Roof kayak racks provide an easier way for kayakers to transport their watercrafts by vehicle. Since a standard car, truck or SUV is not large enough to fit a kayak inside the vehicle, a roof rack makes it possible to bring kayaks along for the ride without having to make special transportation arrangements. These racks can be attached to rooftops of vehicles and removed at any time. Trying to secure the kayak to a vehicle with just a rope can be dangerous, and kayak roof racks are made to carry kayaks safely without the risk of them falling off the vehicle while driving. These racks are also designed to not damage the paint or harm the vehicle body in any other way.
Best Kayak Roof Racks Reviews
- Pack’em Folding J-Style Kayak Rack
This model comes in sets of two with different color choices. Loading and unloading each rack can be done in less time thanks to the “J” style of the design. When the 2 kayak roof sets are folded, they stand approximately 6.5 feet high. The racks come completely assembled and have all the required mounted hardware. Each rack has a 100-pound weight capacity and can hold a kayak measuring up to 3 feet wide. These racks are also mountable on most vehicle luggage racks and load bars.
- TMS Kayak Car Top Carrier
Along with its lifetime warranty, this kayak roof carrier is an excellent buy because of its ability to mount to all vehicle load bars and crossbars. Two pairs are included so that the extra pair can be loaded onto another vehicle or kept as a spare. The frame of each carrier is made from steel and has adjustable padding to better accommodate the size, shape and weight of each watercraft. A rust-resistant surface helps ensure greater longevity. Kayaks weighing up to 75 pounds and measuring up to 36 inches wide can be mounted.
- Yakima Jaylow Kayak Carrier
Multiple settings make this kayak cradle a bestseller. The built-in cam lever can be used to adjust the upright section of the carrier to multiple settings. A single kayak weighing up to 80 pounds or two boats that have a combined weight of 110 pounds or less can be accommodated. The universal crossbar compatibility means less hassle when trying to position and secure a watercraft. Padding for a kayak is provided by the carrier’s soft over-molded base with grooves. A bottle opener is also part of the rack’s design. When the carrier is not in use, it can be folded down for easier storage.
- Kayak Roof Rack by Vault Cargo Management
Heavy-duty aluminum material is used to give this kayak roof mount more durability. The set of two J-bar racks can fold down so that a vehicle can clear the ceilings of garages and other low overheads when a kayak is not being carried. To prevent the kayak from rubbing and wearing, soft cushions are attached to each bar. With its universal mount, the rack can be installed and removed from a vehicle’s existing crossbars without any hassle.
- SportRack SR5527 24-inch Adjustable Foam Kayak Carrier
With its ability to hold kayaks with widths measuring 16 to 24 inches, this model also comes with two straps that help fasten the bars and foam to a vehicle’s top. Additional stern ties and a bow are included to make securing the kayak even more efficient. The carrier can fit SportRack Roof Rack Systems that are square, round and different shapes of most other factory designs. The non-skid underside is intended to protect the vehicle from denting or paint damage.
- HandiRack with Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars
This inflatable rooftop rack and expandable cargo carrier can fit most cars and SUVs. In addition to kayaks and other types of watercraft, the carrier can be used to haul surfboards, furniture and other items that will fit. The two HandiRack tubes that are included can be inflated in almost no time with the high-volume, double-action HandiPump. Two tie-down HandiStraps are also included to keep the kayak secure. Kayaks are further secured with the five D-ring anchor points and textile roof bars that are made from strong nylon. This is also a bestselling kayak roof rack for cars without rails on the side required for installation.
- Yakima Showboat 66-inch Kit
This kit can be paired with a canoe or kayak carrier and features additional padding to prevent damage to the watercraft. The kit’s included hardware is universally designed to fit Yakima round, square and factory crossbars for greater versatility. The two 66-inch cross bars that are included offer additional convenience. To make loading a canoe or kayak even easier, a load assist roller that slides over the vehicle’s rear has been integrated into the design.
- The Kayak Wing
Great Lakes Kayak LLC has developed this innovative kayak carrier for SUV and other vehicle makes and models. The rack is sold as a compete set with no other parts that are necessary to install it on a vehicle. Its light weight and sturdiness make it easy to move and carry while still being durable enough to offer optimal stability. Boats that are less than 30 inches wide and have V-shaped hulls or a defined keel will have no trouble getting loaded.
