Best Kayak Roof Rack – Easily Mount It on Your Trucks, Vans & Cars

Best Kayak Roof Rack

​If you want to discover the perfect kayak roof rack for you then you have to take a few things into consideration including your vehicle, kayak, and budget. Check out this list of the five best kayak roof racks.

Just the thought of paddling through the water is enough for you to sell all your belongings and become a professional kayaker. However, before you get ahead of yourself and get the latest sit-on-top kayak or sturdy sea kayak, you need to think about transporting it as not all of us can afford a matching kayak trailer that allows you to load and unload with ease. Instead, most of us must purchase a handy kayak car roof rack or even a double kayak roof rack because most vehicles simply cannot support a 10-foot-long kayak or two. Not only will it make transporting your kayak safer, but there are some models that are more convenient than you can imagine and ensure that each load and unload is a breeze. Even if you have a truck that is equipped with that kind of bed, you can free up that space for other outdoor toys or kayaking gear.

​1. Thule Hullavator Pro Carrier

Thule Hullavator Pro Carrier

This one-of-a-kind kayak rack extends over the side of your car. That means you can easily load your kayak into place at your own hip-height level. After it is strapped in, you simply lift the kayak and the Thule Hullavator Pro Carrier will retract, too. Finally, everything locks at the top of the vehicle securely. If that is not enough, then take advantage of the bow and stern mounts that have tension straps for quick adjustments. This feature is known as the QuickDraw bow and stern tie downs and also includes two center straps, which protect your car bumper.

The entire process of loading your boat is fast and easy thanks to this kayak roof rack. The Thule Hullavator fits all Thule rack systems expect for the Thule Edge. You will never have to lift a heavy, rectangular kayak over your head to the top of your car again. Of course, all of this convenience comes at a price.
Thule 835 Hull-a-Port Pro Kayak Carrier

Unlike the first roof rack, this option will hold a single kayak using the J-style mounts. This particular kayak roof rack features two vertical J-style mounts, which are attached to the front and rear rails separately. To secure the kayak vertically, the Thule 835 Hull-a-Port Pro Kayak Carrier has padded bars and ratchet straps, which are not only easy to use but also very secure. If you already have a Thule rack system, this carrier will fit; however, it also fits almost all roof rails.

Perhaps the best feature about this kayak roof rack is the fact that it folds down with the pull of a lever. With the Pull Fold Done (PFD) lever, everything is down for you easily and rapidly. This collapsible concept means you don’t have to worry about accidentally ripping it off on the garage door or other short overpasses for overhead clearance.

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

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

Like the name suggests, this is another J-style kayak roof rack with a folding system. Once you experience the convenience of this attribute, you will petition for this to be a standard feature for all vertical kayak roof racks. A difference between the Malone and Thule style is that this kayak roof rack has a built-in angled lip, which helps you load the kayak easier. In turn, the less you bang the heavy boat against your vehicle will protect the paint job, too.

You need square, round, or oval factory roof rails with 60 mm and 70 mm mounting bolts in order to mount your kayak using this rack. However, if the rack is still too thick then you can simply go buy some longer bolts with the same thread. The ratchet strap system will secure your kayak just as good as any others on this list.

Even though this is listed at number three on the list for best kayak roof rack, depending on your budget, the Malone Downloader is the best bang for your buck. This brand is not as famous (or expensive) as others such as Thule or Yakima, but it yields some of the highest quality kayak roof racks on the market. If you are looking for a secure roof rack with top-of-the-line quality at an affordable rate, this Malone Downloader might be the way to go.

4. Malone SeaWing Saddle Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier

Malone SeaWing Saddle Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier

This Malone kayak roof rack is a horizontal carrier. Unlike the J-style, this one has two V-shaped beds that cradle the kayak. If you have more than one boat, you can easily fit two side by side thanks to the slim style. However, this depends on the vehicle, rack, and kayaks width and thickness.

This kayak roof rack uses the bow and stern straps that are cords opposed to webbing, which could potentially block your vision when driving. If your vehicle does not have mounting points, you must plan ahead of how you will tie and secure the straps. Nevertheless, this kayak roof rack is adaptable and cost-effective. It supports up to 70 pounds.

5. Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack

Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack

​The Yakima JayLow is one of the best kayak roof racks available because it incorporates all of the J-style features at a reasonable price. This roof rack also has upgrades like slide rails, which make loading the kayak much easier. You can fold down the top rack thanks to easy release handles. The bow and stern straps also come with tie downs.

The Yakima JayLow fits almost all roof rails regardless of shape or size. It can also support two boats if they have a combined weight less than 110 pounds. Overall the look and feel of this kayak roof rack is one of the best.