9 Best Kayak Roof Racks For Car (Buying Guide)

The best kayak roof racks are not always easy to find. So, to help you, we have compiled a list of the 9 best kayak roof racks, including our favorite, so that you can easily purchase one for yourself or your loved ones!.

These are ranked by their stand-out features, ease of use, and installation. You will also find a buying guide in this article with additional information on what is best for you.

We highly recommend reading this article before purchasing your new rack! In this article, we share all the details about what makes these products stand out from one another.

best kayak roof racks
Our Top Pick

YAKIMA JayLow J-Style Fold Down Rooftop Kayak Carrier

  • Foldable, sturdy & portable
  • Can be used as a stacker for 2 kayaks
  • Comes in fully assembled form
  • SKS locking system
  • A bit pricey

Our Verdict

The Yakima JayLow is a kayak rack that got all the aspects covered. This kayak carrier has everything – it’s made of aluminum, it folds up to save space on your car, and it locks securely into place with SKS system and it comes fully assembled, which means you can install it on your vehicle in minutes without any fuss.

And this rack can double as a stacker when storing 2 kayaks at once – perfect if you need to carry more than one boat! If you want a roof rack with all the bells and whistles, then go ahead and get yourself the Yakima JayLow!

YAKIMA JayLow J-Style Fold Down Rooftop Kayak Carrier is the best kayak roof rack overall.

TMS J-Bar Kayak Rack is the Best Kayak Roof Rack for a Low Cost.

IKURAM R J-Style Folding Kayak Rack is the Best Kayak Roof Rack for 2 Kayaks.

Malone Downloader Folding J-Style is the Best J-Style Kayak Roof Rack.

Rhino Rack S512 J-style kayak carrier is the Best Folding J-Cradles

Thule Hullavator Pro is the Best Lift-assist Kayak Carrier.

Rhino Rack Nautic 570 is the Best Saddle Type Rack.

Malone Stax Pro2 is the Best Stacker Style Rack.

HandiRack Inflatable is the Best Temporary Roof Rack For kayaks.

What is a kayak roof rack?

A kayak roof rack is used to carry the weight of a kayak on top of a car. It can be attached to most crossbars and will have more than enough capacity for the average kayak.

Kayak roof racks are adjustable and can lock into positions. Some of the higher-end models will allow for multiple kayaks to be carried and they will have many useful features.

Generally speaking, a kayak roof rack is going to be somewhat expensive compared to alternatives such as a tow hitch mount or even just throwing it on the top of your vehicle.

It is important to note that many kayaks, especially the more heavy-duty models, are not built for excessive speeds.

It is also important to note that there are laws regarding how fast you can drive with a kayak attached to the top of your car. So, a kayak roof rack is your best option for more security.

Types of Kayak Roof Racks

There are a variety of kayak roof racks available which can be used to carry one or more kayaks. And among them, J-styles, saddles, stackers, temporary pads, and crossbars are most commonly used.

J-Rack/ J-Styles

The J-style kayak roof rack is the most common type of rack that can be used to carry one or more kayaks.

These types of racks are very popular among the kayakers for their unique feature of using only J-shaped metal bars to carry the load, while just their ends resting on crossbars. This method makes it easy loading and unloading of the kayaks.

The J-style racks are very easy to install. So these types of racks are most widely used among the kayakers for carrying multiple kayaks on a large number of vehicles.

Moreover, this type of rack does not require any type of permanent modification or drilling into the vehicle body, since it just rests on top of the existing crossbars that come with the vehicle.

  • It’s cheap.
  • It’s possible to transport two kayaks on it.
  • It leaves a lot of area for your roof.
  • It’s simple to pull a kayak onto the roof of your car from the sides.
  • There are a few versions of this model that collapse to minimize drag, noise, and fuel cost.

Saddles/ Saddle Style

Saddle-style racks are very similar in appearance to the J-style rack, but their main advantage is to carry one kayak per saddle.

It utilizes well-padded rubber pads between the kayaks and crossbars to avoid any type of damage to the kayaks. The major drawback of this type of rack is to carry only a single kayak per saddle.

Advantages
  • It is extremely secure and sturdy.
  • Aerodynamic transportation.
  • Some saddles have lift-assist rollers.
Disadvantages
  • More expensive than J-Cradles
  • Requires more roof surface

Stackers

The kayak stacker style of racks is a piece of more advanced equipment that can be used to conveniently store multiple kayaks without leaving any gap between them.

