Roof racks are one of the best ways to get the most use out of your kayak. After all, what good is having a kayak if you can’t bring it to the water? Kayak trailers can be too heavy for some cars and are quite expensive but the best kayak roof racks can be a much better option. This is because they cost far less, are suitable for almost every vehicle type and are far easier to use.

Having the right kayak car rack will ensure that you have every opportunity to use your kayak during the season. This will work to expand your experience and make owning a kayak much more enjoyable. As kayaks have been a favorite water sport for many years now, more and more manufacturers are jumping on board to produce car racks. This gives you more options and helps you to find the right roof rack for your needs.

To help you navigate the market, we have found the 10 best kayak roof racks on today’s market. All of these will work well in transporting your kayak to the water with ease.

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

How To Choose A Kayak Roof Rack – Buying Guide


When you are looking for racks that work to make transporting your kayak easy then you will need to pay attention to a few key features.

Brand Recognition

Brand recognition plagues every market; in a good way and a bad way. Some companies are built on their brand, and some brands are built on the quality of the product. When you are searching through all of the brands for the best roof rack for kayaks, you need to be careful. The branding may be spot on or a company, but does the brand stand behind a great product, which you can trust?

There are some brands that guarantee you quality in the car racks realm (though you can never be quite sure if the best double kayak rack is going to be perfect for you). When you think of brands such as Thule, Rhino-Rack, ROLA, and Malone Auto Racks, you think about quality. Look to the bigger brands for quality and features at a low price. One thing we always look for is brands that are specialized. If you can find a brand that only manufactures a double kayak rack, then you know that their focus is on that particular product. Brands which spread themselves too thin, do not have the same focus and drive when it comes to one particular product.

Look for a brand that is either solely focused on the best canoe racks, or is based in that field. You may find a brand that makes racks for all sporting equipment, or you may find a company that manufactures all things to do with kayaks. As always, always check the reviews of the brand and the product.


If you are in the market for the best rack for a truck, then it should be able to transport your kayak on your vehicle. There is no point in buying a rack which has not been designed to carry a kayak. You may find a rack that will carry other sporting goods, but not specifically a kayak, and try to make it fit. If you have a rack that is not designed to carry a kayak, then you can have real problems with it, which could lead to you damaging your vehicle. The same goes for finding a kayak carrier for your car. If the kayak rack is not suitable for your vehicle, then you shouldn’t try and make it fit. If you try and rig a kayak rack to your vehicle, you may end up damaging your vehicle and your kayak. The best kayak roof rack should perfectly fit both your car and your kayak.

You should think about the additional features of your kayak carrier when you are deciding which one to buy. Is the kayak rack going to be permanently attached to your roof? If it is, then most of the time it is going to be empty, unless you are going to go kayaking every day. If the rack is there permanently, then it should look good. You should also look for features like folding bars so that you can fold the rack down and not have it permanently sticking up from your roof. This also helps if you have a garage to park in, or a building with a low roof. You are able to get in and out without damaging the rack or the building.

If it is not going to stay on the yup vehicle permanently, then it should be easy to remove. There is no point getting a rack that takes a long time to attach and detach or you are going to be discouraged from going out in your kayak as much. In fact, one of your main considerations, if you need to remove the rack often, should be how quickly you can take the rack off and put it back on.

Obviously, you will also have to buy a rack that is designed to accommodate the size of your kayak, the type of kayak carrier, and the number of kayaks you want to transport.


Price is an obvious issue when you are buying any product, but can be more so when you are buying a product to be used with another product. The best kayak is a product you will spend a lot of money on, but often not a lot of thought is put into kayak accessories, such as a kayak rack. When it comes time to buy a kayak rack, it is tempting to spend as little as possible, after buying the best kayak. But, you should always remember, that you get what you pay for.

When it comes time to buy your kayak rack, you should understand that the kayak rack is an investment. If you go out and buy the cheapest rack possible, then you are likely going to be paying more money in the long run. A cheap rack can damage your car. The fasteners and joins are not as high-quality. This can lead to your car being scratched up and dented. Cheaper kayak racks are also less durable. If you invest in a high-quality rack, it will last a long time. A cheap kayak carrier will wear down over time. The materials are not as good and will need to be replaced before long. You do not want to have to spend money to fix your rack, replace parts, or, in a worst-case scenario, buy a new rack altogether.

A cheap rack will almost certainly damage your kayak carrier for an SUV. Less focus on design and materials means that the rack will be hep with sub-standard fasteners. Just as it can damage your car, a cheap rack can damage your board too. Cheaper materials are also weaker, and there is the chance that the fasteners can come loose as you are driving, sending the board out onto the road.

Spending more also means access to more features. Depending on your needs, you may have to spend a little more than you are comfortable with to fit a specific car or board. You may need arms that fold down or a quick-release system.

We always recommend starting with a high number in mind. Find the features you need, and then shop within that. If you shop around, you can still get a good deal on a rack. It is our pleasure to take away some of the hard work and present the more affordable rack systems on the market.

