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Best Kayak Roof Rack [Top 5 Reviewed For 2022 + Buying Guide]

If you're into kayaking, chances are you dream about living in a beach house, dragging your kayak through the fine sand to the water with ease. It will then be just a matter of minutes until you can start paddling away into the beautiful paradise. Now, let's wake up and face reality, most of us are not lucky enough to own such a place. In fact, you probably have to drive miles in order to enjoy this experience. Therefore, finding the best kayak roof rack is a must.

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Kayak Roof Rack

This whole venture can be tricky. You must make sure it fits your car, but you also want safety and a secure transportation. There are plenty of choices out there, which makes this whole endeavour even more challenging.

Most specialists recommend going with the top rated racks out there. We have done our own research and below are our top picks.

  • Durable & Corrosion-free.
  • Fits up to 36 inches wide kayak.
  • Easy to use.
  • Padded Support, max protection.
  • Easy to load & unload.
  • Extra large padding for protection.
  • Foldable and compact.
  • Value for money.

Table of Comparison: Our 5 Best Kayak Roof Rack

We have summarized a comparison table below for your easy reference. However, it is important to note that the positions are in no particular order of importance.

ProductSpecifications & FeaturesOur Rating

Thule Hullavator Pro Kayak Carrier
Load Capacity: 75 lbs

Carrying Style: Horizontal

Assist Feature: Load


Price: $$$$

More Details

Yakima Jaylow Kayak Carrier
Load Capacity: 80 lbs

Carrying Style: J-curved

Crossbar Compatibility: Universal


Price: $$

More Details

Thule 887XT Slipstream Kayak Rack
Load Capacity: 75 lbs

Carrying Style: Flat

Assist Feature: Lift & Load


Price: $$

More Details

Rhino Rack Side Loader Rack
Dimension: 41 x 4 x 7 inch

Weight: 10 lbs

Max Capacity: 132 lbs

Feature: Intergrated Load Stop


Price: $$

More Details

Malone Downloader Folding J-Style Rack
Load Capacity: 75 lbs

Carrying Style: J-style

Feature:Fits round, square, factory oval cross rails


Price: $$

More Details

5 Best Kayak Rack Reviewed

1. Thule Hullavator Pro Kayak Carrier - Best Assist Feature

Best kayak roof rack

Thule is a front runner in terms of kayaking accessories. You don't have to learn how to build a kayak rack when you have the perfect item right in front of you.

This model is made of aluminum. It has a double coated steel design, so it can easily resist corrosion. Even if you don't live on the beach, chances are you live somewhere nearby, so humidity is high and corrosion is always an issue – not anymore.

This product will support your kayaking adventure for ages and is considered by many users as one of the best kayak carrier in the market today.

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2. Yakima Jaylow Kayak Carrier - Low Maintenance

If overall maintenance is what you're looking for, then the Yakima will be the ideal choice. It requires close to no maintenance at all. However, maintenance pales when you check out its versatility.

Unlike other racks in this segment, Yakima's model allows carrying multiple kayaks as well. It has a plethora of settings for adjustability.

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3. Thule 887XT Slipstream Rack - Premium Load-assist Rack

Are you looking for a solid kayak roof rack for SUV? Allowing you to carry one kayak in a horizontal position, the 887XT model from Thule is probably the most suitable kayak rack for SUV. Furthermore, if it can go on an SUV, it can easily match any small car as well.

The fit is literally perfect for car top kayak carriers. Saddles pivot, so they will conform pretty much any shape and size. No matter what type of kayak you have, chances are you'll fit it on your car with no problems at all. Given the horizontal position, you cannot add more racks for other kayaks due to the lack of space.

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Rhino Rack doesn't build car top kayak racks with bells and whistles. Instead, the manufacturer sticks to the basics and pushes them to a superior quality.

Nothing is fancy enough to make the price too high, hence the good value for money. After all, you only need some transportation for your kayak to the nearest water.

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Built to make loading and unloading easy, this easy load kayak roof rack from Malone provides an excellent value for money. It's a J style kayak roof rack designed to fit most types of roofs.

Moreover, loading has never been easier due to the boarding ramp. It's built in, so you don't have to install it yourself. This folding kayak rack is designed to be safe and secure, and also ensure that your kayak or car won't get scratched.

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Why You Should Buy a Kayak Roof Rack?

There are multiple reasons wherefore finding the best kayak roof rack on the market is such a good idea.

Most importantly, it's a cost efficient solution. Unless you have an inflatable kayak that can fit in a bag inside your boot, chances are you'll seriously have to think about transportation. Unfortunately, your options are limited.

Apart from roof racks, your only option implies buying or renting a trailer. Not only a trailer doesn't work with any type of car, but it's also expensive. It comes with a series of legal requirements as well.

Second, kayak roof racks are specifically built with extra features to ensure your boat stays in good condition. This isn't a bag or luggage for when you go on holiday.

