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cars with kayaks on roof racks

Best Kayak Roof Rack

Updated On March 9, 2021

[toc]Transporting a kayak can get a bit problematic and is nobody's idea of fun. There are many kayak roof racks in the market. 

If you are confused about which kayak rack to choose we have some great advice to get you going. Firstly if you just want a quick choice our top pick has to be the SportRack Complete Roof Rack Systeman impressive, durable, and high-quality choice for the best kayak roof rack. 

After testing the kayak roof racks in the market, we decided to cover:

  • A quick look at the kayak roof rack for everyone's budget
  • Comprehensive testing, we explain to you features of each
  • A helpful buying guide on how to pick the best kayak roof rack 

Our seasoned editors have picked and rated these products for each specific category and area of expertise to recommend you the best models and products we can. We receive commission from some of these affiliate links.
"comes with everything starting from buckles to latches in a sole package."
"premium features alongside a handi-pump with which you can enlarge the twin ladders in a fraction of seconds."
Best For Cars Without Stock Rails: Apex RCB-3745-U Universal Strap-Attached Roof Crossbars
"comes with rubber covered layers for extra protection to the rooftop. These roof racks are highly reliable as they are composed of thick steel."
"popular design that ties crossbars effectively and straps for wrapping kayaks, and most importantly, a folding system when it is not in use."
"impressive cradles, buckles, adjustable paddles, and a J-Hook style carrier. "
Best Aerodynamics: Thule Aeroblade Roof Rack Bar
"comes with improved stability, aggregate security, and a stunning aerodynamic posture. "
"very simple to install this roof rack and comes with features like J-styled roof racks. "

Our Top Reviews



Best Overall
Quick Specs
  • Material: Steel
  • Load Capacity: 139 Pounds
  • Item Weight: 13.5 Pounds
  • Item Dimensions (L×W×H): 50.5 x 5.8 x 3.8 inches
SportRack Complete Roof Rack System - SR1002 , Black
Suppose you are waiting to get a detailed roof rack system with fully ready-to-install. In that case, SportRack is one of the reasonable options for you. Considerably priced, this huge roof rack is an excellent improvement to your automobile's bare rooftop that can adapt a vast number of appliances on top. To describe SportRack SR1002 in a single word, then it is an everything-in-a-single-purchase roof rack system. This roof rack encloses sets of locks, buckles, baggage bars, hooks, and every additional crucial accompaniment that is needed to settle this roof rack together.

This kayak carrier comes with crossbars that deliver support to several various baggage appliances. It doesn't have any restrictions on the type of luggage, and you can carry skis, kayaks, snowboards, surfboards, and many more without compromising on safety and convenience. You don't need to worry about security as the crossbars are prepared and brought out from durable steel substances covered with raven plastic to empower preservation against rust, moisture, and harmful UV rays.

We loved the molded rubber edges of the rack, which restrict the rack from scraping the car's roof. SportRack SR1002 reaches you with an incorporated lock system to guarantee the comprehensive protection of the racks at all periods. The latch system appears with two keys and gives ethical anti-theft safety. We were stunned to know the roof rack's capacity as it can skillfully withstand up to 130 pounds of baggage without creating any destruction because the baggage burden is circulated equally between the bars. An impeded lifetime warranty of the rack is furnished by the manufacturer.

What We Liked

  • Comes with sets of locks
  • Strong roof rack
  • Drilling the roof of your car is not required
  • Arrives with apexes

Didn't Like

  • Creates some sound when on the roof.
  • You should adjust it tightly to have a decent grip.

Best Premium
Quick Specs
  • Material: Nylon
  • Load Capacity: 175 Pounds
  • Item Weight: 5.75 Pounds
  • Item Dimensions (L×W×H): 14.6 x 7.4 x 5.7 inches
SportRack Complete Roof Rack System - SR1002 , Black
HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars arrive with a qualified hand pump, which authorizes you to enhance pumping the double bladders in just a few seconds. This kayak rack is ratified for usage up to highway lane speeds that come with an extensive inflatable rack that hauls all kinds of appliances and equipment. HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars permit you to transfer every kind of outdoor equipment regardless if it is a kayak or bike, or other water boards.

