Kayaking is one of the finest, most tactile ways to experience the outdoors. From the seat of your kayak’s cockpit, the wilderness seemingly opens up and you have the first-row seat to see it all. First, though, you’ve got to get your kayak there. But, how do you know what’s the best kayak roof rack?
Here at The Adventure Junkies, we pride ourselves on giving you the best tips, tricks and guide to experience the great outdoors. Whether it’s kayaking or scuba diving, we’ve got you covered.
Want to know more about kayak roof racks? If so, keep on reading to find out which roof kayak is best suited for you.
For more of our top kayaking gear recommendations, check out the Best Kayak Carts.
Quick Answer - The Best Kayak Roof Racks
- Thule Top Deck
- HandiRack Inflatable Bars
- Malone Sea Wing
- Thule Hull-a-Port Pro
- Malone Stax Pro 2
- Thule Xsporter Pro Truck
- Thule Hull-a-Port
- Yakima Jayhook
- Thule Hullavator Pro
- TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier
Comparison Table - Best Kayak Roof RackFor the best experience turn your device horizontally
|Shape of Cradle
|Thule Top Deck
|HandiRack Inflatable Bars
|Malone Sea Wing
|Thule Hull-a-Port Pro
|Malone Stax Pro 2
|Thule Xsporter Pro Truck
|Thule Hullavator Pro
|Flat with Expandable Base
|TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier
|Shape of Cradle
Reviews - The Best Roof Racks for Kayaks
Thule Top Deck
HandiRack Inflatable Bars
BEST FOR: BUDGET
PROS: Lightweight, compact, and easy it is to pack away and store
CONS: Not compatible with roof rack systems, although side rails are okay
Malone Sea Wing
BEST SADDLE-STYLE CARRIER
PROS: Designed to be rear-loading, with load-assist accessories available
CONS: No security features
Thule Hull-a-Port Pro
BEST J-CRADLE STYLE CARRIER
PROS: Simple lever system that allow it to fold flat when not in use
CONS: Won’t fit kayaks over 34” inches wide
Malone Stax Pro 2
BEST FOR: TRANSPORTING MULTIPLE BOATS AT ONCE
PROS: Includes a lifetime warranty
CONS: Maximum load capacity is only 50 pounds per boat
Thule Xsporter Pro Truck
BEST FOR: PROFESSIONALS WHO MAY NEED TO HAUL MORE THAN ONE KAYAK OR BOARD WITH THEM
PROS: Incredibly well-built, includes an aluminum design and weather-resistant fastenings
CONS: Only suitable for flatbed trucks, professional installation is recommended
BEST FOR: BUDGE-CONSCIOUS CONSUMER WHO WANTS THE STABILITY OF A J-CURVED RACK SYSTEM
PROS: Solid build quality for the price, easy installation
BEST FOR: HEAVY DUTY SETUPS AND FOR TRANSPORTING LONGER SEA KAYAKS
PROS: Fantastic J-curve setup for longer kayaks that don’t suit themselves well to strapped racks, rust-resistant
CONS: A bit bigger than most and the dismounting angles can be tricky for shorter people
Thule Hullavator Pro
BEST FOR: ARGUABLY THE STURDIEST AND BEST-LOOKING RACK SYSTEM CURRENTLY ON SALE TODAY
PROS: Streamline installation with most vehicles, incredibly compact in design and comes with an expandable base
CONS: Quite pricey, can be hard to find in-stock on Amazon or REI
TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier
BEST FOR: SINGLE-KAYAK SETUPS AND TRANSPORTING LIGHT CANOES, BOARDS, AND KAYAKS
PROS: Affordable option to other more expensive setups to transport boarding equipment
CONS: Not weather-proof or recommended for heavier, more robust tandem kayaks or canoes
HOW TO CHOOSE BEST KAYAK ROOF RACKS
The type of vehicle you have will play a huge role in determining which roof kayak roof rack is best for you. Whether it’s a small compact car or full-sized 4×4, there’s definitely a roof rack for your car.
For smaller cars, simpler set ups that can carry one kayak (maybe two) will be your best bet. But if your car’s quite sizable, you can opt to buy a rack that can carry three or four kayaks.
We recommend measuring the available outside roof space of your car first. That way, you know exactly what you’re getting into. Check out this guide to car roof racks from REI to learn more about which vehicles are best suited to have racks installed on them.
NUMBER OF KAYAKS
It should go without saying that the more kayaks you’ll want to carry, the larger the roof rack you’ll need. Keep that in mind as you shop around. This becomes even more important for safety reasons.
Shoving too many kayaks on a rack system that’s not designed for it can be hazardous on the roadway. Also, take into account that you’ll be needing to transport your paddles as well.
If you’re vertically challenged, a rack system that stands a foot above your car’s roof might not work. But, ones that are flush with the roofline will work better.
If you’re quite tall, you can opt for a taller rack system. These vertical rack systems can be used with little to no problem.
When transporting kayaks worth a mortgage payment (or two), you want to be sure they won’t meet their demise as you drive down the highway. By avoiding certain cheaply made fasteners, you steer clear of unexpected detachments.
Plastic and aluminum fasteners are a no-go. Opt for models that use rust-free coated steels and even carbon fiber fasteners.
NEED OF AFTERMARKET CROSS BARS
If your car already has a roof-mounted cross bar system, you’ll want to ensure its compatibility with the roof rack model you’re looking at.
If your car doesn’t have one, you’ll want to be sure you purchase an aftermarket cross bar system. Be sure to check its compatibility with your roof rack system, too. Most in-store outlets will be more than happy to help you ensure just that by doing a test install.