Best Kayak Roof Rack For Car Without Rails

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Kayaks offer a fantastic way to navigate and discover various waterways, but their bulky nature makes transportation challenging. For vehicles without built-in roof racks, an alternative solution is required. Thankfully, there are kayak racks available for cars without rails. If you’re searching for the perfect kayak roof rack, there are several factors to consider.

In this article, we’ll discuss the various types of kayak roof racks, our top seven recommendations for an exceptional kayak rack, and answer frequently asked questions to help you determine the ideal option for your needs. We’ll also cover considerations before making a purchase and potential alternatives. Fret not if you’re eager to hit the water and must transport your kayak. You’ll find the best kayak rack for cars without rails, ensuring a smooth journey to your destination.

Our Top Picks

If you are in a hurry, here are our top picks. Or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

 

Best Overall: Yakima – EasyTop Removable, Universal Roof Rack

Best Foam Car Roof Rack: Stanley Universal Car Roof Rack Pad & Luggage Carrier System

Best Metal Bar Kayak Roof Rack: Malone VersaRail

Best Inflatable Kayak Roof Rack: HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars

MeeFar Universal Car Soft Roof Rack Pads Luggage Carrier System for Kayak

HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads

Orion Motor Tech Soft Roof Rack with Straps

 

What Kind of Kayak Roof Rack Do you Need?

When selecting a kayak roof rack, the first aspect to consider is the type that best suits your needs. There are three primary categories:

 

Metal Cross Bar Kayak Roof Rack

As the name implies, these roof racks feature metal cross bars akin to factory-installed ones. The rack is fastened using a nylon strap that runs through the vehicle’s interior. Due to their ease of use and compatibility with most cars, they are the most popular type of roof rack. However, remember that these may only sometimes be compatible with 2-door vehicles. You can see the setup in the image above. While this type is the top choice for a kayak rack, the other options may be more appropriate for your specific requirements.

 

Inflatable Tubes Kayak Roof Rack

An alternative kayak roof rack style features inflatable tubes. This versatile design accommodates various roof shapes and sizes while protecting your kayak significantly. Inflatable tubes are easily storable, as they can be deflated and tucked away in minimal space, making them a handy option for storage when not needed.

However, inflatable roof racks are susceptible to punctures, requiring caution. Additionally, they tend to be less durable than metal crossbar roof racks. Nonetheless, these inflatable racks should serve you well for years with appropriate care and under normal circumstances.

 

Foam Block Kayak Roof Racks

In the realm of top kayak racks, foam block racks present a third option. These racks resemble inflatable tubes but consist of solid foam instead of air-filled. They mould to your roof and are secured with nylon straps that pass through the vehicle’s interior. A key benefit is their lightweight nature and easy storage. A drawback of foam block racks is their potential inability to fit snugly on cars with unconventional rooflines. Additionally, they are prone to wear and tear and typically lack the durability of high-quality metal crossbars. Nevertheless, with appropriate care, foam block racks, like inflatable tubes, should serve you for years.

 

Best Overall Kayak Rack

Editor’s Choice

1. Yakima – EasyTop Removable, Universal Roof Rack

Yakima EasyTop Removable, Universal Roof Rack

Among the best kayak racks, the Yakima EasyTop roof rack stands out as a top choice. Ideal for those seeking an effortless installation and removal process, this kayak rack features durable foam pads that accommodate kayaks and skis, snowboards, paddleboards, surfboards, and more.

The Yakima EasyTop offers robust padding to protect your gear and prevent scratches on your roof. It includes two heavy-duty straps and two tie-down ropes for a tool-free installation process. Throw the straps through your car doors and secure the racks with the double latch buckle.

Pros

  • Versatile and convenient: The Yakima EasyTop roof rack is designed to fit a wide variety of vehicles.
  • Weight capacity: With an 80-pound capacity, it can support a range of gear.
  • Lightweight: The Yakima EasyTop is a versatile vehicle rack weighing under 5 pounds, ideal for transporting camping equipment.
  • Warranty: It comes with a limited 2-year warranty.

Cons

  • Compatibility: The Yakima EasyTop roof rack may only be suitable for some vehicles.
  • Door seal issues: Strapped roof racks, including the Yakima EasyTop, can sometimes cause issues with door seals. This is typical for any car roof rack that uses straps going through the door frame.
  • Weather considerations: In dry weather, door seal issues

Overall

In summary, the Yakima EasyTop roof rack is an excellent choice for those seeking a foam roof rack that is easy to install and remove. Its lightweight, durable design and positive feedback from customers make it a highly recommended option.

