Thule 834 Hull-A-Port Kayak Carrier: Capable and Affordable

Thule 834 Hull-a-Port J-Style Kayak Carrier

The Thule 834 Hull-A-Port Kayak Carrier is a great choice it you want a quality product from a well known manufacturer.

It’s a very practical kayak roof rack. It features an all steel design with adjustable padded supports that provide quality hold and protection for your kayak at the same time. It also boasts a wide J-mouth that offers easier loading and unloading of a variety of sizes and styles of kayaks.

If you don’t have time to go through this article, and want to quickly check and get a great deal for the Thule 834 Hull-A-Port, click here.

Otherwise, just continue reading this review. You can also jump directly to any topic using the table of contents below, we’ve covered every aspect of this carrier and is very likely that your questions will be answered.

Introducing… The Thule 834 Hull-A-Port J-Style Kayak Carrier

The angled shape of the 834 Hull-A-Port kayak rack means that holds the kayak upright on a slight angle. It’s a space-saving design that is large enough and stable enough to hold a single kayak of varying widths. Thick padding is built into the product and it’s capable of withstanding the elements while providing maximum protection for your kayak.

Provided straps are strong and help keep your kayak securely in place on top your vehicle. This Hull-A-Port model is constructed of solid steel – which makes it a stable and secure rack system. It’s also coated with a corrosion resistant material and uses the same hardware to ensure that you get more than just a few seasons out of your kayak carrier.

What’s Cool About Thule’s 834 Hull-A-Port Kayak Carrier?

As a single J-Rack kayak carrier, the Thule 834 Hull-A-Port J-Style kayak roof rack has a lot to offer. Its load capacity tops out at a decent 75 pounds. Each of the two J-cradles measure 16.5 inches x 6.5 inches x 18 inches, so they are quite compact. But what really caught our attention was the weight of these J-cradles – with each tipping the scales at a mere 8.7 pounds in weight.

One of the things we like best about most Thule kayak carriers – and this one is no exception – is that the strap buckles are supplied with a movable, neoprene coating to protect both the vehicle and the vessel. That’s a brilliant idea – and they work exceptionally well.

The 834 Hull-A-Port is also compatible with Thule’s one key cylinder locking system. That’s an extra purchase – though not a lot. And it brings added peace of mind to owners of the Hull-A-Port because it cannot be easily ripped off by a thief – thanks to their patented locking mechanism.

This kayak rack will fit virtually any Thule cross bars, including the WingBar Evo, SquareBar, ProBar and TracRac for trucks. With an adapter, it can also be made to fit the Thule AeroBlad and Xsporter Pro too. Many factory racks can work as well with the Thule Hull-A-Port 834.

Although this roof rack system should fit virtually any cross bars, there are those occasions where the bolts may be just a little bit too short. A quick trip to the nearest hardware store or Home Depot in your area can provide the proper length of bolts for your particular application. So you should not need to replace your roof rails – in the vast majority of situations.

Thule 834 Hull-a-Port J-Style Kayak Carrier
Thule 834 Hull-a-Port J-Style Kayak Carrier
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Accessories Can Enhance This Carrier

Numerous accessories are also available for the Thule 834 to make it work even better in some situations. These options include extras like heavy-duty tie down straps, ratchet style bow and stern tie downs, retractable arm for one person loading, loop straps to provide anchor points, convenient step stool to give you a little more height with better access, and a couple of lock options.

What About Installation?

The Thule 834 Hull-A-Port is easy to install. If you’ve installed other brands of J-racks before – this should be an absolute no-brainer for you. Just don’t depend on the instructions provided by the manufacturer and let logic determine your action steps. Ah and… we’re pretty sure you’ll love the supplied buckle protectors – and how they help avoid getting those nicks and scratches on both your kayak and car – as much as we do.

When installing, it’s a good idea to attach one side of the base plate first. Then fit it to the roof rack before reattaching the other side and tightening it down to the base plate. It’s also important to secure both sides evenly so your J-rack sits level on your cross bars.

