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Friday, April 28, 2017

What's the Deal with Kayak Fishing?

I asked myself this question lately, as I was browsing through a series of customer questions dealing with "fishing kayaks" and how to best transport them.  It's an odd question because there's really nothing new about the idea.  I say this definitively; at 10 I caught my first trout from the confines of an old PVC clunker while trolling.

That was a long time ago and I have to believe the concept of "grab rod, grab 'yak and go" was around long before my formative years.  So it's a curious thing to me that "kayak fishing" as a dual-sport collective is taking off.

I pin this blossoming growth on two concurrent evolutions. The first is the natural human tendency to pursue bigger, faster, greater by ever more dubious, dangerous and quirky approaches.  At some point some crazy fella was no longer satisfied with bass in the local river, at which point he made the leap to the salt in pursuit of a species as imposing as bluefin tuna.

If you don't believe the above is real, head on over to YouTube for some tuna, wahoo or grouper shenanigans.

What aided the growth of small boat, big catch fishing is the second evolution: purpose built fishing kayaks.  At first someone added a rod holder or two to the cockpit gunnels.  A bit later, cushioned, posture supporting seats took the place of those old chunks of plastic. Then a built in livewell, or maybe some space for a cooler.  Dropdown pedal-powered propellers followed. Then electronics.  Yes, electronics, as in fish-finder.

Until one morning one of these kayak fishing anglers woke up and asked, "is this even a kayak anymore?"

Maybe not, but it was kayak fishing!  And lickety-split, all the canoe and kayak manufacturers were head over heels to get in on the hottest new trend....

Not to be outdone, we here at StoreYourBoard have been watching this progression with interest.  After all, these boats are beasts, and someone's going to need to provide a solution on how to store them, where to store them, and how to transport these fishing kayaks.

Without delving too deeply, I'll point you in the direction of 1) a kayak storage rack for use at home that performs wonderfully with heavy boats and 2) an overbuilt kayak dolly that will get you over rocks, roots and sand.

The first is our Stainless Steel Sup and Kayak Rack that supports a whopping 100 lbs. per set of arms.   For heavy kayaks or SUPs I prefer it over other racks because it's stainless and practically capable of supporting an armada.  It's fully configurable for the boats you own, meaning no wasted space.

From the pictures customers have provided (above image), it looks great on a dock or deck.

Then we have one of our favorite kayak dollies. Sure a bunch of the others we sell do their job, do it well in fact, and are more affordable. But this is the one I'd recommend for that heavy fish slayer with all its accoutrements.

Why the Heavy-Duty Kayak Cart, say you?  If the name doesn't say it all, I will.  This thing is made to tow the most burdensome of kayaks.  Kayak, full cooler, 4 rods, 27" fish finder, extra paddles, bait.  Yup, it'll handle everything (to 250 lbs.).  Even better, it's designed to work with ultra-wide sand wheels or a set of sturdy all-around tires.

All the more reason to get in on the craze.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kayak Dock Rack: A True Problem Solver

Surfers, SUPers, canoeists, kayakers.  We welcome plenty to our (virtual) storefront, invite them in, encourage them to shop around.  Everyone's looking for something a bit different; we try our best to fulfill their needs.  So on any given day we have questions about weight limitations, mounting heights, "can this surf rack fit SUPS?", "will this hoist lift my canoe over my car?", etc.  

Obviously not all racks are created equal for all needs. A SUP display rack that looks great in your lakeside den won't be the rack of choice for a marina owner needing an upright SUP display rack for boat shows. The same can be said, of course, for kayak storage racks.

Kayak racks are a bit of a doozy for us.  We offer plenty of options--again, "to each their own" as the saying goes--but finding a truly versatile rack that solves a host of problems was proving a challenge.  And in case those problems aren't clear, here's a summary of what customers want solved:
  • Easy to store and retrieve the kayak: Kayaks can be heavy, lengthy, widthy and generally too bulky for easy storage. It's easy to strain muscles throwing around a 25 pounder, to say nothing of the 55 lb tandem beasts.  So yeah, the ideal kayak storage rack eliminates or greatly reduces the need for lifting, heaving, straining...
  • Near the water: In other words, store it where you'll use it.  For those who like to bounce from lake to pond to bay, of course a kayak roof rack is the way to go. But if you live on your waterway of choice, what's the kayak doing up there in the garage?
  • Get this thing out of my way!: Remember these things are big and bulky. It's easy to sacrifice a garage bay or the entire end of your dock to an upside down hunk of PVC.  So for the sake of marriages, shins and ankles everywhere, you need that 'yak out of the way.
  • Paddle included: No this doesn't mean "buy a rack, get a paddle!" (though maybe that's something to think about).  Rather, it means keep your paddle securely stored with your rack. Ever left for an afternoon cruise without the paddle?  Neither have we.

