T’other month I raved on about the Thule’s roof bar system that worked so valiantly on both my old ’74 Range Rover and ’96 Discovery. I waxed lyrical about how tough it they were and, well here’s a link, read it yourself - clicky link.
Of course, Thule don’t just produce roof bars, they have a huge collection of accessories that make transporting bikes, extra luggage and so on much easier and safer, and that’s where their 819 Portage kit comes fits in. It really is a must for anyone who transports their canoe on a standard roof bar system.
Granted, I could use a bunch load of rope and some straps to tie Wenona down, but as she was expensive and I’m not very good with knots, I figured it was best to invest in something proper.
One thing to bear in mind about the cost is that you’re not just buying a set of Canoe Carriers that hold your canoe in place, no, the kit includes a pair of 15' Thule Load Straps (ref 523) that costs £20.00, and a pair of Thule Quickdraw 838 ratcheting bow and stern straps costing £38.00.
1. Putting it all together really couldn't be simpler, just open the box and check that it's all there...
2. After checking everything is present it's time to turn your attention to the ratchets. First you follow the detailed instructions and tie the rope onto the hook, then thread the other end of the rope into the ratchets, easy.
3. The canoe carriers (that stop your canoe from moving sideways) come in 2 pieces, the top part that's shaped like a wedge and the bottom which is basically a clasp. Making sure that the bottom bits are the right way up, slot one of the threaded prongs (can't think of a better word!) through the hole in the top piece then screw on the cap. And once you've screwed the other cap onto the other 'prong', you're done.
4. Fitting the portage kit onto a roof bar is again very simple, just feed it onto the bar and slot the 'prong' into the hole of the top piece and tighten both sides up until it feels secure, yet easier enough to slide along the bar.
5. Next you put your canoe in the position you want it and slide the canoe carriers under the gunwales and tighten them up.
6. Then, I wrap both cam straps (ref 523) over Wenona and under the bar and tighten them up. The new version of these include a rubber piece that covers the buckle and protects your canoes finish, which is a good idea.
7. Finally I attach the Quickdraw ratchets to both the bow and stern tie-downs and make sure everything's nice and secure.
As I’ve already mentioned, this kit isn't cheap and you can tie your canoe or kayak to your roof for a lot less, but canoes and kayaks aren't cheap and I'm more than happy to invest a few extra pennies on Thules quality purely for the confidence it gives me.
I'm not going to say that the Portage kit is universal, but it easily fitted onto both the Suzuki Vitara and the Mitsubishi L200 which both had their OE roof bars fitted.
From motorway speeds to off-roading, the Portage kit keeps Wenona stable and secure, and in my opinion, is a must for anyone who transports their canoe on a standard roof rack system.
The bottom line is, If you value your canoe and want to focus on the road, or track ahead and not worry about your precious canoe, then you'll love the Thule 819 Portage kit.
Price: RRP £105.00