It’s Built Thule Tough

As with any kayak carrier from Thule, this one is built with quality. Some buyers report having had this rack for years – even leaving it installed on their car for number of years. Despite this and being exposed to weather of all kinds including rain, snow, sleet, and ice – time and again, the Hull-A-Port emerged as virtually unscathed and fully capable of supporting their kayak for yet another season.

There’s no doubt that this is a strong and solid mount too. Numerous buyers report having used this Thule 834 Hull-A-Port on their cars while traveling down highways – even interstates – over long distances at high speeds of 70+ miles per hour – and not having any problems whatsoever to report.

The Most Obvious Benefits of the Thule 834 Hull-A-Port Kayak Carrier

This kayak carrier sports a versatile design. This means that it will fit most kayaks of various shapes (v-shaped and flat bottoms) and sizes. Its open ended J-racks make it easier to load than other competing brands of similar designs. You can get these racks close to the edge of the top of your vehicle, giving you better access with less reaching. With a near universal design, you should easily be able to mount your kayak on most squares, round, and factory installed roof racks.

Provided with the Thule J-rack cradles themselves are all you need to secure and carry your load. This includes a pair of tie down straps, plus bow and stern tied downs to secure one kayak solidly in place. If you want to haul two kayaks simultaneously, pick up a second Hull-A-Port for the other side of your vehicle. You’ll still have room to spare up top.

The cradles are more than adequately padded to protect your kayak. Just make sure you do not exceed the weight capacity of your vehicles crossbars. It’s always a good idea to check this in your owner’s manual before loading your roof rack.

Thule 834 Hull-a-Port J-Style Kayak Carrier
Thule 834 Hull-a-Port J-Style Kayak Carrier

Compact and Capable

The 834 Hull-A-Port Kayak Carrier by Thule is a compact and convenient way to carry your kayak on your roof. It takes up very little space with its compact J-style design. And with quick release mounting hardware, it’s easy to remove the kayak when you reach your destination – so you won’t have to wait long before you’re out enjoying another adventure. If you have to shuttle between two vehicles – that’s not a problem at all – since it’s easy to take off the brackets.

Once these J-style racks are installed properly to your roof rails, it’s a good idea to secure the straps (the straps used to hold the kayak) to the top loop of the J-rack. Then, just place it off to the side. This makes it much easier once your kayak is in position on the J-racks to simply loop the strap around and secure it to the top of your vehicle.

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It’s Always Easier With Two People

Like most J-rack kayak carriers, this one requires you to lift your kayak on top of the car. It’s almost always easier to do so with two people. But many kayaks are lightweight and if you’re strong enough you can certainly do it on your own.

When placing the kayak on top of the J-racks, it’s important to center the boat evenly. The rubber provides traction and protection. Once you’ve found the sweet spot and the boat is centered, be sure to place the straps around the kayak and run them under the bars of the roof rack. You want to solidly secure it into position and place the buckle where it’s easily accessible – so you can simply attach or disconnect as required.

Get a Tight Fit That’s Safe For The Road

It’s important that your kayak is tied down tight. The supplied cam buckles really help to secure any load, so much better than ropes of bungee cords. Next, always tie off the excess strapping, so it’s not left dangling in the wind.

The final step is to secure your bow and stern tie downs. You can use the standard tie downs that come with the rest of the equipment. Or you can opt for the ratchet straps, as an extra purchase. With ratchet straps, you’re able to pull them much tighter. It also helps reduce any uplift that can occur when driving.

It is way easier to securely tighten down ratchet straps so there’s no movement whatsoever. That’s exactly what you want when your kayak is loaded on your car roof. That way, when you hit the open road for your next kayaking experience, you don’t have to worry or second-guess yourself about your cargo load.

What’s In The Box?

