10 Best Kayak Roof Racks for Subaru Crosstrek

Subaru Crosstrek is an awesome SUV for traveling and cargo-carrying. But when you are going kayaking you will be stressed out over how to carry the kayak. You will need a roof rack for your Crosstrek and there are hundreds of kayak racks on Amazon. So, to make your job easier and less time-consuming, we have listed the 10 best kayak roof racks for Subaru Crosstrek according to your need.

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

Our Verdict

Malone Downloader has all the qualities to be the best j-rack on the market. It has many useful and convenient features, like the loading ramp with its fantastic design.

What type of Roof Rack do you want for your Crosstrek?

What is the best roof rack for Subaru Crosstrek? (Overall)

Malone Downloader Folding J-Style is the best roof rack for Subaru Crosstrek.

What is the best Subaru Crosstrek roof rack for the money?

TMS J-Bar Kayak Rack is the best Subaru Crosstrek roof rack for the money.

What is the best Saddle for Subaru Crosstrek?

Rhino Rack Nautic 570 Series is the best Saddle for Subaru Crosstrek.

What is the best Stacker for Subaru Crosstrek?

Thule 830 The Stacker is the best Stacker for Subaru Crosstrek.

What is the best J-Cradle for Subaru Crosstrek?

Thule HullaPort Pro is the best J-Cradle for Subaru Crosstrek.

What is the best roof rack for carrying 2 kayaks on Subaru Crosstrek?

Rhino Rack Folding J-Style Kayak Rack is the best roof rack for carrying 2 kayaks on Subaru Crosstrek.

What is the best Lift-assist roof rack for Subaru Crosstrek?

Thule Hullavator is the best Lift-assist roof rack for Subaru Crosstrek.

What is the best Temporary Pad for Subaru Crosstrek?

HandiRack Inflatable is the best Temporary Pad for Subaru Crosstrek.

Best Kayak Roof Racks for Subaru Crosstrek (Comparison Table)

  • Rust-free and corrosion-resistant
  • Fold-down technology
  • Easy Installation
  • The loading ramp
  • A bit pricey
  • No locking system
  • 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
  • Can carry 4 kayaks
  • Instant remove
  • Can be folded down
  • Aluminum-built
  • A bit pricey
  • Have to buy additional straps
  • Low price
  • Easy Installation
  • Is removable when not in use
  • Very sturdy and durable
  • No folding option
  • No locking system
  • Lift-assist
  • Instant remove
  • Load kayak from waist level
  • One key locking system is sold separately
  • Aluminum-built
  • Expensive
  • Only works with Thule crossbars
  • Durable, Sturdy, extra padding for safety
  • Easy installation
  • Locking System sold separately
  • The PFD lever, Fold-down technology
  • A bit pricey
  • Durable, Sturdy, extra padding for safety
  • Budget-friendly
  • Comes completely assembled
  • Paddle carrying cradle
  • Can be folded down
  • No locking system
  • Foldable for overhead clearance
  • Easy installation
  • Very cheap
  • Durable, Sturdy, extra padding for safety
  • No additional compartment for paddle or straps
  • No locking system
  • Durable, Sturdy, extra padding for safety
  • Easy Installation
  • Very low price
  • No folding option
  • No locking system
  • Quick and easy to install and remove
  • Versatile
  • Good carrying capacity
  • Temporary solution
  • Budget-friendly
  • Not durable like crossbar racks

Best Overall

The Malone Downloader j-style kayak carrier is made of rust-free and corrosion-resistant aluminum. The main reason we included this item is that it has a built-in “loading ramp” to help you load and unload your kayak.

This rack is a traditional j-style rack that gives you space on your car roof. It has a fold-down technology that provides low-clearance access when not in use. It also has a 75 lbs carrying capacity like most other j-racks. It also includes extra-thick padding on the cradle arms to protect your boat from scratch.

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

The most useful feature of this j-style rack is the built-in “loading ramp” it provides. It’s just a small inclined plane that helps you loading and unloading heavy kayaks for short kayakers. It is also compatible with Tellos Load Assist Module for those who have a problem with lifting their kayaks. With this device, you only have to lift your kayak up to the waist level which makes it very easy if you are lifting your kayak solo.

In this price range, it only lacks the locking feature but it makes up for it by including 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 Saddle

Rhino Rack Nautic 570

Rhino Rack Nautic 570 Series is the gold standard for saddle system/ Horizontal Kayak roof racks. It is a saddle, so that means it will hold your kayak very securely when you are traveling, but it also means that you can only carry one kayak.

The Nautic offers two kinds of variation, one is 570 where you load your kayak from the side, and another is 571 where you can load your kayak from the rear of your vehicle. Both racks are made of stainless steel and have a universal fit mounting hardware for most crossbars ( round bars might have problems).

