The Best Kayak Roof Racks In 2021 (For SUV, Cars & Cars Without Rails)

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: May 21, 2021
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Kayaking is one of those outdoor activities that I love doing together with my family and friends. Whenever there is a planned trip that involves kayaking, I will see to it that there is enough kayaking equipment for the convenience and safety of everyone.

These gears may include the best protective gears, helmets, life vests, and even the best kayak roof rack. They are a must-have for me, especially the kayak roof rack because of the convenience it brings. Below are some of the kayak roof racks I would recommend to you.

Top Kayak Roof Rack In 2021 For Money (Best Picks)

Kayak Roof Rack

My Top Picks for a Kayak Carrier

Companies like Black Widow offer some of the tops in the class kayak roof racks available for use. Black Widow offers roof racks that are easy to install and remove, as well as ones that fit a variety of kayaks.

The Thule Hull a Port Pro Kayak Carrier is the best kayak roof rack of 2021. It has a unique design that is built to provide a safe and secure way to transport kayaks on your roof. The innovative design lifts the kayak up and out of the way of other objects on your roof, such as a ladder or luggage carrier, to ensure that it does not get scratched or damaged when you are traveling.

For more reviews, keep reading.

1. Thule Hull-a-Port Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier

The Thule Hull-a-Port is one of the most popular kayak carriers currently available in the market. It is designed to give every user an easy-to-use carrier for any kayaking activity. Furthermore, it has a simple and foldable J-profile design to give you the convenience you need.

It contains four adjustable touchpoint padding to hold kayaks of varying sizes and shapes. You can choose to have it in a vertical or horizontal orientation. The vertical orientation is aerodynamically stable so the carrier can manage air resistance well enough, thereby saving your car some extra gas mileage.

Due to its efficient and effective design, it is capable of loading four carriers with four kayaks. You just have to mount the carrier and tighten its belts and you are good to go.

Wins & Fails

  • Features PFD (pull-fold-done) lever
  • Takes up minimal space
  • Other accessories are sold separately

2. Malone Auto Racks Downloader Kayak Carrier

The Malone Auto Racks DownLoader will see to it that your kayak is secured unlike any other. It offers flexibility and reliability during your travel. The carrier has straps with buckle protectors similar to that of a passenger with seat belts tightly worn. It also has a universal mount that is easy to remove.

Similar to the Thule-a-Port, it has a J-profile which allows easier loading or unloading of your kayak. Another unique characteristic of the Malone Auto Racks is its oversized padding with an already built ramp which adds stability. It adopts a fold-down technology to give an overhead clearance which is appropriate when traveling in places with so many trees.

The Malone Auto Racks is perfect for those people who want to go big. It is capable of supporting kayaks with almost eight times its weight, making it suited for carrying heavy kayaks.

Wins & Fails

  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Complete with tools and equipment
  • It is limited to a fixed roof size

3. Malone SeaWing

The Malone SeaWing is a V-cradle type carrier. It features a saddle wing design to further reduce setup time. Furthermore, it is packed with a universal fit Jawz, mounting bolts, and load straps with buckle protectors to ensure the safety and stability of your kayak. If you are not satisfied, the carrier also has a safety bow and stern tie-downs.

Similar to the Thule Hull-a-Port Carrier, it is aerodynamically stable to improve your car’s gas mileage. It can support loads of up to seven times its weight and serve as a roof extender for your car. It can even resist corrosion thanks to its nylon-based build.

This carrier is suited for anyone who always brings extra baggage with them. Upon making the purchase, you are guaranteed to have a set of tools and equipment with almost one-size-fits-all mounting hardware. It is easy to set up and consumes minimal space.

Wins & Fails

  • Complete with tools and other equipment
  • Offered in a variety of colors
  • Limited to a fixed roof size

4. ​Yakima Jaylow Kayak Carrier

The Yakima Jaylow carrier offers the flexibility any travelers will need. It can carry kayaks that come in different sizes and shapes. In addition, it has multiple settings which allow it to carry one boat when it is in a cradle position and two boats in a vertical position. It has additional padding to provide extra protection and grip to your kayak.