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Best Foam Car Roof Rack

Editor’s Choice

2. Stanley Universal Car Roof Rack Pad & Luggage Carrier System

Stanley Universal Car Roof Rack Pad & Luggage Carrier System

The Stanley Universal Car Roof Rack Pad & Luggage Carrier System is a top alternative for the best kayak roof rack, perfect for hauling your gear on upcoming road trips. This system comprises two pads that connect to your car’s roof rack and a carrier that fastens to the pads. While the pads safeguard your vehicle’s roof from scratches and wear, the carrier offers a secure storage solution for your luggage.

Pros

  • Weight limit: The system accommodates up to 110 pounds, suitable for multiple kayaks or four pieces of luggage.
  • Adjustable cam strap and corrosion-resistant buckles: These lay across the roof pads and can be adjusted for weights up to 110 pounds.
  • Extra-long straps: The kit includes 2 long straps with a cam-buckle for easy tightening and neoprene padding for added protection.
  • Polyester tie-downs: The kit also features 2 tie-downs that can withstand up to 1,000 lbs. of force.

Cons

  • Compatibility: The system may not be suitable for all car models.
  • Limitations: Not designed for rooftop tents or other large items.

In summary, the Stanley Universal Car Roof Rack Pad & Luggage Carrier System is an excellent choice for carrying your equipment during upcoming road trips.

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Best Inflatable Kayak Roof Rack

Editor’s Choice

3. HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars

HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars

The HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars offer an affordable and user-friendly solution for those seeking a roof rack. Constructed from durable PVC, these bars can be inflated or deflated as required. With a weight capacity of 175 lbs, they are compatible with most vehicles equipped with factory-installed roof racks.

Pros

  • Easy installation and removal: Ideal for occasional use, the HandiRack system is simple to install and remove.
  • Versatility: Compatible with various vehicles, including cars, vans, SUVs, and RVs.
  • Multi-purpose: Suitable for carrying diverse items, such as bikes, kayaks, snowboards, and skis.
  • Durable materials: Heavy-duty, non-abrasive nylon, and anti-rust-treated metal components.
  • Warranty: The purchase comes with a 1-year warranty against manufacturing defects.

Cons

  • Compatibility: The HandiRack system may not be suitable for all vehicles.
  • Limited support: May not provide adequate support for some heavier items.
  • Vehicle restrictions: Designed for 2, 3, 4, & 5-door models from various manufacturers, but incompatible with soft-top cars or those with side curtain airbags.

In summary, the HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars present an excellent choice for individuals seeking an affordable and adaptable roof rack solution.latest price from Amazon green

Best Metal Bar Kayak Roof Rack

Editor’s Choice

4. Malone VersaRail

Malone VersaRail

The Malone VersaRail stands out as another top pick for an exceptional kayak rack. Ideal for transporting gear, this versatile and user-friendly option can support up to 150 lbs, making it well-suited for carrying various equipment.

Pros

  • Unique attachment system: Malone’s design allows for quick and easy loading and unloading of gear.
  • Lightweight: The Malone VersaRail kayak rack is relatively light, making it easy to maneuver.
  • Compact: With a small footprint, it won’t occupy much space in your garage or car.

Cons

  • Less sturdy: The Malone VersaRail may not be as robust as other options, limiting its ability to handle heavier loads.
  • Compatibility: Exclusively compatible with Malone products, requiring additional adapters for use with other brands.

In summary, the Malone VersaRail is an excellent choice for individuals seeking a convenient method to transport their gear. While versatile, lightweight, and user-friendly, it may not be as sturdy as some alternatives and is exclusively compatible with Malone products.

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5. MeeFar Universal Car Soft Roof Rack Pads Luggage Carrier System for Kayak

MeeFar Universal Car Soft Roof Rack Pads Luggage Carrier System for Kayak

The MeeFar Universal Car Soft Roof Rack Pads Luggage Carrier System is another contender for the top kayak roof racks, ideal for safely transporting your kayak. With a weight limit of 176 pounds, this carrier can ensure the security of your kayak throughout transportation.

Pros

  • The soft rack is tool-free and easy to install.
  • It includes two tie-down straps, two quick-loop straps, and two tie-down ropes.
  • Two adjustable 15-foot straps with padded cam locks keep belongings secure while driving.
  • Two ropes at the front and back secure long items.
  • The soft material of the pads prevents scratches or damage to your kayak.
  • The soft rack is easy to install and remove, making it compatible with multiple vehicles.
  • The MeeFar carrier offers several benefits for safe and convenient transportation.

