As I’m writing this, I’m on my way to the cabin to spend Labor Day weekend exploring northern Wisconsin. On one of these days, my wife and I are hoping to paddle the Brule River via kayak, pending sunny weather.
We have two kayaks at the cabin, but I’ve never attempted to take them anywhere other than around the shores of Round Lake. You see I drive a Subaru Impreza hatchback, which is great for golf clubs and climbing gear, but does not have a built-in roof-rack for hauling larger outdoor equipment. I’ve considered installing a Thule system, but have never been able to justify the costs for how little it would get used.
So this weekend I’m going to try another option. Earlier this year, Andrew Ellingson and his partners at Penguin Feet introduced a soft roof-rack product as a part of their entrepreneurial studies major, at the University of Minnesota. Picture a dense piece of foam, covered by a sturdy black canvas that quickly cinches to the roof of your car through your windows.
Now you may be thinking – no way would I put my precious gear on some flimsy piece of foam – but rest assured, their youtube videos would beg to differ (see the one where they drive down 35W with a roof full of skis and snowboards).
What makes this product so perfect for my needs is the combination of flexibility and cost. I’m not about to drop $350 on the real deal, but I can stomach something closer to $100, if I know it’s going to work. I also don’t need a fixed roof-rack system because I don’t haul things more than a few times a year. I also don’t have a garage or a lot of free space to store a large, rigid system, so having something that can easily fit in the back of my car is a perfect solution.
If your needs are like mine, I would suggest that you buy their soft roof-rack or at least come to Beta.mn 1.5 to meet the team and learn more about the product. Or you can find me to ask if the kayaks made it back safely or ended up in a ditch somewhere off of highway 63. Tickets are running out; get yours, here.