Long boards like kayaks, paddleboards, and surfboards are hard to fit in a car. Best Kayak Carriers, One option is to pull a trailer, but this is difficult and requires a car with a tow-hitch. A kayak rack on top of a car is the easiest way to get a boat to the water. Putting a kayak on the roof of a car frees up space inside and makes it less likely that the hull will get scratched or the paint will chip.
There are kayak carriers that are made to fit on the roofs of different kinds of vehicles. Roofs without rails or crossbars can only be used with a temporary inflatable or foam pad system. Premium rooftop kayak racks, like saddles, J-cradles (which carry the kayak on its side), and stackers, attach directly to crossbar systems.
The best way to move more than two kayaks is with a stacker-style rack. J-style racks let you load from the side and take up the least space on the roof. The safest choice is a saddle-style carrier, which fully supports the hull while it’s being moved.
The five products listed below can be used on any type of roof. Here are the best kayak carriers for this year:
Best Kayak Carriers
The Rhino Rack Nautic 580 can be attached to the most common roof racks. The rubber-padded cradle has a low profile and can hold a kayak at four points: two on the front crossbars and two on the back. The moveable cradles can hold hulls of many different shapes. The Nautic 580 is different from other kayak carriers because it has a hidden, lockable cover plate that keeps the cradles attached to the crossbars. This makes it stand out. kayak j hooks, jeep kayak rack.
|Includes a 5-year product warranty||Not compatible with all roof rack systems|
|180-degree cradle rotation allows for side loading||Only fits one kayak|
|Includes two tie-down straps, two rapid straps with buckle protectors and keys|
The HandiRack Inflatable is a temporary crossbar system that makes it easy to put boats and other gear on cars that don’t have roof racks. A pass-through cabin fitting strap with a cam buckle holds the two bars in place. Surfboard kayak hybrid, When the leak-proof nylon tubes are inflated, they are attached to the roof. The 6-pound system is easy to set up and take down, and it can be stored in a small space. It’s also easy to use on different cars, which could be a plus for people who own more than one car or rent cars. Jeep kayak rack.
|Impressive 175 pound load capacity||Not compatible with roof rack systems; vehicle side rails are okay|
|Ready to install right out of the box; no tools or drilling required||Less durable than metal roof racks|
|Minimal drag and wind noise when in use|
The SeaWing is the safest way to transport a kayak. It has a low profile so that a second system for carrying kayaks side-by-side can be added. The boat is kept horizontal by two adjustable V-shaped beds, and it is attached to the roof with ratcheting straps. Surfboard kayak hybrid, The saddles gently bend to fit boats of different widths. This helps reduce wind drag and improves mileage. Saddle-style carriers are more stable than foam pads and J-cradles because they touch more of the kayak’s surface. kayak j hooks, jeep kayak rack.
|Rear loading; load-assist accessories available||Not lockable and no security options available|
|Includes cam-style load straps with buckle protectors and bow and stern lines||Some assembly required|
|Mounts to most base racks, including round, square and some oval cross rails||Pricier option|
The Hull-a-Port Pro from Thule is the most comfortable rack in its category. Two J-shaped cradles attach to the front and back load bars of the roof rack. This makes room for a second carrier or accessory. Four padded points of contact can be moved to hold a kayak up and keep it standing straight. Straps that tighten and loosen keep it safe. When the carrier is not in use, a simple lever folds the system flat. This makes more room in the ceiling and gets better gas mileage. kayak j hooks, jeep kayak rack.
|Tool-free installation; includes bow and stern tie downs||Not lockable with no security options available|
|Includes pockets for tucking away loose strap ends||Won’t fit kayaks more than 34 inches wide|
|Fits Thule racks, round bars and most factory roof racks|
The Malone Stax Pro 2 is a way to carry two kayaks at once by stacking them. Kayaks are stacked next to each other on the roof, and they are held up by a base with eight-sided aluminum posts. Surfboard kayak hybrid, The kayaks are protected by foam stacker blocks, and load straps hold them to the post. The base is made to fit on crossbars that are round, square, and in most cases oval. Like the Thule Hull-a-Port Pro, this system is easy to store because it folds down. kayak j hooks.
|Tool-free assembly with universal fit Jawz mounting hardware||Maximum load capacity of 50 pounds per boat|
|Includes four bow and stern lines for added stability during transport||Kayaks can’t be more than 32 inches wide|
|Includes a lifetime warranty|
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FAQs About Best Kayak Carriers
How do you lift and carry a kayak by yourself?
Stand on the left side of the kayak so that the front (bow) is in front of you and the back (stern) is behind you.
Bend your knees and get down on the ground. With your right hand, reach out and pull the kayak toward you until it rests on your right knee.
Pull the bottom of the kayak up and onto your thigh as you bend your knee.
Pull up and over your right shoulder the edge of the cockpit that is farthest from you.
Slowly stand up, letting the kayak rest on your right shoulder as you do so. Now you can take it to where you want to go.
If you are loading the kayak onto the car from the left side of the car, follow these steps. If you want to load the kayak from the right side, stand to the right of the kayak, pull it with your left hand, and put it on your left shoulder.
Should kayaks be transported upside down?
When traveling in bad weather, the cockpit of a kayak should be facing down so that it doesn’t fill up with water. If you have to carry the kayak standing up, you can use a cockpit seal.
What’s the best way to transport a kayak?
Crossbar roof racks are the best way to move a kayak because they are safer than temporary block systems. A roof rack should be fastened at each crossbar and between the bow and stern of the vehicle and the kayak. Rotomolded kayaks are made of plastic and can be carried on their side or upside down. Composite kayaks, on the other hand, should always be carried on their hull. Cradles make it less likely that a kayak will get bent because they keep it from being tied down too tightly. These are great for moving kayaks quickly or when the weather is bad.
What’s my car’s base roof setup?
A car with nothing on it is “naked.” Side rails, or rails, are the two bars that run from the front to the back of a vehicle. Crossbars come from the factory or can be added later. They have two sets of bars that go from side to side across the car and sit on top of the rails.
Is a permanent roof rack or temporary foam rack better?
If you travel with a kayak often or for long distances, you should get a permanent roof rack. Temporary block systems are great for moving a kayak slowly over short distances.