The Malone Downloader Kayak rack is often believed to be a top alternative to some of the best brands in its class. There are many J-style roof kayak racks to choose from. Some of them are already proven, such as the Hull-a-Port. But the American-made Malone Kayak rack is at least as good in crucial areas. Its aim is to simplify kayak carrying.
It comes with a full set of straps and screws so that users have everything they need to easily mount it on crossbars. But the rack can be used with or without lines on the bow and stern. The pull straps the racks are shipped with can also be replaced with ratchet straps if needed.
Malone DownLoader Kayak Rack Design
The J-style design of the rack means that most kayaks can easily be secured in place. Traveling at high speeds requires proper kayak lockdown. Malone also ensured their rack comes with a fold-down design. This is where the rack can become practical when extra clearance is needed. Entering underground parking lots or entering the garage doesn’t need the driver to take the rack off the car.
Actually lifting the kayak on the roof of the car has changed over time. Assisting modules are now made to offer easier kayak loading and unloading. Malone’s J-style kayak rack is compatible with the manufacturer’s Telos Load Assist module. The module is actually an extension compatible with the rack which considerably simplifies the lifting process of the kayak.
The rack comes with standard padding. It’s no special type of padding but it does its job of keeping the kayak scratch-free and minimizing noise while driving over bumps to remote kayaking destinations. These acrylic fabric sleeves are replaceable. They can be washed or replaced as needed.
Unique Malone DownLoader Kayak Rack Benefits
Made from corrosion resistant aluminum, the Malone DownLoader Kayak Rack is lightweight and durable. It is one of the racks which can be mounted on the car with no extra help. Malone has done a great job when it comes to the fit of the rack. There are a couple of reasons to consider the rack just because of its fit.
The first reason comes with crossbar compatibility. Malone’s lockdown design ensures the rack fits most crossbars. It can be mounted on round and square crossbars. Of course, Malone also has its own in-house crossbars kayakers can purchase.
The quality of the crossbar fit is the second reason to think about the Malone Kayak Rack as the choice to make. Malone’s securing principle is based on a single heavy steel strap. It is contoured to fit all types of crossbars. Most importantly, it offers a real alternative to plastic securing straps seen in other brands such as Thule or Yak. These type of plastic straps might struggle to last more than a few seasons.
The ramp of the Malone rack also comes with a hole in it. This can be used for multiple purposes. Straps can be secured through this hole, under the load bar, and through the hole when connecting straps. It is used for a better kayak fit and reduced wobble while driving.
Specifications and Practicality
Shipped with 60mm and 70mm mounting bolts, the rack comes with a weight of just 12.2lbs. It is very easy to lift and to install. It requires no type of previous rack experience to mount. Kayaking fans can easily follow the instructions and have the rack ready to use in minutes.
Made with a 75lbs weight capacity, it works fine with most kayaks. Given its 19.5” height when unfolded, the rack has a similar size to some of its alternatives. But when folded down, its height drops to 6”. Even so, drivers need to ensure there is enough clearance for the rack and the crossbars in certain situations.
A Few Limitations to Consider
The rack can be one of the most versatile in its class. However, one practicality issue seems to come up more often with some types of crossbars. Since it can fit round and square bars perfectly, this is rarely an issue. But in some cases, crossbars come flat at the bottom and rounded on the top. This is the situations where the Malone Kayak rack simply struggles for a perfect fit. Users with these types of rare crossbars usually look for ways around this issue. One of the possible solutions involves simply using 3mm nonslip tape on the crossbars. This provides the anti-slip surface needed for a perfect fit.
Malone could include some similar solution as a tape for these types of crossbars. However, kayakers can still expect 2 DownLoader kayak carriers, 2 jaws kits with mounting hardware, 2 cam buckle straps, 2 bow, and stern safety lines and instructions manual in the pack.
Transporting a kayak is not as easy without the best kayak rack. Fitting it inside a car is not an option. Pickup trucks might also see it wobbling around and not being properly secured for road travel. It is why a roof mounted rack is the best alternative kayakers have.
Judging by the growing attention Malone enjoys, the Maine-based manufacturer offers better and better solutions for kayakers. With affordability which rivals Thule and Yakima solutions, Malone still manages to offer a US-made rack with good practicality.
Using corrosion-resistant aluminum, the rack is among the durable solutions on the market. The only part which could need replacement in the future is the padding, rather than the securing straps as with most alternative kayak racks on the market. Made with a boarding ramp for easier loading, the rack is also compatible with the MPG351 Telos Load Assist.
In this combination, the rack solves some of the most pressing issues of transporting a kayak. With the Load Assist mounted, the kayak can be unloaded on any side of the car, which can add some practicality points in tight spaces. Most importantly, it also saves users from possible back problems when lifting heavier kayaks. Of course, the rack is made to transport a single kayak. Those who want to kayak with a friend would need to purchase an additional DownLoader to mount on the roof of the car for a second kayak.