3 Best Rooftop Kayak Carriers

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Hey there fellow kayak fishers and welcome to my post where we will check out my three best rooftop kayak carriers to get you to the water’s edge this year.  As we know, kayaks can be challenging to move around, especially if you have a smaller car or SUV however fortunately, there are some good roof rack options to help you out here.

So for those of you looking to get your kayak off the ground and onto the roof, I have had a good look around and come up with three decent options below.

Let’s check them out…

My three recommended rooftop kayak carriers

I will review these in more detail below however if you want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience: 

02/18/2024 01:15 pm GMT Lasso Brag

What are rooftop kayak carriers?

In short, a rooftop kayak rack is an attachment that is installed onto the roof rack or roof of a car to assist in transporting a kayak from A to B. Mounting a kayak to the car’s roof in this manner frees up space inside the car or tray and lowers the risk of hull damage and paint chipping too.

Additionally, transporting a kayak that isn’t securely fastened can seriously harm your car, your kayak, or other drivers. Therefore a good rack can ensure proper security as you hit the road to your fishing spot.

best Rooftop Kayak Carriers - kayaks on jcradle

What should you be looking for?

The following factors should be considered as you hunt around for a good rooftop carrier for your kayak.

  1. Type
  2. Weight
  3. Size
  4. Additions


In general, there are four different types of kayak racks which are suitable dependent upon vehicle you plan to move it on as follows:

  • J-Cradles – Due to its adaptable design, the J-Cradles is arguably the most popular kayak roof rack on the market.  This rack has a side-loading design that makes room on the roof for extra goods and you can swiftly load and unload your kayak as well. However, they are not as good for cars with a narrow roof.
  • Stacker – The stacker roof rack can be a good option if you need to transport several kayaks simultaneously as it holds your kayaks vertically and on their sides, unlike conventional supporting items that hold them horizontally. This obviously gives you more room to fit many kayaks rather than just one.
  • Saddle Roof – If you intend to transport just one kayak at a time, the saddle roof rack is the best option.  This style of kayak rack consists of either one or two connected cradles that may be adjusted to fit the width of your car’s roof.  These also work well even in the worst weather when safety is at stake since it provides a vast surface area for your water gear.
  • Temporary Pads – Temporary pads are the kayak racks that are the simplest to set up and take down. They are made up of straps you can wrap inside and outside your car’s top and are intended to sit directly onto your roof. These uncomplicated racks contain integrated foam or inflatable padding, which makes them the best choice for short excursions or if you don’t have a roof rack.

Weight limit

The manufacturer of each kayak carrier and roof rack provides detailed instructions, along with a maximum weight allowance.  This information is sometimes provided as a per-kayak limit or a total limit so to be safe, ensure your intended load doesn’t exceed the maximum outlined. 

Some kayaks, especially fishing kayaks and sit-on-tops, may weigh more than the maximum most common carriers allow. In this situation, you should search for one made specifically for heavy loads.  

Note: you should also check with the manufacturer of your roof racks to ensure that you are within their weight limitations as well.


The size (in terms of height, width and total roof space taken up) can vary greatly depending on the design of the kayak carrier you select and I strongly recommend that you always verify that the dimensions fit your vehicle’s rooftop and/or roof racks. 

As long as you choose carriers that can fold down when not in use or be removed easily for transport and storage, height generally isn’t a problem if you don’t have a kayak on board.


Other potential additions include:

  1. Adjustable paddings: These are useful to accommodate the width of your kayak to fit atop your car correctly.
  2. Heavy-duty straps: These are valuable in keeping the kayak in place whenever your vehicle hits bumps on the roads.
  3. Extending arms: These parts are placed to ensure easy loading of the kayak.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. TMS Kayak Roof Racks for 2 Kayaks

My initial product recommendation has an innovative design and offers compatibility with most car roof racks. It also has many valuable features guaranteeing a secure fit for your kayak such as adjustable padding and wide mouth J bars.  See its specifications below:

  • Brand: TMS
  • Type: J Cradle
  • Weight limit: 75 pounds
  • Construction material: Alloy steel
  • Product weight: 16 pounds
  • Product dimensions: 17.5 x 12 x 6.5 inches

Other inclusions:

  • Kayak straps
  • Crossbars fittings
  • Fast-installation design

Why have I chosen it?

The J-bar is among the most widely used kayak carrier options due to its strength and security. The set comes with two kayak racks, which fasten onto roof crossbars with the kayak secured using two provided straps to the carriers, which are tilted at a 45-degree angle.

This storage method allows room for two additional J-bars and a second kayak, provided the roof is large and robust enough. Each set then supports a boat up to 75 pounds and is 36 inches wide with bars made of hollow steel with foam padding added for hull protection as well.

2. Yakima EasyTop Removable Roof Rack For Kayaks

This second kayak carrier option is a foam roof and rack pad style designed to securely transport kayaks to and from locations without causing harm to the boat or vehicle. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Yakima
  • Type: Temporary Pads
  • Weight limit: 80 pounds
  • Construction material: Thick and durable padding
  • Product weight: 4.5 pounds
  • Product dimensions: 47.75 x 12.5 x 6.75 inches

Other inclusions:

  • Double latch buckle straps
  • Ease of installation
  • 2-year warranty

Why have I chosen it?

To quickly and easily transport your gear to your next adventure, simply loop the double-latch buckle straps through the door frames of your vehicle. This roof rack’s temporary construction can support up to 80 pounds of flat gear and is made of sturdy padding to protect your car’s roof and kayak.

This system has the benefit of being easily able to transport cargo like surf or paddle boards without modification as well and fits to most cars and SUVs as needed.  This is a great option for those without roof racks who want to move kayaks quickly and easily.

3. Thule Hullavator Pro Kayak Carrier

My last kayak carrier is one of the best that you can get today and is equipped with an ergonomic design that sets it apart from its class. It is made from rigid materials and has an innovative design for easy loading and unloading your favorite kayak.  See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Thule
  • Type: J Cradle
  • Weight limit: 75 pounds
  • Construction material: Aluminum
  • Product weight: 39.7 pounds
  • Product dimensions: 36 x 6 x 16 inches

Other inclusions:

  • Gas-assist struts lift
  • Bow and stern tie-downs
  • Corrosion-resistant

Why have I chosen it?

Even though this kayak rack is much more expensive than other on my list, it will make loading and transporting your kayak a breeze.  To load and unload your kayak at waist height, you can use the lift assist rack, which has double-extending arms with gas-assisted struts extending down over your vehicle’s side. 

With no fewer than eight padded touch points, the kayak cradles of this model can be adjusted to fit a range of hull widths, giving your kayak the best support possible. The system includes the manufacturer’s exclusive bow and stern tie-downs and is made of double-coated steel and aluminum for maximum longevity and corrosion resistance.

02/18/2024 01:15 pm GMT Lasso Brag


There you have it, my three best ski rooftop kayak carriers. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual,  let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, or corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.