It utilizes the pads and tie-down straps to hold each kayak at different levels so that paddles can also rest on top of the pads without touching the kayak.

Advantages
  • Can carry 4 kayaks
  • Folds down when not in use
Disadvantages
  • Less Secure

Temporary Pads

Temporary padding is very much similar to saddles, but it consists of two padded crossbars that hold the kayaks just like a temporary rest.

It can carry only a single kayak at one time and is not good for rough use on regular basis. However, they are the most flexible of all kayak roof racks and can be used on different vehicles with no need for installation.

Advantages
  • Temporary solution
  • Easy to install
  • Budget-friendly
Disadvantages
  • Weight capacity is low

Lift-assist Kayak Carrier

Lift-assist kayak carriers are a more advanced and convenient way of carrying kayaks. These types of roof racks hold the kayaks by utilizing a series of rollers on top or using gas assist.

They are more kind of a premium option for those who need assistance. As you may figure out these are quite expensive but they are worth every penny.

Advantages
  • Reduces the weight of the kayak
  • Very Sturdy and Secure
  • Easy to use
Disadvantages
  • Very Expensive

Crossbars

Kayak crossbars are generally needed to support any type of rack system. Different types of vehicles have different crossbar designs, so it is important for the kayakers to get them compatible with their existing vehicle crossbars.

The most common types of crossbars are square, round, and oval. The kayaks are loaded on the roof with the help of these bars. It is important to check the compatibility of crossbars with racks, before buying.

If some types of crossbars are incompatible with some specific rack, they can be combined with some modifications like bolting on adapter plates or drilling holes for proper installation.

Advantages

  • Fits the most popular models
  • Easy to install
  • Less expensive than saddles and stackers

Disadvantages

  • Crossbars can be a trip hazard if not properly installed or used.
  • Cannot adjust to all vehicles without drilling holes.
  • Can’t use bars with factory-installed roof racks.

The best type of kayak rack system is chosen depending upon the usage of the kayakers, the vehicle they are using, and their budget.

It is better to buy J-Style racks if kayaks are carried for short distances in congested areas like cities, but costlier saddles or stackers are ideal when long-distance transportation is required.

However, it all depends on the personal preferences of the users.

How to choose the best kayak roof rack for your vehicle? (The Buying Guide)

A kayak roof rack is essential for any kayaker to transport their boat safely and easily.

There are many different types of racks on the market to choose from, and all have their unique benefits that suit certain people better than others, so it can be overwhelming when trying to choose the best one for your vehicle.

In this section, we’ll discuss some of the most important factors that should affect your decision as well as a few things you might not have thought about before.

How many Kayaks would you like to carry?

If you need a new kayak rack, make sure to measure the capacity of the one you want to buy. You should always check how many kayaks a rack can hold before purchasing it for your kayak or kayaks.

If you only have one kayak and wish to travel more safely, you should get a Saddle.

However, when you and a friend go kayaking, J-Cradles are required to transport the two of your kayaks. And If you want to transport four kayaks, the Stacker is a good option.

But It also depends on how big your car’s roof is. And If you’re like me who goes kayaking only a few times a month and has short distance travel, you may want to consider Temporary Solutions.

Types of Kayak you have and the rack’s load capacity

This is something that many Kayakers overlook. You may use any style of the rack when you have a little whitewater kayak. However, if you have a larger kayak, such as a sea kayak or a fishing kayak, then saddles should be your first choice.

And also before you buy the rack check what is the weight of your kayak and what is the weight capacity of the rack. It will save you money and time.

Roof Rails on your vehicle

This is one of the things most peoples struggle with. You should always check with the manufacturer about whether your crossbars are compatible with your roof, as well as whether the kayak rack is suitable for them.

It’s the primary reason for so many kayak racks being returned, and it’s one of the reasons why Amazon receives low star ratings.

If you have a bare roof, Handirack Inflatable is the best option; if you have factory or aftermarket crossbars, you should choose a more advanced solution such as j-cradles, saddles, and stackers.

Distance to be Traveled

Temporary Pads and Stackers are a great way to save money, but if you’re going long distances or interstate they might not be the most secure. In that case, I would recommend using Saddles or J-Cradle bike racks

How often do you intend to kayak?

If you want to kayak more often, you need to be able to load your kayak with ease. It’s important that the rack is easy and quick.

Some people like j-racks because they’re convenient for loading from one side but if speed or simplicity matters more to you, then Hullavator or Saddles fitted with rollers will work best!

