People have been using kayak for a very long time. The Swift boat was initially used for hunting and transportation purposes. It is genuinely a personal watercraft that is made up of seal or other animal skin or a wood frame. Kayak is specifically designed to be used as an efficient working boat. Most of the people use this streamlined watercraft for adventure. If you live or go to a place that is near rushing whitewater, lakes or other blue spots, you need to take your kayak from your home to those places. For this purpose, most of the people rely on a kayak roof carrier for their car or truck. They are made up of inflatable material or foam pads that not only provide cushioning to your boat but also protect the roof of your vehicle. They hold your kayak very securely and provide assistance while loading down it.
There are a lot of advantages of using a kayak roof rack on the top of your vehicle. As most of the vehicles do not have enough room for a 10 feet long kayak, so these kayak racks are very necessary for you as they transport your kayak from one place to another in a convenient way. There are many different models and types of best kayak roof racks available in the market and it is difficult to decide which one would be suitable for you. For this purpose, we are providing you with a buying guide in whom we will discuss the main types and key features of kayak racks that should be under consideration while buying them. Have a look on our guide to get familiar with all the types so that you can decide which one you want for yourself.
Best Kayak Roof Racks In 2023
1. YAKIMA – JayLow Rooftop Mounted Kayak Rack for Vehicles
This rack is able to carry two kayaks at a time in a vertical, stacked position as it can easily carry up to 110 lbs. It includes all the necessary hardware and straps such as heavy-duty straps and bow-stern tie downs in order to secure your gear.
Due to its versatile design, it integrates a cam lever that allows you to adjust the upright position easily. These racks are foldable and they are very easy to install in only 10 minutes.
- Kayak Rack for Vehicles
- Carries Up to 2 Kayaks
- Heavy Duty Straps and Bow
- Name YAKIMA
- Style Mounted Kayak Rack
- Weight: 13.2 pounds
- Capacity of carrying 2 kayaks
- Contact points are durable and extra padded for more protection
- Compatible with various watercraft
- Saves space when not in use
- Universal fit for crossbars
- Easy to install and remove
- Installs in just 10 minutes
- Locking mechanism is weak
- Locks are sold separately
2. 2 Pairs Heavy Duty Kayak Rack
These two pairs of kayak racks include 4 Pcs Ratchet Tie-Mount on Car Roof Top Crossbar and they can easily carry your kayaks. In order to ensure safety, they have 10 feet long ratchet rope. 1 inch wide, 10-foot long, blue and high quality belt buckles are also present for safety and reliability and prevent breakage.
They have a wide mouth J bar that offers easy loading and unloading of your kayaks. They have rust-resistant coating on them that makes them last longer. They can easily accommodate kayaks that are 36 inches having 100 lbs. They feature easy installation and fit most factory or aftermarket square and flat crossbars.
- Includes 4 Pcs Ratchet
- Tie-Mount on Car Roof Top Crossbar
- Easy to Carry Kayak Canoe Boat Surf Ski (J-Bar Rack)
- Name Mrhardware
- Style 2 Pairs Heavy Duty Kayak Rack
- Weight 15.43 pounds
- Made of steel alloy
- Comes as 2 pairs of Kayak racks
- The paint used is heavy-duty weather resistant
- Bars on the racks are quite stronger
- Rubber base and foam padding are made of real rubber and foam
- The foam cover is water and sun resistant
- Factory tested tie down straps
- Additional accessories
- Instruction manual not included
3. Rhino-Rack Nautic 570 Series Kayak/Canoe Carrier
The Nautic 570 comes complete with 4 santoprene rubber pads designed to cushion your kayak and the unique 180 degree rotation makes it easy for side mounting. They have universal fitment and fit most popular brands of roof kayak crossbars.
The front and rear pads are specifically designed to fit a variety of hull shapes. In order to provide you extra stability while transporting your kayaks, they feature large 75mm x 200mm (3″ x 8″) contact surface area. They come with waterproof and corrosion resistant material that makes them more durable and long lasting.
- Includes 2 x Tie Down Straps
- 2 x Rapid Straps w
- Unique Buckle Protector
- Name Rhino-Rack
- Weight 6.3 pounds
- Style Kayak/Canoe Carrier
- Universal fitment
- Made of light weight and highly durable material
- Side loading is allowed by the 180 degrees rotation
- Front and rear pads fit a variety of hull shapes
- UV protected
- Water resistant
- Corrosion resistant
- Large surface area for extra stability
- Additional accessories
- Security Allen key
- 5 years warranty
- Not suitable for sit-on-top kayaks
4. Thule Dockglide Kayak Saddle
Thule dockglide provides extra stability to your kayaks and it features easy loading and unloading of your kayaks because of having a pivoting felt-lined rear saddles that help Glide and center a kayak onto the vehicle. It has large, flexible, cushioned pads that protect your hull. You can easily accommodate kayaks that are up to 36 inches wide and 75 lbs.
