What is a kayak roof rack?
Looking to be able to quickly transport your kayak from one location to another? A car kayak rack you can get the most out of your kayak. A rack enables you to easily transport your boat from one place to another, with minimal fuss.
You don’t need a heavy and hard to maneuver trailer to enjoy your hobby. Roof racks stop your kayaks from coming into direct contact with the roof of your car, allowing for safe transportation of your kayaks.
They are great for those who only need to transport a couple of kayaks. There are two main options when it comes to the best kayak carrier.
If you already have a roof rack on your car, a kayak roof rack is quick and easy to set up. Car racks for kayak can be easily added to your existing roof racks, making it simple and easy for you to transport your kayaks on top of your car. Some roof racks allow you to transport to your kayak on its base, and others allow you to transport your kayak on its side.
- What is a kayak roof rack?
- Why do I need a kayak roof rack?
- What to look for in a kayak roof rack
- The 8 Best Kayak Roof Racks
- TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Canoe Boat Surf Ski Roof Top Mounted on Car SUV Crossbar
- J-Bar 2 Pairs Universal Kayak Canoe Top Mount Carrier Roof Rack Boat SUV VAN Car
- 54” Universal Locking Roof Rack Crossbars by Vault
- Attwood Car-Top Kayak Carrier Kit
- Malone Downloader Folding J-Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier with Bow and Stern Lines
- Malone Auto HR20 Inflatable Roof Rack
- The Kayak Wing – Sea Kayak Rack with Yellow Straps for Boats Under 30″ Wide by Great Lakes Kayak LLC
- Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack with Tie-Downs
- How to Choose What is Best for You
If you do not already have a roof rack, there are some options out there which allow you to work around this. Inflatable or temporary versions don’t require you to have a roof rack. They strap inside your car and go over the top, protecting the roof of your car from coming into contact with your kayak.
These are great options if you do not have far to travel, or you don’t often need to transport kayaks anywhere using your car. Kayak carriers for cars without roof racks are the perfect alternative if you don’t have the need for roof racks.
Why do I need a kayak roof rack?
You need a kayak car roof rack if you are going to be transporting kayaks anywhere by car. If you don’t have the need for a trailer, then a rack is a great option. If you are only going to be transporting one or two kayaks, then you don’t have the need for a cumbersome trailer. A rack will save you a lot of time and hassle.
Safety is key with kayak transportation, and a kayak roof rack allows you to transport your boat from one place to another safely. Trying to strap your kayak to the roof of your car without the best kayak rack is dangerous, and will likely result in damage to your kayak your car, or both.
With the right rack; you don’t need to worry about your kayak slipping or sliding about, and you will feel safe in the knowledge that you will get there in one piece.
What to look for in a kayak roof rack
Before you can select the best car top carrier, you need to think about the type of setup you have on your car roof already. Your car roof will fall into one of the following categories:
• No rails or racks
• Factory rails or crossbars
• Aftermarket crossbars or rails
Whichever category you fall into, there is an option out there for you. But knowing what you need to be looking out for is helpful when it comes to choosing your rack.
Now you know the kind of thing you are looking for, think about how much money you want to spend. If you are after the best roof box for the lowest price, inflatable ones are probably going to be the cheapest for you.
But, if you are planning on using your rack to transport more than one kayak or you are going to be using them frequently, you might want to spend a bit more on a more permanent and sturdy version.
Think about how often you are going to be using a rack and the distances you are going to be traveling. If you are using it infrequently for short distances, kayak roof rack reviews suggest an inflatable option will be fine.
But if you are going to be frequently traveling and for long distances, this might not cut it. You will need something more durable and offer a higher level of support for both your roof and your boat. So, let’s take a look at the best options out there.
The 8 Best Kayak Roof Racks
TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Canoe Boat Surf Ski Roof Top Mounted on Car SUV Crossbar
This car top carrier for kayaks mounts to pretty much any crossbar out there. If you already have roof racks on your car, this is an excellent option. It is made from steel and has adjustable padding for optimal carrying strength and protection of your kayak.
- Steel design with adjustable padding for carrying strength and kayak protection
- Wide mouth J bar offers easier loading and unloading
- Quick on/off hardware ensures fast installation and removal
- Optimally sized J style carrier leaves roof space. Dimensions: 17.5" (L) × 12.5" (W) × 6.5" (H)
- Accommodates kayaks up to 36inch wide and 75lbs. Authentic TMS products contain vacuum sealed installation hardware. Authentic TMS products are shipped in labeled boxes with item description (as shown in picture).