Cons

  • The MeeFar carrier has some drawbacks to consider before purchase.
  • It may not be compatible with all roof racks, requiring compatibility checks beforehand.
  • The carrier is not recommended for use on vehicles with exposed paint or chrome, as the pads may damage the finish.

Overall, the MeeFar Universal Car Soft Roof Rack Pads Luggage Carrier System for Kayak is an excellent choice for kayak transportation.

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6. HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads

HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads

The HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads for Kayak consist of two cushioned pads that securely strap onto your vehicle’s roof rack crossbars, enabling safe transportation of your kayak. With a weight limit of 176lbs, these pads are both durable and sturdy.

Pros

  • The HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads for Kayak offer numerous benefits, such as being more affordable than hardshell roof racks and taking up less space when not in use.
  • With 2 adjustable straps, padded cam locks, and 2 ropes at the front and back, this product provides secure transportation for 1-3 shortboards, 1-2 longboards, or kayaks, depending on their size.
  • The soft rack set comes with all necessary attachments and straps, along with fitting instructions and loading advice.
  • These pads have a foldable design, making them easy to store when not in use.

Cons

  • While the HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads for Kayak have numerous benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to keep in mind.
  • These pads may not be suitable for larger kayaks, as the padding has a total width of 31″ (as seen in the picture above).
  • It’s important to measure your kayak or canoe beforehand to ensure that these pads will provide sufficient support.

Overall, the HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads for Kayak are a suitable choice for transporting a kayak, but it’s crucial to be aware of their potential downsides before making a purchase.

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7. Orion Motor Tech Soft Roof Rack with Straps

Orion Motor Tech Soft Roof Rack with Straps

The ORION MOTOR TECH Soft Roof Rack with Straps is an excellent choice for transporting kayaks, thanks to its durable, weather-resistant materials and adjustable straps for a secure fit. The padded design of this kayak roof rack also protects against scratches and scrapes, making it an ideal option for kayak enthusiasts. Overall, this is a fantastic roof rack that offers great value for its price.

Pros

  • he soft roof rack pad set from Orion Motor Tech is highly versatile, fitting a wide range of car rooftops.
  • With a 165-pound capacity and dimensions of 33.5 by 3.1 inches, this pad set is suitable for holding large, bulky items such as kayaks, surfboards, furniture, camping equipment, and more.
  • Composed of high-density foam, this kayak roof rack system provides maximum sound and scuff protection. The 600D polyester cover also ensures a secure non-slip grip, offering safety for your goods even in harsh weather conditions.
  • Two long load straps and two tie-down straps, each measuring 1 inch wide and boasting weatherproof durability, are included. The two metal buckles with teeth firmly hold heavy and bulky goods in place, even at high speeds.

Cons

  • There are some potential drawbacks to consider before purchasing the ORION MOTOR TECH Soft Roof Rack with Straps.
  • This roof rack may not be compatible with all cars, so it’s essential to check compatibility beforehand.
  • Some users have reported that this rack may not be as durable as other options on the market, despite being made from high-quality materials.
  • While this rack is sturdy, it may not be as tough as some of its competitors.

Overall, the ORION MOTOR TECH Soft Roof Rack with Straps is a reliable product that can last for years with proper maintenance. It’s also an affordable option compared to other products on the market, making it ideal for occasional use if you don’t want to spend too much money.

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Questions to Ask

 

Will These Kayak Racks Work on My Car?

To ensure that you find the appropriate kayak rack for your vehicle, it’s essential to consider the various types of racks available. While most kayak racks can be used with a range of cars that lack rails, it’s crucial to confirm compatibility with your vehicle by reviewing the manufacturer’s specifications before making a purchase.

For two-door cars, it’s important to note that some kayak racks may not work due to the straps passing through the car’s interior to secure the kayaks. This limitation can make it challenging to achieve proper balance for your kayak. If you have a two-door car, it’s advisable to consult the manufacturer to ensure that the chosen rack is suitable for your vehicle.

 

Will My Kayak Roof Rack Work With My Kayak?

Once you have confirmed that a kayak rack is compatible with your vehicle, it’s important to ensure that it can also accommodate your kayak. While most kayak racks for cars without rails are generally designed to fit most kayaks, they do have weight and width limitations. Therefore, transporting wide or heavy kayaks using these racks can be challenging.