You can provide security to your kayaks by using the center load straps with car-protective buckle bumpers and QuickDraw bow and stern tie-downs. It can fit a number of Thule rack systems, round bars and most factory racks due to T-Track and Flip Fit brackets.
- Easily load and unload
- Two independent pivoting saddles
- QuickDraw bow and stern tie-downs
- Name Thule
- Weight 6.8 pounds
- Size One Size
- Independent pivoting saddles
- Large, flexible, cushioned pads protect the hull
- Bow and stern tie included
- Easy loading and unloading by clever design
- Fits a variety of Thule rack system
- Easy to use
- Installs and removes quickly
- Accommodates kayak up to 36 inches wide
- Not observed yet
5. SportRack SR5527 Adjustable Foam Kayak Carrier
Sportrack comes with fully adjustable foam blocks that can be easily positioned to accommodate a full range of kayak widths (16″ to 24″ spacing). There are two non-skid undersides that protect your vehicle finish. In order to ensure safety, there are 2 straps to secure foam and bars to the vehicle.
Bow and stern tie downs are also present to protect your vehicle. It Fits Sport Rack Roof Rack Systems, square, round and most factory racks.
- Adjustable Foam Kayak Carrier
- 2 non-skid underside
- Name SportRack
- Size 24-Inch
- Dimensions 8.5 x 31 x 4 inches
- Non-skid underside protects the vehicle’s finish
- Includes bow and stern tie
- Extra foam between mounting straps prevent rubbing
- Easy installation
- Fully adjustable
- Usable on bare vehicle roofs
- Straps are little short
- Aluminum bars are narrow
- Metal bars are short
6. HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars
This inflatable vehicle rack is able to carry all types of gear and accessories that make it a great kayak rack, surfboard rack, sup rack and it is lightweight yet heavy-duty. It can easily carry a load up to 175 lbs. It is a complete fit for Sedan, Station Wagon, MPV, SUV, Crossover, 4×4, 2, 3, 4 or 5 door vehicles but it is unsuitable for vehicles that have soft tops and certain air bags.
It is very easy to install as no tools are required. Twin-bars are secured to the roof by a fitting strap that passes through the vehicle’s doors; Strap then fastens in a heavy-duty cam buckle.
- Tie-downs Included
- Fits Most Cars and SUVs
- Inflatable vehicle rack
- Name HandiRack
- Weight 6.4 pounds
- Type Roof Rack Bars
- It offers easy assembling.
- It is compatible to all car types and is universal fit.
- Its installation is quite easy than other racks
- It inflates quickly in no time by the help of the pump
- After deflation you can store it in a storage pouch
- It is strong enough with good weight allowance.
- It is made of strong material with a good quality.
- It is quite portable and can swap from one vehicle to the other easily.
- It can carry up to two kayaks and also large garden furniture.
- They are not much water resistant.
- The inflatable tubes may be faded out if left in sun.
7. Yakima – SweetRoll Rooftop Mounted Boat Loader and Rack
It is a complete system that includes rear saddles with integrated rollers to easily load and carry 1 boat up to 80 lbs.; Tilting paddles fit most types of boats. You can easily load your boat as its spring-loaded base automatically adjusts to the boat and with the help of integrated rollers, you can easily slide it on with ease.
It includes all the straps and tie-downs in it. In order to protect your board from scratches, it has smooth molded pad hugs. You can easily install it in only 10 minutes and it is compatible with Yakima round, square, factory and aerodynamic crossbars; Minimum crossbar spread of 24″.
- SweetRoll Rooftop Mounted Boat Loader
- Rack for Vehicles
- Carries 1 Boat
- By Yakima
- Type Boat Loader and Rack
- Weight 8.7 pounds
- It consists of two front and two rear saddles.
- The saddles are equipped with integrated rollers.
- No tools are required to mount it on any bar type.
- It is convenient to install.
- Spring loaded base adjusts automatically.
- It is available as a complete system.
- Smooth molded pads provide protection to variety of boats.
- It includes heavy-duty straps and tie-down.
- It is compatible with a number of crossbars.
- Carries only 1 boat
8. Great Lakes Kayak LLC The Kayak Wing
Great lakes kayak is best suited for boats that are 30 inches wide. It is sturdy, lightweight and reliable and gives your kayak full protection and security. The Kayak Wing by Great Lakes Kayak is a universal roof rack system for your kayak.
There is a kayak wing that prevents hull damage such as scratches that can occur with other roof rack systems. You can easily install it as there are no special tools required for this purpose.
- Sea Kayak Rack with Yellow Straps
- For Boats Under 30″ Wide
- Made in the USA
- Name Great Lakes Kayak LLC
- Type Sea Kayak Rack
- Weight 6 pounds
- It comes as a complete set.
- It is manufactured in USA.
- This kayak wing has a long warranty of 5 years against breakage.
- It is sturdy, durable and reliable.
- Its installation is easy.
- It can hold only one kayak.
