Yakima Showboat 66 Roof Rack: Kayaks and Canoes!

Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier

Okay, so you’re looking for a decent rooftop carrier for your kayak or canoe. But there are so many options to choose from, it can get confusing. Especially when so many of the kayak carriers out there seem quite similar. But then you happen upon the Yakima Showboat 66 slide out roller system and suddenly you’re not just staring at more of the same.

This one has a unique design of its own, made to fit almost any kayak and canoe. In this Yakima Showboat 66 review, we’ll take a closer look and present our findings right here in the hope that it will help you narrow your selection and ultimately choose the best kayak carrier for your purposes. Choose a topic from the Table of Contents below, or just continue reading to learn everything there is about this great roof rack.

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The One Difference That Makes All The Difference

Yakima product designers challenged the status quo and decided on an alternate approach with the design of the Showboat 66 product. It’s not a set of fixed holders that merely support the vessel and help hold it there. Instead, the Yakima Showboat 66 kayak loader features a rear slide out set of rollers to assist you with loading and unloading your kayak or canoe. And it works brilliantly.

Kayaks and Canoes with Yakima Showboat 66

The Showboat 66 system works equally well with kayaks and canoes. It gives you the ability to load your boat from the rear of your vehicle, instead of trying to lift it up manually from the side. It’s much easier to get your boat on the rails and then simply roll it forward, easily clearing any tailgates too.

Note aside, if you like paddling and only do it with either a kayak or a canoe… why don’t you check up the key differences between each other in this article. You might find you could enjoy both in different occasions!

Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier
Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier
Get an awesome deal for the Yakima Showboat 66 and other great accessories at Amazon.com

Up to 80 pounds – and 24 inches wide vessels

You simply pull the roller slides out over the rear of the vehicle. These rollers extend quite a bit outward, without compromising the support strength they provide. While extended, the set of rollers gives you easy access to load your kayak. All you do is lean it on the rollers, then pick up the other end to glide it onto the roof. Once in the desired position, you can tie it down for a safe trip – whether it’s around the block of across the state.

Since these rollers extend well beyond the back of the vehicle, they actually help protect your car from any damages when both adding a kayak and removing it from the top of your car after reaching your destination.

The Yakima Showboat 66 is Adjustable

Another advantage of the Showboat 66 by Yakima is that it’s adjustable. This means that you can move it from side to side, to accommodate a couple of kayaks at once – should you choose to do so. Depending on the size of your vessel and vehicle, you may very well have plenty of space left on top for other gear – like you’ll invariably need for those longer outings or camping trips.

Universal Design Fits Most Rails Without Requiring Modifications

The Yakima Showboat 66 Load Assist Roller system boasts a universal design configuration. What this means is that it should fit most round, square, aerodynamic, and factory cross bars. That’s not to say it will fit every vehicle. But certainly, it will fit most cars, SUV’s, and trucks on the road today.

All of the components are rugged and durable. And you’ll be happy to know that the Showboat 66 is also padded to provide protection for your kayak or canoe during the loading process, and while in transit. It works with a variety of kayak and canoe mounts. And it’s made of stainless steel that’s corrosion resistant. Equally important is the fact that the hardware supplied is made of brass, which is also rust resistant and should last considerably longer than most other types of nuts and bolts – with the exception of stainless steel.

How Far Do These Rollers Actually Extend?

The rails extend by pulling the roller upwards. Maximum extension off the back of your vehicle is 24 inches – according to Yakima. And the Showboat 66 comes with a suggested weight capacity of 80 pounds – which is quite good and should accommodate most kayaks.

Included with every shipment of the Showboat are two 66-inch Yakima crossbars. These support rails – when properly installed – work smoothly and efficiently and produce virtually no noise at all while you’re driving. And at this length, they should easily fit on most vehicles – even those larger SUV’s – and provide adequate clearance at the back, where you load your kayak.

You might expect a quality roof rack system like this to be heavy. But in reality, the Showboat 66 is fairly lightweight – coming in at just under 18 pounds (17.80 pounds to be precise). It measures 2 inches high by 6 inches wide by 44 inches long. And Yakima provides a limited lifetime warranty for the Showboat 66 load assist roller system.

Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier
Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier

Easier That Side Loading

If loading a kayak or canoe yourself onto a standard J-style rack seems somewhat difficult, the Showboat 66 could be the answer you’re looking for. Once you get the Showboat 66 up and running, you’ll find that it’s far less work for an individual to load a single kayak. That’s because you don’t have to dead lift the vessel up over your head like you do with standard J-rack style carriers.

For those who find their kayak or canoe somewhat unwieldy – or simply too heavy to power lift – the Yakima Showboat 66 could be the answer. It simplifies the loading and unloading when you have a monster of a kayak or canoe.

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Before You Install

It’s important to check the crossbars on your vehicle before you attempt to install the Showboat 66. It doesn’t matter whether your roof rack is a factory install or an aftermarket crossbar system. If the crossbars are damaged or dented in any way, it can impact how effectively the roller slides and it can make it difficult to pull out from the crossbars. You don’t want that.

Take Your Time Installing

Yakima’s Showboat 66 is well-designed, solidly constructed and simple to install – even though the instructions provided are somewhat questionable. Honestly, I don’t know why so many manufacturers can create a quality product, but can’t seem to figure out how to compose a simple set of instructions for buyers to use. It’s not just Yakima – so I’m not picking on them. It’s the lion’s share of manufacturers of all types of products. I just don’t get it.

