lift-assist kayak

Yakima ShowDown Load-Assist Review

Bill Nikolaou
Bill Nikolaou
May 8, 2024

The Yakima ShowDown Load-Assist has been a really good rack for water sports enthusiasts looking to effortlessly load and unload their gear. Being a raft instructor and an avid kayaker, I've had my fair share of challenges with rooftop loading. This product has significantly eased the process, making the transition from land to water swift.

Also check out: Best Lift-Assist Kayak Racks

Here is a time lapse of adding Yakima ShowDown on a vehicle and mounting a kayak.

Yakima ShowDown Load-Assist Review

Yakima ShowDown Load-Assist Review

4.3 ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨
The ShowDown is designed for quick loading/unloading of kayaks, and canoes. It's recommended for smaller vehicles and individuals who want to prevent back strain.


  • Reduces the lift weight by up to 45%, making it less strenuous to load and unload.
  • Accommodates a variety of kayaks and canoes.
  • Folds down when not in use, saving space and reducing wind resistance.
  • Easy to install and use, with a straightforward instruction manual.


  • Not suitable for very heavy watercrafts.
  • Higher price point compared to some other load assists.

Product specs


A tilting mechanism means the Yakima ShowDown has the ability to adjust its angle. This adjustability provides a more favorable (or "accessible") angle, which makes the loading process of watercrafts, like kayaks or canoes, easier and reduces the physical effort one might face when trying to load a heavy or awkwardly-shaped watercraft onto a car.

The Load Height is a minimum of 24 inches from crossbar to ground.

Despite its functionality, the Yakima ShowDown isn't bulky or heavy. A lightweight design ensures that the vehicle doesn't get weighed down, which could impact its fuel efficiency and overall performance.

Installing the Yakima ShowDown doesn't require any additional tools. It has been designed in such a way that all components can be fixed and secured without the need for screws, wrenches, or other common tools.

Technical specs
  • Weight: 21 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 6” L x 30” W x 20” H
  • Load capacity: 80 lbs
  • Corrosion-resistant material

Vehicle fit

The Yakima ShowDown is compatible with most roof racks. It's also designed to work well with Yakima and SeaSucker racks.

In-depth research

Learn more about our testing & scoring methodology.

Personal take on the product

I've seen my fair share of car accessory innovations. The Yakima ShowDown Load-Assist is a testament to thoughtful design—its load-assist mechanism is really good to load and unload kayaks or boards atop of your vehicle.

However, it does carry a hefty price tag which might deter the budget-conscious consumers - for those they are alternative in the review below.

Who is this product for?

The Yakima ShowDown caters to a wide demographic—be it the solo adventurer who thrives on spontaneous kayaking trips or the family who enjoys a calm day of paddleboarding. For example, a small-sized individual might struggle with loading a heavy kayak onto a vehicle; the ShowDown steps in to eliminate this hurdle, making the waters more accessible. However, for those who seldom venture out or are on a tight budget, the investment might seem steep.

Price, Value & Resale

The cost of the Yakima ShowDown reflects its premium offering. It's packed with features that simplify the loading process, making it a valuable addition.

Although the upfront cost is substantial, the resale value holds well owing to the robust build quality and the brand reputation.

You are likely to recoup a good portion of the investment should you decide to sell it.

Performance & Functionality

The ShowDown is laden with features that make it a standout product.

Its load-and-go mechanism is a breeze, drastically reducing the effort needed to load a kayak or canoe.

The broad compatibility with various roof racks and vehicles further amplifies its appeal.

Whether you drive a compact car or a hefty SUV, the ShowDown is up to the task.

Reviews & Brand Reputation

User reviews unveils a lot of satisfied customers—many applauding the ease it brings to their outdoor pursuits.

Yakima’s foothold in the market is well-established, and the ShowDown is yet another feather in their cap.

It reinforces the Yakimas commitment to delivering reliable and user-friendly products.

Ease of Use & Installation

Is it easy to use? Absolutely! 

The tilt mechanism and smooth slide make loading and unloading seamless.