The carrier is complete with straps and bow and stern tie-downs. It’s aerodynamically stable and supports loads weighing up to 110 lbs. It effectively washes away sand and other forms of dirt due to its over-molded base with groove cushion.

The Jaylow is ideal for those who want to go kayaking alone or with a partner. You can adjust the carrier’s setting thanks to the integrated cam-lever for its crossbars which is made compatible with any type of roof rack.

Wins & Fails

  • Comes with a simple design
  • Limited to a specific crossbar size

5.   The Kayak Wing by Great Lakes Kayak LLC

The Kayak Wing offers a complete package for minimalists. A minimum clearance of one and a half inches must be ensured between the roof of the car and the carrier’s crossbar. Furthermore, its wing design is more effective for kayaks with V-shaped hulls and fits any roof rack system. The Kayak Wing also prevents possible hull damage that may occur in your kayak.

Installing it no longer requires tools as accessories are already included in the package. A five-year warranty is also present upon purchase. The carrier guarantees an easy installation that allows you to mount your kayak within minutes after setting up.

Unfortunately, it’s not suitable for just about any type of kayak. It’s only limited to kayaks with a maximum width of thirty inches. In other words, it can only hold kayaks under thirty inches wide at best. It is sturdy, reliable, and lightweight.

Wins & Fails

  • It is sold as a complete set
  • It is only ideal for relatively light kayaks

6. Yakima Showboat 66 in Kit

The Yakima Showboat 66 is on a more dynamic side of things. The rear has a load-assist roller that can slide out for easy access. It can adjust from side to side in order to accommodate multiple kayaks. It also includes two sixty-six inches Yakima crossbars to ensure the vehicle’s protection when loading or unloading the kayaks.

Moreover, it is made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel and has paddings to add an extra layer of protection to your vehicle during transport. It is capable of carrying any type of kayak and comes with complete carrier tools and equipment.

The Yakima Showboat 66 is suited to those who want to have a more innovative carrier.  It is also ideal for those who have big kayaks. While some carriers will stick to a more traditional design, Showboat 66 does not.

Wins & Fails

  • The stability of your kayak is guaranteed
  • It is limited to only one color
  • It is quite a heavy carrier

7. Malone HandiRack Inflatable Universal Roof Top Rack

The Malone HandiRack is certainly one of a kind. It is an inflatable rooftop rack that promises to deliver similar performance to its metal counterparts. Installing this kayak carrier will only take a few minutes. Furthermore, it is capable of carrying loads of up to 180 lbs.

It is made of strong 420-denier nylon with 650-ring anchor points. It also includes a double-action Handi Pump to inflate the roof racks in minutes. Upon purchase, additional accessories will include a travel bag and load straps.

This inflatable roof rack is ideal for those who are tired of installing traditional roof racks. If you are one of those people, then this is perfect for you. It is lightweight yet compact and fits almost any type of vehicle.

Wins & Fails

  • It is quite affordable
  • Pointed objects may cause the product to deflate while in use

8. SportRack Adjustable Kayak Carrier

The SportRack Adjustable carrier follows a simple rack concept but offers a robust quality. It has adjustable foam blocks instead of the traditional touchpoints that can be found in any kayak carrier. These foam blocks can be modified to fit any type of kayaks. It also comes with a complete set of gears.

The two non-skid undersides are responsible for protecting the car roof. It also includes two straps to provide stability not only to the kayak but also to your car.

This carrier is ideal for those who do not fancy sophisticated kayak carriers. It has a straightforward design but serves the same purpose as the other kayak carriers. This is ideal for those who want to spend less on roof racks.

Wins & Fails

  • The product is relatively cheap
  • The design is somewhat unappealing

9. TMS J-Bar Rack

The TMS J-Bar Rack is designed to be an all-in-one kayak carrier. It can be attached to any type of crossbars or load bars currently available in the market. Furthermore, it can carry kayaks of varying sizes while consuming a small space. It is also capable of carrying loads of over ten times its weight and twice its width.

