The Thule DockGlide Kayak Carrier is an easy-to use, fully adjustable kayak carrier you can rely on to safely carry your favorite kayak wherever you want to go. You may or may not have seen it before. In any event, it’s definitely worthy of a serious look. It’s designed and manufactured by one of the most respected names in the industry.
In this review we will cover everything you need to know about this great quality kayak roof rack. Features, the good, the not so good and several tips to help you find out if this is the right carrier for you.
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The Functional and Adaptable Thule DockGlide Kayak Carrier
When shopping around for quality kayak carrier, you’ll see plenty of J-style mounts. That seems to be the most common type of roof rack carrier. But then, every once in a while you come across a rack that’s totally different and it’s that kind of kayak rack that really catches your eye.
Such is the case with the Thule DockGlide kayak carrier. This is a flexible, felt lined kayak carrier with saddles that are fully customizable making it far easier to load and unload your vessel. It’s also a little bit different from most of the carriers in that it carries the boat upright. Personally, I love this option and enjoy displaying my kayak sitting upright in riding position.
Quality at a Reasonable Price
You’ll find the price of the Thule DockGlide to fall somewhere in the mid range for kayak carriers. It’s not on the low-end and it’s not on the high-end either. But it is from a quality manufacturer – Thule – who began its operations way back in 1942.
Load Safely and Easily From The Rear
Instead of loading from the side of your vehicle and having to lift the entire weight of the kayak on top of the roof, you simply do it from the back. This obliterates the need to dead lift your kayak above your head, and onto your car – a certain struggle for some kayakers – and not much fun for anyone.
What the DockGlide carrier system allows you to do is to more easily load and unload your boat. That’s because you can set the bow down on the padded rear saddles from the back of your vehicle. These back saddles are pivoting, felt lined supports and the cushioned pads protect the hull as you jockey it into position.
It Beats Side Loading
If you’ve loaded a kayak manually before – from the side of a vehicle – you have to power lift it straight up and onto the carrier – which is much harder to do. This kind of saddle rack is easy. Just lean the kayak on the rear supports. Now, change you position so you just slide it forward onto the padded front saddles.
They are both large and flexible. So they help you to glide your kayak along and into the proper position, where the cockpit is centered perfectly between the two supports on the vehicle. It’s these independently pivoting saddles that make this system such a breeze to use.
The built-in angle setting lever gives you the freedom to adjust the saddle to conform to a whole range of kayak shapes. So it can hold any kayak safely and securely in position. That’s a huge advantage – particularly if your kayak is a little different from the average vessel. Simply make the necessary adjustments so the adjustable supports are custom fitted to your kayak. What could be better than a perfect fit?
Tie It Down
Once the kayak is on top of the vehicle, you can quickly secure it to the rack using the center load straps with protective buckle bumpers. Then use the QuickDraw bow and stern tie downs to make the load stable and immovable.
It’s important to tie everything down just right. Take nothing for granted and assume that if the straps are not as tight as possible (without overdoing it) you could have problems down the road. It’s always wise to make any load more secure than it really needs to be. That way, you can drive with more peace of mind.
It Will Fit Right Out Of The Box
Like all of Thule’s roof rack carriers, this one is designed to be universal and therefore fit a wide variety of roof rails, including factory installed racks. Specifically, it fits a full range of Thule rails systems including the WingBar Evo, AeroBlade Edge, AeroBlade, SquareBar, ProBar, Xsporter Pro, TracRac for trucks and TracRac for vans. It also fits a wide range of factory installed roof rack systems.
The Thule DockGlide kayak saddle style carrier can accommodate vessels up to 36 inches wide and 75 pounds in weight. While the weight capacity is substantial and seems similar to several other quality kayak carriers, the DockGlide offers one of the larger width capacities we’ve seen. And for the purpose of this Thule DockGlide review and others, we’ve taken a closer look at virtually every decent roof rack kayak carrier we could find that was readily available today. And as with all Thule designs we’ve encountered – this one is compatible with Thule’s cylinder lock and one key system.
