7 Best Rooftop Rack Kayak Carrier 2024 – Review and Buying Guide

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Gleaming sunlight, cool breeze, beautiful summer morning. You get up from bed and intend to take your Kayak onto the glistening blue water of the lake that you live right next to. Just as you get geared up to go paddling…BOOM! You wake up to realize it was a dream, and you remember that you live miles away from your favorite lake that you love going paddling on.

Now the most significant hassle you would face is having to carry your Kayak all the way from your house to the lake. So what do you do? Throw the Kayak in your car? Nope too big. So what can you do? The answer to this is a Kayak roof rack which helps transport your Kayak with no bother! Kayak roof carriers eliminate the need for you to carry them around from place to place personally.

They also provide you with the much-needed space that a Kayak otherwise could not have provided if you were planning to have a packed crowd in the car. But my avid fellow reader, do you have any knowledge about the types of Kayaks? The various brands of Kayaks? The pre-requisites of a good Kayak? If you don’t, it’s completely fine. Aren’t we all learners at some point?

Allow us to help you choose the suitable Kayak roof carrier made possible by our finest picks of Kayak roof carriers of the year 2024! So with much promptitude, let’s tumble down this rabbit hole!

1. Yakima Fold Down Rooftop Kayak Carrier

Yakima Fold Down Rooftop Kayak Carrier


Featuring the ability to carry two Kayaks, The Yakima Fold Down Rooftop Kayak carrier can fit one Kayak in the J-cradle position and have a maximum weight of 80 pounds. It can accommodate 2 Kayaks in a vertical position weighing a hundred and ten pounds (combined). This product has extra padded contact points that provide grip and security while traveling. The Yakima Kayak Roof Carrier fits most crossbars with the requirement of crossbar spread to be a minimum of 24 inches.

It can fit aerodynamic, square, factory and round-shaped crossbars. It comes with included straps and necessary hardware such as heavy-duty straps, bow and stern tie-downs. This hardware is vital to ensure the protection of your Kayak and to restrict motility. It also has an in-built cam clamp that facilitates quick-action fastening, allowing you to release a workpiece without tools or equipment quickly.

It also quickly helps you adjust the upright position of the roof carrier. You can also fold the racks flat for better clearance. This folding feature puts a lesser burden on your vehicle’s performance by reducing the drag on the motion of your car. It comes fully assembled out of the box, making it an immediately usable product. It also needs no tools to install and takes less than ten minutes to do so.

As an additional feature and offer, it also comes with an SKS (Same Key System) for which the locks do not come with the product but are sold separately. The Yakima brand prides itself on its quality of universal service and is reflected in their products as the Yakima Rooftop Kayak Carrier can carry all types of Kayaks. An excellent pick worth the cost incurred.

2. TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier

TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier


The TMS Kayak Carrier is a trendy Kayak carrier with a unique and popular style of carriage. Rated a 4.5 out of 5 stars, this Kayak carrier is designed to be sturdy and comes with easy installation. This carrier can hold a wide variety of kayak models on it, holding a universal service quality. Ideal for larger Kayaks, the TMS J-Bar Kayak carrier serves its purpose well.

Designed with sturdy steel construction, this carrier is equipped with qualities of extra strength, stability, and durability. This carrier can hold Kayaks with spatial measurements of up to 36 inches in width and 75 pounds in weight. It is built to have adjustable pads on the load arms to protect your Kayaks, thereby keeping them damage-free as you move from one place to another. This rack can virtually mount virtually any crossbar existing on the current market.

The rack comes with universal fitting clamps that make it easy to attach the rack to the sides of your vehicle. The J-shaped rack makes it easy to load the kayak onto the car. The J-cradle will sit at roughly 45 degrees after the rack is attached on top of your vehicle. The rack comes with two loading straps, but it is advisable to have additional straps for an effective tie-down.

The downsides to this product are its instructions for assembly that come with the rack. It needs a thorough look through the instructions to know how to assemble it, which isn’t that difficult. An excellent all-around product, very cost-effective, and provides high utility.

3. Rhino-Rack Nautic 570 Series Kayak/Canoe Carrier

Rhino-Rack Nautic 570 Series Kayak/Canoe Carrier


Featuring a saddle type of roof Kayak rack, the Rhino-Rack Nautic Kayak Carrier consists of four sizeable Santoprene rubber cradles measuring 3 inches X 8 inches in size and 6 millimeters thick. Expediting security and stability, these Santoprene rubber cradles come with three flexible joints that help grip your kayak perfectly.

This high contact area helps keep your kayak securely in its place. In similarity with other rack holders, the Rhino-Rack Nautic Kayak holder has universal crossbar mounting features. A unique part about this saddle-type rack is that it can be mounted from the side. The adjustable pads revolve a hundred and eighty degrees, enabling you to pull one pair towards the outer region of your vehicle, allowing you to load your kayak onto it and then roll the kayak into its seating position.

The adjustable pads that spin are a highly unique and thoughtful feature to include as it eliminates the need for users to have to get to the top of their car or to have to use a stool/ladder to get on top of their vehicle. You need not worry if you are towing your hardware from the rear of the car as most racks of the saddle – type are loaded onto the top from the back.

A feature statement from the manufacturers is that the cradle pads can accommodate various hull shapes of the Kayaks or canoes being carried, such as rounded hulls, V-shaped hulls, flat hulls, and pontoon hulls.

