Review: Malone DownLoader Kayak Carrier


I recently purchased the DownLoader from Malone for my wife's minivan. We've been able to take our kayaks on the van a little over 1,000 miles and put them through the ringer. I'll give you the dish below but first a little from Malone:
The DownLoader™ is the keystone of our J-Style carrier line and features every possible option for low clearance requirements; ease of loading; boat protection and universal fit requirements.
A quick pull on the Release Pins allow the carriers to rotate up for transport or down for garage access. We added thick adjustable foam padding wrapped with tough nylon sleeves to protect the boat's finish. The built-in boarding ramps completely eliminate the need to lift the kayak up and into the carriers. Simply set the boat up against the ramps and slide it in!
The "no tools required" installation is one step with the Jawz universal adapter system that fits round, square or factory oval load bars. For extra thick bars, there are optional length bolts available in the BUY SPARE PARTS section of the website.
Furnished with all hardware, heavy duty load straps and bow & stern safety tie-downs for one kayak.
Features:
  • Fold-down design with release pin activation
  • Integrated kayak boarding ramps
  • Three layers of corrosion resistant coating
  • Oversize padding with nylon sleeves
  • Universal fit hardware for round, square and factory oval load bars
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Optional MPG351 Telos Kayak Loading Assist available
Specifications:
  • Capacity: For kayaks up to 36" wide and 75 LB
  • Dimensions: 17" (L) x 6" (W) x 19.5" (H) raised and 6" (H) lowered
  • Frame: Coated steel, Injection molded nylon
  • Weight: 16 LB (set of 2)




The Good




Installation was easy. Everything you need to do the install is right there in the box. I already had Malone crossbars so it wasn't a problem. The approximate install per set was less than five minutes. 

I love the ability to lay these hooks down and lock them when not in use. They are pretty low profile and allowed us to get into low clearance areas. 

The straps and rope that come with the kit were more than plenty to secure the kayaks. Driving through rain, wind gusts and fields of grasshoppers we still had no issues (other than a dirty car). 

The price is right too. At $159 per set, these beat out several other brands selling similar models with fewer features at larger prices. 


The Needs Improvement





On the back of the hook is a U that the strap runs through to keep it close to the hook. While strapping up, these came out a couple of times (loading by myself). I'd like to see the U enclosed to become an O so that once threaded, the strap will keep its place.

The locking mechanism is plastic and could be a little more sturdy. It's a push in pull out type secure button that needed a little coaxing the first time I used it. Eventually I was able to figure where to apply pressure to get it to lock. An aluminum interlock would be better here for longevity and more precise fitting. 

The padding is still good but seems a bit thin. I worry that in the Texas heat the adhesive might start to give way in the future. It hasn't yet and this is just speculation. Time will tell. 


Final Thoughts



Overall, this is a great product that performed well on the fly, is easily installed and removed, and helped us turn mom's minivan into a fun adventuring machine with kayaks. I'd definitely recommend purchasing these to friends and family. 

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