The Nautic 570 has 4 Santoprene rubber pads designed to cushion your kayak and they grip your kayak very tight. And the pads also have a 180-degree rotation. You can rotate the side-ones to the outward direction when loading your boat from the side and roll the boat into the carrying position. And the 571 is where you have 2 Santoprene rubber pads for the front and 2 rear spring felt covered pads to glide your kayak to the front pads. The pads are also UV-protected and waterproof.

If you are worried about theft of your saddles, we should mention to you that it comes with Security Allen Key to keep your racks secured. They also give you bow-stern tie-downs as well.

The Nautic 570 series doesn’t seem to have any serious negative points. It is budget-friendly if you are concerned about its price.

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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

Thule Stacker 830

If you are looking to carry 4 kayaks on your car roof, Thule has the right option for you. The Thule 830 is a top-rated stacker that can hold 2 kayaks securely on your roof. You can also carry 4 kayaks at a time, 2 on each side if you have space on your crossbar. And you also need to buy additional straps. But you need to be careful because stackers are not as safe as saddles or j-cradles. A Stacker system gives you plenty of room on your roof to carry other cargo if you are only transporting 1 or 2 kayaks.

This stacker is very easy to install. You don’t need any tools and it is a universal fit on any crossbars. It also can be folded down when not in use for overhead clearance and fuel efficiency. It can fit kayaks up to 34 in. wide and 10 ft. long.

This aluminum-built rack from Thule is our top choice for stackers. But it’s a bit pricey.

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  • Can carry 4 kayaks
  • Instant remove
  • Can be folded down
  • Aluminum-built
  • A bit pricey
  • Have to buy additional straps

Best Value

TMS J-Bar kayak rack

If you are looking for a rack that is easy on the wallet you should try this rack from T-Motorsports. It is very popular amongst kayakers. It is tough, made of alloy steel, and is easy to install. The best choice for occasional kayakers.

This rack is renowned for extra strength and durability. This wide-mouthed j-shape rack even can carry a larger boat, such as a sea or touring kayak. It can carry a kayak about 36 inches wide and 75 lbs weight. It also has adjustable pads on the carrying arms to protect your boats from damage during transit. And this rack can be mounted onto any type of crossbar.

You need to do some assembly after taking it out of the box. All the parts that you need are already in there. There are some people who complained about the instructions for assembly that come with the rack. But the assembly process is not that difficult. (see the video)

It has universal fitting clamps like most other j-style racks. You can load your kayak easily from the side of your car. The j-cradle will hold your kayak at a 45-degree angle which leaves space for other stuff like a bike, luggage, cargo box, etc. It comes with two loading straps included, but we suggest buying additional straps for a more secure tie-down.

The features this rack lacks are the folding option and a locking system. In this budget, this is the best choice we have. With its features, this tough steel rack will surely convince you to use 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 Lift-assist

Thule Hullavator

Basically, Thule Hullavator pro does what this name suggests, it elevates your kayak. That means it reduces your kayak weight by 40 lbs while loading your kayak because of its gas struts. Not only that, but It also makes your life a lot easier. Let’s talk about that-

While loading your kayak, you don’t have to worry if you are short or your kayak is heavy. You can load your kayak from the waist label. It’s so much easier to just sit the kayak on the rack and strap it securely. Thule also provides you with straps and bow-stern. After securing the kayak on your rack from your waist level, you can simply drag and guide it to the top of your vehicle. You can also adjust its width according to your kayak width. It can carry a kayak up to 36 inches wide and 75 lbs weight.

Hullavator is made of aluminum, so you know how durable it can be. You can also remove the rack in seconds for overhead clearance or when you are not using it. The removal of this rack from the crossbar is very easy so you have to buy Thule’s one key lock system which unfortunately is sold separately.

The most difficult thing for Hullavator is its assembly. It takes around half an hour to assemble, but you have to do this only once. So that’s a relief. Another thing is it only mounts on Thule crossbars. Another thing to look out for when buying this rack is, do you have crossbars that extend 4-8 inches beyond the rail anchors, or else it will damage your car.

We all know Thule and its desire to make its product perfect. The only thing I would have wanted extra on this rack is the Locks to be included. With its price, then it would have been very fair to 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 Advanced Folding J-Cradle

Thule Hullaport Pro

The Thule Hullaport Pro, at first glance, looks like a piece of gym equipment, designed to take a heavy beating from the pros. In reality, it takes a heavy beating from the rain and high wind pressure. It endures for a long time.

This rack, from the leading brand Thule, has what you would expect from a traditional j-style rack- compact rooftop storage of your kayak and extra roam for your bike or luggage. It has a wide-mouth, easy-to-load shape. It folds down to nothingness, to avoid any clearance problems when not in use.

