What are the Best Kayak Roof Racks?
For a long period of time, kayaks have been in existence. It’s thought that the swift, slim boat has been in existence for around 4,000 years. The kayak was utilized by Aleut, Yup’ik, as well as Inuit peoples for transportation, as well as hunting. Initially designed of seal or additional animal skin with a wooden (sometimes whale bone) frame, it was really a personal water vessel. The boat generally was built by the owner, as well as was constructed to a size which reflected the builder’s body measurements.
For the ones who developed them, kayaks were made to be an efficient, practical working watercraft. Their job was typically close to the house. However, these days, this streamlined, small water vessel is the beginning point for adventure, as well as recreation. There are endless designs and types, designed of modern, durable plastics. The majority of folks these days do not build – they purchase. Plus, unless you’re lucky enough to reside close to peaceful lakes, rushing whitewater, or additional blue spots on a map, you must haul it from your home to those destinations.
For this, the majority of folks turn to a kayak roof racks for their truck or car. Kayak roof racks range from inflatable or foam pads that cushion the boat (as well as protect your car or truck’s roof) to more elaborate saddle, as well as roller systems which not just securely hold the kayak yet also offer some help in loading.
A kayak roof rack is a basic necessity for paddlers. And why is that? Because the majority of cars and trucks do not have room for a kayak that easily can be more than 10’ in length.
Utilizing the best kayak roof rack for your car will make transporting the kayak safer, as well as easier. Even some truck owners might opt to search for extra kayak storage when having to hold additional gear in the truck’s bed. It is practically a given that you will need a kayak roof rack to go with the new, shiny boat. However, what is the difference between all of the models? Plus, which one is the right one for you?
As it’ll come to transporting the kayak, you either can try to arrange it inside the back of your vehicle and then pray it does not come undone when you’re driving. Or, it’s possible to get yourself a kayak roof rack that’s easily installed on your car or truck’s roof. Getting the kayak roof rack may be just as expensive as a kayak itself. However, roof racks are made to safely transport your kayak to its destination. You do not have to be concerned with cracking the fiberglass kayak if you hit a bump or damaging the polyethylene kayak because it slipped out of your trunk and down the street.
A kayak roof rack is made to carry the kayak in place then strap it to the vehicle. We have reviewed and researched the best kayak roof racks which add more comfort during transportation and portability here, just for kayak enthusiasts!
Kayak roof rack: Why is it important?
The odds are you don’t have a fishing or kayaking spot close by and transporting the heavy kayak is actually difficult for you. It’s possible to add wheels to the kayak with a cart, yet you must put in a lot of effort to take it along. In addition, it also might be hard on the roundabout and you do not want to cause a mess on the streets. With a kayak roof rack, it’s possible to secure the kayak on top of your sports utility vehicle or car or whatever four-wheel vehicle you own. A roof rack for a kayak is made to make transportation efficient, secure, as well as easy, and you absolutely should buy one for yourself immediately.
Don’t hurry and jump right into buying a kayak roof rack without understanding details regarding the vehicle, rack type, as well as kayak size. I began to do my own research, testing a variety of kayak roof racks on various vehicles. No one particular rack may not always be fit for an additional vehicle. Here are some things you should bear in mind as you make the decision to invest in a kayak roof rack.
Your ability and strength to lift the kayak over your head to secure it onto the roof rack.
You do not want to struggle to lift the kayak and wind up dropping it on the floor, or even worse, your head getting injured in the process.
Truck or Car
Your truck, car, or SUV, and where your kayak roof racks are going to go and be tied down is an extremely important consideration.
As it’ll come to your truck, car, or SUV, you want to have the ability to reach your roof without a ladder. Even if you have a sports utility vehicle, if you cannot reach the top, you will not have the ability to get the kayak up there without help.
One other thing to consider as it’ll come to your vehicle is how the car roof is shaped and whether it’s flat or rounded.
Having a rounded roof may make it challenging to transport more than one kayak at once. If you’re planning to transport several kayaks at one time, a flatter roof might be better.
Also, the towers are something you must consider. Towers are the place the rack attaches to the car, sports utility vehicle, or truck.
If the vehicle does not come equipped with rails which run parallel to the length of the vehicle, you’ll need to insert clips to the vehicle’s door jam. The clips have to be watched at all times as they might break because of the bumps in the street and send the kayak soaring down the street without you.
But, if you have rails on the truck, car, or SUV, attaching the kayak roof rack is simple and is going to be more reliable and durable while you’re transporting the kayak to the water.