This kayak rack comes with a set of already packed two heavy-duty tie-downs, which are 9.8 foot lengthy. We also liked this kayak rack because it gives birth to two HandiRack clone tubes that give pad effects while riding through bumpy paths. You can easily seam down this inflatable roof rack when not in use with the help of a nylon drawstring voyage pouch. Bow and stern lines are bestowed to favor you in bonding the kayak starting from the front to the back of the car. These appliances prepare the trip extra safer and terminate the probability of unexpected collapses.

You can carry heavy weighing items on this roof rack as it can endure load weight up to 175 Pounds safely without compromising on the all-around resilience of the load during the ride. So, you can place a big canoe, winter sports equipment, surfboards, kayaks, or any other appliance without any second thought. You can simply install this rack. You can utilize the manual booklet instructions or watch videos on installing the rack for further information.

What We Liked

  • Holds up all kinds of appliances and equipment
  • Can be used as a multipurpose or versatile roof rack 
  • Outlines heavy-duty cam clasps
  • Prepared from tough and strong components
  • It used D ring anchor points, which enables safe and steady loading

Didn't Like

  • Sometimes water penetrates the vehicle during massive downpours

Best For Cars Without Stock Rails
Quick Specs
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Load Capacity: 150 Pounds
  • Item Weight: 5 Pounds
  • Item Dimensions (L×W×H): 47.75 x 2.88 x 3 inches
Apex RCB-3745-U Universal Strap-Attached Roof Crossbars
The Apex RCB-3745-U Universal Strap Attached Roof Crossbars is one of the finest roof rack kayak carriers of all-time presented by the Apex Legends. This carrier is mostly made of steel components, which makes it more durable. You no need to worry about the roof rack being damaged by massive weight as this roof rack easily endures close to 150 Pounds, which makes it more convenient for you to carry other water sports equipment alongside kayaks.

The Apex RCB-3745-U Universal Strap Attached Roof Crossbars comes with gator clips and straps, making it simple for you to install this mechanism. This kayak carrier is presented with a heavy-duty, hard, and thick steel formation. You can relax from your worries of your vehicle being scratched as this roof rack comes with rubber end-lids to protect the vehicle's rooftop. Alongside, it also possesses a non-mar rubber bottom for protecting universal crossbars of the Apex RCB-3745-U.

It is a piece of cake to attach these model's crossbars with the vehicle's roof. It is like a cakewalk to install this roof rack compared with other roof rack models out there in the market. This kayak carrier can transport giant objects or pieces of equipment and manages the area on the roof.

What We Liked

  • A strong crossbar roof rack
  • Very easy to put in
  • Favorable for small and tiny cars
  • Comes with heavy-duty props to preserve the bars

Didn't Like

  • Only desirable for lightweight items.
  • You need to purchase additional things for safety reasons apart from buying this roof rack.

Best Features
Quick Specs
  • Material: Alloy Steel
  • Load Capacity: 75 Pounds
  • Item Weight: 8 Pounds
  • Item Dimensions (L×W×H): 18 x 7 x 7 inches
TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Canoe Boat Surf Ski Roof Top Mounted on Car SUV Crossbar
The actual impressive element of this TMS J-Bar Rack, apart from its cost label, is that it enters with two bundles of cradles. While a number of products give only a sole pair, you can obtain more than enough roof rack that is capable of carrying two kayaks for a low price if you buy this kayak carrier. The TMS J-Bar gives birth to a steel designed structure with adaptable padding for holding up strength for kayak safety.

This rack possesses an extensively accepted design that is consistent with extensions for maximum crossbars. This roof rack carrier spotlights flexible padding along with a rust-resistant covering. You can effortlessly install this roof rack while giving a glance to instructions that are straightforward and on point. This roof rack solidifies kayaks on the roof, even riding the vehicle at higher speeds, so you don't need to worry about the kayak. You can easily load and unload the kayaks as it has a wider mouth.