Best Kayak Roof Rack Overall

The Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack is our most recommended product because of its useful and practical functions.

It’s well-designed and solid. One of the most recognized brands in this industry makes up for an ideal type of j-cradle.

The JayLow is a j-rack with an added feature of stacker mode. Its arm is locked at a 45-degree angle in j-rack mode, allowing it to carry one kayak.

The arm also can be locked at 90-degree in the stacker position, enabling you to carry two kayaks on both sides of the arm like a stacker style. It can transport a single boat weighing 80 pounds or two boats weighing 110 pounds together.

The JayLow is compatible with Yakima SteamLine and round, square, factory, and aerodynamic crossbars, and it includes adapters for Yakima round bars but may also be used with other round load bars.

Note: Use the JayLow if your crossbars are at least 24 in. apart. It also has robust cushioned contact points.

One of the great things about this rack is that it comes ready to use right out of the box. We don’t have to waste time putting it together.

It is also simple to install, just attach the rack’s clamps to your bars and tighten the thumbscrews. We should also note that the JayLow includes heavy-duty securing buckles which are proven to be very effective.

The SKS (same key system) locking mechanism that Yakima provides is another useful feature of this rack. It allows you to lock and unlock all of your Yakima gear.

It’s a good anti-theft device. It would have been nice to include it, but it’s available separately.

We prefer the Yakima JayLow. It might be for the sake of convenience. While it’s not cheap, it does have a lot of features.

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  • Foldable, sturdy & portable
  • Can be used as a stacker for 2 kayaks
  • Comes in fully assembled form
  • SKS locking system
  • A bit pricey

Best Kayak Roof Rack for Low Cost

If you’re searching for a budget-friendly rack, check out T-Motorsports’ rack. It is especially popular among kayakers. It’s tough, made of steel, and quick to install. For casual kayakers, this is the finest option.

This rack is well-known for its strength and endurance. This j-shaped wide-mouthed rack can even carry a bigger boat, such as a sea or touring kayak.

It can accommodate a kayak that is 36 inches broad and 75 pounds in weight. The carrying arms of this rack are also protected by adjustable pads to safeguard your boats from harm throughout transportation.

This rack can be fitted onto any type of crossbars.

You’ll need to put it together yourself after taking it out of the box. All of the components you’ll need are included in the package.

Some consumers have complained about the instructions for assembly that came with the rack. But putting it together isn’t really difficult. (watch this video)

The J-style rack is the same as most other j-style racks. It has clamps that fit this and most other j-style racks. You may easily load your kayak from the side of your automobile.

The J-cradle will keep your kayak at a 45-degree angle, leaving room for additional items like a bike, luggage, or other equipment. 

Although this rack comes with two loading straps, we recommend getting additional straps for a more secure tie-down.

This rack does not include a folding option or a locking mechanism, which are two features that it lacks.

This is the greatest alternative for this price range. This durable steel rack will undoubtedly persuade you to utilize it.

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  • Low price
  • Easy Installation
  • Is removable when not in use
  • Very sturdy and durable
  • No folding option
  • No locking system

Best J-Style Kayak Roof Rack

3.Malone Downloader Folding J-Style

The Malone Downloader j-style kayak carrier is constructed of rust-free and corrosion-resistant aluminum. This item has a built-in “loading ramp” to assist you to load and unload your kayak, which is why we included it.

This rack is a j-style rack with room on your vehicle roof. It has a fold-down mechanism that allows you to utilize it while keeping low clearance.

It also has a 75 lbs weight capacity, like most j-racks. To protect your boat from damage, it comes with extra-thick padding on the cradle arms.

The Malone rack is also simple to set up. It comes with JAWZ mounting hardware that fits round, square, and most factory oval cross rails, as well as 60mm and 70mm pre-coated mounting bolts. The instructions are also straightforward.

The built-in “loading ramp” of this j-style rack is the most significant feature. It’s simply a little slanted surface that aids in loading and unloading big kayaks for short paddlers.

It also works with Tellos Load Assist Module if you have difficulties lifting your kayaks alone. You just need to lift your kayak with the Load Assist Module, roll it onto the loading platform, and load it on the roof.

It does not have a locking feature, but it makes up for it with the loading ramp.

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  • Rust-free and corrosion-resistant
  • Fold-down technology
  • Easy Installation
  • The loading ramp
  • No locking system
  • A bit pricey

Best Kayak Roof Rack for 2 Kayaks

The Bilateral Premier j-rack from IKURAM is a versatile rack that will undoubtedly entice you with its functions and versatility.

