Best Kayak Rack for Car Reviews: Top 5 Picks With Buying Guide (Jul 2019)

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Kayaking is one of the most exhilarating activities and an amazing way to experience outdoor scenery firsthand.  Every kayaker will tell you they cannot get enough of nature and the wilderness right at the comfort of a kayaks cockpit. Whether with a group of friends or by yourself, on a river or on still waters Kayaking lets you experience nature like you’ve never before. Having the right kayaking accessories goes a long way to ensure every trip is a blast.  The best kayak rack for car makes your kayaking trip one to remember for many years to come.  For all adventure junkies we have reviewed all the leading kayak rack brands and their strong points hence coming up with the most comprehensive guide just for you.

Best Bike Rack for Car
by Ctopreviews

Considerations to make Before Buying a Kayak Rack for your Car

It’s always a perfect day when you get a chance to take your kayak out for a fun time but transporting your kayak there can be a challenge especially without the right tools to make the job easier.  Kayak rack for your car conveniently eliminates the need to hire specialized transportation which will set you back a few dollars hence ruining the fun for you.  The best kayak rack for your car will offer ready solutions whenever you are in the mood to enjoy your navigations skills on water.  Such kayak racks are designed to offer permanent solutions thus you do not necessarily need to unmount them from your car if you are an avid kayaker.  When in the market for the ultimate kayak rack for car there are multiple considerations to make in order to accrue the best product in the market.

Car Dimensions

Different cars are designed with varying specifications hence it is easy to miss the right dimensions for a kayak rack suitable for your specific car. Before purchasing a kayak rack assess the width of your car at its front and the back-end in order to go for a rack that comfortably holds your kayaks steady whenever you are on the road.  The most common dimensions for most cars are 6 by 12 inches positioned at the top of the windshield and 6 by 12 inches running to the rear of the car.

The Total Amount you are willing to Invest

With a competitive market today you will be presented with multiple options to choose from but the most worthwhile solutions will come with a substantial initial investment. Such will adequately cater for a rack that is durable and easy to use in terms of installation and ease of access.  Lucky for you we have familiarized ourselves with the most competitive kayak racks for different car brands acceptable among experts in the field today!

Availability of a Fixed Point System on your Automobile

Modern cars incorporate different designs but the most appropriate for kayak racks have pre-installed fix-point systems with narrow channels and rain gutters that water run through from the front and the rear thus avoiding impairing your visibility when driving.  Different roof racks for kayaks will readily fit the rain gutters of modern car designs if the specific car has an appropriate fixed-point system compatible with a rail system.

Industrial Warranty on Kayak Racks for Car

A well-designed kayak rack for a car will not present any complications in its installation and usage but if such challenges would arise you need a kayak from a reliable manufacturer who is confident enough to stand behind their product.  An extended warranty serves to build the trust between kayak rack producer and a buyer.  When you are in the market to make a purchase, choose a kayak rack with a warranty that adequately covers all your prospective liabilities.

Overall Weight considerations

Even though your car meets all the required standards it is fitted with a kayak rack you must factor in the maximum weight can be able to hold.  For different car manufacturers you can directly get in contact with them or check with the car manual to have an understanding of the maximum load it can hold on its roof. Whether you intend to install the kayak rack on the rain gutters or you choose not to involve the gutters be keen to observe that the maximum weight of the kayak can be comfortably accommodated from the point of installation. (Things to watch out for when travelling with a Kayak Rack).

The range of Accessories Provided

It is important to note that not all kayak rack producing companies will avail all the required accessories to fit the rack. For your convenience we advise you accrue a Kayak rack that will be easy to install as its packaging will include accessories to make handling easier. When in the market indulge the salespeople on the range of accessories they offer for individual products.  If the handy equipment is missing be sure to be directed on what to get in order to make the installation process easier.  Remember that without the right tools a kayak rack for your car will not serve its intended purpose. An important question to ask in this category is if the rack designs have changed or have been modified in the past years so as to know if special tools are needed for the installation process. Other accessories will help in the maintenance of the entire system.  Such as in the example of a rubber plug that is fitted at the very end of the rack pole to prevent the crossbar from rusting.

Physical Properties of the Rack in terms of Endurance and Durability

When assessing the physical attributes the best kayak rack for car its design should be able to sustain the weight of the kayak and since it will be prone to contact with water, it should be rustproof.  This would ensure that the rack would maintain its functional features for extended periods of time without inflicting any potential risk of an accident. If you opt for equipment that is not rust resistant there are coating options for you to personally guarantee that your rack does not degrade with rust.