You also should consider the padding of the kayak roof rack which is going to be protecting the kayak. Some folks might think that specific foam pads are going to scratch the kayak up, but here’s the thing: foam pads easily are replaced and transferable from vehicle to vehicle. In addition, the positioning of the kayak as you transport it to the water may decrease the scratches; so actually, foam padding is your best bet.
Fixed fish finders still are the most utilized models by many kayakers. They’re large yet cheaper and usually are equipped with extra features such as GPS, map, as well as chart plotters.
Size of the Kayak
You ought to consider how many kayaks you’re planning to fit on top of the truck, car, or SUV.
There are various kayak roof racks for multiple or double kayaks, opposed to if you’re just loading one.
You ought to consider if later in the future you may find yourself buying another kayak and prepare for that now before wasting your money on one kayak roof rack.
Securing the kayak
Strapping the kayak down also is something to consider.
Will you use straps at the rear and front of the vehicle or through your windows?
Also, you need a strap which is going to lengthy enough for your car and that’s snug. Just keep in mind to always guide the straps upon the interior of the towers for additional stability, as well as security.
Mounting the kayak
The, you need to determine how you’ll lay out the kayak on the car’s roof. There are 4 styles to choose from as it’ll come to your kayak roof rack system.
Vertically: If you have plans on transporting more than one kayak at once, vertically is your best bet. You just stack the kayaks on their sides. With vertical kayak roof rack system, it’s possible to get as many as four kayaks at once.
Horizontally: A kayak roof rack system that is horizontal allows users to lay the kayak down onto its “belly” permitting the kayak to touch more of the vehicle. It’s possible to be certain that horizontal positioning reduces the wind resistance, so you will not feel as if you’re driving a sailboat.
Hitch Mount: Hitch mounts are ideal for shorter vehicles which do not have a lot of roof space as it pretty much ties your kayak to the rear and front of the vehicle and keeps the kayak tight and secured to the car’s roof.
J-Style: By far, J-cradles are the most sought-after kind of kayak roof racks because it’s possible to fold them down as you do not need them. J-style kayak roof rack systems are going to sit the kayak at a 45° angle permitting more wind resistance and stability than the vertical style.
The bars, also referred to as rain gutters are critical for any setup; however, you should be aware of the width and length of the bars as it’ll come to the vehicle you’re using for the kayak.
You always should attempt to go one size longer than what’s needed in order for you to know for sure that your kayak is going to be stable as you’re driving. You also should pay close attention to the width or distance between the bars.
You do not want airflow to get underneath your kayak and shift it when you’re driving and turn the kayak into a sail which causes you to lose control when you’re driving.
Best Kayak Roof Racks
There are kayak roof rack system varieties that are manufactured by different brands according to various prices, specifications, and requirements.
I have already tested and used a multitude of kayak roof racks which are able to fit inside small sports utility vehicles and cars and not all of them are equally built.
Choosing the best kayak roof rack system might be burdensome if you don’t have an idea about what’s required.
No worries! I have made a list of the 10 best kayak roof racks to install on your kayak and stop being concerned with transportation.
This model is available in the most sought-after “J” style which easily can fit a 36-inch wide kayak and is up to seventy-five pounds. The wide “J” offers easy unloading, loading and installation. It’s possible to rest assured knowing that the kayak is going to be protected with the Apontus Universal Kayak Roof Rack’s adjustable padding and steel design. The kayak roof rack system is universal, which means that it’ll fit on a number of trucks and cars.
Also, it’ll come with tie-down straps that ensure the kayak is secure and prepared to go when you are. Installation is easy as this product is not bulky and only weighs 8 lbs. by itself. With this model, you’ll still have space for other items to be loaded onto the roof, as well as save you space.
Features I like:
- Durable and lightweight
- Universal and adjustable
- Easy installation
- and loading
- May fit up to 36-inch kayak
This model permits users to place their kayak horizontally either on its ‘back’ or ‘belly.’ It’s a kayak roof rack system; however, a kit which will help you mount the kayak on top of the car or truck. This Attwood Car-Top Kayak Carrier Kit is equipped with two foam blocks that protect your vehicle’s roof and two poly web straps that have adjustable vinyl-coated clips. This model works very well for cars which are low to the ground.
Just lift the kayak up on the 4 foam blocks then secure your kayak with the straps around the stern and bow connecting them to your car’s bumpers. Use your other straps to tighten your kayak through the clips which connect with the inside of your car doors and you are off.