- THULE Dockglide Kayak Saddle
One of the most unique models on the market, the THULE Dockglide Kayak Saddle features felt-lined rear saddles that pivot to make gliding and centering a kayak to the top of a vehicle less strenuous. The built-in lever can be adjusted to different settings so that all hull shapes can be accommodated. To make the watercraft even more secure, the QuickDraw bow and stern tie-downs along with the center load straps with buckle bumpers that are safe for vehicles can be fastened. The flexible cushioned pads are large enough to provide comprehensive protection.
- Malone SeaWing Saddle Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier
The included bow and stern lines give this universal kayak rack increased stability. A low-profile design makes the frame suitable for carrying kayaks weighing up to 70 pounds. The included JAWZ mounting hardware is able to fit square, round and most factory oval cross rails. Measuring 27 by 5 by 6 inches, the frame is able to hold watercraft of different shapes and sizes. Another aspect that makes this one of the best kayak roof racks on the market is its ability to flex gently, which can better cradle the boat and helps reduce fuel usage while driving.
- Malone Downloader Folding J-Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier
Another top seller from Malone, this model includes kayak J racks and a built-in boarding ramp for easier loading. The rack is compatible with the MPG351 Telos Load Assist and is made with technology that allows it to fold down to increase overhead clearance. The pre-coated mounting bolts measure 60 and 70 millimeters in size. Cam-style load straps come with buckle protectors. This model is also one of the best folding kayak racks for easier storage.
- THULE Hull-a-Port Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier
This kayak rack for sedan, van and SUV models has been designed in a J-style profile to increase spaciousness on the load bar. Multiple functions can be performed with the PFD (pull, fold, done) lever. The kayak attachment is adaptable to THULE rack systems, round bars and most other factory racks. Similar to the other THULE kayak holder for cars, this model comes with two ratcheting bow and stern tie-downs along with two straps that have buckle protectors to give watercraft more security while transporting.
- THULE 898 Hullavator Pro Kayak Lift System
What makes this product one of the best kayak carrier models on the market is its ability to fit wider cradles with hulls that measure a maximum of 36 inches in width. Up to 75 pounds of weight can be supported. Another innovative feature is the lowering mechanism that can lower 40 inches to the side of the vehicle for waist-level loading and unloading of the kayak. Gas struts allow the carrier to support 40 pounds of the kayak’s weight while loading and unloading unassisted.
How to Choose A Kayak Roof Rack
When shopping for the best kayak rack, the following factors should be taken into consideration:
- The Number of Boats to be Transported
The number of boats that a rack can carry should be considered if multiple kayaks or canoes need to be transported. It is possible to find 2 kayak roof rack models as well as 3 and 4 kayak roof options.
- Weight Capacity
If a single watercraft is all that needs to be transported, it might be best to get a 1 boat option since a double kayak roof rack or 3 kayak roof rack will be more ideal for multiple boats that each weigh less.
- Load and Unload Features
Some of the best single and dual kayak roof rack models have special built-in ramps for easier loading and unloading. There are also options that can lower to the side of a vehicle to make it simpler for people who are traveling alone to load and unload their watercraft.
- Assembly Requirements
Many racks come fully assembled and can be attached to vehicles right away. Others come in pieces that can often be connected easily without having to use tools.
- Secure Holding
Racks that include multiple straps, tie-downs, buckle protectors and other add-ons are great for holding boats in place so that they do not slide off the vehicle.
- Damage Protection
Many of the top 1, 2, 3 and 4 kayak roof rack models are able to keep vehicles safe from scrapes, dents and paint damage. Ample padding is also fitted on many rack frames to prevent the watercraft from rubbing against hard surfaces and possibly sustaining damage.
Many single and double kayak carrier options along with models that can carry more boats should have enough clearance for vehicles and watercrafts to avoid hitting ceilings and low overpasses and tunnels. Some racks also fold down when boats are not being carried so that more room can be given for clearance without having to remove the carriers from vehicles.
With the best kayak carrier, anyone who wishes to bring their watercraft along for a kayaking adventure can eliminate a lot of hassle out of transporting the boat.