Adjustability of the Rack Components

Different terrains you will use to access water points for kayaking may offset the stability of your car especially if fitted with a bulky kayak on the very top.  Having an adjustable kayak rack is lucrative for navigating steep terrains. These come with extenders that can be used to raise the back or lower the front to acquire more stability when driving. Most racks in the market today are designed to hold up to 750 lbs to 800 lbs which are easily adjustable when mounted. Be cautious to get your kayak rack for car from a trusted dealer who will be able to avail all the necessary information catering to installation and maintenance in order to get the best out of your rack.

Top 5 Best Kayak Racks for Car Reviews 2018

1 Yakima Jaylow Kayak Carrier


  • Has an overall weight of 12.85 lbs
  • 69 inches in length 6.00 width and 20 inches height
  • Its crossbar can spread out for 24 inches or even more
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
  • Can support a single boat of up to 80 lbs or two boats with a total weight of 110 lbs
  • Comes with stern tie-downs and heavy-duty straps

What We Like

The Yakima Jaylow Kayak Carrier is one of the most best kayak rack for car, including SUVs, sedans, hatchbacks, minivans,…

What appealed to us about the Yakima Jaylow Kayak Carrier is how easy it is to mount the rack on your car’s rooftop by yourself. It comes with two clamps that are first fitted around the racks cross bars either square or cylindrical. The carrier is then placed on top and firmly fastened into the clamps. The installation process for this kayak rack does not take more than a couple of minutes as you only need to turn its knob to secure it tightly in place. You will not require any special tools or equipment as its design does not include bolts and nuts that need to be aligned. Compared to earlier designs the Yakima JayLow is slimmer and more streamlined but with wide cradles hence accommodating a variety of kayak designs. The rack incorporates a detachable lever system that controls its arms and can be moved to different positions. The JayLow has been designed to be adaptable to all types of car crossbars in different sizes and shapes such as elliptical bars, square bars, aero bars and round bars. This is highly commendable for Yakima as all kayak lovers can make upgrades on their means of transportation without necessarily replacing their crossbars.


  • Easy to install as no special tools are required
  • It can be fitted on many vehicle models including convertibles, SUVs, Sedans and many others
  • The rack can comfortably hold 1 kayak in the J-cradle positions and two in the stacker position
  • Designed to protect your car from scratches and dents
  • Integrated cam lever for adjusting position is easy to operate
  • SKS locking system on crossbars
  • Very durable
  • Can be folded down when it is not needed
  • No extra accessories are required after the purchase of this rack


  • Relatively noisy when driving on the highway or other roads
  • Its price range is steep for some buyers

Our Verdict

For the avid adventure, this is an excellent choice of Kayak rack for car as years of modification and improvements have made it very convenient and user-friendly.


2 Malone Downloader Folding J-Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier with Bow and Stern Lines


  • Has a load capacity of 75 lbs
  • Has an overall weight of 12.2 lbs
  • 17 inches length, 6 inches wide and 19.5 inches height
  • Comes with mounting bolts 60 mm and 70 mm
  • Made from aluminum fully resistant to corrosion
  • Fitted with a boarding ramp that makes loading easy

What We Like

The Malone Downloader is one of the most best kayak rack for car. It is a premium kayak rack designed to offer you utmost convenience while loading. It has a low clearance, adequately protects your kayak and is compatible with most load bars. Its exterior frame is made out of aluminum which cannot be corroded and is also fitted with padding on its base and frame which are replaceable.  You have the option to incorporate the MPG351-XL Telos Kayak Load Assist which will make the handling of the rack easier.  This is however bought separately as it does not come with the rack.  At the very base of the carrier is a rectangular cut out that fits most crossbars ranging from square, round and oval shapes.  Another preferable feature about this design is that its hex bolts come in two lengths.  This is in consideration that cross bars vary in thickness hence you have the option to choose the one that fits best.  For the other set, you can store it away for later use with another car that has different crossbars.  In the packaging is a Jawz universal mounting adapter which simplifies the installation process as you will not require additional tools to set it up on any given crossbar. With the aid of release pins, the rack can be folded down almost flat which is a helpful attribute when passing through low clearances for instance garages and also helps save on fuel.


  • Comes with a lifetime limited warranty
  • Its rack arms are padded with nylon sleeves that protect the Kayaks finishing
  • Fitted with in-built boarding ramps that slide the Kayak into position hence you do not have to lift it yourself
  • Oversized padding adequately secures Kayak when in motion
  • Very durable model
  • Great overhead clearance


  • Could be pricey for some bars
  • Best fit for round crossbars but challenging for other shapes

Our Verdict

We fully support the Malone Downloader Folding J-Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier with Bow and Stern Lines and recommend it to all users as you have the autonomy of loading your Kayak by yourself with its load assist module.


