Best Kayak Racks for Cars 2021 – [Buyer’s Guide]

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Are you looking forward to purchasing the best rack to carry your kayak in the car? If yes, then you have reached the right place. Here, we will provide the list of Best Kayak Car Racks. Whether you want to take the kayak for a great weekend experience on a lake or you want to shift to a remote location, you require an effective and safe way of transporting your kayak. If you are a beginner, you will be concerned about the kayak flying off a the time of transportation or about how you are going to carry the kayak off your vehicle and onto the ground without any kind of damage. You can buy a big rope and strap it on the roof of your car, however, there are chances that you might damage your car as well as the roof. The first and the most essential thing which you should have for safe and effective transportation is a kayak rack or a kayak carrier. Due to a wide range of kayaks available in the market, you may find it challenging to select the best rack. In order to resolve your issue, here we will provide the list of best kayak roof racks for cars. Without much ado, let’s get started:

Best Kayak racks for Cars [Reviews] in 2021

1. Malone HandiRack Inflatable Universal Roof Top Rack

HandiRack Malone Pad is absolutely great for transportation just because of its double action Handi Pump which inflates the rack in only 20 minutes. Moreover, you can deflate the rack within a few minutes. The multipurpose universal roof rack is compatible with City car, Hatchback, Saloon, Estate, MPV, SUV, Crossover, Coupe, 4×4, 2,3,4,& 5 door vehicles. The rack is not recommended for automobiles with soft-top or curtain airbags. The rack can withstand tough 420-denier nylon along with 5 D-ring anchor points to keep it fully stable on the top of the car. If the weight of your kayak is less than 180 pounds, then you will be able to install it on almost all the vehicles. The rack comes with Two HandiRack twin tubes, two 3nm tie-down handstraps, a high-volume double-action Handipump, instructions, and a portable bag.
  • The straps can be set up quickly and don’t disturb any of the persons inside the car
  • The rack is made from high-quality fabric and straps are designed properly
  • Air chambers give solid cushion between car and your kayak
  • It doesn’t work properly in rain, heat or under extreme pressure
  • It’s hard to patch up any leaks if anything is punctured

2. Malone Downloader Universal J-Cradle Kayak Carrier

J-Cradle carrier includes an inbuilt boarding camp; hence, you will be able to load and unload your items efficiently. It includes Fold Down Technology, which raises the clearance overhead; however, don’t worry about padding. It consists of oversized padding in order to protect your kayak; it doesn’t matter which type of kayak you use. It includes JAWZ mounting hardware which fits in the majority of cross rails and consists of 60nm and 70nm pre-coated mounting bolts. Lastly, it consists of cam style load straps with buckle protectors.
  • It doesn’t decay even if you keep it open for a long time
  • Loops hold extra strap length in place
  • Locking tabs work efficiently, and you will hear a sound when everything it’s just set
  • The rack is built from a high-quality material
  • It doesn’t fold in the hold, hence as soon as your kayak is on the top, you can fold it down
  • You might have to use your tools to stiffen it for extra stability
  • It makes noise sometimes in transport

3. Thule 830 Stacker Kayak Rack

The stacker frame from Thule features a fold-down steel design, which is highly durable and doesn’t get scratched easily. It is useful to transport four kayaks from one place to another. With this rack, you will only get straps to carry one kayak. The frame can easily adjust kayaks having a width of 36 inches and a weight of 75 pounds in the given straps. To transport more kayaks, you will have to buy additional straps.
  • Doesn’t add extra noise or mess to the aerodynamics of the vehicle
  • Frames come with an additional strap, hook, rope, bolt, and rachet for effective installation
  • Quick to set up as well as remove. You can also keep it on the roof
  • Straps included in the package aren’t of good quality, you might have to replace them
  • You might have to add more foam to increase the friction

4. Malone SeaWing Saddle Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier

The low profile rack with saddle roof design is suitable for quick installation and holds the most amount of roof space possible. It twists smoothly on your kayak and remains safe along with enhancing your gas mileage. It is recommended to use Jawz mounting to fit round, square and all the oval shape cross rails. If you are carrying a kayak under 70 pounds, then you will not face any issue.
  • Remains stable when you are driving and doesn’t have any effect on your driving
  • Generates no noise whether you have kept a kayak in it or not
  • It doesn’t create more wind resistance
  • It can be installed easily by just one person
  • Suitable to keep only narrow kayaks
  • You have to loosen the straps when not in use to prevent it from any dents

5. Thule 898 Hullavator Pro Kayak Lift Assist Carrier

Wider cradles allow you to store bigger width hulls. At the time of waist level loading, unloading, or strapping, you will find it simple for guiding your kayak. Due to Gas struts, you will find it simple to load and unload the kayak without anyone’s help because the carrier holds 40pounds of the kayak’s weight. The rack includes Quickdraw bow and stern tie downs including two centre straps along with car-protective buckle bumpers to keep your car as well as kayak stable. Also, you are not required to bother about kayak’s slipping or your vehicle getting scratched anymore.
  • If you are small, then you can handle it with ease and doesn’t need much effort
  • Quick loading and unloading, making it simple for single, older or even smaller individuals
  • Directions and instructional videos provide simple steps for installation
  • Might not be stable when you are carrying it at highway speeds
  • It is hard to put it together if you are small in height

