Best Kayak Roof Racks 2020 – How It Can *SAVE* You Money?

kayak roof rack

Roof racks are one of the best ways to enhance your kayaking trip. Kayak trailers can be too heavy for some cars and are quite expensive in excess if $1000+. But the best kayak roof racks can be a much cheaper and better option. This is because they cost considerably less and are suitable for almost every vehicle type and are much more easier to use, this alone is why you should have one and how it can save you money.

To help you navigate the market with ease, we have found the best roof racks on today’s market. All of these will work well in transporting your roof rack to the water with hardly any effort.

Best kayak roof rack reviews

Thule 898 Hullavator Pro Kayak Lift Assist Carrier – Best Kayak Roof Rack

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This is the most expensive option on the list, but is priceless for the ease it will bring you in transporting your kayak. we try to find one which was cheaper that delivered the same ease of loading but could not.

It makes putting your kayak on top of your vehicle virtually effortless. It is especially ideal for people who like to kayak alone, because you do not require any one to help to load the kayak.

Unlike the other models, this uses gas struts to let you load the kayak at waist-height  unassisted as the carrier takes 40 lbs of the kayak’s weight then, it easily swings up and secures on top of the car.

It works with round bars, T-track crossbars, and Thule rack systems. Some of its safety features include protective bumpers and buckles, center straps, and bow and stern ties.

Installation is not so straight forward so be prepared to take some time to read how to install  this device correctly. but once done then life becomes more easy. 


  • Can load at waist-height by yourself
  • 2 year warranty for peace of mind
  • Accommodates wide variety of kayaks up 36″ wide and 75lbs 
  • 8 touchpoints of padded support for maximum protection of your kayak
  • Effortless option


  • Complicated installation
  • Have to purchase additional lock as one doesn’t come with the roof rack
  • Expensive when compared to other roof racks

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Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”255″ identifier=”B00FUHDYZQ” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”activexsports-20″ width=”500″]If you don’t want the hassle of uninstalling your carrier every time you go to a park your vehicle, this  kayak roof rack is a good choice.

The device has excellent roof clearance to allow full range of Yakima gear mounts, it also has the ability to hold one or two kayaks, with one that can take a total weight of up to 80lbs or 2 with a total weight of 110lbs.

The Yakima JayLow is intended for mounting to vehicles with raised siderails so take that into account when purchasing for your vehicle 

While the attachment for the crossbars is extremely compatible, it does not fasten as tightly as it does on some other types. If there is air flow, it will create noise or whistling as you travel down the road.Customer Reviews Button

There is a quick and easy way to stop the whistling and that is with a little bit of sticky tape over the hole where the whistling sound comes from

This carrier can be installed without the use of tools(they come free), but the instructions are not particularly helpful and it can be difficult the first time.

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  • Folds down for easy storage
  • Tool-free installation
  • Area to secure tie down straps so they do not flap freely


  • Complicated installation will take a few tries to do it
  • Have to purchase additional lock as one doesn’t come with the roof rack
  • Whistling sound can come from attaching the crossbars

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Thule Deckglide Kayak Saddle

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”354″ identifier=”B01MTUDGYU” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”activexsports-20″ width=”500″]This carrier is very lightweight, however it still feels solid and secure. It is compatible with a large range of racks, including Thule rack systems, round bars, and some tracks.

This is because it uses a T-track and flip-fit brackets to attach to your vehicle.

A standout feature of this kayak is that you can easily load and unload the kayak, with the pivoting felt-lined rear saddles that help Glide and center a kayak onto the vehicle.

The Thule Deckglide also has two independent pivoting saddles with angle-setting lever conforms to unlimited range of hull shapes.Customer Reviews Button

 The system is easy to install and putting the kayak is made easy because it glides over the back of the vehicle.

Overall, this offers a stable and secure ride for your kayak. give the freedom to load and unload by yourself and is easy to install.


  • Allows you to load/unload your kayak by yourself
  • Simple and easy to install
  • Cushioned saddles protect your kayak from scratches


  • It has had reports of vibrating slightly at high speeds

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Malone Downloader

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”500″ identifier=”B004O990KO” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”activexsports-20″ width=”500″]There is a lot of choice on the market when buying j-cradles. The best in the field is the Malone Downloader. Malone makes it to the top of the competition for creating a roof rack that are flawlessly  designed for transporting kayaks.

The JAWZ technology is what secret behind this rack. This  cleverly designed mounting technology allows you to fit the j-cradle to round, square and most oval shaped factory installed cross rails making it a breeze for loading your kayak.

Malone makes some of the highest quality racks on the planet, and their J-style line is the perfect general purpose roof rack line to meet the needs of pretty much any paddler.

And for the price you can’t beat the price to cost quality anywhere else.


  • Oversized padding that protects the kayak during transportationCustomer Reviews Button
  • Built in board ramp to help with loading
  • fold down technology – so you can increase overhead clearance
  • Cushioned saddles protect your kayak from scratches


  • Some customers has had reports of  squeaking noises but a small percentage have said this 

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Thule Stacker – Best kayak stacker

[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”118″ identifier=”B0001FUAXQ” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”activexsports-20″ width=”500″]The Thule Stacker is the best stacker kayak car rack on the. The Stacker has a fold down steel design with a scratch resistant outer coating, excellent for preservation of your rook rack. also it features a quick on/off hardware which makes installing this devices easy(quite rare for kayak roof racks).

This device can carry up to 4 kayaks! and includes the straps to transports 1 kayak. with over 100 positive customer reviews this solidifies the Thule stacker as the Best kayak stacker on the market 


  • Smart fold down design to neatly store your stackerCustomer Reviews Button
  • Quick and easy to installation 
  • FREE secure straps included to hold 1 kayak 


  • Have to buy additional straps if you want to take more then 1 kayak with you

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Malone SeaWing – Best Kayak Saddle

One of the best saddles on the market is the Malone SeaWing. Malone is a well know brand in terms of roof racks sporting equipment, and this saddle is the top of the [easyazon_image align=”right” height=”500″ identifier=”B0015QADX2″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”activexsports-20″ width=”500″]line.

The name of the SeaWing is appropriate, as the brackets are shaped like wings of a bird. The brackets fix to your base rack and the kayak rests in the cradle. the device flexes gently to cradle boat and improve your gas mileage.

Comes with the JAWZ mounting hardware which fits round, square, and most factory oval cross rails. There are then straps that are wrapped over the top of the kayak. It supports only 70lbs – but you are only going to be carrying one kayak in this rack.


  • JAWZ mounting hardware which fits round, square, and most factory oval cross rails
  • Easy-to-set-up mid-point mounting takes up minimal roof space
  • The SeaWing flexes gently to cradle boat and improve gas mileage


    • Only supports 70lbs

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How to transport a kayak without a roof rack? 

If you are wondering how to transport a kayak without a roof rack? and you have a “naked roof” or just have “side rails” then the solution is FOAM PADS 

Shown below they are basically an inflatable car roof rack you just need a pump (as the hand ties come FREE with the one below) and your good to go. 

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They have been tested with a number of car models and has really good customer feedback. there is a list below of all the models that it is compatible with.


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