8 Best Kayak Roof Racks in 2019: Keep Your Kayak Safe & Secure

Last Updated: 18 Jun 2018

Looking for the best kayak roof racks? You've come to the right place! If you are a kayak enthusiast, it's likely that you own a beach house so you can quickly get to paddling as soon as the cravings kick in. However, if you are yet to build one for yourself and are instead living miles away from the beach, you can still enjoy kayaking every now and then, provided you install the best kayak roof rack on your car.

But why do you need a kayak roof rack? How would you pick out the best out of the many models available on the market?

Well, owning the best kayak roof rack is necessary, especially if you have to drive long distances just to enjoy a kayaking experience. Without the best kayak roof rack on your car, chances are you will be visiting the kayak repair shop often to fix the hull cracks or punctures that characterize bumpy transportation. You will save a ton of money on kayak repairs if you purchase the best kayak roof rack for your car to ensure that your kayak is safe and secure during transportation. If you are looking to install one on your vehicle this 2019 season, then allow us to introduce you to the best kayak roof racks you can buy.

8 Best Kayak Roof Racks in 2019: Keep Your Kayak Safe & Secure

1. Rhino Rack – Folding J Style

1. Rhino Rack – Folding J Style

The Rhino Rack is a folding J style roof rack, which has a universal mount, making it perfect for almost any vehicle. The stand mounts to the crossbars, and the kayak lays on its side, giving you more room for other gear, or even another kayak. Just keep in mind that you have to purchase an additional attachment in order to do that.

The model features paddle cradles which allows you to also store your paddles. This carrier folds flat when not in use, and it has a weight capacity of 99 pounds.

Pros
  • Universal mounting
  • No assembly required
  • Rubber protection
Cons
  • It doesn’t tighten as tightly as it should

2. Thule 898 Hullavator Pro

2. Thule 898 Hullavator Pro

The Hullavator Pro from Thule features two cradles which attach to the crossbars of the vehicle. The top feature of this product is the gas assisted loaders, which makes it extremely simple to push the yak on top of the car. The weight capacity for this equipment is 75 pounds, and since you get help from the rack to load, this is a great choice for those with SUVs.

Pros
  • Loads at waist level
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Padded
Cons
  • Some reviewers report missing parts
  • You have to buy as a pair

3. Showboat from Yakima

3. Showboat from Yakima

Yakima’s Showboat also has a load-assisting feature, and it’s designed to work with all different types of crossbars. The rails of this roof rack can extend up to 24-inches.

This frame makes it easy to transport kayaks up to 80-pounds, even when you are on your own. The only downside is that it doesn’t have saddles or cradles for your boat, which could cause some damage when driving, especially over rough terrain.

Pros
  • Universal hardware
  • Padded for protection
  • Load-assist slides
Cons
  • Doesn’t fit every vehicle
  • No cradles or saddles

4. Malone HandiRack Universal Roof Rack

4. Malone HandiRack Universal Roof Rack

This roof rack is a bit different from others on our list, as it is inflatable. This is an ideal choice if your vehicle doesn’t have crossbars or rails. Since it is inflatable, it is simple to take on or off, and you don’t have to permanently mount it. You can also carry heavier loads, as the weight limit is 180 pounds.

The only issue we see with this stand is that it cannot fit on vehicles with sliding doors or vehicles with side-curtain airbags.

Pros
  • Fits on most vehicles
  • Easy to install
  • No permanent mounting
Cons
  • Doesn’t fit on vehicles with sliding side doors
  • Can leak air easily

5. Yakima Jaylow Carrier for Kayaks

5. Yakima Jaylow Carrier for Kayaks

Yakima has the Jaylow carrier which allows you to carry two kayaks thanks to its vertical design. This model has padding for a great grip, and this also protects your yak. This roof rack is great for people who have low clearance garages, as it folds down flat against the roof. When in the J-position, this frame can support up to 80 pounds.

Pros
  • Tools are included
  • Vertical design for two kayaks
  • Foldable
Cons
  • Doesn’t fit all vehicles
  • Several reviewers report cracking

6. Rhino Rack 2500 Series

6. Rhino Rack 2500 Series

The Rhino Rack Euro 2 is available in a number of sizes, so you should easily be able to find one that fits the model of your car. However, keep in mind that you have to get the right hardware. Though this is a good stand, not all vehicles can carry more than one yak, so if you have two, make sure to do your research.

Pros
  • Comes in many sizes
  • Strong construction
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Several reviewers report missing parts

7. Malone Stax Pro2

7. Malone Stax Pro2

The cool thing about this kayak rack is that it stacks so you can carry up to four boats per vehicle, though they must be 50 pounds, or less, each. This is a padded model, too; so you can rest assured that neither your yak nor your car will be damaged. It folds flat, too, making it a good choice for low clearance parking spots.

Pros
  • Two vessel capacity
  • Can stack racks
  • Foldable design
Cons
  • Wobbly design
  • Straps can become loose

8. TMS J-Bar Rack HD

8. TMS J-Bar Rack HD

This roof rack for your kayak comes with two different bolt sizes, which helps to ensure it will fit on most vehicles with crossbars. Its cradles are steel and then padded, which protects both your car and your yak. Though, you can only carry one vessel with this model, not two. However, keep in mind that the sleek design allows you to fit another stand on your vehicle, which would allow you to transport two boats.