6. Yakima Jaylow Kayak Rack

If you are planning to take a kayak or a pair, this frame is developed in a way to support either one kayak weighing up to 80lbs or two kayaks weighing up to 110 lbs. The contact points are correctly padded to provide an exceptional level of protection and a good grasp of the handle at the time of transportation. By this, you will not feel anxious while driving. Here, if you have one kayak, you can keep in J-Cradle position, but if you have two, then keep in the vertical, stacked position. After this, lock it using the SKS lock core for more security. The amazing quality of straps and bow/stern tie downs are also available with this rack.
  • Over-moulded stainless steel trap to adjust a wide range of raised rail profiles
  • Low maintenance and quick to set up
  • Very good roof clearance to enable various kinds of Yakima gear amounts
  • Bends down and locks in the down position for extra security – enabling you to leave the rack on your roof
  • It is expensive
  • Straps are made up of rubber instead of plastic or metal
  • Locks are not included with the rack

7. Thule Dockgrip Kayak Saddle

Thule designs some of the best kayak roof racks for cars in the market. Thule Dockgrip looks similar to a SeaWing, fits properly in the base rack, but there are four brackets where the boat sits between. The frame is holding less body; this means that they can carry a wide range of hulls, just because of its angle-setting lever. It can withstand kayaks and SUP’s up to 36inch width and weight up to 85 lbs. The saddles pivot to provide more flexibility.
  • Protects the hull with big, adjustable, cushioned pads
  • Can make your kayak safe using straps and car protective buckle bumpers
  • Fits various types of Thule rack systems, round bars and the majority of factory-racks because of its t-rack and flip fit brackets
  • Due to various features, it is sometimes difficult to load and unload the kayak

8. Malone Stax Pro2 Universal Car Rack

Universal Car Rack from Malone Stax Pro2 can withstand the load of 2 boats at the same time on a standard car roof. This kayak carrier is suitable for a round, square and most factory oval cross bars. Its robust and stable design can withstand a kayak with a max weight of 80 pounds. JAWZ mounting hardware offers universal fitting. Aluminum posts and injection moulded nylon platforms for the best stability. Proper padding to cushion boats and safeguard them at the time of travelling.
  • Can carry 2 or more kayaks easily
  • Folds down with ease when not in use
  • Fits almost with all the style of crossbars
  • Its foam padding ensures that the body is scratch free and bow and stern tie-downs make it secure to the rack
  • Straps cannot hold the pressure properly; hence you have to replace them with ratcheting straps
  • Can’t be used to hold kayaks horizontally, only on their size

9. TMS J-Bar HD Kayak Rack

The rack is developed from solid steel which offers excellent durability, however, it consists of flexible padding to safeguard the kayak along with enhancing its carrying strength. Rack’s J-bar provides a wide mouth to speed up loading and unloading. Also, it is developed to adjust most of the crossbars and load bars available in the market. It can withstand kayaks up to 36inch width and 75 pounds, so you should first measure the width and weight of your kayak.
  • Steel design along with adjustable padding
  • Quick to assemble and install, despite its highly tight
  • Low cost
  • Specially designed for round bars
  • Straps quality is not up to the mark
  • Mount hardware quality is poor

10. ECOTRIC J-Bar Universal Kayak Rack

This canoe rack for a kayak is best suitable for SUV, car and also a van. This rack enables you to fix your kayak in J-style to provide extra space on the top of the car. Due to its wide-mouthed style, you will be able to load and unload the boat quickly. The roof rack is made from robust quality steel and allows you to adjust padding as per your choice. It consists of mounting hardware steel design along with flexible padding, which helps to increase strength and protect your kayak.
  • It fits the majority of factory or aftermarket square as well as flat crossbars
  • Quick on/off software provides quick installation and removal
  • Long lasting and rust-resistant hardware
  • Holes for the bolts are not aligned properly due to which it takes more time for installation
  • Hardware quality is not up to the mark

Factors to consider before selecting the Kayak roof racks for Car or SUV

It’s quite challenging to select a Kayak rack for Car or SUV as there are different types of kayak racks available in the market. Initially, you have to decide which frame fits your budget is and your car’s requirement.

What type of roof setup is present in your vehicle?