All Essentials Included in Thule DockGlide Kayak Carrier
As you would expect, this Thule roof rack system comes with all the tie downs necessary to secure your boat. The rubber protectors on the buckles spare the hull of your boat as well as the surface of your car from any scratches when loading or unloading.
The supplied ratchet tie downs for both the bow and stern make it easy to lock your kayak solidly to the roof rack carrier, so there’s no chance of movement as you’re cruising down the highway.
The Small But Mighty Thule DockGlide Kayak Carrier
Surprisingly, the dimensions of each V-shaped support that makes up the DockGlide system from Thule measures just 5 inches x 8 inches x 5.5 inches. And each of these two v-channel supports weighs in at only 6.8 pounds.
Straps provided with this design are little bit longer than are often available on typical kayak carriers, measuring 2 inches wide x 15 feet long. But I’m sure that’s a function of the design of the Thule DockGlide. These straps need to be long enough to completely wrap around the hull to ensure a strong hold.
A full range of accessories helps you provide added security to your load. If there’s ever a question about load stability, it’s always a good idea to add additional straps and tie downs. The last thing you want is to have your kayak work its way loose. That kind of event never has a happy ending.
Extra Accessories for the Thule DockGlide Kayak Carrier
Seamless accessories you could add to your DockGlide purchase include the following:
- Thule Locking Straps complete with the one key lock system
- Thule Load Straps (package of two) – additional 2 inch by 15 foot heavy duty tie down straps with cam action buckles with buckle bumpers to protect your vehicle and boat from scratches
- Thule QuickDraw bow and stern tie downs with a built-in ratchet system (some prefer to have two tie-downs on each end of their kayak as an added measure of security)
- Thule Quick Loop Strap – a perfect accessory when you cannot find an anchor point on the undercarriage of your car to connect to
- Hood Loop Strap – an anchor strap designed specifically to fit under the hood and screw down for stability when there’s no readily accessible anchor point for your bow tie down
- Step Up Stool – When you need those additional inches, this can make all the difference when loading and unloading your kayak
- Thule Outrigger II – this simple retractable device enables one person to load and unload a kayak more easily
A Sleek Look That Shows Off Your Kayak
Important to note is that this rack system looks excellent on top of just about any vehicle. The Thule DockGlide is a low private profile roof rack system that noticeably displays the kayak, while holding it securely in position.
While cruising down the roads and highways, everyone can easily see what you’re carrying. Since your kayak is in the upright position on top of your vehicle – you can show it off in all its glory. For improved mileage, consider picking up a good cockpit cover.
Simple and Smart Design Features
This intelligent design makes it easy to slide on even heavy kayaks from the back of your vehicle and to keep them on the track and centered for balance.
Each Thule DockGlide system is designed to carry one kayak. But depending on the width of your kayak and the size of your vehicle, you may be able to accommodate two kayaks on a single roof side-by-side. This of course would require you purchasing a secondary DockGlide system. And for some – this secondary system fills the bill perfectly.
As soon as The Thule DockGlide system arrives at your door, you’ll be tempted to try it out immediately. Once you do, you’ll appreciate both the simplicity and the key details that went into the design. For example, the rear supports have a felt like material on them and the angle down, so it’s much easier to load your upright kayak from the back to your vehicle and then simply slide it forward into position.
Also, the front saddles on the DockGlide are adjustable. So you can create a custom fit for your kayak to hold it ideally and solidly in the proper position. When a kayak carrier fits your boat like a glove fits your hand, it’s much less likely to create any movement or instability. By the way, these saddles are also UV resistant. And the hardware supplied is stainless steel for longer durability and wear, despite the elements.
The Thule DockGlide Kayak Carrier Fits a Wide Selection of Boats
The capacity of the DockGlide is notable at 36 inches wide and 75 pounds in weight allowance. Thule also provides a limited lifetime warranty and is likely the most dominant brand in the marketplace.