Your car

Your car is a big factor when you are choosing the best kayak mount. There are two main things to consider. Firstly, are there any kayak racks out there that are compatible with your vehicle? If there are not, then there is no point in buying a rod rack or a kayak. There is a good chance that there is the best kayak holder for cars out there which is compatible. If that is the case, then you can shop within that group and move onto the second question.

Once you have found the auto racks which fit your vehicle, you need to make sure that they fit your kayak or kayaks. The first thing you should be looking at is the number of kayaks which you need to transport. There is no point in getting a rack that can only transport a single kayak when you will always need to transport two. On the other hand, there is no point in getting a rack that can hold four kayaks, when you only have one. That would be a waste of space, and would probably take more time to get on and off.

You should also be looking at the size of your kayaks. You need to find a rack that can accommodate that size of the kayak. At the very least, you want a rack that can be adjusted. The final thing to think about is your safety. If you find a universal roof rack, which can transport 5 of your kayaks, is it safe? Do you feel comfortable driving with the rack on your car? Does it hold the kayaks? Is your vehicle safe from harm?

The Towers

The towers are integral to any kayak carrier, and a lot of the strength of the rack will come from here. They bear the weight of the bars, and the kayaks, and need to be attached to the strongest part of your roof. This is why you should never buy a rack that is not compatible with your vehicle. If the towers are in the wrong place, then the integrity of the entire rack is compromised.

When you are looking at the towers of the rack, you should be looking for high-quality materials. They should also come with high-quality fasteners. The towers need to be fastened to the roof of your vehicle, and even if the towers themselves are of the highest quality, the movement of your car will break cheap fasteners and your kayaks will come untethered. Most towers will come with a fastening kit which has been specifically developed to fit with the towers.

Two things we like to look for are non-abrasive materials and locks. If Your towers come with some sort of rubber or silicone on the bottom, then they can be tightened a lot to fasten them to the roof, give a stronghold, and not scratch your roof. The same is true for when you are in transit. The most secure towers are going to move very slightly. If metal were in contact with metal, then it would be worn down over time, damaging your car, and leaving more of a gap for the rack to move and come loose. We also like towers which are lockable. Most towers are securely fastened, and there is little chance that someone will come along and try to steal the rack, but it has happened. Even though someone would need tools and some time to unfasten a rack, people have been known to do such things. With a lockable tower, you know that your rack is safe. Someone cannot just come along and steal your things.

The Bars

The bars are what will hold your kayaks. Usually, you have 4 towers and 2 bars. The towers fit onto the roof of your car, close to each corner of the roof. The bars then sit across your car horizontally. There are some things to think about when you are choosing between different rack systems. One of the most important things is how they are fastened to your towers. They should be easy to fit, but they should fit securely. Once they are on the towers, there should be minimal movement, or your kayaks can shift and come loose. Just like when you fit the towers to your roof, ether should be no bare metal on metal when you fasten the bars to the towers. There should not be materials which can run and wear down.

It goes without saying that you should look for bars made of high-quality materials, but you should also make sure that you buy bars that are strong enough to hold your equipment. A lot of the best kayak racks can be used for other water sports equipment, such as canoes and paddleboards, so you should make sure that the kayak rack is strong enough to hold your heaviest items. They should also be long enough to stretch from one tower to the other. The separate bars make it easy to adjust your system. You can get all-in-one systems, but they are harder to fit and might need some custom work.

Related Reviews: Paddle Board Roof Rack & Paddle Board Wall Rack

The last thing to think about is how your kayaks are fastened to the bars. You should not skimp on finding fasteners which will hold your kayaks securely and will also hold them safely. You want to find fasteners that are strong and durable. Fasteners will not be affected by the sun or the saltwater, but also fasteners which will not damage your kayaks. They should hold them tight, but the material should also be soft.

Racks or Foam Rollers?

This choice depends on whether your vehicle has built-in racks and bars. If so, this makes transporting your kayak simple and only requires some foam pads and a strap. For vehicles that do not have this pre-built feature, you will require a more complicated setup. You will need to install a kayak carrier to your car so that you can safely move your kayak.

Foam Roof Rack or Carriers?

Foam kayak racks provide a cost-effective solution to transporting your kayak for those that do not have a rack. This provides a safe and secure way of hooking your kayak up and is also quite easy to use. These are a great method to use for those only looking to transport one kayak at a time. For those with multiple kayaks, you will require a more complex system. Kayak racks are a great option for those looking to transport multiple kayaks at the same time.

Roof Racks

If your car has built-in rails then adding the best kayak rack is a great option. These are so desirable as they are incredibly secure and allow you to transport multiple kayaks or tandem kayaks at the same time. All you have to do is secure your kayak in place and then strap down accordingly. Some racks have built-in locking systems to make this even easier. One thing to consider for this form of transport is the extra height that it adds to your vehicle. This height can be restricting in garages and other areas.

Can I Add Rails to My Car?

Yes, but you will need tools and a lot of skill in order to safely do so. It is best to get this installed for you as any errors can end up costing you a lot of money. For those not wanting to drill rails to their car there are aftermarket rails that can be installed without doing so.