It has established a reputation in the kayaking world in only a few years of existence. It has everything a kayak carrier needs, except for a locking mechanism.

This rack, from an emerging company IKURAM, has several benefits. It can hold one kayak j-style vertically and two kayaks saddle-style horizontally, as well as two kayaks stacker-style vertically.

It’s as simple as that. All you have to do is change the degree of its arm, such as 45 degrees, 90 degrees, and 0 degrees.

It is simple to set up and will work with most crossbars. Just simply pay attention to your crossbar height, since the bolts in this rack are lengthy.

Else the bolts may dent your roof if you have low-profile crossbars. If you have a high-profile crossbar, however, this is not an issue.

It has rubber padding to ensure the safety of your kayak. The best thing about this rack is that it has cradles to hold your paddles.

Now, let’s go over what you should consider before purchasing this rack. To begin with, the company’s instruction manual is technically non-existent. (check the installation video down below).

Furthermore, the supplied strap may not be sufficient, in which case you’ll need to purchase more ratchet straps. Third, it doesn’t have a lock mechanism.

There are some drawbacks to this product. They had a concept, but they weren’t able to implement it correctly. With that in mind, you won’t find a rack with these features for such a low price that comes with four j-cradles.

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  • Can be folded down
  • Can carry your paddles
  • Budget-friendly
  • Very versatile
  • No locking system
  • Have to buy additional ratchet straps

Best Folding J-Cradles

The Rhino Rack S512 J-style kayak carrier is a traditional j-cradle with some useful extras. Like JayLow, it is also ready to use right out of the box.

It’s made of aluminum, so it’ll never rust or corrode. It has rubber padding to safeguard your boat from harm. There is a paddle-carrying pocket feature that sets it apart from the rest.

The S512 can be adjusted to any angle you desire. It may be folded down to 0-degree for overhead clearance, bent down to 45 degrees to resemble j-style racks and even turned 90-degree to carry two kayaks on both sides.

In stacker style, you may secure the second kayak to your crossbar. If you don’t want to take the chance, you can always buy Rhino Rack’s extension, which adds cushions on both sides.

It’s ready to go when you buy it, and installation is a breeze. It fits most crossbars. It also comes with high-quality loading ropes and tie-downs.

The only thing that makes it inferior to JayLow is that it doesn’t include any locking mechanisms.

With the price being reasonable, it’s a fantastic alternative for anybody who believes the locking mechanism is a waste of money.

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  • Durable, Sturdy, extra padding for safety
  • Budget-friendly
  • Comes completely assembled
  • Paddle carrying cradle
  • Can be folded down
  • No locking system

Best Lift-assist Kayak Carrier

6. Thule Hullavator

In a nutshell, Thule Hullavator Pro elevates your kayak. As a result of the gas struts in this product, it lowers the weight of your kayak by 40 lbs when loading it.

It not only makes your life easier, but it also saves you time. Let’s discuss that now-

You don’t have to be concerned if you’re short or your kayak is hefty when loading it. You can load your kayak from the waist label.

It’s much easier to just place the kayak on the rack and fasten it firmly. Thule also offers straps and a bow-stern with the rack.

When loading the kayak, you can simply drag and guide the kayak to the top of your car once you’ve secured it on your rack from waist height.

You may also change the width of the carrier to match your kayak’s dimensions. It can transport a kayak up to 36 inches wide and 75 pounds in weight.

The Hullavator is constructed of aluminum, so you can rest assured that it will endure. When you don’t need the rack, you can effortlessly remove it for overhead clearance or convenience.

The removal of this rack from the crossbar is simple, therefore you’ll need to buy Thule’s one key lock system, which is not included with the package and is sold separately.

The assembly of the Hullavator is the most challenging aspect. It takes around half an hour to put together, but you must do it only once.

So there’s that. It only fits on Thule crossbars, so be sure to check what type of crossbars you have before purchasing it.

Another thing to consider when purchasing this rack is whether or not your car’s crossbars extend 4-8 inches beyond the rail anchors; otherwise, it will damage your automobile.

We all know Thule’s aim to have its goods flawless. The only thing I would have wanted more of this rack is the Locks. Given its price, it would have been quite justifiable for us.

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  • Lift-assist
  • Instant remove
  • Load kayak from waist level
  • One key locking system is sold separately
  • Aluminum-built
  • Expensive
  • Only works with Thule crossbars

Best Saddle Type Rack

The Rhino Rack Nautic 570 Series is the best-known and most-used saddle system/ Horizontal Kayak roof rack on the market.

