Subaru Forester is an awesome SUV for exploring the wild. 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 forester 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 Forester according to your need.
Yakima Jaylow has all the qualities to be the best j-rack on the market. It has many useful and convenient features with its fantastic design.
What type of Roof Rack do you want for your Forester?
What is the best roof rack for Subaru Forester? (Overall)
YAKIMA JayLow J-Style Fold Down Rooftop Kayak Carrier is the best roof rack for Subaru Forester.
What is the best Subaru Forester roof rack for the money?
TMS J-Bar Kayak Rack is the best Subaru Forester roof rack for the money.
What is the best Saddle for Subaru Forester?
AA-Racks Steel Jetty Saddle Rack is the best Saddle for Subaru Forester.
What is the best Stacker for Subaru Forester?
Thule 830 The Stacker is the best Stacker for Subaru Forester.
What is the best J-Cradle for Subaru Forester?
Thule HullaPort Pro is the best J-Cradle for Subaru Forester.
What is the best roof rack for carrying 2 kayaks on Subaru Forester?
IKURAM R J-Style Folding Kayak Rack is the best roof rack for carrying 2 kayaks on Subaru Forester.
What is the best Lift-assist roof rack for Subaru Forester?
Thule Hullavator is the best Lift-assist roof rack for Subaru Forester.
What is the best Temporary Pad for Subaru Forester?
HandiRack Inflatable is the best Temporary Pad for Subaru Forester.
Best Kayak Roof Racks for Subaru Forester (Comparison Table)
Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack is the top choice for us from this Forester roof rack list because of its useful and convenient features. It is beautifully designed and is very sturdy. It is the ideal kind of j-cradle from one of the most trusted brands in this market.
The JayLow is a traditional j-rack with an additional feature of stacker mode. In j-rack, mode its arm is locked to a 45-degree angle and can carry one kayak. And in the stacker mode, the arm is locked into 90-degree, so you can carry 2 kayaks on both sides of the arm like stacker style. It can carry around one boat of 80 lbs or two boats weighing 110 lbs combined.
It is compatible with Yakima SteamLine and round, square, factory, and aerodynamic crossbars, and it comes with adapters for Yakima round bars but can be used with other round load bars as well. Note: there must be a minimum of 24 in. of the distance between your crossbars to use the JayLow. It also has durable padded contact points that provide protection and grip while traveling.
One of the convenient features of this rack is that it comes fully assembled out of the box. We don’t have to waste our time assembling it. It is also easy to install, just simply attach the rack’s clamps to your bars and tighten the thumbscrews. And we should also mention that the JayLow comes with heavy-duty securing straps and bow/stern tie-downs.
Another convenient feature is the SKS (same key system) locking system that Yakima provides. One key lock and unlocks all your Yakima gear and presumably anyone else’s. It is a decent anti-theft system. Although it would have been nice to have it included, it is sold separately.
We like the Yakima JayLow. It maybe is built for convenience’s sake. It’s a bit heavy on the price but can’t complain about its features.
The Steel Jetty Saddle from AA Racks is a low-cost and efficient way to transport your kayak. It is a basic saddle roof rack that can get the job done, nothing fancy. It is made of steel and can carry one kayak with any hull shape.
It has a universal fitment system. It also comes with bow-stern tie-downs but you should always buy extra straps for more safety. You can load your kayak from any side of the vehicle. But the pads don’t roll 180-degree, so you won’t get any help from the rack when loading your kayak. The pads have rubbers for gripping your kayak in place. The Pads are also water and sun-resistant. It doesn’t have any locking system to secure your saddles from theft.
It will be your best choice if you are a minimalist, who is just looking for a saddle set to just carry your kayak on your Subaru Forester.
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 for your Forester. But it’s a bit pricey.
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 on your Subaru Forester.
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 to lock it securely, 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.
Best Advanced Folding J-Cradle
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 for 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.
Best J-cradle for 2 kayaks
If there is a rack that can tempt you with its functions and versatility, it’s the Bilateral Premier j-rack from IKURAM. In just a few years of its release, it has become renowned amongst kayakers. It has everything you need in a kayak carrier except the locking system.
This rack, from an emerging brand IKURAM, has many functions. Like it can carry one kayak j-style, two kayak stacker-style vertically, and two kayaks saddle-style horizontally. You just have to adjust the degree of its arm, like 45-degree, 90-degree, and 0-degree.
It is easy to install, fits almost all kinds of crossbars. You just have to look for your crossbar-height, because the bolts of this rack are long. So, if you low-profile crossbars, the bolts might make a dent on your roof. But if you have a high-profile crossbar, you are good to go. It also has rubber padding to keep your kayak safe. A great thing about this rack is that it has cradles to carry your paddles.
Now let’s talk about things you need to know before buying this rack. Firstly, the instruction manual from the company is technically non-existent (check the installation video down below). Secondly, the included strap might not be enough, then you have to buy additional ratchet straps. Thirdly, it doesn’t have a lock system.
This product has some limitations. They had an idea, but couldn’t execute it properly. With that being said, you will not find a rack that has these types of functions at such a low price for 4 j-cradles.
Best Basic Folding J-Cradle
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.
Best Basic J-Cradle
If you are looking for a basic j-style rack that is cheap you should try this rack from JDM Auto Lights. 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 36 inches wide and 75 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 like the round, square, oval, and flat 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.
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.