Kayaking is on the rise as one of the most popular adventure sports out there, and it’s not without good reason. Getting back to nature and taking in some of the most beautiful scenery the world has to offer doesn’t even make it feel like you’re exercising most of the time, not to mention there’s a fantastic social aspect that comes with it too.
One downside to kayaking, however, is that it’s something that can rarely be done locally. Not only due to the remoteness of most kayaking locations, but also because it’s not very easy to transport a kayak from place to place without taking up a lot of room in your vehicle, and even thinking of trying to squeeze one into a smaller car is out of the question.
So, just how can you comfortably transport a kayak from place to place without sacrificing all of your vehicle’s interior space or damaging your kayak in the process? The answer is fairly simple - a roof rack that is designed specifically for kayaks!
A kayak will give you the opportunity to really get out and explore all of the places you can practice your favorite hobby, while also ensuring that your kayak gets there safely and securely as possible.
But when it comes to finding a kayak roof rack, well, things can become a little unclear. How do you know it’s secure enough? And are you certain that it’s going to be compatible with your vehicle?
To help take the guesswork out of it, we’ve trawled the internet for you and have compiled a list of some of the very best kayak roof racks available. We’ve also put together a super useful buying guide that’s packed full of hints and tips on what to keep in mind when you’re shopping around, and that will help guarantee you get the right one for your individual needs the first time around.
Grab yourself a seat, keep reading and soon you’ll be equipped with all of the knowledge you need in order to purchase yourself a fantastic kayak roof rack!
If you’ve got a kayaking trip coming up soon and need a really good roof rack that will help get your kayak there safely, check out our top pick below.
Best Kayak Roof Rack - Comparison Table
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Best Kayak Roof Rack - Reviews
Capable of transporting kayaks up to 36” wide and weighing up to 75lbs, the Kayak Car Top Carrier from TMS gives you the opportunity to easily and safely attach your kayak to the roof of your vehicle and head to your preferred kayaking spot.
Cleverly designed to store the kayak on it’s side, this carrier also saves space which means you’ll have more space to transport your essentials if you’re going on a long camping trip, while the wide mouthed J-Bar shape allows you to easily and quickly dismount your kayak whenever you need.
It’s also been constructed using super strong stainless steel for extra durability, and features built-in adjustable padding to ensure that there aren’t any scratches or damage to your kayak while you’re on the road. The surface of the carrier has also been treated with a rust-resistant coating, so you won’t have to worry about it suffering from any weather damage.
This kayak roof rack is compatible with almost all crossbars and load bars, so you can even switch between vehicles without worrying about it fitting, and all the mounting hardware and straps needed for easy installation are included. To top it all off, you’ll also be given a lifetime warranty, which is a testament to the quality of the product.
With four racks included, as well as straps and mounting hardware, the J-Bar Kayak Car Top Mount from ECOTRIC gives you the opportunity to transport two kayaks on the roof of your car at the same time and is ideal for family vacations.
The J-Bar style design allows you to easily and quickly dismount your kayak once you’ve reached your destination, and they also feature fully adjustable padding that will help prevent any bumps or scrapes against the body of your kayaks while your driving.
A combination of rust-resistant heavy duty steel and rubber have been used in the construction of this rack, keeping your kayak securely in place while simultaneously ensuring that your car’s paint work is protected from the racks as well. The total combined weight of the racks is also only 7.2kg, so they won’t add too much extra weight to your car.
Each of the racks can hold a kayak measuring up to 36” and weighing up to 165lbs, and is a universal fit for most vehicles. It’s also super easy to install thanks to the quick ‘on/off’ hardware and fittings, and comes with a one year warranty.
Universally designed to fit on most round, flat, oval and square crossbars, this Kayak Roof Rack from OxGord will allow you to easily transport your kayak from destination to destination and get on the road in record time with zero fuss.
This is mainly thanks to the fact that it requires absolutely no tools to assemble it! Instead, everything simply clicks together and is held securely with the fully adjustable tightening knobs. Once securely attached to the roof of your car, the included straps ensure that your kayak is held firmly in place.
