Here, we take a closer look at the best kayak racks for the Subaru Outback.
We tested over a dozen different kayak racks for the Subaru Outback. Our testing considered things like the build quality, the load capacity, and the real world utility of each rack.
Our top pick for Subaru Outback kayak rack (hey, that rhymes!) is the Ikuram offering. This rack comes with a well built construction and high carrying capacity. We also liked the robust fit that provides a lot of security and peace of mind.
Our experience testing and evaluating vehicle accessories stretches back almost a decade, so we’re confident that we can help you make a better buying decision.
For more details about the best kayak racks for your Subaru Outback, keep reading.
IKURAM Multi-Purpose Kayak Rack
Ikuram’s kayak rack for the Subaru Outback gets our highest recommendation. This is a solid and well built kit with lots of useful features that make it easier to carry kayaks, canoes, and other large equipment.
Build quality is one area where this kayak rack excels. It is made using anodized aviation grade aluminium, making it simultaneously lighter and more rigid than, say, alloy steel racks. It is also more resistant to corrosion and rusting over time.
The carrying saddles are sized generously, allowing them to hold larger, wider cargo such as stand up paddle boards, kayaks, and surfboards. In fact, it can hold a kayak up to 42” wide.
These saddles are lined in all weather rubber which has two benefits. Firstly, it keeps your kayak secure without scratching or damaging it. It also gives you a more secure fit that is less prone to shifting.
Loading capacity is also surprisingly high for such a compact rack. It comes in at just over 158 lbs, which is plenty for any kayak. It uses a J-style kayak carrier that is safer and more ergonomic.
Speaking of the fit, this rack can be mounted to a wide variety of cross rails, including round, square, and oval-shaped ones. Heavy duty straps make for an even sturdier fit. In fact, the straps are rated for a break strength of almost 750 lbs of weight.
The tilting feature of the J-bars is really useful for accommodating different sizes and shapes of kayak. We also really like the fact that this rack can hold two kayaks at the same time, thanks to the unique shape and tilting mechanism. Native Paddle holders are a nice addition that make it easier to transport your paddles as well.
Now, moving on to the installation, we have a simple and intuitive installation process. We did not require any extra tools to mount this kayak rack on the Subaru Outback. All in, it took us less than 20 minutes to have the rack ready for action.
In summation, this is our favourite kayak rack for the Subaru Outback, owing to its heavy duty build, ergonomic design, and awesome utility.
- Anodized aviation grade aluminium build
- Lightweight and rigid design
- Resists rusting and corrosion
- Carrying saddles can hold a 42” wide kayak
- Rubber lined saddles prevent damage to kayak
- Secure fit with no shifting or movement
- 158 lbs load capacity
- Heavy duty straps with a break strength of 750 lbs
- Tilting J-bars can hold different shapes and sizes of kayak
- Can hold two kayaks at the same time
- Native Paddle Holders included
- Quick and easy installation
- May not fit older model trucks
TMS 2 x Roof Kayak Racks
If you’re looking for a high quality kayak rack for your Subaru Outback, but don’t wanna spend too much money, the TMS kayak rack combines a secure fit with great utility and value.
You really can’t find another rack for the Subaru Outback that is as well built at this price point. It uses a rigid and high quality alloy steel design that inspires a lot of confidence when carrying kayaks. The steel is treated with a special powder coating that keeps it safe from rusting and corrosion.
The actual rack uses a J-style carrier. It is adjustable and holds your kayak quite snugly so it doesn’t fall off in transit. The arms are lined with soft material that eliminates any scratching and denting of the kayak or the Outback’s paintwork.
It also uses two straps, which are included in the package, to hold the kayak in place. However, we think you would be better off getting some aftermarket straps to use with this rack, as the ones included are a bit low quality.
The rack’s budget friendly build also shows through in a few other areas. It can only hold a kayak up to 36” wide. Also, the load capacity of 75 lbs is only really useful for smaller kayaks. It is still decent, but a higher load capacity would have been nicer to see.
Now, let’s touch on the installation process. It is straightforward and simple, with all of the necessary hardware included in the box. Instructions are clear and concise. You will also appreciate that this rack can fit round, oval, square and even flat shaped cross bars like the Subaru Outback’s.
One cool add-on with this budget kayak rack is two waterproof bags with neck straps. These are included with your purchase and are useful for holding cell phones, wallets, and other small items while you’re out on the water.
Thanks to the adjustable design of the J-bars, the rack can actually accommodate more than one kayak at the same time. You can also carry other stuff like surfboards, stand up paddle boards, and skiboards. That said, the shape of the rack does not hold SUPs very tightly, and one of our boards ended up falling off the rack while driving.
Other than that, this is a solid kayak rack that you should definitely consider if you drive a Subaru Outback.
- Alloy steel construction
- Soft material lining keeps kayak free from damage
- Powder coating prevents rusting
- J-style carrier for snug fit
- 36” kayak compatible
- 75 lbs load capacity
- Will fit different shaped cross bars
- Easy to install
- Instructions are easy to follow
- 2 waterproof bags included with purchase
- Budget friendly rack
- Included straps aren’t the best
Thule Hullavator Pro Rooftop Kayak Rack And Carrier
Thule can be counted on to make a quality rack, and their Hullavator rack for the Subaru Outback definitely delivers, combining the best build of any rack with a snug fit that keeps your kayak secure. And as with any Thule product, it has that one feature that just puts it over the top.
High build quality and Thule have become synonymous. This aluminium construction would fit right in at a modern art museum. It is really lightweight and well built, the attention to detail being immediately apparent in the minimalist design and sleek look.
It also features reinforced, double coated steel for extra rigidity and security. The actual rack has eight contact points with the kayak, helping keep it tightly in place. Two straps situated at the bow and stern may seem like overkill, but they are appreciated for the extra stability they add at speed.
Load capacity comes in at around 75 lbs, which isn’t the highest we have seen, but more than enough for one standard sized kayak. The cradles are also adjustable and will open up to fit even wider kayaks.
Installation is a bit tricky, but with the included instructions, you won’t need more than 20 minutes to have the rack bolted onto the Subaru Outback. All the mounting hardware is also provided for convenience.
This kayak roof can also be fitted with a locking mechanism. It locks the actual rack to your Subaru Outback’s roof, deterring would-be thieves from making away with your kayak, racks and all.
So far, it is easy to see why this roof rack is among the best for the Subaru Outback. However, there is one feature that will be the last nail in the coffin of other racks. We are talking, of course, about the gas struts this rack comes with.
These gas struts take over 40 lbs of the kayak’s weight, making loading and unloading easier. It is also adjustable, enabling you to load the kayak onto the rack at waist level. This is a really useful feature that makes loading/unloading your kayak a walk in the park.
In fact, all other Subaru Outback kayak racks have been ruined for us after using Thule’s gas struts to load and unload our kayaks. It just works!
- Aluminium build with reinforced steel
- Rust and corrosion resistant
- Sleeker design than other racks
- Eight contact points make for a more snug fit
- Two straps at the bow and stern
- Expanding cradles can accommodate wider kayaks
- 75 lbs load capacity
- Easy to install
- Gas struts can take up to 40 lbs of the kayak’s weight
- Double extending arms lower the kayak as much as 3 feet
- Waist level loading/unloading of kayak
- Priciest option