It’s a saddle, therefore it will keep your kayak firmly in place when you’re traveling, but it also means you can only carry one kayak.

The Nautic has two forms of variation: 570, in which you load your kayak from the side, and 571, in which you may load your kayak from the rear of your car.

Both racks are constructed of stainless steel and include mounting hardware that is compatible with the majority of crossbars (round bars may be an issue).

4 Santoprene rubber pads are included with the Nautic 570 to cushion your kayak and grip it firmly. The cushions also have a 180-degree rotation.

When loading your boat from the side, you may spin the side-ones to face outward and roll it into the carrying position.

The 571 is where you’ll find two Santoprene rubber pads on the front, as well as two spring felt-covered pads on the rear to glide your kayak toward the front. The cushions are also UV-protected and waterproof.

If you’re concerned about saddle thievery, we should point out that it includes a Security Allen Key to keep your saddles secure. They also include bow-stern tie-downs with the purchase.

Although there are no major negatives to the Nautic 570 series, it is budget-friendly. So, the price will not be a prime concern.

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  • Budget-friendly
  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel
  • Santoprene rubber pads
  • Easy Kayak Loading (Side or Rear)
  • Comes with Allen Key
  • Be aware if you have round bars

Best Stacker Style Rack

If you want a great stacker for your vehicle, Malone Stax Pro 2 is the one to choose. It’s an aluminum-made stacker that can hold two kayaks on either side properly.

However, you can transport two kayaks on each side if you have crossbar space for four kayaks. You’ll need additional straps and tie them securely.

There are a few characteristics of this stacker. It folds down for overhead clearance and lowers your drag and fuel expenses.

Another feature is that it has foam padding on the crossbar to safeguard your kayak from harm. Even though it will not be of much help if you have four kayaks on your roof.

And it includes JAWZ Universal-fit mounting hardware that fits round, square, and oval crossbars without the need for tools, as well as a lifetime guarantee from Malone.

And you’ll be ecstatic when you discover how little it costs. However, you must also be cautious because Malone does not include any type of security system to safeguard your investment.

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  • Budget-friendly
  • Can carry 4 kayaks
  • Can be folded down
  • Aluminum-built
  • Easy Installation
  • Lifetime warranty
  • No locking system
  • Have to buy additional straps

Best Temporary Roof Rack For Kayak

9.HandiRack Inflatable Roof Rack

If you don’t have a crossbar but still need to transport your kayak, this inflatable roof rack by Handirack is an excellent option.

This easy-to-install rack will work with any car. It is simple to use and takes very little time (no tools required). You can transport a variety of other things on this, such as luggage, furniture, skis, snowboards, and so on.

The rack is made of two inflatable pads made of 420-denier nylon, each with an air chamber inside. And, no, you don’t have to blow into the air chambers with your mouth because a double-action pump is included to fill them with air.

When not in use, you may simply leave them in your trunk for more durability. According to the Handirack, it can accommodate up to 175 pounds, but these are air cushions, so be gentle with them if you’re crossing highways or rough terrain.

The Handirack is designed for light hauling that does not require assembly, installation, wrenching, drilling, or tightening. So use it as a temporary roof rack rather than a permanent solution.

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  • Quick and easy to install and remove
  • Versatile
  • Good carrying capacity
  • Temporary solution
  • Budget-friendly
  • Not durable like crossbar racks
Our Top Pick

YAKIMA JayLow J-Style Fold Down Rooftop Kayak Carrier

  • Foldable, sturdy & portable
  • Can be used as a stacker for 2 kayaks
  • Comes in fully assembled form
  • SKS locking system
  • A bit pricey

Our Verdict

The Yakima JayLow is a kayak rack that got all the aspects covered. This kayak carrier has everything – it’s made of aluminum, it folds up to save space on your car, and it locks securely into place with SKS system and it comes fully assembled, which means you can install it on your vehicle in minutes without any fuss.

And this rack can double as a stacker when storing 2 kayaks at once – perfect if you need to carry more than one boat! If you want a roof rack with all the bells and whistles, then go ahead and get yourself the Yakima JayLow!

Why you should use a kayak roof rack instead of straps or bungee cords?

If you are considering using straps to tie your kayak onto the roof of your car then you need to stop and reevaluate why you are doing this.

Straps may work in some cases, but they also pose a danger in most settings. When it comes right down to it, straps used incorrectly can be just as dangerous as not using any sort of securement system at all.