The quick on and off hardware system guarantees abrupt establishment and eviction of the kayaks. In contrary to other higher-end kayak roof racks, this model is particularly manufactured to be extra universal in intention. This simply implies that you can accommodate any kind of kayaks and not just a few traditional kayaks into the hotbeds. You can also use this for carrying other watercraft things like surfboards, canoes, boats, and tinier leg paddleboards as this carrier comes with a careful security detail, in the shape of tie-downs and straps. 

What We Liked

  • One of the high-quality kayak carrier in the market 
  • Extremely manageable to organize
  • Secures the kayaks on the roof even at great speeds
  • Inexpensive 
  • Very suitable for spherical bars 

Didn't Like

  • Doesn't come with manuals
  • Unstable clasps
  • Lengthy bolts than required 

Best Aerodynamic
Quick Specs
  • Material: Alloy steel and rubber  
  • Load Capacity: 165 Pounds 
  • Item Weight: n/a
  • Item Dimensions (L×W×H): 55 x 4 x 4 inches
Thule Aeroblade 53-Inch Roof Rack Load Bars (1 PR)
The Thule Aeroblade Roof Rack Bar is one of Thule's supreme aerodynamic roof racks. This kayak carrier is constructed to withstand higher speeds with extremely quieter sound. The AeroBlades of this rack is available in different bar lengths such as 43, 47, 53, and 60. All these are congenial with an assortment of Thule stretch feet. Feet can easily glide onto the bars through underbar openings, while a broad mixture of appliances slides onto the bars using the vacancies along the lid of the bar.

The arm layout of the crossbars and WindDiffuser lines at the exterior, along with the covers of underbar niches, keeps the wind sound at a minimum level. Alongside BoxBeam aluminum structure furnishes stability and lightweight. This model also cokes with extra spotlights such as tape measure-free establishment and swiveling SwingBlade stop caps.

Even though this rack is made using lightweight substances, it skillfully handles weight up to 165 pounds, which makes it equal to other heavy load kayak racks in the outer market. This implies that this roof rack is also one of the big choices for huge appliances and baggage. It is also one of the finest models that are very straightforward to establish and incorporate AcuTight Tensioning equipment. 

What We Liked

  • Holds up heavyweight 
  • Reduces pull with the assistance of WindDiffuser technology 
  • Comes with better weight resistance 
  • It also reduces the aerodynamic drag
  • Comes with AcuTension tool
  •  lifetime warranty

Didn't Like

  • Instruction on installation in manual needs to be improved  

Best Budget
Quick Specs
  • Material: Alloy steel and rubber  
  • Load Capacity: 165 Pounds 
  • Item Weight: 13.2
  • Item Dimensions (L×W×H): 20.25 x 10.38 x 7.75 inches
YAKIMA - JayLow, J-Style Fold Down Rooftop Kayak Carrier, 2 Boat Capacity
This kayak roof rack carrier encompasses several distinct tower characteristics and is also one of the easiest roof racks to install. This is a J-style carrier, but you don't need to worry about the cost because this model is not that expensive compared to other J-style roof racks. This independently gives rise to the Yakima Jaylow as another powerful challenger for the prime roof racks with the best storage capacity. It retains a little hotbed to clasp the kayak on its viewpoint and comes with an angled shaft for the hull to protect against it when positioned in a nearly vertical position.

To maintain it extremely safe during the transport period, a ratchet strap is connected to the tower and on the lid of the hull to keep rigid on the crossbar. Even within 3 minutes, you can skillfully tie down your kayak as it comes with a J-carrier. We liked their small yet substantial upgrades that were made to this rack, such as slide fences, which make it manageable to pile your kayak onto the roof of your truck and prevents it from grating the pigment of your automobile.

This kayak carrier also arrives with simple-release handles that facilitate the top rack to crumble down. The comprehensive view of this roof rack is adequately put-together and extremely improved. Its clasps appear with a bow and sterns tie fuzzes. 