To prevent any mishaps during transportation, it’s crucial to verify the maximum width and weight capacity of your kayak rack before purchasing. It’s worth noting that metal crossbar alternatives typically have larger weight capacities but smaller widths than foam or inflatable models. In case of any doubts, it’s recommended that you contact the manufacturer for further information on the compatibility of your specific kayak model.

 

How Long Can You Expect Kayak Roof Racks to Last?

When choosing a kayak roof rack system, it’s crucial to consider its durability. Typically, kayak racks are designed to be durable, but metal crossbar models tend to have better long-term durability compared to foam and inflatable options.

To ensure that your kayak racks last for years, it’s advisable to store them in a cool, dry, and dark place when not in use. This will shield them from the harmful effects of moisture and UV light, which can deteriorate the rack’s components over time.

Additionally, it’s worth checking out reviews for the product you intend to purchase. Real-world feedback from previous buyers can be immensely helpful in determining the product’s reliability and durability in practical usage scenarios.

 

Can I Install My Kayak Roof Rack?

To ensure the safety and longevity of your kayak roof rack, it’s important to select one that can be easily assembled and disassembled. Leaving the rack attached to the roof when it’s not in use is not advisable, as it increases the risk of theft and can also result in damage caused by long-term exposure to the elements.

In addition to ease of assembly, it’s also important to consider the usability of the roof rack. While some models can be installed by a single person, others require the assistance of a second person. It’s also worth noting that certain roof racks come with complicated or unclear instructions.

If you’re uncertain about your ability to install the kayak roof rack, seek assistance from someone with experience. The last thing you want is for your kayak to come loose while you’re driving on the road.

 

Kayak Rack for Car Without Rails – Are there any alternatives?

Transporting your kayak via a roof rack is often considered the optimal, secure, and trustworthy method. However, for cars that lack rails, there is an alternative option that can be utilized in a time of need, which may already be available in your possession.

 

Pool Noodles

It may sound surprising, but in emergency situations, pool noodles can be utilized as a makeshift kayak roof rack. It is recommended to use three evenly spaced pool noodles on the car roof, but ensure that they are of good quality as cheaper options may compress excessively, causing the kayak to scrape the car’s roof.

To secure the kayak, cam straps that are at least twice the width of the car’s roof will be needed. Once the pool noodles are in place, the kayak should be positioned on top of them. The cam straps can then be run over the pool noodles and inside the car before being tightened as much as possible to secure the kayak. To prevent the cam strap from buzzing at high speeds, it may be helpful to twist it once.

Lastly, if necessary, the kayak can be secured at both the bow and stern to prevent sliding. Although not a permanent solution, using pool noodles as a makeshift kayak roof rack can be a cost-effective alternative in an impromptu situation.

 

Trailer

In situations where a roof rack is not available, a trailer can serve as an alternative for transporting kayaks. However, it’s essential to determine the appropriate trailer size required to haul your kayaks. There are kayak-specific trailers in the market that can be a viable option for those who plan to kayak frequently.

It’s important to note that these trailers can be more expensive than a roof rack system, so it’s essential to assess if it’s worth the investment based on frequency of use. In addition to the trailer, securing the kayaks to the trailer will require straps or other tie-downs.

When loading the kayaks onto the trailer, it’s crucial to handle them with care to avoid scratches or other damages. The average cost of a kayak trailer is approximately $600, making it a considerable investment that should only be made if it’s going to be used frequently. If kayaking is an occasional activity, renting or borrowing a trailer from a friend may be a more cost-effective option.

Conclusion

Kayaking is an excellent activity to explore the waterways near your home or on vacation. If you’re in search of a kayak rack that is compatible with your car, this article has hopefully provided you with some valuable insights. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best kayak racks for cars without rails, along with essential information about each one. We’ve also examined the cost of different types of kayak racks and suggested alternatives if your car doesn’t have rails. We encourage you to review our recommendations and select the one that best suits your needs. Have a great time paddling!

Paddle on. Stay true to the rivers of your soul.

