not lose the holding grip it delivers. End of problem! The pads appear to be holding up very well.I kept the pattern I made, so I can cut new ones,if the present ones wear out. Be warned, without some padding,stock Mako saddles WILL scratch your gelcoat!
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12-08-2003
Submitted by: RobSend Email
Rating: 3 of 10

     I initially thought that these were going to be the end to my hassels for transporting my boats... little did I know or was I ever advised by the dealer what a job they would do on the gel coat to three of my favourite boats including a custom wood and kevlar kayak. In just one season I am going to have to redo the sides of the boats due to skuffing and damage caused by the racks and this is after making sure that the boats are alway cleaned prior to transporting. Yakama should not have sold these units without some type of cover or cushion...it is just careless and should not be tolerated. I am so upset with the company that I have no purchased a Tule J model and will be selling the Yakama ones although I have modified them now with neoprene to cover the hard plastic so at least the next owner doesn't have to suffer thru the anxiety of seeing their new boats damafed by this product.
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12-01-2003
Submitted by: GWDSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     The Mako Saddles are a great product;; however they can have the problem of scratched yaks, gelcoat etc.. This cann be solved fairly easily. I have Mako sadles mounted for carrying a surfski. Before using the racks the 1st time I simply cut insolite foam sections and glued them to the Mako saddles with a good quality contact cement type glue. A cheap source for the foam is to buy the inexpensive sleeping pads from your local camp store. After two years, mine are showing some wear but still have some time left. When they get to bad, you can just remove and lay down another strip of foam.
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09-08-2003
Submitted by: SWSSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Very secure saddles (used in conjunction with the Hully Rollers), albeit prone to the scuffing mentioned by others. That problem has been neatly solved by the pads that Yakima will send you if you call. We've logged over 4,000 miles with our boats this year & have gained a lot of confidence in the the security and stability of the rack system.
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04-29-2003
Submitted by: Neahga LeonardSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     So far I love these saddles. My girlfriend and I use them for our plastic kayaks. I lift the boats onto the saddles from the side (they're not rollers after all - shouldn't slide on anything but rollers), and winch them down tight. Not a bit of scratching. They're also easily adjustable for various kayak widths. Very happy so far.
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11-25-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought the Yakima rack system and Mako Saddles for my new VCP Avocet RM. I had been carrying the boat on the roof racks on my Jeep Cherokee using foam pads. Whether they were secure or not, I was a nervous wreck. I read the reviews of the Mako saddles which have already been posted here. As a result, I padded the aft-facing portion of the saddles with good old flannel moleskin. I load my boat from the rear, so that is where most of the scraping occurs. I looked at the design of the new Yakima soft pads, but they don't seem to cover the sides, which is where my boat slides. I know this is more of a problem for glass boats than plastic, but I don't want un-necessary scratches in my plastic boat. I need to find something more durable than moleskin, long term, but for now that's what I have. I used this system once, and so far it works fine. Will get a real test over the Thanksgiving weekend when I transport my boat 500 miles roundtrip. The saddles hold my boat very securely, the entire system was very easy to install, and I could not be happier with it! I am giving it a 9 out of 10 because Yakima should have known there was an abrasion danger and I am sympathetic with you folks who have glass boats that were damaged. Thanks for the warning!
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09-06-2002
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is for all of you owners out there with composite boats (gel or skin coats) and are considering a kayak transport system. I have not used the Yakima Mako Saddles and I certainly would not based on the multiple negative comments regarding the damage they cause on glass/Kevlar boats. Please consider Malone of Maine J-Cradle. They go for about $99 and can be purchased from several on-line retailers including LL Bean. I have been using them for two years to transport my Carbon/Kevlar P&H boat. No damage to the gelcoat. Not even a scratch. Wonderful product and no I do not have any interests in the company. I'm, just a very happy customer. I am surprised more shops do not carry them.
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09-05-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     For those complaining of chafing on the gelcoat...I think every saddle out there must do the same. I blame it on the delicacy of the gelcoat...light boats require it, I think. Everything under the sun seems to be harder than my gelcoat. I love my boat but she needs to be babied. Yakima's solution of soft carpet pads for their saddles is the right approach, I'm sure, but don't count on it protecting your boat if the bottom is sandy when you load...
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08-16-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 3 of 10