It is easy to install, fits almost all kinds of crossbars. It also comes with premium quality loading straps and tie-downs – which include a set of two ratcheting tie downs, two straps, and buckle protectors. It accommodates kayaks up to 34 inches wide and 75 pounds. It also has extra-thick padding to cushion your boat from damage. Also, there is a compartment to store excess load straps.

Like Yakima, it has a locking system available but it is also sold separately. You have many alternative choices for securing your rack from thieves but this locking system also gives it premium look and feel.

This product is designed for those who have the need for the features and can afford to buy it for this price.

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  • Durable, Sturdy, extra padding for safety
  • Easy installation
  • Locking System sold separately
  • The PFD lever, Fold-down technology
  • A bit pricey

Best J-cradle for 2 kayaks

Rhino Rack Folding J-style

Rhino Rack S512 J-style kayak carrier is a traditional j-cradle with some useful extra features. Like Yakima Jaylow, it also comes completely assembled and ready to go. It is made of aluminum, so it’s rust-free and corrosion-resistant. It has rubber padding to protect your boat. The feature that makes it stand out is that it has a paddle-carrying compartment.

The S512 can be set to any degree you want. You can fold it down to 0-degree for overhead clearance, 45-degree to carry like conventional j-style racks, and even 90-degree to carry 2 kayaks on both sides. You can tie down the second kayak on your crossbar. But if you don’t want to take the risk you can always buy the extension that Rhino Rack provides to have cushions on both sides.

It comes out assembled, is easy to install, fits almost all kinds of crossbars. It also comes with quality loading straps and tie-downs. The only thing that makes it inferior to Jaylow is that it doesn’t have any locking system.

With the price being fair, it is a great choice for you if you think the locking system 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 Basic Folding J-Cradle

DrSPORTS foldable j-rack

DrsportsUSA foldable kayak j-cradle is probably the cheapest foldable j rack out there. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It has all the basic features of a foldable j rack.

This wide-mouthed j-shape rack even can carry a larger boat, such as a sea or touring kayak. It can carry a kayak of about 150 lbs weight. It also has adjustable pads on the carrying arms to protect your boats from damage during transit. And this rack can be mounted onto any type of crossbar except the wide crossbars.

It is easy to install. It has universal fitting clamps like most other j-style racks. You can load your kayak easily from the side of your car. You can either use this at a 45-degree angle which leaves space for other stuff like a bike, luggage, cargo box, etc, or 90-degree for 2 kayaks on both sides. You can also fold it down to 0-degree for overhead clearance. And It comes with two loading straps included, but we suggest buying additional straps for a more secure tie-down.

The things that are missing for this rack are the locking system, an additional compartment for extra straps, and paddle storage. Extra Tip: After buying, you might wanna check the item before the return window closes because sometimes some part goes missing.

If you are on a budget and looking for nothing fancy, you might like this rack.

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  • Foldable for overhead clearance
  • Easy installation
  • Very cheap
  • Durable, Sturdy, extra padding for safety
  • No additional compartment for paddle or straps
  • No locking system

Best Basic J-Cradle

Leader Accessories J bar

If you are looking for a basic j-style rack that is cheap you should try this rack from Leader Accessories. It is very minimal but has the necessary functionalities. It is tough, made of alloy steel, and is easy to install. It can be the go-to choice for occasional kayakers.

This rack has extra strength and durability. This wide-mouthed j-shape rack even can carry a larger boat, such as a sea or touring kayak. It can carry a kayak about 8 ft long and 150 lbs weight. It also has adjustable pads on the carrying arms to protect your boats from damage. And this rack can be mounted onto any type of crossbar except the round and the oval crossbars.

It is easy to install. You can load your kayak easily from the side of your car. The j-cradle will hold your kayak at a 45-degree angle which leaves space for other stuff like a bike, luggage, cargo box, etc. It comes with four loading straps included, but we suggest buying additional straps for a more secure tie-down.

The features that you might miss are the folding option and a locking system. In this budget, this is the best choice we have. With its features, You can get by using this rack.

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  • Durable, Sturdy, extra padding for safety
  • Easy installation
  • Very low price
  • No folding option
  • No locking system

Best Temporary Pad

If you are looking to carry your kayak but don’t have a crossbar then you should check this inflatable roof rack by Handirack. This straightforward rack will fit any vehicle. You can install it very quickly and easily (no tools needed). And not just kayak, you can carry many other things like luggage, furniture, skis, snowboards, etc.

The rack has two inflatable pads made of 420-denier nylon with air chambers inside. And no, you don’t have to fill the air chambers with your mouth because a double-action pump is included to fill the pads with air. You can simply store them in your trunk when not in use for more durability. The Handirack says it has a carrying capacity of 175 lbs, but these are air pads so go easy on them if you are going through highways or bumpy roads.

The Handirack is for some basic hauling, without the need to assemble, install, wrench, drill, or tighten anything. So use it as a temporary roof rack, not 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

Visit our kayak rack section for more kayak rack guides.