 

Kayak Roof Rack For Car Without Rails Comparison Table

 

Roof Rack Length Width Height Load Capacity Mounting Type
Yakima 44″ 12″ 6″ 80 lbs. Roof Mount, Strap Mount
Stanley 43″ 6.75″ 905″ 1000 lbs. Tie Down Mount,Roof Mount,Strap Mount,Freestanding
Malone 50″ 8″ 5.75″ 135 lbs. Railing Mount,Strap Mount
MeeFar 7.2″ 17.63″ 13.27″ Roof Mount,Strap Mount,Tie Down Mount
HEYTRIP 17″ 12.48″ 7.21″ 176.4 lbs. Roof Mount,Rails,Strap Mount
ORION MOTOR TECH 36.22″ 9.06″ 4.72″ 165 lbs. Roof Mount,Rails,Strap Mount

 

Features:

  • Add a durable, removable roof rack to your vehicle in minutes; The universal EasyTop roof rack straps onto the top of almost any vehicle and carries up to 80 pounds of adventure gear
  • Equipped to hold skis, snowboards, paddleboards, surfboards, kayaks, and more; the EasyTop has durable padding to safeguard your equipment and avoid roof scratches
  • Includes 2 heavy-duty straps and 2 tie-down ropes for tool-free installation; Harness the straps through the vehicle doors and secure the racks with the double-latch buckle
  • A convenient travel accessory, this soft and sturdy roof rack is perfect for rental cars, making those further-away adventures more accessible
  • This removable car rack weighs less than 5 pounds, so toting your outdoor gear is effortless; Limited 2-year warranty

 

What to Look for When Purchasing a Kayak Roof Rack for Car Without Rails

 

1. Kayak Rack Type

When purchasing a kayak roof rack for your car without rails, the first thing to consider is the type of rack. There are two main types: J-cradles and saddles. J-cradles are shaped like a “J” and hold the kayak on its side, which helps save space on your roof. These racks work well for smaller kayaks or ones that have a narrower profile. However, they can be more difficult to load since you need to lift the entire weight of the boat onto its side.

Saddle-style racks have four pads that cradle the bottom of the boat, providing support along its length. They work best for wider kayaks or those with flatter bottoms as they distribute their weight more evenly across the rack. Loading and unloading is also easier with this style, as you only need to lift one end at a time. The choice between these two largely depends on personal preference and the size of your kayak.

2. Compatibility

The next factor to consider is compatibility. Not all kayaks fit on all roof racks! Make sure that you choose a rack that fits your specific make and model of the kayak, as well as your car’s make and model. The weight capacity of the roof rack must match the weight of your kayak. Overloading can lead to accidents on the road, and underloading may cause your kayak to slip off during transportation.

Always refer to manufacturer instructions carefully when installing a new kayak roof rack onto your vehicle to ensure compatibility between all parts involved in carrying out this task effectively and safely.

3. Installation

Another crucial factor to keep in mind when buying a kayak roof rack is installation. You want something that is easy to install and dismantle, especially if you plan on using it frequently or switching between different types of kayaks. It’s important to choose a kayak roof rack that comes with clear instructions and all the necessary hardware.

4. Durability

Lastly, consider durability. You want a product that can withstand not only the weight and size of your kayak but also harsh weather conditions and frequent use. Look for materials such as aluminum or steel that are resistant to rust and corrosion. Additionally, consider the padding on the rack itself to avoid damaging your kayak during transport.

In a nutshell, considering the type of kayak rack, compatibility with your vehicle, ease of installation, and durability when making a purchase decision will ensure that you select an appropriate product that fulfills all your requirements. With this guide in mind finding the best Kayak roof rack for car without rails shouldn’t be difficult to find.

Quick Answer Best Kayak Roof Rack For Car Without Rails

Roof Rack Length Width Height Load Capacity Mounting Type Review
Yakima 44″ 12″ 6″ 80 lbs. Roof Mount, Strap Mount 4.3 out of 5
269 global ratings
Stanley 43″ 6.75″ 905″ 1000 lbs. Tie Down Mount,Roof Mount,Strap Mount,Freestanding 4.4 out of 5
270 global ratings
Malone 50″ 8″ 5.75″ 135 lbs. Railing Mount,Strap Mount 4.4 out of 5
1,821 global ratings
MeeFar 7.2″ 17.63″ 13.27″ Roof Mount,Strap Mount,Tie Down Mount 4.4 out of 5
753 global ratings
HEYTRIP 17″ 12.48″ 7.21″ 176.4 lbs. Roof Mount,Rails,Strap Mount 4.4 out of 5
1,378 global ratings
ORION MOTOR TECH 36.22″ 9.06″ 4.72″ 165 lbs. Roof Mount,Rails,Strap Mount 4.3 out of 5
617 global ratings

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