This carrier has a steel design with paddings that can be adjusted easily. Moreover, the wide and solid J-style design allows easy loading or unloading of your kayaks.

The TMS J-bar rack is ideal for those who prefer simple racks. It comes with durable construction and works just fine with any size of kayaks. It is designed in such a way as to avoid any contact with your car’s roof which may cause damage over time.

Wins & Fails

  • It has a simple concept
  • It is really affordable
  • It is limited to kayaks with a fixed size

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Kayak Roof Rack

In every item that we purchase, there is no universal rule to follow. We buy materials or equipment based on our needs or wants. The same goes when choosing the best roof rack on the market.

Below are some of the things to consider when choosing the right kayak roof rack for you.

Consider your car’s roof

The first thing you may want to consider before buying any kayak roof rack is your car’s roof size. You have to remember that a different rack fits a different kind of roofing system. Try to take some measurements and compare them to the products being sold in the market.

If your car has built-in crossbars, you can directly choose from saddles, j-cradles, or stackers. However, you will have to settle for inflatable racks if your car does not have pre-installed crossbars. If you badly want to have sophisticated racks, you can buy crossbars and have it installed on your car.

How much will it cost?

Another aspect you need to ponder upon is the cost of a roof rack. This is probably one of the most important aspects that every buyer will take into consideration. Every user wants to get the most out of any rack as long as it comes at a good price. Some manufacturers do indeed sell top-quality products.

However, others don’t. This discrepancy is evident in the build quality of the product. Most of the good racks are made of steel. On the other hand, racks that are low-quality are often made of plastic.

Is it user-friendly?

This aspect looks into the process of installing the racks. If the product has a bunch of pieces and other hard-to-understand instructions and materials, do not buy it. You need not spend so much time tinkering on your rack. Avoid those racks that include small pieces. Instead, buy racks that have large pieces and easy-to-use bolts and nuts. Also, consider the process of dismantling the rack. You have to keep in mind that the rack must be easy to install and remove at the same time.

How many kayaks can it accommodate?

This is another facet you have to look into if you want to travel and go kayaking in groups. Take into account the maximum capacity of your chosen rack. If you plan to bring two kayaks, most of the racks available will suit your need. You can manage to stick those kayaks the usual way and still achieve stability.

However, such a case does not apply to more than two kayaks. If you plan to bring more than two, then stackers are the best kind of rack for you. Stackers are able to carry two to three additional kayaks. However, contrary to their name, they don’t put one thing on top of the other. Instead, they allocate enough space for multiple kayaks placed side-by-side.

Does it come in a complete set?

This aspect goes alongside the cost of the rack. If the product only offers the actual rack and sells other necessary equipment separately, then it is a bad deal. Look for products that come with a complete set. Also, make sure that the set is of top quality. Do not be fooled by the price as it sometimes compromises the quality of the product. Always be critical in this aspect.

Lightweight or heavyweight?

We sometimes think of a strong rack as heavy. However, there are aluminum racks already available. This way, you no longer have to make a compromise. Aluminum is the go-to alternative since they are 30% lighter than steel but strong enough to carry heavy loads.

Is it durable?

The aspect most users will look into next to the cost is the product’s durability. Some racks will last for a couple of trips. Think also of the maximum load the rack is able to carry. Consider manufacturers who have built products that are already proven under various conditions. Nowadays, roof racks can handle loads of up to ten times their base weight.

Does it compromise my car’s performance?

Sometimes, the extra load you carry on top of your car is a little worrisome. You may worry that your car’s performance will be compromised with the additional load. However, there are racks available in the market that can address this issue. Some racks are now aerodynamically stable. What this means is that they handle air resistance pretty well and are designed to improve a car’s gas mileage.

Is the company limited to only a specific kind of product?