What We Liked

  • Flexible roof rack 
  • Crumples down during the times when not in use 
  • Fits perfectly to Yakima crossbars 
  • It makes angle adjustments to harmonize with the type of kayaks 

Didn't Like

  • A vulnerable shutting tool on the towers
  • You need to purchase an extra lockset as this roof rack doesn't come with any locksets
  • Costly for some set of people 

Things To Look At Before Buying A Kayak Roof Rack 


Vehicle Type or Compatibility

This is one of the decision-making factors that you have to consider before buying a kayak rack for cars without a roof rack. For a bare rooftop or an empty rooftop, one possible option is side rails, or you can wield interim pads since there is nothing to fasten gear. If your car maintains crossbars, then you have got all the options in the world. You can connect a J-style, pad, or stacker. One thing you should make sure of is if there are any weight limitations for your crossbars. 


The shape of the roof

Almost many kayak roof rack manufacturing brands retain a roof rack that goes well with a maximum number of cars without rails. Nonetheless, it is still a basic essential to notice the contour of the car's roof to know which kind of kayak roof rack suits the best for your car.


Mounting system

When it is the time to choose a roof rack, then you have to analyze the desirable mounting system, as the racks maintain varied latch frame systems that specify whether the roof rack can be unmounted anytime or survives on the roof till eternity. Moreover, the style of the brackets also influences how the kayak will be connected to the roof. After thorough analyses of every style, we choose the Hook style that is impressively suitable for cradling a kayak in a decent posture.


Evaluate Accessories

Specify the appliances you are setting in motion to utilize way before you purchase a roof rack. You can check the width of the crossbar as it adjusts the number of appliances you can put in on your car. Many of the buyers prefer a few accessories like a snowboard rack, kayak rack, ceiling basket, baggage box, and more. Also, you must check whether the roof rack comes with an accessory kit or not. If it comes with a kit, then list out all the things and see if it consists of everything you need. 


Touring Distance And Usage

Kayak roof racks authorize you to transfer your kayak everywhere, but there are a few kayaks carriers that are specially designed for long-distance travel. Most of the saddles incline to maintain the kayak in its resting posture, which creates it further aerodynamic for lengthy distances. It also enables the kayak to be puff up against the automobile, which in turn gives more gas milage and wind drag. But if you are looking only for shorter travels, then you can opt for temporary pads which suit best for quick trips. 


Cost

Of course, you can not miss the budget detail. Make sure that you opt for the best kayak roof rack that fits well with your desired budget. Also, if your wished kayak carrier is overpriced, then look for other similar items with the same features that come with an affordable price as there are numerous expensive kayak racks to which similar racks do exist with a much lower cost. 


Material Usage 

The material used in making the kayak rack mostly determines the longevity of the kayak carrier because some top brand kayak carriers come with material that is resistant to rust and corrosion. Based on our experience, we highly recommend you opt for a roof rack made from metal, or if possible, you can buy a roof rack made from aluminum. Never purchase a roof rack where there is plenty of plastic usage and components. 


Stability

Stability or durability is one of the main elements to consider while purchasing a kayak carrier. Because these racks have to withstand the immense weight of the kayak and sometimes long travels in which they need to survive a few bumpy and hard grounds. Thus, choose the reliable one that endures the kayak weight and doesn't possess any harm to both the kayak and vehicle's roof. 


Aerodynamics

It is better if you eradicate the roof racks that climb too high above your car's roof from your purchasing choice list. Because these kinds of roof racks produce haul that limits the poor fuel economy. So, it is always good to go with the roof racks that hold the baggage or equipment close to your rooftop. 


Warranty

Warranties of the product are a crucial ingredient for making any huge purchase. If you are driving to be dragging your kayak over then, you should make sure that the components and clasps are under warranty in case something occurs.


Final Thoughts

You are independent to pick any one of the above-listed kayak roof racks for cars without rails without having any second opinion or hesitation as they all approach with the utmost wanted elements, decent status, and surprisingly some of the buyer's particular favorites. Still, we are tilting more towards the SportRack Complete Roof Rack System because of its comfortability, durability, and remarkable other features. 

We hope we continued to give a strong source of kayak carrier choices by knocking down a few of the best kayak roof racks that are on another level. 

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Andrew Bell

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