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How-to-guide

Find the best kayak roof rack for your car!

Which kayak roof rack is best for your car, truck or van? We help you find one that fits your paddling needs!

Bringing your boat is easy – if you have the right roof rack. To find the best kayak roof rack that fits your paddling style, have a think about the following questions:

  • How many kayaks do you want to transport?
  • Do you want a kayak carrier that can also a carry a surfboard or paddle board?
  • Do you want space on your car roof for other equipment like a bike rack?
  • Do you need a kayak roof rack that is easy to load?

Once you have answered these questions, it’ll be easier to figure out which kayak carrier is right for your next trip to the waterfront.

 

Transporting more than one kayak?

Kayak roof racks are generally divided into horizontal and vertical roof racks. If you’re planning to transport more than one kayak, you might want to look at the vertical (sometimes called J-shaped) kayak roof racks. These allow you to stack more kayaks on your vehicle.

Examples:

Thule Hull-a-Port XT: this kayak roof rack can carry one or two kayaks and folds flat when you’re not using it.

Thule Compass: This kayak carrier can be easily configured into different “modes”. When the rack is bent bent to a J-shape or flat in the “saddle mode” you can load one kayak. And in the “stacker” mode you can load two.

Thule Stacker: this space-saving stacker lets you hold up to four kayaks stacked on their side. 

Transporting a kayak and paddle board?

If you want a kayak roof rack that can carry your kayak one day and your surfboard or paddle board the next, there are kayak racks that can do both.

Examples:

Thule Compass: This water sports carrier can hold either a kayak or a stand-up paddle board with one system. In the “saddle” mode when the carrier is flat, you can load your kayak or up to two paddle boards onto the rubber saddles that keep your boards safe. If you configure the rack into the “stacker” mode, you’re ready to load two kayaks. 

Thule Dockgrip: this is a horizontal kayak carrier where you place the kayak flat on the rubber, cushioned pads. The pads pivot and can be adjusted to fit the hull shape of any kayak or re-adjusted flat to fit a SUP or surfboard.

Transporting a kayak and bike rack?

If you want space left over on your car roof to transport other equipment like a bicycle, a vertical kayak roof rack is probably the better option since it leaves some space on the rack to transport other things.

Examples:

Thule Hull-a-Port: This roof rack is designed specifically to leave room for other rooftop accessories, like a bike rack.

Need help loading your kayak on the rack?

If the thought of loading a kayak onto the roof of your car sounds challenging for you, there are some kayak car carriers that make the loading process easier. Some kayak roof racks can be lowered so that you can load the kayak at your own height. Others are made of a smooth material that lets you slide the kayak onto the car roof. This means you can load the kayak easily, even if you’re off paddling on your own.

Examples:

Thule DockGlide: This kayak car rack is made up of four saddles, two of which are lined with felt. This means that you can easily glide the kayak into place on top of your car. This makes it a lot easier to load your kayak onto your car alone.

Thule Hullavator Pro: This kayak rack does all the heavy lifting for you. With the help of sliding technology, all you have to do is slide the rack down, load the kayak at waist level, and then slide it back up to the top of the car.

Kayak rack for trucks and vans:

If you are looking for a kayak roof rack for vans or trucks, some of the kayak carriers listed above can be an option. The Thule Dockgrip, for instance, works with several Thule truck and van racks. To double check that a specific kayak carrier works with your roof rack, look at the technical specifications of the kayak carrier you’ve chosen. Or check our guide where you can fill in your vehicle details and roof rack type and we find a kayak carrier that fits your van or truck specifically.

Example:

Thule Goalpost: This is a kayak roof rack for truck beds and is designed to stay secure and not sway side to side as you drive down the highway to the waterfront. It can be combined with a kayak rack, but also canoe and SUP racks if you’re a fan of all the watersports.

A kayak roof rack for a car without rails:

Do you want to transport your kayak on a car roof without rails? No fear! There are still options for you.

With the help of roof racks that use a clamp foot you can attach a rack even to a roof without any side rails or other attachment points. Have a look at our buyer’s guide to find a roof rack that works with your car roof. Then, you can attach a kayak carrier without a problem.

Some of our kayak racks that work for a car without rails include the Thule DockGrip, Thule DockGlide and the Thule Compass. But our buyer’s guide will help you find a kayak rack that fits your car model and roof rack specifically, no matter what kind of roof you have.

 
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