Johnson Outdoors entered into a new partnership with THULE to design a lift assisted kayak car-top carrier called the Hullivator. Thule’s president Fred Clark told SEW that Johnson Outdoors approached Thule with the concept and the two companies worked together to develop the finished product. Thule’s ‘Envoy’ program will also get a boost from the new relationship. Beginning in 2005, key Midwest destinations will be added to Thule’s mobile marketing program, which includes consumer events and retail clinics.

Both the Thule Hullivator and Watermark’s new product, The E-Z Load, address one of the key barriers that women and baby-boomers have expressed about paddlesports participation – ease of transportation. Watermark acquired E-Z Load Technologies shortly before the opening of the Summer Market.

Both products have their advantages and disadvantages. The Hullivator, currently only carries boats, while the E-Z Load can carry nearly anything you can bolt on to it. However, the E-Z Load only allows you to use half of your roof rack, while the Hullivator allows the use of both sides. Additionally the Hullivator allows the user to lower a boat to waist level on most SUV’s while the E-Z Load stops at around shoulder level.