Choosing The Right Kayak Rack For A Car: What To Look For

Kayak racks are extremely convenient. You can transport kayaks very easily and store them safely. They are perfect if you don’t have enough space at home.

However, not all kayak racks are created equal. Some are bulkier than others. Some are harder to mount than others. Some are cheaper but less sturdy.

In this article, I’ll explain how to choose the right kayak rack for your car. We’ll talk about different kayak racks, the pros and cons of each, and which ones are the best.

a red and yellow kayak strapped on a car rack
How To Choose The Right Kayak Rack For A Car

Here’s The Answer To How To Choose The Right Kayak Rack For A Car

When choosing a kayak rack for your car, you will need to decide on the type of rack that you want. Some of the different types of kayak racks are saddle, cradle, and stacker. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you will need to decide which one is right for you.

Saddle racks are the most popular type of kayak rack. They are easy to use and can be adjusted to fit almost any car. The main disadvantage of saddle racks is that they can damage your car if not used properly.

Cradle racks are the least popular type of kayak rack. They are not as easy to use as saddle racks, but they are less likely to damage your car. The main disadvantage of cradle racks is that they can only hold one kayak.

Stacker racks are the most versatile type of kayak rack.

Following are some considerations you should look for:

The kayak rack needs to be sturdy

For starters, you’ll need a rack that can safely store your kayak. When it comes to your vehicle safety, you don’t want a flimsy rack that might let go of your precious $800 investment.

There are all kinds of different types of racks, which can be confusing. Your best bet is to go with an aluminum or steel frame rack – these are the most rugged and sturdy materials available.

In order to take your boat on lengthy journeys without worrying about it sinking or getting damaged, you need a tow vehicle that can handle the rigors of off-roading on nature trails and mountain passes but isn’t too heavy to carry around.

Consider if you want a kayak rack that requires drilling into the roof of your car or one that can be changed to accommodate a variety of vehicle roofs and other shapes.

A rack designed specifically for multiple kayaks

The rack you choose should be able to accommodate the number of kayaks that you plan on transporting. Think about whether your boat will be held vertically, horizontally, or at an angle.

This may help determine which type of rack is best for your needs. For example: If you were only planning on transporting one kayak at a time, then a vertical storage system would be the best option since it can hold one boat at a time in an upright position.

However, if you are looking for a way to transport multiple boats at once (e.g., two or more), then horizontal systems might be better suited for this purpose since they allow users more flexibility when loading up their gear into cars/trucks/SUVs, etc.

Kayak rack that is easy to load and unload kayaks

two kayaks one green and other red strapped on top of a gray hatchback
Kayak rack that is easy to load and unload kayaks

Loading and unloading a kayak onto a kayak rack is relatively straightforward. The straps should be snug enough to prevent the kayak from shifting around during shipping but not so tight as to scratch the hull.

Once you’ve strapped your boat down, be sure to lock it down with a padlock if necessary. The most common method of loading multiple kayaks onto one rack involves using tie downs, which are straps made of nylon or polypropylene webbing that hook into eye holes on both ends.

These allow you to strap two or more boats together for transport; however, some racks have built-in tie-down points for this purpose as well!

If this doesn’t work for your vehicle’s setup, though, then we recommend just using bungee cords instead since those can go anywhere without any extra equipment required beforehand.

Type of straps that come with the rack

When buying a new kayak rack, there are a few things you’ll want to look out for. The first is the type of straps that come with the rack.

It’s important to look at how adjustable they are and whether or not they have any safety features that keep your kayak secure in turbulent weather conditions.

The strap should also be strong enough to hold up even when carrying a heavy load but flexible enough so that it doesn’t damage your car. You may also want to consider if there are any options for purchasing replacement parts when necessary.

Ease of installation of the rack

Now, you might be wondering: how easy is it to install? It’s actually pretty easy. You don’t need any tools; all you’ll need is yourself and the rack itself.

