I’ve used the Thule Hullavator for a few years now — I was fortunate to find mine used as they are pricey. Here’s a Thule Hullavator review that also discusses some Thule Hullavator problems. It includes a Hullavator demo video (give me a break, I’m experimenting!) Watching this may assure you that I can schlep my kayak around by myself in case you see me out there and want to help (just keep your dog out of the way!) It may also convince you that you can transport a kayak on your own.
Note: If you’re visiting this website on an AMP page and can’t see the video and actually want to watch it, I’ve added it again at the bottom of this post.
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How it WorksThe 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
Specifications:Here are some things I’ve learned by experimenting with the Hullavator on racks over the years:
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:
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.
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Thule Hullavator Pro Review
Review Breakdown: The Hullavator is pricey, but it's a top choice if you're not super-strong and want to be able to manage your kayak on your own. Overall, it's durable, although my older Hullavator has had a few issues with not fully locking down at times, leading to awkward situations getting the kayak off the rack.