The shape allows you to load easily and unloads your kayak and this is one of the best kayak carriers for SUV out there. It can hold kayaks up to 36 inches in width and up to a weight of 75 pounds.
These kayak racks for SUV store your kayaks on their side for optimal use of space. You will have no problems transporting your boat from one place to another, and you will be safe in the knowledge that this rack is doing its job.
J-Bar 2 Pairs Universal Kayak Canoe Top Mount Carrier Roof Rack Boat SUV VAN Car
This car top kayak carrier gives you two sets of carriers for your money. The double kayak roof rack is made up of two pairs of racks, four straps and a set of mounting hardware. They are made from steel and have adjustable padding for carrying strength and protection.
- Cross Bars are thicker than 1" or wider than 2.5" will not be mounted properly,round or oval crossbar is not fit.please notice it
- Straps: 8' length Accommodates kayaks up to 36" wide Net
- includes: 2 PAIRS (4 racks for 2 kayaks) + 4x Straps + Set of Mounting Hardware
- Mounting Hardward Steel design with adjustable padding for carrying strength and kayak protection
- Will fit most factory or aftermarket square and flat crossbars (OEM crossbars are within 2.5" wide and 1" thick)
This kayak car rack for 2 will fit most square or flat crossbars, but it is not suitable for round or oval crossbars. As a kayak holder for SUV, this holds up to 165 pounds in weight and can accommodate kayaks up to 36 inches in width.
These are a great, cheap option, particularly for anyone transporting multiple kayaks. Most racks only hold one boat, so this is a great deal if you are looking to transport two boats at once to your destination.
54” Universal Locking Roof Rack Crossbars by Vault
The Universal kayak rack is more expensive than the others on this list so far. It features padded clamps, so it doesn’t scratch the rails you already have on your car. It fits rails up to 47 inches apart, allowing you plenty of space to store everything you need.
- PROTECT YOUR RIDE - Featuring padded clamps! CHECK WILL IT FIT MY VEHICLE TO ENSURE PROPER FIT FOR EACH VEHICLE, READ DESCRIPTION FOR MEASUREMENTS
- FOR YOUR SUV WITH EXISTING RAISED SIDE RAILS WITH A GAP- Mount Kayaks, Canoes, Cargo Racks and Wind Fairings Reduce Wind Noise! BE SURE TO CHECK FIT IF UNSURE CALL CUSTOMER SERVICE.
- KAYAK MOUNT - Ensure the Bow and Stern Are Strapped to the Vehicle Bumpers for Safety!
- 54" OUTSIDE DIMENSIONS - Fitting Rails Up To 47" Apart & Giving You Plenty of Space To Use For Your Gear! BE SURE TO CHECK PROPER FIT & INSTALLATION VIDEO IN LOWER DESCRIPTION
- 150 LBS LOAD CAPACITY - Stack Everything From Kayak & Canoe Racks to Ski & Bike Mounts! Contact Support For Any Fit Questions!
This cartop kayak rack can take a load up to 150 pounds, so it is strong and sturdy. They are easy to set up and remove, and they are designed to be aerodynamic. They get excellent reviews online and will allow you to transport your kayak on roof racks safely and securely. The only thing you will be left wondering is how to make a decision when it’s kayak vs canoe for your next trip.
Attwood Car-Top Kayak Carrier Kit
This rooftop kayak carrier is cheap and cheerful and does exactly what it says on the tin. Kayak racks for cars without roof racks do just that, enable you to transport your kayak without the need for a roof rack.
This package includes supporting foam blocks, straps with adjustable buckles and rope. This is a simple and easy to use option, providing the basics.
- Includes supporting foam blocks
- Two straps with adjusting buckles and clips
- Includes 15-Feet of polypropylene rope
- Straps are sturdy poly web with vinyl-coated clips
The simplicity of this earns this excellent kit reviews in comparison to other roof racks for kayaks. It’s an inexpensive option which enables you to get from a to b, safely.
However, if you are going to be traveling long distances or traveling at higher speeds, this probably isn’t going to cut the mustard. If you are just taking a short trip down the road, then this will be perfect.
