If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SPY.com may receive an affiliate commission.
Kayaking is all about exploring the outdoors and finding peace on the water. A kayak is a vacation staple for many adventure lovers. But unless you live on a lake, you’ll need a way to transport your kayak safely.
This is where a quality kayak roof rack comes in.
The best kayak roof racks hold your kayak in place without putting stress on your car. It also helps if the product is versatile, since may adventurers will mount paddleboards, surfboards and canoes on the roof of their cars. Just be sure to check measurements carefully, as not all kayak roof racks are universal.
When browsing listings for this product, there are a few key specs to keep in mind. You’ll want to double-check the size of your kayak to ensure that the rack will hold the width. It’s also important to note whether your car will need existing roof rails, as this might narrow down your options.
To get ready for your next paddle, here are some of the best kayak roof racks to buy right now.
1. HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack
HandiRack’s roof rack is suitable for a variety of vehicles and equipment. The dual inflatable racks act as roof bars, so your car doesn’t need to have bars already in place. These bars stay in place with durable straps that you run through the vehicle’s doors and under the roof. This product holds up to 175 pounds, so it can hold kayaks, canoes, surfboards, SUPs and winter sports equipment. Your equipment will stay in place on the highway and hold up to bumps in the road. Just be sure to take them off to prevent warping in the heat.
Pros: This product is suitable for most vehicle makes and models. You can adjust the positioning of the racks to fit the size of your kayak.
Cons: Since the straps fit in the door, the gap might allow rain to leak in. The inflatable tubes can fade and warp if you leave them in the hot sun.
2. TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier
This set of j-racks is made of durable steel and includes ample padding to protect your kayak. The racks hold kayaks up to 36 inches wide and 75 pounds, and the structure of this product makes it easy to slide a kayak on and off the roof. You’ll receive four eight-foot straps with your order, but all the mounting hardware is built into the racks. Just keep in mind that your vehicle will need to have crossbars to accommodate these racks. The product fits most round, flat, square and oval crossbars.
Pros: These kayak roof racks will stay in place at fast highway speeds. The padding protects your kayak from scratches.
Cons: The racks can be challenging to assemble. The eight-foot straps might be too short for some kayaks and vehicles.
3. Malone SeaWing Universal Car Rack
This set of kayak roof racks is designed to take up little roof space and maximize gas mileage. The product is 27 inches long and flexes slightly to hold kayaks of several widths. It can also hold up to 70 pounds. You can purchase two sets of these to hold two kayaks on parallel car rails. These racks have a low profile to improve gas mileage, but you might notice some whistling or wobbling when you hit high speeds.
Pros: These racks sit lower to the car, so you can keep them on without the kayak. The kayaks stay firmly in place.
Cons: You might need to replace the hardware after some use. These racks are only compatible with oval roof rails.
4. OxGord Kayak Roof Rack
This set of J-bar kayak roof racks can carry kayaks, canoes, SUP boards and surfboards on most types of vehicles. The mounts attach to most oval, round and square roof rails, and you won’t need any tools for installation. Simply tighten the tension knobs and car straps to get a secure fit. This product is water-resistant and won’t rust easily, so don’t worry about driving in the rain.
Pros: This roof rack is super easy to install. The product is compatible with most cars with roof rails.
Cons: If the bolts are too long, they might scratch the paint on your car’s roof. The racks might not be tight enough on round crossbars.
5. DORSAL Aero Roof Rack Pads
If you have a lightweight kayak, SUP or surfboard, these versatile roof rack pads can keep it in place. This product might not be as sturdy as a steel roof rack, so keep that in mind. Each pad is 28 inches long and made of 600D nylon, securing to the car’s roof rails. The UV-resistant material will hold its shape in the sun, so you can leave it on your car during your paddle. However, you might notice some fading over time.
Pros: This product is a great option for SUP boards and surfboards, as well as smaller kayaks. The pads are sturdy and stay in place well.
Cons: The straps might start to fray with time. The pads can lose their shape.