Door Mount Systems

These roof rail and rack mounting systems are designed to clip on to the rain guard or the window lip of your car. They are modular and removable but come with the drawback that some will impede you from opening doors once the rack is mounted in place.

These can be viable options for cars without a built-in roof rail but I can tell you it’s definitely annoying to have straps holding your doors and windows closed.

Using Roof Racks and Rails

Foam pad roofs are the easiest to install. You will want to start by putting the foam pads on the roof with the flat side down. Then, place your sit on top kayaks on top and attach the straps to your kayak and then to your vehicle. Take extra precautions to ensure these don’t scratch your vehicle using the foam to protect your car.

Roof rails are slightly more complicated as you will need to find racks that will fit your rails. Strap your kayaks in place using straps or the built-in locking systems. Tug on the straps to ensure that everything is in place before driving.

Transporting Multiple Kayaks

Roof carriers are a great way to transport one or two kayaks such as ocean kayak and ocean fishing kayak at a time. As you have limited roof space, you will not be able to transport more than this. For those looking to transport more kayaks, you will need to add a trailer, side mount, or a hitch mount in order to accommodate that many kayaks. You should be able to have enough space for up to 5 kayaks if you have the right equipment.



Q: How To Tie Down A Kayak On a Roof Rack?


Racks for kayaks will typically come with a specific tie-down system. Most companies have specified where the anchor points are for their carrier. Most of the time they will simply loop around the body of the kayak.

But no matter which rack system you decide on you will have to ensure they are strapped to the front and rear of your car. This can be done by simply tieing off the bow and stern to the tow hooks situated under or in the bumper of most cars. It shouldn’t take much to find these points and add a line of rope securing your kayak even further.

Q: How To Load a Kayak Onto a Roof Rack?


Loading your kayak onto your roof sounds like a daunting task, but it honestly isn’t. Most companies include some sort of lift-assist with their systems. This can be a bar that slides out which takes the weight of your kayak off your body. You can then slide the arm back into the position and securely fasten your kayak to the roof.

If your rack doesn’t have this built-in feature you will have to lift it onto the rack system. Before you do this you will want to ensure your kayak is emptied of all your gear and any water that has accumulated. This will lighten it and make it easier to load. Once it’s on top simply follow the strapping instructions included in the package.

Q: How To Install a Kayak Car Rack?

A: The best kayak roof racks companies make this incredibly easy. Most of the time installing your new rack doesn’t even require tools. You simply have to screw it onto the existing cross bars on your car.

Q: Can I mount A kayak To A Small Car?


The question is not, can I mount a kayak to a small car? The question is, how small a car can I mount a kayak too? The truth is, that there really is not car too small to not be able to fit a kayak, in our opinion. It is true that the smaller the car you have, the harder it will be to find a rack, and the more limited your choice will become, but you should still be able to find a rack which will work.

Most companies manufacture racks for the masses. This means making a rack which will fit as many cars as possible. The smaller your car (or bigger your car), the more limited your choice becomes. If your car is extremely small, then you may have to pay for a custom rack, which is manufactured specifically for your car.

Kayak technology has evolved over the past few years, and kayaks are becoming lighter and lighter, while also becoming stronger. You do not need to worry about your car being too small to carry the weight. If you can carry a kayak by yourself, then your car can carry one too, no matter what the size.

Q: Can I Fit More Than Two Kayaks On My Car?


Yes, and no. Most racks will accommodate two kayaks. They will come with fasteners to fit these two kayaks, and you cannot generally buy more fasteners to increase the capacity of your rack, though I am sure that you can get replacement fasteners. If you do want to add more kayaks to your rack, then you can rig it up to do so, but then you are liable for any damage on the kayaks between your home and the water.

To fit more kayaks on the rack, you first need to fir two kayaks with the included fasteners. Once they are on, you can squeeze two more kayaks in the middle of the original two, and fasten them. You should take the time to make sure that the additional kayaks are fastened correctly and securely, or you will have them flying off before you get to your destination. If you are attaching more than two kayaks to your rack, then you need to drive slower than usual. We do not recommend driving on the highways unless you want to lose a kayak.

We would always recommend following the capacity guidelines for your kayak rack, as that is the only way to guarantee safe transport, but we also recognize that there are times when you need to transport more than two kayaks.

Q: Is Transporting A Kayak Safe?


Completely. Transporting a kayak is completely safe. If it wasn’t, then there would be a lot fewer kayakers in the water. There needs to be a way to get kayaks from storage to the water, and the best kayak roof carrier is the most secure way of doing that. Of course, accidents can happen, but if you follow the installation guide correctly, and follow the instructions for securing your kayaks, then you will give yourself the best chance of getting your kayaks to the water unharmed.

Globo Surf Overview

Before buying your kayak, it is important to consider how you are going to transport your kayak from your house to the water. This is important as it will ensure that you get the most use out of your kayak. One of the easiest ways to transport your kayak is by having the best kayak car carrier. All of the ones on our list are made by trusted companies and will do a great job of keeping your boat safe and secure during transport.

More Kayak Reviews:

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Do you have one of the kayak roof racks from our list installed on our car? Tell us how they have worked for you in the comment section below.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!