Installation shouldn’t take more than ten minutes, making this a quick and easy task for anyone with a compact car or SUV. If you’re installing it on a bigger vehicle, such as a pickup truck or SUV, then installation will probably take around 20-30 minutes total.

The good news is that this process doesn’t require any experience or expertise. You won’t even need any help from others.

How to use and maintain a kayak rack?

a yellow kayak strapped on top of a black car on the car rack
How to use and maintain a kayak rack

Here are a few tips on how to use and maintain your kayak rack:

  • When loading your kayak onto the roof of your car, be sure to distribute the weight evenly. In doing so, you’ll lessen the likelihood that your vehicle may become unstable and topple over.
  • In order to avoid scratches and other damage to your kayak, be sure to use padding or foam when loading it onto the rack.
  • When tying down your kayak, be sure to use tie-downs that are specifically designed for kayaks. These tie-downs will be sturdier and will not damage your kayak.
  • Be sure to check the weight limit of your rack system before loading your kayak. Most rack systems have a maximum weight capacity of 150 pounds.
  • Low-profile carriers can be purchased and attached to the roof of your vehicle in the absence of a roof rack system. These carriers typically have a load capacity of 100 pounds.

Remove the rack after use

A kayak rack for a car should never be left on the vehicle. This will prevent damage to the kayak and can also cause damage to your car. After using the rack, it is important that you remove it from your car and store it in a dry place.

Leaving a kayak rack on top of your vehicle can result in water damage, whether from rain or snow build-up on top of the rack.

Service the rack every six months (even if not used)

If you own or often use a kayak rack, you should know that they require maintenance every six months (even if not used).

This may seem like an excessive amount of maintenance but remember: your safety depends on the well-being of this equipment.

A few things that should be done during maintenance include cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting the racks. If there are any issues with the rack at all, it will need to be repaired or replaced.

Lubricate and remove rust from all hinges and screws

  • Use silicone lubricant to lubricate hinges and screws. Because of this, they will be more durable and simpler to use.
  • Spray rust remover on all rusty hinges and screws before you put them back into the kayak rack. This will prevent the rust from spreading any further in the future.
  • Apply a rust inhibitor spray to your kayak rack’s hinges and screws once every six months. Even if there isn’t any visible damage yet, they could still be at risk of corrosion from moisture inside the car’s trunk or undercarriage area where no one sees them!

Different Types Of Kayak Racks

a yellow kayak car rack on a white car
Different Types Of Kayak Racks

There are a variety of types of kayak racks to choose from. Some are very similar, while others have their own unique design elements. The most common are:

  • Roof rack crossbars – These are the most common type and come in two types: round or aerodynamic. The round style is made from steel and can be used on vehicles with a smooth or sloped roof; the aerodynamic version has an integrated spoiler that helps keep the boat from rolling over when driving down hills or curves.
  • Clamps – These clamps attach directly onto your vehicle’s roof using bolts that screw into place through holes drilled into both sides where they meet together, securely holding everything together tightly enough so nothing will fall off once installed properly without having any issues whatsoever! This makes them ideal if you’re traveling somewhere far away without having access otherwise.

Rooftop crossbar mount: Round or Aerodynamic

  • A round crossbar mount is shaped like a circle, which means that it’s slightly wider than an aerodynamic crossbar mount. This is a good thing if you have wide kayaks or multiple kayaks to carry because the extra width allows for more stability and easier loading.
  • The aerodynamic crossbar mount has a triangular shape that reduces drag on your vehicle when driving with your roof rack installed. It also folds down when not in use so that it doesn’t take up any space at all when driving around without your gear on top of your car (or SUV).

Type of the tower to hold the kayak: Clamps or Roller

Clamps are more versatile, as they can be mounted on a variety of shapes and sizes of vehicles. Rollers are more stable with larger boats and heavier ones because there is less chance for them to tip over when you have a heavy boat loaded up in them.