When buying kayak roof racks, see to it that the manufacturer has a wide range of products available. Do not choose companies that limit themselves to a specific rack model. Remember that different racks fit different roofing systems. In this way also, you will no longer have a hard time looking for spare parts. You just have to contact the manufacturer and ask for an available replacement.

Check for additional accessories

Consider this aspect as a bonus. While it is good to have a kayak roof rack of your choice, it still is not bad to ask for accessories to join in with your rack. It is always a great deal to have that extra equipment. Look for those accessories which allow you to mount your other important stuff like a bike, surfboard, and many more.

FAQ

1. What types of kayak racks are there?

Kayak racks come in many different varieties. One type of kayak rack is a rooftop rack that attaches to the roof of the vehicle for storage and transport. This type of rack is typically made with a steel frame, which bolts to the crossbars on top of the vehicle.

These racks are great for a 4-door sedan or mid-sized SUV; however, they may not be suitable for larger vehicles such as pickup trucks or SUVs with higher rooflines. Another type of kayak rack is typically installed on the rear bumper and hitch receiver.

This will require drilling into your vehicle’s frame and installing strong bolts onto your bumper to keep it firmly in place. The rear mount will keep your kayaks level, even if you make turns, which makes this option safer than top-mount

2. How far apart should roof racks be for a kayak?

Kayaks are long and can be awkward to store. Roof racks are a great way to store your kayak while driving. The distance between racks is important because you want to ensure the kayak is stable on the roof and does not move around. Ideally, the space between mounts should be at least three feet, with one foot of separation in front of each mount and one foot behind it.

If you have a boat with a long tail, then the distance needs to be at least four feet in front of the first mount and two feet behind it.

3. What is the best type of kayak carrier?

Kayak carriers can be divided into 2 categories: roof racks and trailers. Roof racks are available in different sizes to accommodate different car types. What is the best type of kayak carrier?

There is no “best” type of kayak carrier for everyone. It really depends on your preference, how many kayaks you have, and what your geographical location is like.

4. Are there any alternatives to a roof rack kayak carrier?

Yes. It’s Trunk Rack Carriers.

Trunk rack carriers are secured to the frame or bumper of your car, which is ideal for short distances and provides protection from road debris. Trunk rack carriers may be preferable because they don’t take up space on the roof, which can be an issue if you have to make a turn, but be aware that they have less security than roof racks.

5. Would a load-assist roof racking system be the best kayak roof rack for you?

If you plan to tow a kayak often, then a load-assist roof rack may not be the best option for you. This type of rack mounts on the vehicle’s roof rails or rails bolted to the body, which could affect your gas mileage. If you do not intend to tow often then this type of rack may be an ideal option for you as it does not affect gas mileage as much as other types of racks do.

6. Why Buy a Kayak Carrier?

It is difficult to store your kayak on the roof of your vehicle. Cars are not designed to accommodate long items like kayaks and often only have one or two tie-downs on their roof. A kayak carrier can be used to carry up to three kayaks at once and is designed with a patented quick-release strap that allows for easy installation and removal.

The carriers are also stable, which means they won’t shift during transport. These carriers are lightweight, so they won’t add much weight to your vehicle’s load. They are also durable, as they will stand up against the elements without rusting over time; no need for expensive tarp storage!

7. Do you need a vertical kayak rack for your car?

Kayaks are expensive and difficult to carry. Especially if you need to carry more than one, it can be a pain. That’s why we’re here to talk about the best way to transport your kayaks: vertical kayak racks!

The first thing you’ll notice about vertical kayak racks is that they are well designed for people on the go. You can easily rack two kayaks side by side without worrying about damaging them. But there’s even more…

The second thing that makes a vertical kayak rack so impressive is how easy they are to get on and off of your vehicle! This makes it possible for anyone who has enough upper body strength and knows what they’re doing enough to drive a car, boat or motorcycle – making these racks perfect for beginners, too!

8. Is budget your biggest consideration when choosing the best kayak roof rack?

More expensive roof racks are usually made of high-quality materials and are heavy-duty.