- It is limited to boats under 30 inches wide.
9. Malone Seawing Saddle Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier
Malone seawing comes with a single saddle-design and it flexes gently to cradle the boat and improve gas mileage. Its unique, mid-mount design allows you to save spaces and save two kayaks bottom down on factory or aftermarket cross rails.
Its low profile flexes gently to cradle your boat while you drive, and keeps the air resistance at a minimum.it fits with most of the vehicles including round, square, and most factory oval cross rails. There are no extra tools required for installation.
- Universal car rack kayak carrier
- With bow and stern lines
- Low-profile kayak/cargo carrier
- Name Malone
- Type Car rack kayak carrier
- Weight 10.05 pounds
- It can hold two kayaks at the same time on the vehicle.
- You can fold it when it is not in use.
- It is quite easy to install and thus easy to use.
- It universally fits to most of the cross bars styles.
- It is equipped with a safety pad that provides protection to the kayaks.
- Bow and safety tie-downs are included.
- It is made of nylon which is corrosion resistant.
- It has a low profile design for garage clearance.
- Not have great tension.
- Straps don’t hold too tightly.
10. Rhino Rack Kayak & Canoe Carrier, Folding J-Style
Rhino rack is not just a kayak carrier but it also allows you to mount other accessories. The design also includes a cradle for carrying paddles. It fits the most popular brand of roof rack crossbars.
It has coating protection that prevents rust or corrosion. Due to having a built-in cradle in it, you can easily hold your paddles as well. It Includes 2 cradles, hardware, rubber tube padding & tie down straps. It comes completely assembled and ready to go.
- Universal Mounting Bracket
- Easy Use & Fitment
- Heavy Duty, for All Vehicles
- By Rhino Rack
- Type Kayak & Canoe Carrier
- Weight 14 pounds
- It offers universally fitment and fits the most famous brands of roof rack cross bars.
- It has a space saving, durable and well-engineered design.
- It offers a high weight capacity.
- It comes with a built-in cradle for the transportation of paddles.
- The steel tubing is protected by coating.
- It comes completely assembled so installation is easy.
- It comes with additional accessories.
- Its mounting brackets are not seen to be universal.
We have discussed all the types with you but j-style kayak racks are extremely popular because they are durable and easy to install and they are also available at economic rates. Before buying your kayak rack, do some research and make sure it is compatible with your vehicle or roof.
Best Kayak Roof Rack Buying Guide
Types of roof kayak racks
There are various types of roof kayak carriers. We are discussing some major types that are popular and widely available.
In order to create roof storage for your vehicle, temporary padding is the easiest way. These pads are made up of foam or they are inflatable so they protect your kayak as well as the roof of your vehicle. You can easily install them on your vehicle with the help of looping straps through the side windows.
You can easily carry your kayak or your luggage on the top of the pads and it is an easiest way for transportation. They are best for those who do not want to have a permanent rack system on their vehicle. They are ideal for occasional kayaking trip but they do not provide a long lasting solution.
Crossbars are roof racks that are solid and sturdy bars attached to the roof of your vehicle. You can attach everything on these racks such as cargo boxes, bicycle racks etc. You can also attach your kayak racks directly to the crossbars. Many brands manufacture these crossbars.
J-style racks are the most popular racks among carrying kayaks. They are manufactured in J shape and have holding arms as well. By having this, you can easily load your kayak from the side of your vehicle.
The boat also fits on a side so you will have an extra room on your roof to carry more luggage’s such as a bicycle. They are good for large boat sizes.
Saddles are another sturdy rack for your kayak and they have a set of pads that can be attached to an existing roof rack and crossbars. You can either use a single pair of saddles or two pair of saddles to hold a kayak. They are also good for larger boat size.
Rollers allow an easy loading of your kayak. You can easily load the front of your boat onto the rollers by placing them at the rear of your vehicle’s roof. After loading the front, you can easily load the rest up on the rack easily.
Stackers allow you to stack multiple kayaks on your roof. By having this type, your boats will stand on their edge and it will allow an extra room on your roof to carry other stuff or luggage.
Stackers can easily attach to the existing crossbars. Stackers are ideal to use for shorter boats such as white water kayaks.
There are some main features that should be under consideration while buying a heavy duty kayak roof rack.
- Type of your vehicle:
Roof rack which you are going to buy depends on the type of vehicle you have. Every car has a roof rack whether it is a small compact car or full-sized. If you have a smaller car, a small kayak rack would be enough for you that will carry one kayak but if you have a large-sized vehicle, you can buy a rack that can carry 3 or 4 kayaks.
- Number of kayaks:
The more numbers you want to carry on the kayaks, the bigger rack you will need to buy. If you have a small rack and you are carrying more kayaks on it, it could be hazardous for you and it is not secure for you.
- Bar height:
If you have not a good height, a rack system that has a foot above your car’s roof might not work for you but if you are tall enough, you can go for a taller rack system.