Malone Downloader Folding J-Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier with Bow and Stern Lines
Another roof rack kayak holder who gets excellent reviews online, but much more expensive this time. The Malone Downloader is in a folding J-style, equipped with bow and stern lines for you to safely transport your boat.
- J-style kayak carrier with built-in boarding ramp for easy loading
- Fold down technology increases overhead clearance. Compatible with the MPG351 Telos Load Assist
- Oversized padding protects boat during transport
- JAWZ mounting hardware fits round, square and most factory oval cross rails, includes both 60mm and 70mm pre-coated mounting bolts;Cam style load straps with buckle protectors
- Dimensions:Length: 17",Width: 6",Height: 19.5",Load capacity: 75 lb
The padding protects your kayak during transportation, and the mounting hardware fits most cross rails. They are secure and come highly recommended as kayak mounts for car and SUV drivers. This option certainly looks the part, and you get what you pay for with this rack.
Malone Auto HR20 Inflatable Roof Rack
The Malone inflatable roof rack negates the need for roof racks attached to your car. If you don’t have racks or cross rails on your car, then this kayak car holder is a life saver. They can carry loads up to 20 kilograms, so watch out if your boat is a bit on the weighty side.
They will fit most cars, and will even fit 2 door cars – so there is no limit on transporting your kayak around. You can switch them between vehicles as they fit most cars out there and you can store them easily in the boot as they don’t take up much space once they have been deflated.
- Weight: 3.3 LB (set of 2)
- Weight Capacity:- 44 lb
- Dimensions when inflated: 29" (length) x 6" (width) x 4" (height)
- Materials: 420 Denier Nylon with 2 D-Ring Anchor Points
- Convenient storage in the trunk or glove box
You can transport a kayak at a moment’s notice with this roof rack!
They are easy to fit, and a pump is included in the package, so this inflatable rack only takes minutes to fit your car, and you will be on your way. You position it before you inflate it, making sure it is secure, and then pump it up and you are ready to go.
They are a great, cheap solution for anyone without roof racks and anyone on a budget. Getting your kayak from one place to another couldn’t be easier with this inflatable design.
The Kayak Wing – Sea Kayak Rack with Yellow Straps for Boats Under 30″ Wide by Great Lakes Kayak LLC
This roof rack carrier is best suited to boats which are less than 30 inches wide, so get your measure out and check the width of your boat before purchasing. They are sturdy and lightweight kayak roof mounts, but also one of the pricier options on this list.
They fit cross bars up to a maximum width of 3.25 inches and require a minimum clearance of 1.5 inches between the roof of your car and the crossbar. You don’t need any tools to install this rack so you can be ready to load your kayaks on in a matter of minutes.
- Sold as a Complete Set to Hold One Kayak, No Other Parts neccessary
- Best Suited for Boats under 30" Wide
- Sturdy, Reliable, and Lightweight
- 5 year warranty against breakage
- Made in the USA!
The v-shaped design of these prevents dents in your car roof which can occur when you use other methods of transporting your boat.
This design also means they are best suited for transporting boats with a v-shaped hull or a defined keel – otherwise they won’t support the boat as well. This option won’t be any good for carrying a flat-bottomed boat like an Intex Challenger K1 kayak.
Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack with Tie-Downs
Our final kayak roof rack carrier gets brilliant reviews online. You can use this to transport one boat in a J-cradle position, or two boats in a vertical stacking position. There is no assembly required, and the installation onto your car is tool-free.
You will be up and running and ready to go in no time. This rack will fit most crossbars. They fold down when they are not being used, so you don’t have to worry about clearance when you aren’t transporting kayaks.
- Over-molded stainless steel strap to accommodate a variety of raised rail Profiles
- Risk-free torque set installation; Tool included
- Excellent roof clearance to allow full range of Yakima gear mounts
- RoundBar SL Adapter required to use Yakima's classic RoundBar with StreamLine System Towers (sold separately)
- Intended for mounting to vehicles with raised siderails
They are sturdy and secure, and as they can enable you to carry two kayaks, they are an excellent option when it comes to roof racks and kayak carriers.
How to Choose What is Best for You
We’ve looked at the best kayak brands and the best tandem kayak carrying options out there. Whichever type of car you have, and whether you have roof racks already or not, there is an option for you on this list which allows you to transport your boats around safely and securely. From low cost to more expensive versions, there is something on this list to suit everyone.
Once you know what you are looking for, selecting the perfect kayak roof rack for your car will be a complete doddle.