3 2 Set Roof J Rack Kayak Boat Canoe Car SUV top Mount Carrier with 1 Dolly Cart Trailer Carrier Wheels


  • Has an overall weight of 26 pounds
  • comes with a lifetime warranty
  • 30 inches in length, 13 inches width and in height
  • Its exterior is made out of steel
  • can accommodate a kayak up to 36 inches wide
  • can support a maximum weight of 75 pounds

 What We Like

In the review of 2 Set Roof J Rack Kayak Boat Canoe Car SUV top Mount Carrier with 1 Dolly Cart Trailer Carrier Wheels, We found its adaptability to different shapes of crossbars in the different car models to be the most commendable feature.  This is inclusive of Oval and round crossbars as well as rectangular and square shaped cross bars. The steel frame comes with a secure padding that can be adjusted to hold your kayak steady.   Another addition to this package is the twelve feet tie-down straps that come in handy when fastening your kayak to the dolly. These are very efficient in holding your Kayak down.  The dolly itself can support kayak weight of up to 150 lbs owing to its structural design which entails sizable pneumatic tires adaptable to all roads rough or smooth.  Its exterior is made of stainless steel iodized from aluminum pipe.  Its support stand is fitted with 9-1/4″ H spring which holds the dolly steady when propped next to the water.  In its generous list of accessories, as described, this series comes with 2 sets J bar HD kayak carriers and one set dory trailer.  This makes it a unique kayak rack for car that is very secure and does not necessarily require you to over fasten it straps on the crossbars which would in turn end up bending the clamps.


  • Its extended warranty that lasts you a lifetime shows that the manufacturer fully stands behind the product thus accounting for all the consumer trust on the kayak carrier
  • the functional structure of the rack is very durable
  • It is very cost friendly, you do not have to dent your wallet to enjoy the convenience offered by the carrier
  • Can comfortably accommodate 2 kayaks


  • You have to entirely remove the rack when not needed which can be strenuous

Our Verdict

This is a fine kayak rack for car that serves you for many years and it is worth the cost.


4 Thule Hull-a-Port Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier


  • Can hold a maximum load of up to 34 inches wide and 75 lbs
  • Has specific dimensions of 47.6 by 25.2 by 11.2 cm
  • The structure is very right with an overall weight of 5 kgs
  • Comes with lengthy straps of 2 by 175cm
  • Has a steel exterior fitted with adjustable padding which offers adequate firmness
  • comes with eight M6 by 50mm bolts, eight M6 by 65mm bolts and  8 m6 knobs
  • also fitted with two top tube pads, two bottom tube pads,  two hull a port assembling  accessories and  two base pads

What We Like

The Thule Hull a Port Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier gives you the option to carry more than one kayak hence making it the most recommendable option if you go kayaking with friends. It saves on space as it holds the kayak like the J style racks.  Once you are done kayaking you only have twofold the rack down saving you from the burden of unmounting it.  In the packaging, you will find buckle protectors and tie-down straps which are easy to secure holding your racks very firm. All the accessories provided for this model can be fitted with hand tighteners hence the installation process is very simple and direct.  Though the rack has a steady structure it is fitted with rubber pads and high strength steel frame that is powder-coated hence does not scratch or dent your car.  Another pass feature is that it can be fitted on any car roof rack of different shapes. The Aeroblade load bar is also provided but it is optional for your use. When reviewing the most suitable kayak rack for car based on its user-friendliness and efficiency the Thule Hull a Port Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier must make the list for its superior attributes.


  • These model come with a lifetime limited warranty that adequately covers you
  • Has an excellent overhead clearance because of its fold-down properties
  • great for economizing space to fit up to four kayak racks
  • It’s easy to mount kayaks on it and the installation process is quite straightforward
  • Its long straps can be secured once fastened hence do not go flapping with the wind once on the road.


  • It is easy to remove this rack thus it is prone to theft
  • Some buyers complain that the price range is quite steep
  • Frequently gets loose especially for kayak enthusiasts who have to travel for long distances hence must be regularly checked.

Our Verdict

This kayak carrier seeks distinction in the market with its design hands most adventurers find it the most lucrative choice if you have multiple pieces of equipment you need to be fitted on the rack. We fully recommend the Thule Hull-a-Port Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier.


Being a proud owner of a kayak will not make any sense if you cannot transport it easily to your favorite recreational spot.  Kayak rack for cars is the most cost-effective method of getting your kayak there in one piece and in the end, it’s a worthy investment which eliminates the need to hire transportation.  This guide is fashioned for kayak lovers who are seeking lasting solutions in this quest. Many kayak carriers in the market today need to be developed and modified for ease of use but for the models presented in this guide they have a heavy presence in the market from trusted producers. (Preventing common Kayak injuries). If you have a tall vehicle consider getting a foldable rack that can be adjusted to offer more clearance space once mounted. No matter the design of your kayak the racks described above will offer ready solutions that make your experience even more enjoyable. Remember that good a rack preserves the overall condition of your kayak protecting it from dents and scratches. Life is always better and stress-free on a Kayak, get yourself the best kayak rack for car and enjoy life with ease!

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