Pros
  • Steel design
  • Easy loading and unloading
  • J-style carrier
Cons
  • Difficult to assemble
  • Doesn’t stay securely in place according to several reviewers


FAQ

We’ve been bombarded with relevant questions about kayak roof racks for truck and car from enthusiasts. These are people who want to know why it’s crucial to install one on your car. With so many options are available in the market, it’s hard to pick. We’ve listed some of the common queries from buyers.

What Is A Kayak Roof Rack?

It is a device you install on your car to keep your kayak safe and secure when driving to and from the beach for a kayaking experience. You wouldn’t want to drive all the way to the beach only to find that you’ve damaged your kayak during the long drive, would you? Such kit lets you transport your kayak safely on your car.

Why You Need A Kayak Rack For Car

If you live a long distance from the beach, the kayaking enthusiast you are would rather drive to the beach with your kayak than miss out on the experience. However, for you to safely transport your kayak without causing damage to it, you will need a supporting device to hold the kayak in place during the long drive. Safe and secure transport for your kayak will save you money that would otherwise be spent on repairing a damaged kayak. It also prevents you from damaging your car, which would be the case if you opt to tightly rope up to the bow and stern of the kayak on your car without a proper supporting kit. So it is an essential tool you should have, especially if you must drive long distances for a kayaking experience. The following are some of the benefits of installing the best kayak roof rack on your car:

  • It helps you transport your kayak securely and safely
  • It enables you to avoid damages to your kayak
  • It protects your vehicle from getting damaged by the bumpy drive
  • Allows you to save money you’d have used in repairing your kayak

How Far Apart Should Roof Racks Be For Kayak?

The average crossbar spread for kayak carriers is at least 24 inches. Most kayak roof rack designs work with the strongest roof points, and they recommend a 24-inch crossbar space distance. However, you can use a more extended crossbar spread, but don’t exceed 28 inches; otherwise, you will run the risk of damaging either the rack or the roof of your car when you unintentionally overload the rack. A longer crossbar space distance distorts the weight capacity of the frame, and you may unintentionally overload the rack and damage the roof of your car. Therefore, when installing the kit, make sure that the crossbar space distance is within 24 to 28 inches for the best functionality.

How Many Kayaks Can Be On A Roof Rack?

The number of kayaks that you can transport on the best kayak roof rack is an essential factor to consider. Most roof rack solutions provide a place for a maximum of 2 kayaks. Basically, the total number of boats you can carry is limited by your car’s maximum weight capacity.

How Do You Secure A Kayak Without A Roof Rack?

This problem can be quite challenging if you don’t have even the slightest idea on how to secure a kayak without a roof rack. However, this problem can be overcome quite easily using a few highly accessible supplies, although it won’t be as effective as when you use a roof rack. The best way to secure a kayak to a car without a rack would be to use flexible polyurethane tubes and ratchet straps to tie the boat firmly on your vehicle. The straps should pass over the front of the kayak as well as over the back of it. Also, make sure not to tighten it too much as this will damage the hull of your boat. Even though it is possible to secure a kayak without a roof rack, it is still advisable to acquire a roof rack kit to guarantee safety during transportation.

Can You Carry A Kayak On A Car?

Of course, you can carry it on a car, and this is precisely the purpose of a roof rack. With the best kayak roof rack installed on your vehicle, nothing can prevent you from carrying the kayak on your car.

TYPES OF KAYAK CARRIERS

For you to choose the best kayak roof rack that suits your needs, you have to understand the different kinds of boat carriers. They are of four categories, as follows:

  • Stackers
  • Saddles
  • Temporary pads
  • J-Cradles

BEST KAYAK ROOF RACKS BUYING GUIDE: WHAT TO LOOK AT?

The following are some of the things you need to consider when selecting the best kayak roof racks to purchase:

The Structure of Your Car’s Roof

Finding the best kayak car rack to buy requires that you know the roofing category of your car. There are the naked roof, factory-installed raised side rails, factory-installed flat tracks, and factory-installed roof racks with cross bars. Knowing the type of your car roof will help you buy the best kayak roof rack for your car.

Installation Process

Another factor to consider when buying a rack kit is the installation process. The critical questions you need to ask here include, how easy is it to install it on your car, and can you do it by yourself? The best kayak roof racks to buy are those that won’t give you a hard time during installation.

Affordability

You don’t want to spend a fortune buying the best kayak roof rack, do you? So, before you add any roof rack kit on your shopping basket, consider the price first. Some frames are affordable, and there are those that target the high-end market. Any of these can be the best kayak roof rack for your car. Choose whichever fits your budget.

THE BEST KAYAK ROOF RACK: FINAL ADVICE

We’ve provided relevant information on virtually everything you need to know when it comes to identifying the best kayak roof rack to buy. No further research is required of you. You only need to identify the roof structure of your car and based on the factors we’ve mentioned herein, choose the kit that will serve your needs best. The best kayak roof rack we recommend you buy is the Yakima Jaylow, which will offer you value for your money. With this kit, you’ll be able to carry 2 boats having a combined weight load of 110 lbs. Besides, the boat carrier has universal crossbar compatibility, so you won’t have any problems with installation. Even though it will cost you around $189 to acquire the kit, the roof rack is low maintenance, meaning you won’t spend a fortune on repairs and other miscellaneous costs.

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