As mentioned, not all kayak racks will be all things to all people. But I'm writing this post now because we do have one rack in particular that solves all of the above problems for those of you lucky enough to have waterfront real estate.  Our Kayak Dock Rack has proven itself very popular for this very reason.  Maybe it's not all things to all people, but it sure is many things to many folks!

If you'll allow me a few more paragraphs I'll run through the checklist and point out a couple additional features that make the Kayak Dock Rack our top seller for outdoor kayak storage....

Easy to store and retrieve? Near the water? Out of the way? Stores a paddle?  Check, check, check and check.  The Kayak Dock Rack conveniently attaches to docks of any material; wood, aluminum or composite decking. It hangs your kayak over the water (keeping the dock clear!) and raises and lowers your kayak by way of an ingenious, patented lifting arm.  

Best yet, the Kayak Dock Rack comes in 2 design styles.  The first style allows you to raise and lower the kayak while still on the dock and is ideal for entering your craft from the dock.  The second style is raised and lowered from the water, which is perfect for those of you with only a couple feet of water around the dock. Visit the listing for more details on these differences.

Sure it's self-serving to send you directly to one of our bestsellers, but if you're on this page it's probably because you're looking for just this contraption.  It's versatile, universal and priced right.  So if you're looking for the best-all-around kayak dock rack; the one that fits the bill in nearly all instances, halt right here and go buy the darn thing!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bike Vehicle Racks: An Attempt to Simplify

Late last night I made the fateful decision to leap into the twisted web of vehicle bike racks. It proved counter-productive, as I spent nearly an hour drawing up charts, jotting notes and generally accomplishing very little. With a blank screen to show for my efforts I retired to bed, got a decent night's sleep and woke up this morning groggy, but with a renewed sense of commitment to the topic at hand.

Somewhere in the middle of the night my subconscious made the decision to really distill this category down to the basic "need-to-knows". What that means is I can't tell you the "single best bike rack for your riding and/or traveling style, plus your vehicle type".  But I can unwind the basics, show you where you want to look and then unleash you on a solid set of 3-5 racks that will all work for you.

The very first thing to know about vehicle bike racks are the various categories:

Trailer Hitch Racks: These racks fit into the receiver of a vehicle's trailer hitch, so work with many vehicle types; trucks, SUV's, all types of cars. Your Porsche is unlikely to have a trailer hitch, but your Corolla may. By "hitch receiver" I mean this (as found beneath your vehicle's rear bumper):

Okay, so these "hitch receivers" typically come sized at 2" or 1.25". It's important to know which your vehicle has, as some racks fit only one size. Thankfully many fit both, but be sure to double check.

Pros: Easily accessible, no overhead lifting, storage for up to 4 bikes, works with existing trailer hitch.
  • Tray style - very secure, often come with locks and features like "tilt-away" to allow trunk access, many fit fat tires
  • Mast style - budget friendly option, fits all wheel sizes/widths since attachment is via the bike's frame
Cons: Requires use of hitch (can't pull boat or trailer).
  • Tray style - relatively expensive
  • Mast style - cheaper versions need to be removed for trunk access, less attachment points so bikes may contact one another
Our Recommendation: 

For overall best in security and features go with the 4 Bike Tray Style Car Rack.

For most affordable while still getting the job done choose the Heavy Duty Car Hitch Rack.

Moving on...

Roof Racks: Here's where a number of people give up. It can be really confusing trying to figure out which roof rack you want, and even more confusing figuring out which roof rack you're required to have.  The reason why; bike racks designed for use on a roof require that some sort of rail system already be in place since the bike rack attaches to these rails.  Many SUV's come from the dealer with a rail system; many cars do not. 

So the first step is figuring out your rail system. If you don't have a clue what company manufactures the rail system (most typical) I strongly recommend focusing on roof racks that are dubbed "universal".  These racks are purpose designed to fit what's out there.

On the other hand, if you have a Thule rail system, a Thule bike rack will be your best bet.

If you don't have a rail system you're probably better off looking at one of the other styles of bike rack rather than plunking down the cash for a rail system and a bike rack.

Finally, if you have a Porsche we recommend simply riding your bike instead.

Pros: Works with vehicle's existing roof rail system, holds bikes very secure, mid-range affordability if rail system is already in place

Cons: Requires overhead lifting, requires additional expense for each bike added, requires purchase of a rail system if not already in place, requires remembering the bikes are up there - don't pull into the garage!