Features I like:
- Extremely durable and cheap
- Easy to mount and lift
- Foam blocks that protect kayak
- Back or belly mounting
This model is made for kayaks which are less than 30-inches wide and have a “V”-shaped hull. That’s how it fits tightly between the padding of the car rack and makes the kayak safe. Even though you only can carry one kayak down with the Kayak Wing Sea Kayak Rack, it’s lightweight and sturdy. Its maximum crossbar width is 3.25-inches and requires a clearance of 1.5” between the crossbar and the roof of your car.
Just drape the straps over your car’s hood, set the kayak softly into the “v” shape padding then secure the straps around the kayak. Because the kayak roof rack system is universal it’s also possible to attach it to a variety of car roof rack sizes and systems. But, if you have a flat top vehicle roof without a previous racking bar system in place, you may have to double check if it will mount correctly.
Features I like:
- Durable and selected by skilled anglers
- Universal and easy to mount
- Good clearance
- Fits 30-inches kayaks or under
If you’re searching for a roof rack which is able to adjust to various sized kayaks, you’ll want this model. This one cradles the kayak from 4 positions to keep your kayak in place while you’re driving. This mounting gear fits square, round, and standard oval cross rails, which makes the Malone Saddle Up Pro Universal Car Rack truly a universal kayak roof rack system. This model works better with bigger sit-on-top and kayaks which are a lot wider than sit-in kayaks, yet both will fit without any problems; you’ll just have to adjust the saddles’ placement.
As you place the kayak ‘belly-up’ onto your saddles, they instantly cradle and adjust to the kayak no matter if you use a “V” hull or not. All you need to do is wrap both the 12’ cam buckle straps over your kayak then anchor the hull and bow to the bumper of the vehicle with safety tie-downs and you’re set.
Features I like:
- Safe to tie down
- Best for both sit-in and sit-on kayaks
- Secure and strong mounting
- Fit for various sized kayaks
If you’re searching for something a bit less fancy than cradles, it’s always possible to choose the Cargo Cross Bar that fits perfectly across the majority of sports utility vehicles and cars. To utilize this, clamp the bars width-wise and lock in place at your vehicle’s windows. You do not need to be concerned with drilling holes in the vehicle’s roof. Also, the Universal Kayak Cargo Cross Bar SUV comes equipped with padding, so you will not damage the car’s paint. How exactly do they work with kayaks?
Clamp the bars in place, toss a blanket or towel over the bars then set the kayak on top. Next, use straps to keep your kayak in place. The Cargo Crossbar, of course, is just bars; therefore, the straps and padding you’re using to protect the kayak is up to you. They might not be ideal, yet if you’re low on money or need something quickly, they’re simple to install and get on the road and the water.
Features I like:
- Good bang for your buck
- Easy to tie the straps and clamp
- Safe and standard padding
- Great for SUVs and big cars
If you spend a ton of time kayaking inside the ocean, you understand how corrosive salt water might be. As you’re selecting a kayak roof rack system, you ought to consider this model as it’s designed of corrosion-resistant steel which is going to last longer than additional racks on this particular review. The Malone J-Pro Universal Kayak Roof Rack features everything you might want from a vehicle kayak roof rack system to keep the kayak protected. This model is equipped with stern and bow safety tie-downs, and 2 (12’) cam buckle straps that secure your kayak in place.
Also, it’s available with a lot of padding, so you will not need to be concerned with scratches or damage to the kayak. The Malone J-Pro Universal Kayak Roof Rack is universal, as well as fits all sizes of kayaks and is ultra-easy to install without tools. However, you’ll need rails on the vehicle already as that’s where the J-Pro connects.
Features I like:
- Easy and universal fit
- Great padding to prevent scratches
- Simple to secure kayaks
- Durable and corrosion-resistant
If you own a heavier kayak, ranging up to 100 lbs. or perhaps a wider kayak that’s about 3’ wide, you’ll want to get this model. The Folding J-style Kayak Rack is equipped with everything needed to install it to the vehicle. It does not matter if you own a flat or round car roof, the Folding J-style Kayak Rack is available with 2 sets of bottom mounting plates. Here’s the best thing about this kayak roof rack system: when you are not using the racks, they can fold down and are just 6.5” tall.
Memory foam padding surrounding the steel bars protects the kayak at the right spot to keep your kayak in place and secure. The rack fits most flat, oval, or square cross bars and runs flush with a car’s width, which makes it easy and safe to mount.
