There is a new type of kayak rack named lift-assist rack that is invented recently because of the needs of kayakers.
And among them, two of the racks stand out; Thule Hullavator and Yakima Showdown.
In this article, we will discuss what is the best kayak lift assist rack and who is the winner in the Thule Hullavator vs Yakima Showdown matchup.
Thule Hullavator VS Yakima Showdown
We know the fierce rivalry between Thule and Yakima; the two major brands in the car rack industry.
To get ahead of Yakima, Thule made a new tech that could help you lift the kayak onto your car.
The idea was to help the kayakers in loading kayaks by reducing the kayak weight. They were very successful with this product.
After a few years, Yakima also joined the party. And they entered the kayak lift-assist racks market with the rack Showdown.
With Showdown they opted for a more budget-friendly option.
And ever since these two went toe to toe with each other. Now let’s discuss which one got the upper hand in this Thule Hullavator vs Yakima Showdown battle.
Ease of Installation
In this segment, Yakima Showdown takes the lead. The lift assist racks are complex in design.
So, you might think they take a few hours to install. But in reality, the Hullavator takes around 30 minutes to install and the Showdown takes only 10 minutes.
The Yakima Showdown comes fully assembled out of the box. And the installation is short and easy.
In the process, the task that takes most of the time is placing the gripping on the surface that reduces slippage and increases protection.
And it has a clamp design to make installation and uninstallation much easier and quicker.
Just make sure to tighten the clamps before using the Showdown every time.
On the other hand, Hullavator comes in pieces. So you have to do the assembly.
The assembly takes around 30 minutes and it is the difficult part of the process but the good thing is you have to do it only once.
After the setup, you have to install the crossbar attachment brackets on the crossbars.
These brackets should always be on your crossbars. And the arms have pivoting pins that connect with the crossbars.
So you can install and remove the arms whenever you want.
Ease of Use
Showdown and Hullavator both are user-friendly. But the Hullavator makes you do less work than Showdown.
Both of them come down to waist level so that you can load the kayak on them easily.
After loading the kayak from the sides comes the strapping part. You can strap the kayak securely from the waist level.
After that, these two have different functions in getting the kayak on top of the car.
In the Hullavator you don’t have to worry about the kayak’s weight.
Because Hulavator has gas struts that assist you with doing around 40 lbs of the heavy lifting. This means half the required lifting force is removed.
The gas struts are the main reason behind the Hullavator getting the edge.
In the Showdown, however, you won’t get that much assistance.
Showdown will help you in sliding the kayak upward after loading it on the arms.
It doesn’t reduce that much weight but it helps with the lifting process.
When you are working with an expensive roof rack with an expensive kayak you should look out for safety issues that could do damage to your investments.
Among the Hullavator and Showdown, the Hullavator is more secure and it doesn’t have security issues.
But on the Showdown, you should look out for a few things.
First is the Hand Knob. The Hand Knob is easy to use but it also has a chance to come loose.
And the second issue is the clamps as they don’t go around your crossbar entirely. So on the round crossbars, they might become loose.
And third is you have to always tuck in the side mirrors while loading. This warning is for both the Showdown and the Hullavator users.
Both Hullavator and Showdown have limited lifetime warranties.
It means if some part of these breaks and you are not the reason (misinstall or misuse) for it then the manufacturers will have to repair it forever.
So you can be assured that they will last or else the manufacturers wouldn’t have been so confident.
This is the most important part of choosing your rack. If the rack you are buying doesn’t fit your crossbars it will be devastating.
So, you should check the manufacturer’s website to find it out.
Kayak racks that have lift-assistance technology are very expensive.
They are made for people who have a premium taste and who are in need of lift assistance.
But they are worth it for their design and features.
Between the two, Hullavator is a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than Showdown.
So, if you want a cheaper option go for the Showdown but remember that Showdown helps you with the transition but you still have to do most of the lifting.
On the other hand, Hullavator helps you in your lifting with the gas struts. So go for Hullavator if you have the budget for it.
Other Best Kayak Lift assists
We have already discussed the advanced kayak lift-assists Thule Hullavator and Yakima Showdown.
Between them, our favorite choice is Thule Hullavator. But there are also other basic types of lift assists that help you in loading the kayak effectively.
Best Kayak Lift assists (overall)
Codinter Kayak Roller Load Assist is a basic type of load-assist that has a Heavy-Duty Suction Cup Mount.
It is built with aluminum and has smooth and thick rolling foam that is built to protect your kayak hull from damage.
It has heavy-duty suction cups that attach to the rear of the window.
And due to different types of cars having different window radians, it is not easy to make the suction cups keep attached.
This system is only for temporary purposes. You have to put it on and take it off after you load the kayak.
There are many things you can say about Codinter and the price is very low.
Best Kayak Lift assist at a low cost
Seattle Sports Sherpak Suction Roller is the best lift-assist kayak rack for a low cost.
It is a suction-type roller that attaches to the rear window to help you load your kayak.
It has padding on the hull contact point to protect the hull. And it is strong because it is made with aluminum bars.
This Seattle Sherpak suction Roller type lift-assist is best for one-man loading and it does cost very little.
What is a Lift Assist Kayak Rack?
A lift-assist kayak rack where you get help in loading your kayak on the rack. There are many types of lift assist systems.
The advanced ones lift the kayak for you and others just give a simple hand.
The Lift-assist system is for those who like to go kayaking alone and need the help.
Advantages of Lift Assist Kayak Racks
There are many advantages to lift-assist kayak carriers.
They help you lift the kayak when you are alone and when you are unable to lift it.
They are long-lasting. Also, they are very easy to use.
Disadvantages of Lift Assist Kayak Racks
When we are talking about the disadvantages of the lift-assist kayak racks we have to talk about two major ones.
One is the price. They come at a very high price range that may not be affordable to most people.
And another one is compatibility. After buying a lift assist if you find that your system is not compatible with it, that is a major setback.
Pros and Cons of Lift Assist Kayak Racks
Why Should I Buy a Lift Assist Kayak Rack?
Most of the kayakers are in great physical shape. They can carry and load the kayak pretty easily. But not all of them have the same physical prowess.
So, the lift-assist system came for those who don’t have the strength or can’t load the kayak alone.
So, if you are one of them you should get one of these.
How Much Does a Lift Assist Kayak Rack Cost?
A Lift-assist kayak rack costs between 50$ to 700$ depending on the features. It varies that much because some are just simple attachments to help you load the kayak while others are full-fledged horizontal racks.
Know about the j-racks in our best j-rack guide
Learn about the most secure saddle racks in our best saddle racks guide
If you have to carry multiple kayaks on your roof look for the best kayak stackers on the market