  • Two J-shaped racks (one complete set for carrying a single kayak)
  • Two heavy-duty tie-down straps
  • Two bow and stern straps
  • Hardware to connect and secure everything
  • Instruction sheet
Thule 834 Hull-a-Port J-Style Kayak Carrier
Thule 834 Hull-a-Port J-Style Kayak Carrier

The Good (What Buyers Like Most)

The Thule 834 Hull-A-Port kayak carrier is a well made product

It fits most kayaks without any problem and it holds them safely in place. It seems designed to last and to travel with you wherever those kayaking opportunities appear.

Manufactured by a reputable brand

Thule has been in business since 1942 and it’s clear that they know a thing or two about transporting kayaks. You can choose any brand of carrier. But if you want the longest serving, most trusted name in the industry – go with Thule.

It’s constructed of sturdy solid steel with heavy duty plastic/resin

These materials can handle any kayak and any amount of travel you have in mind. After plenty of repeat use, there’s no noticeable weakening or wearing of the product. It’s that rugged.

It’s really quite easy to install

It goes together logically and simply. Just before you start, get an image in your mind of exactly how it’s supposed to look once installed. Then sort out all pieces before mounting the J-racks to your car or truck.

Works well in every way

Some products have weaknesses. They may be great one way, but severely lacking in another. But not this one. It can handle many different loads, including anything that’s an obvious fit for J-racks.

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It’s affordable – even if it’s not the cheapest option on the market

But it is an option that many kayakers can afford. More importantly – it’s worth every penny. When you buy a name brand product, you expect a certain level of quality and functionality. That should be a given. And in this case – it is. Thule certainly delivers.

It features a space saving, smart design

Both J-racks mount to one side of the car and hold the kayak mostly on its narrow side, leaving plenty of space on top. So you can also fit a cargo rack on your roof quite easily, alongside your kayak. This is perfect for those longer getaways and camping trips where there’s plenty of gear required.

It’s a well-engineered kayak carrier

You’ll never have to worry about your load working its way loose when you’ve tied it down correctly. That’s because Thule clearly put this product to the test before unleashing it to the marketplace. They know kayak carriers and with this rack, you get everything you need for safely and secure transport, whether it’s near or far.

It’s a solid option for lifting a kayak onto a taller van, pick up truck, or SUV

With those wide-mouth J-racks, loading your kayak or canoe from the side of your vehicle is readily accomplished for most adults. If you need a little extra height, a small step stool will give you that extra lift.

The Not So Good

  • Needs to be removed after each use due to the height (this rack does not fold down)
  • Bolts are just a little bit too short for some racking systems
  • Directions are not very helpful (surprising, considering the vast experience of the manufacturer)
  • Ropes can be difficult to secure (but it gets way easier the more practice you get)

The Verdict

While there are lots of different models of kayak carriers from competing manufacturers available, choosing the best one for you can be a daunting task. But if you had to choose between a relative unknown brand and one that’s been around since the 1940’s – you should probably favor the big brand. Thule has been in the game more than any other manufacture and their designs are often replicated to some degree by more upstart manufacturers.

The Thule 834 Hull-A-Port Kayak Carrier is a capable and affordable kayak roof rack. It’s a steady workhorse that will perform the way it should for years. I doubt Thule would put their brand on any lesser piece of equipment.

You could buy a cheaper option and hope things work out for you. Or you can stick with the market leader and grab this Thule Hull-A-Port now. One thing for certain is that you’ll get a quality product what will help you get your kayak from home to your chosen location and back home again – safe and sound.

If your budget is tight, you might want to consider the JDM Auto Lights 2. A very budget friendly kayak roof rack, that gets the job done. Or maybe you are still not convinced and want to explore a few more options? Check out our top 10 kayak roof racks selection.

About the author

    Martin Tripodi

    Software Engineer, husband, father, and avid enthusiast of outdoor activities! Total fan of great quality and functional gear, spends part of his free time researching and compiling loads of information in the form of guides, product recommendations and reviews.

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