If you are intent on using straps then it is important to note that there are special kayak roof rack strap kits made just for this reason. You need to know exactly what you are doing before attempting it.

Additionally, some people use bungee cords or even rope as a means of holding the kayak onto their car. This is just as dangerous, or even more so than incorrect use of straps.

When it comes to transporting a kayak on top of your car, there is no reason to cut corners and take unnecessary risks when a high-quality product will do the job for you with ease and peace of mind.

Are Roof Racks Universal?

Yes, Roof Racks are universal. Because most of the roof rack manufacturers make it universal. But you have to consider what type is your car roof.

Is it a naked roof, is it factory side rails (flushed or Raised) or is it rain gutters? For example, if you have a roof rack that is made for flushed side rails, it will only work on other vehicles with flushed side rails.

Kayak roof racks are ready to use on most vehicles. This is because manufacturers create roof rack hardware that still allows for adjustments even after it has been installed.

There usually are not very many differences between the racks other than their frames and thus one can feel safe buying them second-hand.

However, some large kayaks might need longer bars than the general universal roof rack can provide. The best way to know if a kayak will fit is by looking at the kayak’s specific measurements and comparing them to the bars’ advertised length.

Some vehicles do have pre-drilled holes for racks, but not all. The vehicle’s make, model, year, and drill pattern must be researched before purchasing a kayak roof rack.

Generally speaking, two humans are needed for this process, but if one has reasonable upper body strength they can manage it alone. Also, many kayaks have dimensions printed right on them.

These measurements should be taken with you when buying a roof rack so as to take the guesswork out of which model will be best.

Pros and cons of using a kayak roof rack

Roof racks are an affordable and easy way to transport your kayak. With a few simple steps, you can have your kayak on top of your car in no time!  

The pros of using a kayak roof rack are that they are inexpensive, come with instructions, and will keep your vehicle clean while transporting.

Also installing these carriers takes only a few minutes. The cons are that it takes some strength to lift up the heavy equipment onto the car’s roof or into its bed.

This type of carrier does require assembly after purchase, but there are usually video tutorials available online. The biggest benefit to using a rack-style kayak roof carrier is that it is very easy to attach and remove the kayak from your car.

There is much less chance of damaging your vehicle or boat compared with a suction-cup mount carrier.

Kayak roof racks are also easy to fold up when not in use, so you can easily store them in your garage or carport.

If you have a minivan, hatchback car or SUV, then there will be no trouble transporting your boat to anywhere you need to go. The carriers usually come with locks, so the kayak is secure from any potential thieves.

Kayak roof racks can be less expensive than other types of carriers, but they also tend to have a low weight capacity.

Depending on the brand and materials used, you may need to choose a heavy-duty kayak roof rack that will safely hold more weight.

If you plan on carrying more than one kayak on top of your car, then a better investment would be to get a roof rack with crossbars.

Not all cars have roof racks or crossbars. If you don’t have this option available from the factory, there are aftermarket kits sold for most vehicles.

It’s important to know what type of vehicle and kayak you will be transporting. The last thing you want is to damage your car or boat while traveling on the highway.

If you know exactly what you’re looking for, then choosing a kayak roof rack should not be difficult.

  • Roof racks are inexpensive
  • They come with instructions
  • They take only a few minutes to install
  • They are easier to remove compared with suction-cup mount carriers
  • They fold up when not in use for easy storage
  • You may need to choose a heavy-duty carrier to safely hold more weight
  • You may need to buy aftermarket kits if your vehicle is not equipped with roof racks or crossbars
  • They take up more space on your car roof

Our Top Pick

YAKIMA JayLow J-Style Fold Down Rooftop Kayak Carrier

  • Foldable, sturdy & portable
  • Can be used as a stacker for 2 kayaks
  • Comes in fully assembled form
  • SKS locking system
  • A bit pricey

Our Verdict

The Yakima JayLow is a kayak rack that got all the aspects covered. This kayak carrier has everything – it’s made of aluminum, it folds up to save space on your car, and it locks securely into place with SKS system and it comes fully assembled, which means you can install it on your vehicle in minutes without any fuss.

And this rack can double as a stacker when storing 2 kayaks at once – perfect if you need to carry more than one boat! If you want a roof rack with all the bells and whistles, then go ahead and get yourself the Yakima JayLow!

Visit our kayak rack section for more kayak rack guides.

You will need a kayak cart to transport your kayak from your car to the launch point.