The saddles designed grip the crossbars with universal mounts. These mounts feature a clever, adaptable design. This means they should fit snugly to virtually any kind of car rack or cross rail. Whether it is round, square, elliptical, or aerodynamic shouldn’t matter. And most factory racks so that shouldn’t be a problem either.
The Thule DockGlide Kayak Carrier Installation
The first step is to assemble both the front and rear saddles. Each system has four individual pivoting pads designed to fit any size or shape of hull. The felt surface on the saddles goes to the rear of the vehicle. With saddles in place, you can load your kayak. Once you’ve got your kayak positioned evenly on the supports, it’s easy to secure it with the cam straps that are provided.
Be sure to tie off the excess straps, so they’re not dangling in the wind and causing unnecessary noise inside the vehicle, or a visual distraction for drivers. Your final connection should be the bow and stern tie downs. Simply connect the S-hooks to those lines and then tie them down appropriately to the car. Double check all straps to ensure your cargo is held securely in place.
The Good (What Buyers Like Most)
DockGlide systems are assembled in the US from US-made and imported parts
If buying American made goods is important to you, here’s a well-known brand that’s been in the U.S. for a long time.
Great pivoting saddles
The pivoting saddles are the key and are especially helpful in accommodating different sizes of kayaks and getting them on the vehicle’s roof easily
If you’ve wrestled with an unwieldy kayak in the past just trying to get it loaded on top of your vehicle, you’ll appreciate these angled saddles and how much this method is so much easier. Just lean the kayak and slide it on. Works like a charm.
It boasts a wider than average storage capacity (up to 36 inches)
Few racks can handle wider boats, but it’s not a problem for the DockGlide.
Felt-lined saddles make it easier to load and unload and it protects your kayak too
These adjustable saddles are positioned to accept the bow as your loading, without your vessel coming into direct contact with any part of your vehicle.
It features a solid build quality consistent with Thule’s reputation for top notch products
These guys have been around for many years and they understand what’s important in a kayak carrier and what isn’t. If you want quality, it’s hard to go wrong with the Thule DockGlide.
It’s strong and durable
Obviously this company understands the kind of strength required to support kayaks of various sizes. Not only is the DockGlide built strong – it’s also built to last.
This design facilitates easy, one-person loading
Being able to load from the back by leaning your kayak on the supports makes it much easier for an individual to load and unload. This means that with a kayak carrier like this one, you’ll be far and get out and enjoy yourself on the water, more often.
Keeps your kayak secure when traveling
If you’ve used a cheap, no-name carrier before and had to deal with the uncertainty as to whether your load would stay in place – you’ll love this one. Tied down correctly, you’ll never have a problem with a load coming loose on a DockGlide.
It quickly moves into different angle positions from a flat position
In other words, it’s easy to use and customize to fit any shape of hull and virtually any size of kayak.
The Not So Good
- A little expensive
- Some kayak hulls do not seem to fully sit firmly between the saddles
- Instructions are difficult to follow
If you’re looking for a capable and reliable saddle style rooftop rack for your kayak, The Thule DockGlide kayak carrier makes an excellent pick. It’s made by Thule, the most experienced manufacturer in the industry. The price range is somewhat in a middle range, so your wallet won’t suffer as much as with other carriers.
You’re getting the culmination of design expertise and marketplace experience working for you. Plus, if you’ve got a kayak you don’t mind showing off a little, this saddle carrier will not just hold your cargo firmly in place, but display it effectively too.
But if a saddle rack is not your style, you have other awesome options, like the Jakima Jaylow, a very good J-Style kayak roof rack. Another awesome option if your budget allows it, is the Thule 898 Hullavator Pro, that assists you in loading your kayak from the side, like no other. Don’t forget to check our top 10 kayak roof racks for more options, details and reviews if you are still deciding.