Our Recommendation: For the best all-around roof rack, go with a universal rack like our Universal Rooftop, Single Bike Carrier.

Trudging along...

Trunk or Hatchback Racks: This could really be 2 categories, but I'll treat it as one because the concept is the same. This is a rack that fits against your trunk or hatchback and secures to that trunk or hatchback with some sort of strapping system (usually a 4-pt system). This is the style you're most likely to see gathering cobwebs in the back corner of your neighbor's garage.

These are the most universal of racks (there's that word again), because the strapping systems are adjustable. They fit many cars and SUV's, but do not work with pickup trucks.  That said, some are designed for hatchbacks, some are designed for car trunks and some will fit either. So definitely double check the specs on any given rack before purchasing.

Pros: Most universal, most affordable, easy access (no overhead lifting), carries up to 4 bikes, allows for trunk/hatchback opening without removal

Cons: Cheaper version may allow for bike swaying/movement, difficult to lift/open trunk with bikes mounted

Our Recommendation:

For best affordability choose the Universal Bike Trunk Rack.

For a rack that will carry more valuable bikes more frequently choose the 2 Bike Tray Style Carrier.

Carrying on...

Specialty Racks: A few subcategories here.

Spare Tire Racks: If you have a spare tire on the back of your vehicle (Jeep Wrangler, Honda CRV, etc) this is the rack for you. The various designs hang off the spare tire and typically attach with a strapping system. Pretty straight forward.

Try the: Thule Spare Me

RV Racks: For RVs we always recommend a rack that specifically says it's for RV use. Why? An RV's chassis is very rigid, which can mean a lot of bumping and jostling. An RV rack is designed with this in mind whereas other racks may fail.

Pickup Truck Bed Racks: If you simply want to put your bikes in the bed of a pickup, but prefer they stand up in an organized manner, this is the rack for you. 

Pros: Probably work best if you'll only use the rack with your one specialty vehicle

Cons: Specific use application

Okay, so where does that leave you?

Now you understand the different styles, but you're no closer to knowing which rack to choose because your Corolla (for example) has both a trailer hitch receiver and a roof and a trunk! Zounds!

You have some decisions to make, but this can be done logically. 

The best place to start is by asking (1) how far and how often will you be transporting your bike(s)?, and (2) how valuable are your bikes to you? and (3) does your bike have any unique features that may limit options?  For example, fat tire bikes may not fit into the wheel troughs of all racks.

(1) If you'll be using your rack frequently or for any long distance travel we recommend  a rack that secures your bike very firmly. This means attachment straps for both wheels, which can be found with either a roof rack or trailer hitch rack that is platform based.

(2) If your bikes aren't of great value (maybe kids' Walmart rides) you're probably fine getting away with a cheaper, universal trunk/hatchback system that keeps the bikes on the car but doesn't do much else.

(3) Keep those unique features in mind when reading specs or contact us to request your best option.

You get what you pay for....

This is true with a lot of products, and definitely true here. You might ask, "well why is this trailer hitch rack priced at $100 and that one that looks the same is priced at $250?"

Again, definitely read the specs (or the bullet points on our site!) because higher prices mean more features that are typically well thought out and of great convenience.  Case in point with the trailer hitch rack.  
  • The cheaper rack will do it's job and is probably fine for hauling kids' bikes to grandma's house twice a year.  But it may allow the bikes to sway a little (possibly chipping paint), and it probably needs to be removed from the vehicle to access the trunk.
  • The more expensive rack will have more attachment points to prevent movement of the bikes and will come with features like a pivot system that allows you to lower the rack's mast to open the trunk (so no need to remove the rack).  It will also come with locks to prevent both bike theft and rack theft. So it's probably worth the money if you're using it every weekend.
To sum things up...
  • (1) Decide which types of racks will work with your vehicle.
  • (2) Consider the pros and cons of the rack types that will work.
  • (3) Select the rack type that you've determined is best
  • (4) Choose rack of that type based on the factors unique to you
    • Distance traveled
    • Frequency of use
    • Number of bikes to transport
    • Value of bikes
    • Budget
    • Unique bike features

Friday, April 7, 2017

Best Board Storage Solutions

It’s been pretty amusing to see how this whole board storage world has taken shape and evolved over the last few years. 

In short, board storage has gotten cool.  Initially it was practical. Then it was smart, still practical and kinda good looking. Now it’s just bad-to-the-bone cool and trending hotter.  I’d like to think we’ve had a bit of influence on that trend. Products like our Naked Surf rack have helped push boarders out of the “bummer, I’ve got no place for my board” category to “sweeeet, my board looks real good just chillin’ up there” category.