Riding the Olympic Discovery Trail Sequim to Port Angeles (River and Prairie Section) 0 (0)

Railrioad Bridge Olympic Discovery Trail Sequim to Port Angeles

The Olympic Discovery Trail is a trail running through the Olympic Peninsula from Port Townsend to the Pacific Ocean. This is the first of several posts exploring different sections of the trail, mostly from a cycling perspective.

Snoqualmie Bike Ride: Remlinger and Back 0 (0)

I cycled this route years ago, and intended to write about it at that time.

A few things may have changed since then, but it remains a good cycling route with a good stop at Remlinger Farms at the mid-point (when they reopen),

This route is also my first go-round with adding route sharing capacity. If you have a route you’d like to share with readers, you can do it!

Feeling Drawn to the Water? A PNW Wetsuit Guide 4.2 (11)

Choosing a Wetsuit in the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is a great place for water sports, but it can be cold. Here are some great tips for choosing a wetsuit for the Pacific Northwest from evo — a Seattle based outdoor gear retailer.

Best Hiking Trails in Mount Rainier National Park 0 (0)

Guest author Mark Bennet discusses the best hiking trails at Mount Rainier National Park from the skyline trail at Paradise to the Summerland Trail.

Thule Hullavator Demo and Review 5 (1)

I was fortunate to purchase two Thule Hullavators (if you need clarification, that’s two pairs of Hullavators — it takes a pair to lift a kayak) used a few years ago. From what I can see, there’s little difference between my Hullavators and the Hullavator Pro model that’s currently being sold.

Some of the issues I’ve had with my Hullavators may stem from them being older, but it gives you a general idea of some of the problems you may face over time. After all, if you’re spending in the $500-$600 range just to lift one kayak, you want to make sure the product you’re purchasing is durable. Mine has just a bit of rust, but they’ve been repeatedly exposed to the elements, and except for the occasional episode of finding one unit is not locked down fully when I go to lift the kayak off, they’re still working pretty good after years of use.

How it Works

The Hullavator is a side-loading kayak lift that has a gas-assist mechanism that assists with lifting up to 40 lbs of the weight of your boat. It’s easy to strap the kayak onto the rack once it’s on there using the provided straps and the tie-downs are easy to use as well. The downside is that you need to get that kayak up on the rack before the Hullavator helps you lift it overhead. On my Subaru Outback, that’s about waist-high for me — it was even more so when I was using the Hullavator atop a minivan. I’m able to do so with my 44lb kayak, but don’t take my preferred 16′ kayak out by myself because, for me, the weight is prohibitive. I’ve tried sliding the kayak onto the Hullavator from the back, but I find that there’s some wiggle, I find it challenging and awkward, and I worry about doing damage to the Hullavator. So I end up doing a deadlift onto the rack.

Thule Hullavator Review: Hullavator Joys and Thule Hullavator Problems

What We Like:

  • Provides substantial assist with lifting the kayak onto the roof.
  • Comes with easy-to-use straps and tie-downs; securely fastens the kayak to the car roof.
  • Sideloading. This means I can park on the street at my favorite launching spot and, if someone parks behind me, I can still get the kayak back on the car.
  • It has a high profile, but this helps me to locate my car in busy parking lots. This may beg the question if I should even be kayaking if I can’t find my own car. We refer to this as “wearing the horns” and bow to other passing vehicles also proudly sporting them.

What We Don’t Like:

  • The Hullavator asks me to deadlift the entire kayak to get it onto the lowered Hullavator bars — easier if you are putting it onto a low car, but harder if you have a high roof.
  • Due to the extra height, many parking garages are off-limits.
  • I’ve had some trouble with one of the Hullavator units that do not consistently want to lock down, likely an issue as my Hullavators are older. I’ve learned from awkward experiences getting my kayak off the rack that I need to double-check this unit carefully before I attempt to remove the kayak.
  • Though I’ve read it’s “easy to install,” we didn’t consider installing it that easy, and I so proudly carry my “horns” atop my car for most of the season.

Installation

Click here for the product manual/installation instructions from Thule. If you’re wondering how it installs, here’s a video from Thule:

Specifications:

Here are some things I’ve learned by experimenting with the Hullavator on racks over the years:

  • Works with Thule square bars.
  • I can confirm by experience that the Thule Hullavator works with Yakima Round Bars. Lately, I’ve been using mine on a 2019 Subaru Outback with Skyline Towers. For this setup, you also need Yakima Landing Pad 15 and the SL Round Bar Adapters. I was a bit worried at first as this setup seemed to be less stable than the square bars, but it’s been doing just fine with safely towing my kayaks around.NIt does NOT work with Yakima aero style bars. My video may be slightly incorrect in saying it does not work with ANY aero bars (that was my husband’s impression). I’ve heard of them being used with aero-style Thule bars with modifications.
  • The bars you use must extend out from the car a bit — it will not work, for instance, with the integrated Subaru Outback bars. On my Subaru with Yakima bars, the 58″ bars do the trick!
  • If you have a tall vehicle and you’re short (or just a wimp, like me), you might need to bring a step-stool!

Brief Instructions:

I said this would be a “how-to,” and a Thule Hullavator review. If you want installation instructions, it’s best to watch the video above and actually read the directions that come with your Hullavator. But as far as using it once it’s on your vehicle, here are the steps. It’s pretty easy:

  1. Remove the pins! I can tell you that on a bad day, I’ve failed to remove a pin and then wondered why my Hullavator wouldn’t release.
  2. Squeeze the handles on both Hullavators and pull them out and down until they lock into place.
  3. Put your kayak on the Hullavator. It should be evenly centered. I think it’s best if it’s positioned so the straps aren’t going over the cockpit, but on some kayaks, this is unavoidable to some degree.
  4. Thread the provided straps through the big loops at the top and bottom of the Hullavator. Then thread the end of the strap through the cam buckle and pull tight. The Hullavator has a pocket where you can tuck in the loose end of the strap.
  5. Squeeze both handles at once and the Hullavator will assist you in lifting your kayak STRAIGHT UP. When I’ve allowed people to use my Hullavator, I’ve found that often they expect it to just flip the kayak right up onto my car and try to force it to do so. No! This is a two-step process. The kayak goes straight up and then stops there.
  6. Now it’s time to flip the kayak onto the top of the car. Squeeze the handles again and rotate them to get the kayak to flip down onto the top of your car. Make sure the Hullavator has locked into place.
  7. Replace the pins. This is a very important step!
  8. Now you can use the tie downs. They have a locking pulley to make it easy to tighten them. Make sure you find a secure location on your kayak and a metal, not plastic, location under your car. On one car I had, I couldn’t do this so I fashioned a rope loop that went through a metal hole under the hood then came out through the hood when I needed it. This was a perfect location to tie down the kayak in front.

Thule Hullavator Review Summary:

Would I recommend the Thule Hullavator? In one word: YES! If mine broke, I think I’d repurchase one. I haven’t tried all of the other kayak racks out on the market (and there are other side-assist racks out there), but I suspect that the Hullavator, with its gas-assist mechanism, beats them all.

One Trekking Pole or Two? Inquiring Minds Want to Know! 5 (1)

One or Two Trekking Poles Why use trekking poles

My husband and I were arguing about the merits of one trekking pole vs. two. So what is the right answer? I did my own subjective research. Here are some of the reasons to use poles at all and the advantages of using one or two poles.

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