The key to success with the Showboat 66 is to not rush the installation process. Take your time and get it just right – so that everything functions as it’s designed to do.

It’s a relatively painless install. But it does take some extra effort to get it just right. It’s imperative that you measure the distance between the support bars and make sure that it remains correct and true so the device will function smoothly and effortlessly for you each and every time.

There’s nothing more frustrating than thinking you have the rack loaded properly, only to find that it’s misaligned and will not slide out as it’s designed to do. So take some extra time and make sure that the spacing is right because the key mechanism is the sliding bar that supports the boat and makes loading much easier.

Just remember a couple of key details. Number one: leave a decent amount of play in the bottom bars so that they slide freely and easily. Number two: when installing the roller, ensure that the bars are even and fully connected.

Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier
Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier

Alignment is Critical in the Yakima Showboat 66

If you rush it – chances are you’ll mess up the alignment. And the bars are off-kilter slightly, they can make the roller extension system difficult to use. You don’t want it too tight. But you also don’t want it too loose either. If it’s loose, the roller can slide out the end, unless you reconfigure it by adding some sort of bolt to lock it beyond a certain point – so it doesn’t fall out completely if overextended.

Tolerances and clearances between the moving parts are tight. So with anything less than ideal alignment, you could have difficulty and the bars could bind on you. You don’t want that to happen. So slow down, take a deep breath and test the system as frequently as you can between steps.

Helps With the Hardest Part of Kayaking

Functioning as it should, that Yakima Showboat 66 is an excellent tool that helps you load and unload with far less effort and aggravation. And it won’t damage your boat or your car’s finish in the process.

It’s a clever design, although may be a little weak in its execution, in that installation needs to be done as intended, or you could run into problems with the mechanism functioning properly. But get it right and want to go out on the water more frequently, simply because you’re now got some reliable help getting your boat on and off your car’s rooftop.

Get the installation right and this product can make your life a whole lot easier. We tested it with a 75 pound kayak and it was easy for each of us – operating individually – to load the vessel on and off the vehicle, without a lot of effort. That alone makes this a product worthy of consideration when you’re in the market for a load-assist kayak carrier.

A Blessing For Aging Or Injured Kayakers

For anyone who has an injury that makes it difficult to lift a kayak, this is perfect. And for those of us who are getting older and simply prefer to save our energy for out on the water, the Showboat 66 can be an ideal option.

It’s far easier to load one end of the kayak on the rails and simply slide the vessel forward until you find the optimum location for securing it to the roof rack. It makes life so much easier even on a steep launch. Securing it in place is simple by simply turning the screws and then you strap it down for added security.

Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier
Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier

Add Extra Foam For More Protection

If your kayak is brand new and you really want to keep it in excellent shape, you can add foam to the crossbeams before you slide your kayak across, to provide further protection. What’s really nice about this racking system is that it extends quite a bit off the back of the vehicle to ensure an easier and safer loading experience. It’s designed to have an almost universal fit too. So adding it to any pre-installed or aftermarket cross bars as well should be a simple task.

The Good (What Buyers Like Most)

It makes easy work of both loading and unloading.

What seems to be important to many buyers is how easy it is to load and unload a kayak and that’s where this model really shines.

It securely holds kayak in place

Providing a stable and secure foundation is important in a carrier and the Showboat 66 certainly delivers on that count.

It’s intelligently designed

This means you only have to lift one end of the kayak, part way. Once it hits the extended load roller, loading is almost effortless.

Get an awesome deal for the Yakima Showboat 66 and other great accessories at Amazon.com
Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier
Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier

It provides a relatively quiet driving experience

There’s no excessive noise – unlike some of the car top kayak carriers out there.

It has a high quality look and feel to it

Who doesn’t like buying quality, well made products? Well, the Yakima Showboat 66 looks and performs as well as you would expect. And it looks pretty cool on your roof top too.

Installation is relatively easy – and it can be fast, if you know what you’re doing

There are no tools are required. But we do recommend that you take your time, since this initial setup can dramatically affect performance.

The Yakima Showboat 66 comes with a lifetime warranty

It’s not often that you’ll find a lifetime warranty on a product such as this. And I doubt Yakima would risk offering such a strong warranty if their product didn’t quite measure up. But of course – it does.

Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier
Yakima Showboat 66 Kayak Carrier

The Not So Good

  • A little expensive and therefore – not for everyone.
  • Tolerances are tight and you have to be careful at the installation stage to make sure that everything aligns properly.

The Verdict

Why struggle with your kayak or canoe when you don’t have to? With the Yakima Showboat 66, loading your vessel on top your vehicle is so much easier. It’s a simple, yet clever design and most buyers seem happy with their purchase. So we feel confident in recommending it to you. And if you happen to own both, kayaks and canoes, definitely there is no better option!

Yakima is one of the best-known companies in the kayak roof rack industry. Their system is designed to fit most previously installed roof rails and the large pads ensure that your kayak is well protected. What stands out with this product is the lifetime warranty and the fact that they include the 66 inch crossbars makes it a whole lot easier. All hardware is included so you can set this up completely without requiring an extra trip to the hardware store.

The Yakima Showboat 66 seems to be a durable kayak rack option. Numerous buyers report having used the Showboat 66 for several years without having an issue. They also report that it still serves as it was designed to serve. When you can get multiple years of use out of an affordable product – well, that’s a good deal by today’s standards.

If you are still not convinced though, and want to research other great load assisted roof rack, check out the Thule Hullavator Pro. Another very good quality rack from Yakima, is the Jaylow model, a very solid and reliable option.

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.