Designed for rugged use, the cradle pads are UV resistant, promising durability from regular wear and tear, which is why users can expect this Kayak carrier to be long-lasting and value rendering.

4. HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars

HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars

The HandiRack Universal Rooftop kayak carrier is a refreshing design from your usual cradle-styled kayak carriers. Perfect for first-timers on the kayaking and paddling experience, this rooftop kayak carrier symbolizes simplicity and ease of use. This rooftop kayak carrier uses inflatable technology that comprises air-filled bars that cushion and protect your cargo.

It has a load capacity of 175 pounds that is pretty impressive and a tad more than some cradle-based carriers. Made out of heavy-duty 400D Nylon material, this carrier promises strength and durability to its customers. Given its compact and streamlined design, it tends to give lesser drag and noise in transit. It is easy to store and very portable, making it easy for you to take it anywhere on the journey.

It is certified for highway speeds of over 90 miles per hour without having to worry about detachment due to high velocities. This carrier has multi-purposes of not only being able to accommodate Kayaks but also canoes, surfboards, paddleboards, and SUPs. Works for vehicles with or without side rails, eliminating the need for users to spend more money on additional accessories that are the factory side rails.

It has universal compatibility as it can fit Sedan, SUVs, Compact MPVs, Crossover, 4×4, 2, 3, 4, or 5 door vehicles, although excluding curtain airbags and soft-tops. The various brands it has been tested to check compatibility are Audi, BMW, Buick, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, KIA, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Smart, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

Very easy to install and highly cost-efficient, a must-have for first-timers looking for a good Kayaking experience.

5. Malone Downloader Folding J-Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier

Malone Downloader Folding J-Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier

Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars and stated to be Amazon’s choice, the Malone Folding J-Style Universal Car Rack Kayak carrier features a corrosion-resistant aluminum construct. Similar to most other rooftop carriers, it shares the feature of being universal fit mounting fasteners. This famous brand encompasses a hip-hop vibe, the Malone brand offers its J-style kayak carrier with a slighter edge over other brands manufacturing J-style carriers.

This edge comes in the form of a critical feature that is the fold-down feature that provides low-clearance access when not in use. It can carry up to 75 pounds of load. Another helpful feature and item that comes with the carrier is the mini ramp that helps you load your kayaks onto the top of the vehicle with ease. Although a lot easier with shorter boats and kayaks, it doesn’t hinder you from carrying larger and heavier kayaks. The rack comes with two sets of hex bolts of 50 millimeters and 70 millimeters for the mounting tools to contain different sizes of crossbars.

It also has the JAWZ mounting hardware designed to fit round, squared, and most oval factory crossbars. This kayak carrier comes with clear and detailed instructions to help mount and secure your kayak atop your vehicle. An excellent all-around product to invest your money in.

Buyers guide for purchasing a Rooftop kayak Carrier

Simple when informed but wasteful when otherwise. It is of high importance that one knows the pre-requisites of a suitable kayak carrier as it can be a waste of money if you were to spend it on the wrong one. So how do you go about making that decision? You can make an informed and rational decision about buying a suitable kayak carrier by going through our concise and clear buyers guide for purchasing one. So without further ado, let’s jump in!

So the first thing you need to know to buy a kayak carrier is the types of carriers. There are four main types of kayak carrier types: the J-style or J-cradles, Pads, Saddles, and Crossbars.

To summarise these types of carriers,


These are the most popular forms of carriers for kayaks. Having a holding arm atop a base in the form of a ‘J’ this rack helps you load your kayaks from the side.


Crossbars are solid, sturdy, and stable bars that can have virtually anything attached to them that is mounted onto the roof rails of your car.


They are long-lasting study storage racks for your kayak. This rack contains a definite bunch of pads attached to an existing roof rack or crossbar that hold the bottom of your kayak.


They are temporary inflatable or foam-based roof racks best for shorter distances and occasional trips.


It is essential to buy a kayak carrier that suits your capacity needs. You cannot have a carrier that isn’t sturdy enough to take the weight you desire. Most carriers have a capacity range from 75-115 pounds depending on the type of carrier and vehicle you own.


The feature of a product to last long is desired in all the products we use, so why should a carrier be any different? Ensure the carrier being bought is made of several high-end heavy-duty materials that will guarantee a long life for those carriers. The carrier that you purchase should be able to take the weight of the kayak and the force it experiences due to the momentum of the vehicle, especially going at high speeds.


The price of a product is what makes all the difference in the buying decisions of the customer. Usually, the prices aren’t that high for kayak carriers, given the non-complexity in their purpose and functionality. However, they can be slightly more on the pricey side when it comes to heavy-duty materials in the manufacturing process. Most good quality carriers range from $70-150 dollars, and anything more than that has to offer over-the-top features and anything below that is just lower in quality.


It’s a relief, isn’t it? Knowing what to buy, what not to buy, what to look in a carrier, the expectation of its performance, and whatnot? Well, we hope we’ve done our job in making this a more straightforward thing to look forward to. Therefore, here’s to buying the suitable kayak carrier, so you’re set and ready to go. Happy journey!

img source: roofracksa.com.au


How far apart should J racks be for a kayak?

It is recommended to have a minimum of 24 inches in the spread, but it wouldn’t hurt to go for 28.

Should a kayak be transported upside down?

Kayaks should always be transported on their bottom using cradles to prevent deformation.

Check out also:

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Best Marine and Outdoors Soft Roof Rack Pads, Premium Kayak Roof Racks for Canoes, SUP Paddle Boards...
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