However, the installation process could be more intuitive; it might require some time and patience, but once set up, the daily operation and use is quick and straightforward.

Durability & Maintenance

Built to endure the elements, the ShowDown showcases excellent build quality.

Its weather resistance is commendable, standing tall against rain, snow, or sunshine.

Maintenance is minimal—a simple wipe down or spray with the hose post-adventure keeps it in good shape.

Safety & Security

Safety is at the core of the ShowDown design—the weight capacity and load limit are clearly defined, ensuring safe transportation of your gear.

The locking mechanisms, although robust, could benefit from a more intuitive design to make it less awkward to lock and unlock.

Versatility & Expandability

In short, this racks is capable of handling kayaks, boards, and more.

You can really carry and strap any sort of water crafts. A big plus!

However, expandability isn’t its strongest suit; what you see is what you get, but what you get is meticulously designed to serve its purpose.

Design & Appearance

With a sleek design and robust materials, the ShowDown is not only functional but also visually stylish.

A nice design is not just for the looks but also for its aerodynamic performance. This is important because it helps to keep your fuel costs down.

Its dimensions are well-balanced—serving its purpose without being overly bulky.

After-Sale Service

Yakima’s after-sale service is exactly what you would expect from a reputable brand.

The customer support is responsive, and the warranty terms are fair.

The brand’s history showcases a trajectory of continuous improvement, reflecting a commitment to customer satisfaction.

Storage & Portability

When it comes to storage and portability, the ShowDown scores well.

It's easy to dismount and store, and transferring it between vehicles is straightforward.

The ease of portability further amplifies its value, making it quick to remove and easily storable in your garage or basement.

In the grand scheme, the Yakima ShowDown Load-Assist is a well-thought-out product.

Alternatives and competitors

There's no shortage of competitors in the market.

The Thule Hullavator Pro is a notable competitor with its gas-assist struts, though it comes at a higher price. The Malone TelosXL is a budget-friendly alternative but lacks the robust construction of the Yakima ShowDown.

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User reviews

Value for money? Absolutely.

Rating: 4.8 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Its competitive pricing, combined with the discounts, puts it miles ahead of its rivals. I'll surely be recommending this. Not only was it a breeze to install, but its intuitive design makes loading a kayak as easy as pie.

Works well

Rating: 4.6 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It's the perfect solution for my wife who has limited upper body strength. The dropping rack feature has made all trips much better. Deeply grateful!

Loading a kayak as easy as pie

Rating: 4.2 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Solid! My fishing trips got less taxing. The product is remarkably solid and easy to assemble. The fold-down supports are a thoughtful addition - my garage door is no longer an obstacle! Though, I'd love a slight tweak in the bottom attachment's slide position.

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Expert Q&A

Q: How much does the Yakima showdown weigh?

A: The Yakima ShowDown weighs approximately 21 lbs (9.5 kg). This weight is designed to balance durability with ease of installation and removal.

Q: Is there a weight limit for the Yakima ShowDown?

A: It can support up to 80 lbs (approximately 36 kg), which is suitable for many kayaks and boards.

Q: Do Yakima racks fit any car?

A: No, not all Yakima racks fit every car. Yakima designs racks for a wide variety of vehicles, but it's essential to check the fit guide on Yakima's website.

Q: Can I use the Yakima ShowDown with other brands of roof racks or only with Yakima's?

A: The Yakima ShowDown is primarily designed to be compatible with Yakima's crossbar systems. However, it might fit some other brands, but it's vital to check the compatibility details before attempting to use it with non-Yakima roof racks.

Resources & references

The Yakima ShowDown Load-Assist, with its impressive blend of features, is a formidable contender for those invested in watersports.

Its thoughtful design and emphasis on user experience make it a top choice for enthusiasts seeking both functionality and reliability.

Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting, this product could be the upgrade you've been searching for.

Bill Nikolaou
I live for wild rides on rivers, and have passion for digital marketing. With 7 years of experience in white water guiding, I've transported more gear than most folks will in a lifetime. Need a reliable rack or carrier? I got you covered!