Before choosing a kayak rack, you should have a clear idea about what type of roof setup you have. There are mainly four types:
  • Bare/Naked Roof: In these kinds of roofs, inflatable or foam pads will work at its best. You have to use these pads as there is nothing present on the top of the car to keep your kayak.
  • Factory Racks: Suppose you are going to transport multiple kayaks, please note that factory racks are not designed to bear a lot of weight. Here, carrying capacity mainly relies on the model of your car. You also have to be cautious while customizing when considering your loading options.
  • Factory Cross Bars: Using Factory Settings, you will be able to keep one kayak without any issue. You can also replace it with cross-market crossbars without any trouble.
  • Aftermarket Cross Bars: If you are looking for flexibility, then go with the aftermarket crossbars. It offers great flexibility and enables you to use robust solutions such as saddles and j-cradles. They increase your load capacity and can transport various kayaks.

How many kayaks will you take for kayaking?

Indeed, the total number of kayak you carry matters a lot. If you are going to take one or two kayaks, then it’s okay. If you are going to take more, then stackers work at its best. However, make sure that it solely depends on your roof capacity and size of cross bars. In the case of narrow roofs, j-cradle works at its best. Driving More Distance: Temporary pads don’t work while driving long distances. Here, you require a highly-stable set up so that your kayak doesn’t fall heavily from the roof.

How many times do you want to go for kayaking?

If you are doing kayaking very frequently, then you will spend a lot of time loading and unloading the kayak. Here, saddlers and rollers can help you to reduce the time. Also, j-cradle saves your time and using a proper system, you will have a lot of comfort. Loading Kayak alone: It’s better to invite your friend or a family member with you for kayaking, however, sometimes it’s okay to go solo. When you are alone, make sure that you can load and unload the kayak effectively. In this case, j-cradle, along with the rollers works at its best.

Different Kinds of Kayak Roof Racks

There are only some kayak roof racks available in the market. If you are a beginner, then you should know the difference between different types of kayaks. As of now, you can go with any of the kayaks from two significant kinds: temporary pads and roof racks.
  • Temporary Pads
Other than SUV, the majority of cars don’t possess a rack on the top. In such cases, a temporary pad will work at its best. These pads don’t need any kind of roof at the top, which means they are simple to set up and remove as they have straps that pass from inside your car and through the top, along with foam padding. Use temporary pads for short distance, don’t use them on highways, and don’t ever carry multiple kayaks. Please note that these pads are not suitable for highways or long distances. If you own a sunroof, then you will find it hard to set up the pad around it. Temporary Pads are mainly of two types: 1. Foam Pads As the name suggests, foam pads are built from foam to consume some shock of your kayak. These will protect your car in case of any damage. 2. Inflatable Pads Similar to foam pads, inflatable pads also take in some shock, and they also save some of your space as soon as you deflate them. They are inexpensive, and you can use them for shorter distances.
  • Roof Racks
Roof racks are one of the most popular pickup kayak racks. These racks are secure; however, they need a roof rack installed on the top of the car. Roof cars are installed with the car or you have to install them, even though you will require crossbars above your roof. In case you have a set of crossbars, then you may have an add-on to your roof to carry kayak forward. You can select from various roof racks available in the market such as J-cradles, Stackers, and Saddlers and Rollers, including Lift Assisted Carriers.
  • J-Cradles
J-Cradle racks are also referred to as J-Style racks and are the most well-known racks around the globe. As the name suggests, they possess j-shape. They are installed from a specific side as they form 45 degrees angle on the crossbars, thus providing you with some roof space. In case you have a small roof, then you should go with J-cradles. J-Cradles remain fully stable along with being fast to load and unload. You can take the boat and side-load it. You may find it difficult to load if your kayak is bulky or you are tired of kayaking or bad weather. If you are shorter, then don’t choose J-cradles.
  • Stackers
While using stacker, it is required to place your kayak in an upright position, by this it will occupy 50% of the entire crossbar space. Here, you should stake your kayak against the post or opposite to other kayaks, thus making it suitable to transport a maximum of four kayaks.
  • Saddlers and Rollers
Saddlers are mainly horizontal roof racks which keep your kayak on a smooth surface. Hence it provides extra surface area for your kayak. Mostly, Saddles consists of two pads which expand from the base rack to the bottom of the kayak to form a cradle or just two pieces to keep your boat. With a high airflow, they take benefit of an airfoil to decrease fuel consumption. If you want more convenience, then go with a pair of rollers. They allow you to carry half weight on top of the car before you push them on the seat and strap it in. These are essential for cars with long rooflines such as SUVs as they retain kayak firmly, however, be ready for evasion on the rollers.
  • Lift Assisted Carrier
Life Assisted Carrier is one of the easiest ways to load your kayak. These carriers. These carriers make sure that you don’t need to take the whole kayak as cushion helps to divide the load and offers resistance from slipping. If you are heading towards the river on your own, then this works well.


Here we complete our list of Best Kayak Rack for Cars Reviews. Before selecting a rack, you should consider all the factors which are listed above. If you are a beginner and want to start kayaking, then you can go with any of the racks listed above as per your needs. We hope that you like our list of Kayak Racks for Cars. Lastly, don’t forget to share it with your friends and followers.

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