     I purchased a pair of Mako Sharks and a pair of Hully Rollers last year to load my two plastic kayaks on my Jeep. Last week I bought a new fiberglass Current Designs kayak. The Mako Shark saddles have done serious damage to the kayak in just three short trips. If to think you'd EVER by a fiberglass boat AVOID this product without first investing in the new soft pads Yakima has recently made available for this saddle. I found out about the pads too late but will be installing a pair!
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06-28-2002
Submitted by: Karl FritzscheSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I think the Mako Saddle is a great product. Now Yakima is actually making a Anti-Scuff Pad for it that will be very nice. The extra protection against scratching will be key.
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06-17-2002
Submitted by: EJSend Email
Rating: 4 of 10

     I've had the Mako Saddles for a year now and they were pretty good for my plastic boat. However, the tore apart the bottom og myu glass boat--I did cinch it down tight. Loading the boat solo was pretty easy as long as I had a thick peice of rug to keep the boat form scratching my car or vice versa. Also requires a lot of space behind the car. I switched to J-craddles and find that it is just as easy to load the boat and I don't have to worry about my paint job or gel coat.
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06-17-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     Secure, but fit poorly. They have damaged the gel coats on my boats. Yakima needs to rethink the design of these saddles. They did not do the job as well as the price would imply. Yakima did poorly with these. I don't recommend, except for a polyethelene boat.
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06-17-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 6 of 10

     Ditto the previous reviews concerning glass boats. Had zero problems using these saddles on my two plastic boats, but they did serious damage to my brand new glass boat. There is at least one after-market vendor of fleece booties designed to prevent this. Found a quicker and easier solution by cutting the sleeves off of a heavy duty sweatshirt and covering the saddle with them. This proved to be a viable workaround. One that should not have been required.
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11-19-2001
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 1 of 10

     I used the Makos right out of the box. Brand new glass boats on rough roads. The "hard" plastic ripped into my gelcoat down to the glass. Yeah, the boats weren't clinched down quite tight enough, but who would put "sharkskin" plastic on a saddle which is supposed to protect a boat? I put foam over them using rubber cement. What a disappointment - I almost sued them....
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10-22-2001
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 6 of 10

     Read the reviews and purchased the saddles. Big mistake. I use a CLC Chesapeake 17 (wood). It is a hard chine boat (flatter bottom as opposed to round) and the saddles do not conform very well at all. They work alright, but not what I expected. Think I'll buy another pair of rollers for the front and sell these. Not very versatile.
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10-22-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     These saddles are great - they make it very easy to get a tight hold on your kayak. They save a lot of time - you don't have to tie any knots. They are worth the money easily.
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07-16-2001
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Yakima Mako Saddles (and Hulley rollers)have proved to be the easiest on/off boat loading combination I have seen. I carry a Wilderness Systems Pungo and Perception Acadia on husband-wife river,lake and coastal excursions of the day trip variety. I also do alot of solo,day fishing trips with the Pungo. I have hoisted heavy canoes to cartop location and wanted something to facilitate ease of loading (even with lighter kayaks). This system is super! Place bow on rear rollers; lift stern and push forward. Nothing to it. Unloading is similar and easily accomplished by one person. For any long distance trips, I travel with cockpit covers in place to prevent rain from collecting in boats since they ride "rightside up." Very easy to install (I have on a Yakima tower and cross bar system). You do have to routinely tighten fittings by hand, but no big deal. I don't give anything a 10 - thus,a 9 is a strong recommendation in my book.
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06-18-2001
Submitted by: ChrishSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Did my homework, read reviews, talked to dealer & bought one of the best kayak saddles available! Hard plastic saddle allows boat to slide easily & then grippy rubber centers hold boat firmly when straps are tightened. The straps are part of the saddle so no extra looping around your rack is required. Simply hook one end of the strap(s) into each saddle, slip the 2 straps together thru the buckle(which is nicely covered in rubber to protect boat & vehicle & cinch it up! Straps are easily removable when rack isn't being used to prevent theft. This is probably the best kayak saddle I've seen, though my saddles are installed on square Mont Blanc cross bars, which appear to be of better design & quality than Thule's version for my vehicle.
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