Features I like:
- Easy to store and fold
- Good for both flat and rounded roofs
- Comes with a lot of accessories
- Great for heavier kayaks
Do you own more than one kayak that you need to transport? You might want to check out this model. The Malone Stax Pro2 Roof Rack is appropriate for all factory cross bars whether they’re square, round, or oval. In addition, when you do not need the kayak roof rack system, it’s possible to fold it down for clearance.
What actually sets this system apart is its stacker blocks which cushions and stabilizes the kayaks while in transit, so they do not scratch or rub together. This system is designed of nylon infused platforms and aluminum posts. Even if you do not have to transport two kayaks, it’s possible to remove the second post and simply use, say, a “J” style roof rack.
Features I like:
- Aluminum build for durability
- Good padding and stable
- Easily folds down
- Great for transporting several kayaks
This kayak roof rack system is made to vertically transport your kayaks which some folks might not like, particularly if they require clearance from low branches or additional obstacles. But you’ll receive everything needed to assemble the Folding J-style Kayak Roof Rack to the car and is available with 2 different mounting plates for flat or curved vehicle roofs. What set this one apart from the other ones on the list are its tightening knobs that secure your bigger kayaks or accommodate more compact kayaks. When not being used, it’s possible to fold the rack down to 6.5” and will fit crossbars which are up to 3.5” in width that are rectangle or square.
If you own oval crossbars which are at least 1.5” in diameter you will not have any problems with mounting this system. But the racks will not fit on bars which run the length of the car, so you ought to double check before you look at these.
Features I like:
- Durable and inexpensive
- Good tightening knobs
- Stable mounting curves and plates
- Vertical mounting for safety
This roof rack is designed of premium steel that’s lightweight but durable with a rust-resistant coating. The 2 Pair Universal Top Mount Kayak Rack fits standard crossbars which are flat, square, oval or round. The kayak roof rack system has the ability to accommodate 2 kayaks up to 165 lbs. combined weight and 36-inches wide. The massive J-style offers you easy unloading and loading.
In addition, if you do not want the racks in the winter seasons, they’re easily removed as they are to install. The rack itself is just 17.25” long and 14.625 in height. It easily will accommodate and keep the kayak snug and secure with the four straps which are included and rubber padding which will not damage the kayak. This kayak roof rack, by far, is the most affordable.
Features I like:
- Works well in saltwater
- easy to carry and lightweight
- Easy to remove and install
- Can accommodate 2 roof racks
- Durable and rust-resistant
Transporting Several Kayaks
With a reliable roof rail system, you easily will have the ability to take 2 kayaks on the rack. Blend this with a side mount, trailer, or hitch mount and you have sufficient space for up to five kayaks attached to a single vehicle! If you actually need the space, there are several boat trailers that have space enough for more than 8 kayaks on one trailer. They’re best for institutional programs that have several participants.
Tips for safety
It’s important to load, as well as safely secure the kayak not just for yourself yet for the ones who’ll be driving behind you or close to you.
You do not want to cause an accident or lose the kayak because you did not secure it correctly to the kayak roof rack. Below we list some basic tips to make sure you safely get to the water:
- If the kayak roof rack system comes with straps, check to ensure that they’ve locked into place and your kayak is not wobbly before leaving.
- Tie the extra length off right above the buckle so that in case the buckle comes undone, the kayak still is in place. If you tie it too far down, your kayak might shift, and you might lose it or cause driving problems because of wind catching your kayak.
- Use at least 2 straps or lines for the body of the kayak to keep it from catching in the wind when you’re driving.
- Secure the lines to the bumper both behind and in front. Any additional place will cause problems and might damage not just your vehicle yet cause friction to the kayak and might result in damage or scratches.
- Always keep a close eye on the lines and straps when driving. Occasionally check the rearview mirror to ensure the line isn’t flapping around and is still tight.
- Be mindful of the ones behind and around you. The kayak is sticking out from the back of the vehicle and if you make an abrupt stop, it might cause the bow of the kayak to wind up in someone’s windshield; therefore, pay close attention to spacing.
As you spend hard earned money and time on purchasing a kayak, you are going to want to ensure that it does not become damaged before getting to use it. That’s why a kayak roof rack system is so critical. You do not want to just toss your kayak into the back of your truck or sports utility vehicle in which it might shift around and possibly get dented or cracked. Be certain to protect it by choosing one of the above best kayak roof racks so it’ll last for years into the future.