Each J-Bar style cradle is constructed using water-resistant steel, which doesn’t only make them super durable but also means you can leave them in place without worrying about them suffering any rain damage. And, even though they are really hard wearing, they are also lightweight enough not to add any unnecessary or extra weight to your vehicle.
Adjustable padding is also included on each cradle, which helps to prevent any scratches from occurring on your kayak while it’s in transport, and each of the securing straps features a cinching buckle which allows you to transport differently sized kayaks without worrying about them fitting securely. A 1 year warranty is also included for extra peace of mind.
With four cradles, four fully cinchable straps and four tie-down straps, the Heavy Duty Kayak Rack from Mrhardware has been designed to allow you to easily and securely transport two kayaks at once with ultimate stability.
Compatible with most square and flat crossbars it’s really easy to install, and even features an EVA (Ethylene vinyl acetate) sticker that helps to protect your vehicle’s paintwork from scratches while it’s attached. Meanwhile, the J-Bar style design gives you quick and easy access when you’ve reached that perfect kayaking spot.
Adjustable padding has been added to each cradle to support your kayaks during transportation and to prevent any scratches from occurring, while their steel construction ensures that they are as durable as possible. A weather-resistant coating has also been applied to each cradle to help prevent rust and corrosion, so you can leave them installed to your vehicle all year round without worrying about them getting damaged.
Each cradle can hold a kayak measuring up to 36” wide and weighing up to 100lbs, and while the racks themselves are made from a super strong material, they are still lightweight enough to prevent any extra unnecessary weight from weighing your car down and increasing fuel consumption. As if that wasn’t enough, the securing straps are amongst the strongest available and have been tested with a break-limit of 600lbs, so you can rest assured that your kayaks will be firmly held in place throughout your journey.
Designed and built by kayaking enthusiasts, the Series 570 Kayak Carrier features everything you need to securely attach your kayak to the roof of your vehicle and head out into the wild, as well as a few innovative touches that help to make life that little bit easier.
One of the most impressive features is the 180 degree side-rotating function, that gives you easier access to your kayaking and allows you to mount it from the side of your vehicle, preventing you from overstretching and making it much easier to do if you’re out on your own.
The front and rear cradle pads have also been designed to securely hold a variety of different hull shapes, and the integrated Santoprene™ rubber pads help to cushion your kayak while it’s in transport, keeping it safe from scratches as well as adding to the stability. There are also tie-down straps and buckle-straps included that give your kayak even more stability during transportation.
Waterproof and corrosion resistant steel has been used in the construction of this roof rack, which helps to ensure it’s as durable as possible and will remain dependable regardless of the weather conditions. It’s also very easy to install and works universally with most crossbars, and comes complete with a 5 year warranty.
Best Kayak Roof Rack - Buyers Guide
Purchasing a roof rack that is specifically designed to help keep your kayak safe and secure during transportation will be an absolute game changer and a revelation if you’ve been used to securing it to a standard roof rack. In fact, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without one before, and you’ll almost certainly be heading out to find new and exciting places to kayak more often than ever.
However, there are a few things you need to think about before settling on your final purchase. There’s nothing more annoying than getting excited about your package arriving, just to find out it’s not suitable for what you need it for, so to help you make sure you get it right the first time we’ve outlined some key points below to consider when you’re shopping around.
First and foremost, you need to make sure that that kayak roof rack you’re thinking of buying is actually compatible with the crossbars that are already installed on your vehicle. Generally speaking, most kayak roof racks are universally designed and can be used on multiple crossbars including square, oval, round and flat.
However, if you’re unsure about what crossbars your vehicle has installed don’t just assume it’ll fit and purchase it anyway. Take the time to visit a garage, or even do a quick internet search to find out, otherwise you may end up with a kayak roof rack that you can’t use and you’ll be left with the frustrating task of having to send it back.
Once you’ve determined the crossbars your vehicle has, and you’ve found a kayak roof rack that can be used with them, you need to think about how much time you’re willing to spend on installing it.
Luckily, the majority of kayak roof racks are really easy to assemble and install, and some don’t even require any tools to put them together. This doesn’t only save you time and effort, but also means that you can use it for it’s intended purpose a lot quicker and get on the road faster!