Type of mount: Straddle style or Sacker style

The type of mount will determine whether or not your kayak will fit on the rack. Most racks are either straddle style or sacker style, and they work best with different types of kayaks.

  • Straddle racks are good for shorter kayaks because they sit low to the ground and can be used on vehicles that don’t have a high roof line or don’t have a spare tire mounted at the back end.
  • Sacker racks are designed to hold longer kayaks that might have scupper holes in them (holes for water drainage).

The Pros And Cons Of Kayak Racks

four kayaks strapped next to each other on a car
The Pros And Cons Of Kayak Racks

Before you buy a kayak rack for your car, there are a few things you should consider. We’ve put together this guide so that you can make an informed choice about the pros and cons of each option. Pros:

  • Storage – A good kayak rack will allow you to store your boat securely in your garage or basement when not in use.
  • Ease of use – A bad-quality rack may be too difficult to install, or it might not offer enough support once installed.
  • Durability – An overly flimsy kayak rack may break or bend when being lifted into place by one person (or even two people). Both the vehicle and the boat it is transporting are at risk of severe damage.
  • Cost – While some racks cost upwards of $100 dollars, others are as low as $20 dollars which means that if the price is a concern, then look online first before heading down towards local stores near where I live? Because sometimes, those prices differ greatly depending on where one lives in terms of taxes and other factors.

What are the benefits of using a kayak rack?

Using a kayak rack is the best way to transport your kayak. Kayaks can be awkward, heavy, and cumbersome to carry around, but using a kayak rack allows you to transport your boat with ease.

When you use a kayak rack, you can reap many rewards:

  • Easily load/unload your boat from your car.
  • Store multiple kayaks on one roof rack or secure them in the bed of trucks and SUVs. This means less loading and unloading time when heading out on an adventure! It’s also safer because there aren’t any loose items flying around inside the vehicle while driving down bumpy roads or rough terrain (especially if you have kids in the backseat). Also great for those rainy days when it would be super easy to get wet footprints all over everything inside their vehicle! 🙂
  • Transporting two or more kayaks without damaging them is another great reason why people choose this method over others, such as straps or rope, which can cause scratches along with other damage depending on how much weight there is being put onto each side during transport – especially if driving long distances where there isn’t much room for error due to traffic congestion.


Incorporating a kayak rack into your kayaking setup can improve your experience in numerous ways. It is more convenient to go on a trip with your family or friends with the right kayak rack.

With less traffic on the road, everyone’s safety is improved, and you can save time and money by not having to find parking spots for each vehicle.

The best part about using this type of equipment is that it will allow you to transport your kayaks safely without damaging them in any way during transit!

Also, make sure that the deck is dry before loading it into your car. Be sure that your kayak is properly inflated before loading it onto your car. 

Thanks for reading our blog post, and be sure to check back for more blog posts on topics like this.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different type of car mount to transport the kayak?

When transporting a kayak, you should use a car rack designed for carrying kayaks. You can also choose to transport your kayak on top of your vehicle using an SUV or boat trailer. However, if you do not have a car rack and are just transporting your kayak on its own, make sure it’s safely secured to the top of your vehicle, so it doesn’t slide off while driving. 

Is all kayak racks compatible with all types of cars?

Kayak racks are universally compatible among themselves. However, this is not the case when it comes to compatibility with different types of vehicles. For instance, a kayak rack that works well for SUVs would not be suitable for sedans. 

What is the best way to transport my kayaks on a car roof rack?

A kayak carrier rack is a great option for transporting your kayaks safely and easily on the roof of your vehicle. Depending on the length of the vehicle and the kayaks, these racks can hold anywhere from one to three watercraft. 

What are some of the features to look for when choosing a kayak rack?

Kayak racks come in many different styles. Some are permanently installed on the vehicle, while others can be taken with you when you leave. Some kayak racks attach to a flat surface, such as a tailgate or back of a truck bed, and others sit flush against the wall.