A good kayak roof rack should be durable and strong enough to carry the weight of your boat while keeping it secure. You have to consider whether you want a good quality product, but at a cheaper price or vice versa – do you want an affordable product, even if it isn’t the best quality?

9. What are the different kayak roof rack mounts?

In the market, there are different roof rack mounts for a kayak. The most popular type is the clamp-on mount. The kayak can be clamped onto the roof rack or a crossbar. There are also two other types of mounts: a fork mount and a strap mount.

A fork mount installs directly on your vehicle’s roof rack or crossbar, while with a strap-mount, you attach straps to the front and back of your vehicle’s roof rack and then attach them to the kayak hulls with Velcro straps.

10. What are the benefits of using a roof rack?

A roof rack is a great option for carrying your gear. It can hold anything from kayaks to skis, bikes, and more. If you are planning a weekend getaway, you can load up on the roof and still have plenty of room for luggage in the back of your car.

Another benefit of using a roof rack is that it will help reduce wind resistance when driving and improve gas mileage because there is less drag on your car.

There are many benefits to using a roof rack in addition to being able to transport large items to different locations with ease. There won’t be any need for an expensive trailer or truck as the space on the car is already there, saving you time and money in the long run!

An amazing product for those who are tired of lifting heavy kayaks on top of the car!

11. What is the Malone Handirack?

The Malone Handirack is a strap that provides a grip for both hands. It is designed in such a way that the weight of the load can be taken on the fingers. The Malone Handirack has two main straps with a metal ring at one end and an adjustable strap at the other. The two straps have loops that wrap around your hands and fingers, with your fingers resting in between them.

The metal ring is positioned on top of your index finger or middle finger, depending on whether you are right or left-handed. The purpose of this handbike strap is to provide users with an easy way to carry heavy loads without risking injury to their hands from repetitive lifting.

The strap also provides support for back pain because it distributes some of the weight across your shoulders and back.

12. Can I lock my roof rack?

Yes, it is possible to lock your roof rack. The key is to use a lock that has a “security pin”. This is an extra metal rod with teeth on one end and a notch on the other.

When you insert the security pin through the holes in your rooftop, it blocks any potential thieves from prying open the rack and removing your gear. Some car racks come with built-in locks or locks that can be purchased as an accessory. Other racks can be locked using padlocks or cables and chains.

You can also purchase rooftop cargo nets that are designed to prevent thieves from reaching over onto your vehicle’s roof and opening your rack from above. These nets are not very strong, so they should not be relied upon exclusively for theft protection.

13. What are the benefits of a trailer hitch?

Trailers are a great way to transport cargo and machinery. The most common type of trailer hitch is the A-frame hitch that mounts to the frame of the vehicle. Adding a trailer hitch to your vehicle will save you time, money, and effort when transporting goods. If you have a pickup truck or SUV, it is worth investing in one because it will make work easier for you in the long run.

When choosing what type of trailer hitch to purchase, there are several things to consider such as what size of the trailer, weight capacity, and whether or not it has a sway control option. Remember that every model is different so make sure you find one that fits your needs best!

14. How do I get my kayak to and from the water?

That’s where roof racks for kayaks can be an essential accessory for transporting your yak to wherever you want to go.

Roof racks are the perfect solution for transporting kayaks! They allow kayakers to carry multiple large items on their vehicle without all that hassle and can take the stress out of your day. Roof racks are indispensable gear for any kayaker and we make it easy to find the best roof rack with our reviews.

15. What is a J-cradle or J Style Rack?

A J-cradle is a tool used in the oil industry. It is a type of rack that stores and transports oil drilling rigs. The name for the J-cradle came from its shape, which resembles the letter “J”.

The rig sits in a cradle and then is loaded onto two trucks to transport it to a new site. It can be used in conjunction with an extraction system, which allows for easier transfer of equipment due to the weightlessness created by the vacuum environment onboard.