Kayak roof racks that use tightening bolts or allen keys for installation are a really good option to go for, as they require very little effort to attach to your vehicle yet are strong enough to make sure the roof rack stays firmly in place throughout the duration of your journey.
You might also want to think about how regularly you intend on using your kayak roof rack, as those that are easy to install will be just as easy to uninstall. This means that you can remove them without any fuss during the winter months and safely store them away until you’re ready to use them again.
Another thing to look into when you’re thinking about installation is how many kayaks you’d like to transport as well. Some kayak roof racks are only suitable for holding one kayak, while there are others available that will let you securely fasten two to your vehicle. These are a better choice for family vacations or group trips, while a single-kayak roof rack will give you more space to secure other essentials to the roof of your car.
Take some time to look into the weight and size limitations of your kayak roof rack as well. Some are able to hold bigger, heavier kayaks that weigh up to 160lbs, while others are only able to support weights of around 50lbs. Remember, also, that adding extra weight to your vehicle will increase fuel consumption, so take a moment to check out the weight of the roof rack itself as well.
The material that your kayak roof rack is constructed from will ultimately dictate how strong it is, as well as how securely it will hold your kayak in place as you drive to your destination.
Most kayak roof racks are made using steel, and this is by far the best choice to go for. Steel is not only really strong, but it’s also lightweight. This means it won’t add any extra weight to your vehicle, but it will remain firmly in place, which is also great for ensuring the stability of your kayak.
Many steel kayak roof racks are also treated with a rust-proof or corrosion resistant coating, and this is another really good thing to look out for. This will help your roof rack last for a longer time by allowing it to withstand all kinds of weather conditions without getting damaged.
You may also notice that some kayak roof racks feature rubber on the feet of their cradles, and this is a great choice for preventing any scratches against the paintwork on your vehicle while you install the rack and mount your kayak. Rubber is also non-slip, so it will also help add to the stability of it.
There are several design features to look out for when you’re shopping for a kayak roof rack, and each of them is really good for not only ensuring that your kayak gets to your destination safely, but also for making life a little easier during the process.
Kayak roof racks that are designed to be side-loading are particularly useful as they’ll allow you to mount your kayak from the side of your vehicle, rather than attempting to place it on the roof from back to front. This also allows you to easily mount it without the need for an extra person, so are a great option for solo-kayaking trips.
A J-Bar design is also a good thing to look for, as this allows the roof rack to act like a cradle and hold your kayak securely in place at each end. This type of design also gives you easier access when it comes to dismounting as it has an open-top, so you’ll be able to simply undo your straps and ties and lift your kayak out.
Some roof racks also feature built-in adjustable padding within the cradle, and this is good for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the padding acts as a buffer between the steel of the roof rack and the surface of your kayak, which means that there’s a reduced chance of any scratches or surface damage occurring as you drive across bumpier roads.
Secondly, these pads provide further stability by holding the kayak in place, so when paired with a strong material and rubber feet you’ll be given even more assurance that your kayak will remain firmly in place.
Most roof racks will also include a variety of straps which can be used to secure your kayak to the cradle and hold it tight. There are two main types of straps to look out for here, the first of which is a tie-down strap. This pretty much performs it’s namesake, and is used to tie the kayak to the roof rack securely.
The other strap, and arguably the better of the two, is a cinchable strap (sometimes also called a ‘buckle strap’). Much like a belt, a cinchable strap allows you to adjust the tightness of it and get a really firm hold on your kayak before locking it in place. Despite the amazing grip, it’s also much easier to undo than a tie-down strap, so will give you quicker access to your kayak when you’re ready to dismount it.
Finally, as with anything you purchase online, it’s a good idea to look at what sort of warranty or guarantee you’re being offered with it. A good kayak roof rack can be an expensive investment, so it’s always worth seeing what you can get for your money.
Warranties for kayak roof racks are usually fairly generous, and some brands will even offer a lifetime warranty that will cover you for repair or replacement for as long as you have it. Some, however, are less generous than others and may only cover you for a couple of months, so it’s definitely worth doing a little research before purchasing.