Instead, it's a large sports equipment. It's heavy and can easily get damaged if transported irresponsibly. While a trailer might work, it doesn't provide as much protection as a roof rack.

Most kayak racks come with padding. Therefore, the kayak is less likely to get scratched. Even if you drive on bumpy roads, it will be secured in place and won't slide.

Apart from protecting your kayak, such padding is ideal for your car as well. Given the weight of a kayak, sliding over your car will leave a nasty visible mark.

Third, don't overlook the space efficiency either. Sure, kayak roof racks are specifically built for such boats. But then, they're quite versatile. Plenty of people don't even take them off their cars because they can use them for other things, such as luggage.

Of course, it depends on the shape and style, but generally speaking, they come with multiple uses. It's like having a second car boot on top of it.

As if all these were not enough, some roof racks come with loading and unloading assistance. If you have always had to seek help for this operation, you can now do it yourself.

It makes no difference if you have no strength or you're really short – such features will make your life easier. But then, you should know that not all roof racks come with loading and unloading assistance.

>> Read our reviews on the Best Kayak Brands <<

What to Look for in a Kayak Roof Rack?

When trying to buy a kayak roof rack, most considerations float around the main elements in this whole game – the boat and the car.

Structure of the Roof of Your Vehicle

Some cars come with a bare roof. In other words, there are no extra structures on top. Some others come with rails.

Go check your vehicle – forget about this type of transportation if you have no rails. Some people might suggest foam padding – terrible idea. It looks fine at first, but it's not as secure and safe as an actual rail. Therefore, there's a decent risk to lose the kayak or damage both the boat and your car.

Luckily, you can buy rails and crossbars yourself, even if the car is not fitted with such a system. This way, you'll be able to attach most types of kayaks.

Type of Your Kayak

How about your kayak? What type is it?

Although they share some common specifications, different types of kayaks are built with different specifications in mind.

Some of them are narrow, while others are extra wide. Kayaks used for camping, on the other hand, needs to have more storage area. No matter what type you get, make sure the rack you purchase can accommodate its size.

Some manufacturers focus on specific kayaks only. Buying an adjustable rack is better though. You might change the kayak overtime or perhaps you'd like to try a different type.

>> Find out what are our Best Fishing Kayak for the Money <<

Frequency of You Kayaking

How often do you go kayaking? If you like to do it every weekend or even more times during a week, you'll probably hate putting too much effort into loading and unloading the boat.

Therefore, opt for a carrier that provides assistance with such operations. Ideally, you should be able to load and unload the unit yourself.

From this point of view, you can also choose between side and top loading kayaks. They're both useful, yet the side alternative is easier to use. It does make your car wider though, so you'll have to pay more attention when driving.

Features of Racks

Finally, go through their small features as well.

Most manufacturers try to enhance their roof racks with all kinds of specs. Opt for safety and protection for both the kayak and the car.

Also, look for adjustability, as well as a solid construction. You don't want to scratch the kayak or the roof of your car, just like you don't want it to fall over when you drive over a speed bump.

Trusted Manufacturers

Go for a reliable and well established manufacturer too. Sure, you can buy a kayak roof rack Walmart, but you should never count on superior quality or a good service if you need any help from the manufacturer.

Well established companies are specialized in this field and put lots of effort into designing quality models.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.Do you need a roof rack for a kayak?

If you are traveling while transporting your kayak all the time, you will definitely need a roof rack. It is easy and practical to use.

2.How many kayaks can you fit on a roof rack?

A single roof rack can be used for transporting a single kayak. Double rack or 2 kayaks roof racks models are designed for transporting 2 kayaks.

3.How far apart should roof racks be for kayak?

Roof racks should be at least 24 inches far apart in order to provide safe and simple transport. In some cases, the width can be increased up to 28 inches.


Thule Hullavator Pro Kayak Carrier

Our Rating

Bottom line, choosing the best kayak roof rack is not a general aspect that works for everyone. What works for some people may not work for you and vice versa.

Just like for everything else out there, you'll have to make this decision with your personal needs in mind. Think about your kayak, your car and the potential kayaks you might get in the future, then opt for an adjustable rack that can handle most types of boats.

For us, the roof rack that fits us the best is the Thule Hullavator Pro Kayak Carrier. It is probably the most complete roof rack on the market at the moment. We rate it 5 out of 5 stars as we could not find anything to complain on. It comes from a top rated manufacturer and can be adjustable to pretty much any kayak size. Moreover, it makes loading a matter of seconds and can take heavy boats as well.

Douglas Keister

I am an adventure fanatic that loves nature and adventure sports like kayaking, camping and water sports. I have been doing this for almost 10 years now and have learned quite a few tricks. With my experience, I hope to provide you with the most reliable and accurate information for your next adventure.

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Simon Prime - September 23, 2018

Hello, your website is really good. We do appreciate your great ccontent 🙂

    Admin - September 24, 2018

    Thanks Simon

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