The J-cradle was first introduced by Texas Oilfield Rental Company (TORCO) in 1955, where they designed and built their own equipment that could be used with their rigs. This allowed them to transport rigs without using cranes or other expensive heavy machinery and saved them money.

16. What are the benefits of using a Malone Roof Rack?

A Malone Roof Rack is beneficial for those who want to carry bulky items up top, such as a kayak or canoe, and can’t be transported in your vehicle.

These racks are also useful for transporting long items, such as lumber. Malone Roof Racks are versatile and can be used on vehicles with both a long roofline and a short roofline.

17. How many kayaks can you put on a roof rack

You’ll need to check the specifications for your vehicle to determine how many kayaks you can carry. The length of your vehicle is a primary factor in determining how many kayaks can fit on your roof rack. A roof rack on a long, wide SUV will be able to carry more kayaks than one that’s on a sedan.

Also, make sure you have enough clearance between the top of your kayak and the roof of the car. If there is not enough clearance, you may need to purchase an extender or just purchase kayaks that are shorter or smaller than average.

18. Should a kayak be transported upside down

A kayak should always be transported upside down when it is not in use. If it is stored on end, the cockpit may fill with water and cause rot to form. The bottom of the kayak will be exposed to the sun as well as the damaging effects of saltwater, humidity, and dust.

A kayak stored on end also exposes the deck to rain and snow which can cause leaks through the hatches or seams.

If you are transporting your kayak from one place to another, always make sure that it is transported upside down for safety purposes. Even if you transport your boat during the summer months, when there is no rain or snowfall expected during transport, it should be upside down for safety purposes.

19. Do you need crossbars for the kayak rack

The type of kayak rack you’ll need depends on the type of car you have and whether or not you want to transport more than one kayak at a time. If your car has a roof rack, this is the ideal option. Roof racks come in many varieties.

Some lack crossbars while others offer multiple crossbars with different spacing options. You can take measurements of your roof height and width to find out how many crossbars you’ll need and what spacing you should choose for each one.

Add an extra crossbar for stability if needed as well as some type of tie-downs to make sure that the kayaks are secure and won’t slide off while driving down the road.

20. How much does a kayak roof rack cost

A kayak roof rack typically costs between $150 and $250. The price will vary depending on the type of rack, the size of the kayak, and whether or not you are using it for camping.

21. How much does it cost to have a roof rack installed

A roof rack is a necessary piece of equipment for most people. A roof rack will help store your things securely on the top of your car, eliminating any worries about losing or damaging items.

A typical roof rack installation usually costs around $200-$350 for a basic trunk-mount style and $300-$700 for a more elaborate rail-mount style. Installation costs may be limited to an estimate of the materials cost only if the installer has all necessary equipment and tools at their disposal already.

22. Can I use a J style kayak roof mount to secure an Old Town 119 Discovery Canoe

The J Style kayak roof mount is designed to attach your kayak to your vehicle’s roof. It is made of 3/8 inch aluminum with double-carrier straps that are capable of handling a weight load up to 250 pounds.

This type of mount can be used for most vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, and trucks. The Kayak 119 Discovery comes with a bow and stern carrying handle which make it easy to load onto the roof of your car.

23. What is the best way to strap a kayak to the roof of a vehicle with no roof rack

It is not advised to strap a kayak on the roof of a vehicle. It can potentially roll off and cause serious injury. The best way to transport a kayak is to put it inside the car or trailer it with a truck or van. Some people have found ways to strap their kayaks on the roof of their car by using tie-downs like ratchet straps or rope. This method is not very secure and many people choose not to use this method because they are afraid that their kayaks will fly off while they drive down the highway. Some companies offer straps for sale online, but these methods can be dangerous if not used correctly.

Final Notes

Choosing the best kayak roof rack is a matter of personal choice. A mentioned before, different roof racks serve different car roofing systems. I tried listing down some of the noteworthy kayak roof racks on the market.

Hopefully, this guide can help you look for the right product. As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share it with your friends!

Last update on 2021-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API