The 5 Best Kayak Roof Racks

If you’re into watersports, kayaking is a popular choice. There are waves to be conquered and views to be had.

But, transportation can be tricky so you need a sturdy way to keep it mounted!

That’s all good, because there are plenty of choices to keep it securely on your vehicle. For these options you’ll need a crossbar

Let’s take a look at the 5 best kayak racks:

1. Lifetime Warranty TMS® 2 Pairs J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier

The lifetime warranty on a set of TMS kayak racks is something to set your mind at ease. 

These racks deal with a lot of stress during transportation. This guarantee is part of the reason this kayak rack is a best seller. 

A kayak rack mount can adhere to anywhere you have crossbars on your vehicle. This includes a ladder rack on a truck, or regular post market cross bars for your SUV/car. 

This sturdy pair is 16 lbs. They can hold kayaks up to 36 inches wide and 75 lbs. Make sure you check the width of your kayak before ordering as an extra precaution. Realistically, this suits most of the kayaks available. 

To tie down use the included straps once you set your water warrior in place. Right now for the price and quality of this pair, they’re hard to beat. One gripe people have is with the quality of the included straps. 

You may want to purchase a pair of those separately. These alternative tie downs are highly rated. 

2. YAKIMA - JayLow Rooftop Mounted Kayak Rack for Vehicles, Carries Up to 2 Kayaks

Yakima is in the higher end of the market for quality and price range of parts. 

They make plenty of roof mounted accessories and they’re known for their sleek designs.

But, it’s worth pointing out that you’re going to pay a bit more for their stuff. 

The J-Cradle designed racks are their solution to kayak transportation. 

Most mounts are going to require some assembly upon arrival. These come fully assembled out of the box which is a nice touch. They can hold a single kayak at up to 80 lbs. 

They’re good for two kayaks vertically, but most owners will probably be more comfortable using it lying flat. In that case it can hold one. As you would expect from this price point, the accessory straps and other included gear is well-made. 

You won’t have to purchase anything separately to “beef up” the stock accessories. You can also fold these down when not in use. The more affordable racks don’t have this capability.

Yakima has something called the SKS locking mechanism which is compatible with this design. You can purchase lock cores separately to add some more peace of mind. 

3. ROLA (59912) J Style Kayak Carrier Roof Rack

Rola has a steel pair of carrier roof rack mounts that made it to this guide for a couple reasons.

But the main one being their weight capacity. If you check out their guide, you can safely get up to 165 lbs total with this setup. 

That includes the crossbars of course and the kayak. But still, they exceed the weight limit of most carriers available. They’re also in the same price range as the TMS carrier. 

If you have a heavier kayak, these are going to be one of the best choices for your situation. The foam padding on the sides helps prevent any friction between your rig. Straps and tie-downs are included as pictured. 

4. ECOTRIC J-Bar 2 Pairs Universal Kayak Canoe Top Mount Carrier Roof Rack

ECOTRIC is the budget buy of the group. They include 2 separate pairs(4 total pieces) of J-Mounts in your purchase.

All at a cheaper price than the competition. That means you can seat two kayaks on their side comfortably with this set. 

We wouldn’t quite call them “heavy-duty” but depending on how often you plan on using this setup, they could be a great choice. They are still at the base, made with steel and powder-coated. 

They mount to your existing crossbars but take note if yours are round or oval shaped. In that case, it’s not going to be a good fit. It’s also not going to work if your cross bars are 1″ or greater in width, or 2.5″ or greater in height. Tie downs are included with this purchase. 

5. CargoLoc 2-Piece 52" Aluminum Roof Top Cross Bar Set

The integral part of your kayak mounting journey. Yes, you need a cross bar set to use kayak mounts!

If you don’t have one, this pair by CargoLoc is highly rated and affordable. 

But, there are tons of options in this category so maybe you’ll find something you prefer more. 

If this is the one you’ve set your sites on you need to make sure you have raised side rails for it to mount underneath. Pretty much like the picture details. This will just clamp to those side rails to stay secure.

It can also hold up to 150lbs. So it should be good for two regular sized kayaks once you get your mounts on it. 


Will a kayak mount stand up to the elements?

Nearly all of these racks are made out of steel. Steel by itself is susceptible to rust from water. But, they’re all powder coated to help prevent this. One thing you can do is inspect your product when you get it.

If you see any chips in the powder coating where bare metal is exposed, that is a point that you’re going to want to reinforce with sealant or paint!

Do  I need a cross bar to mount my kayak?

For the options included in this guide, yes you will need a cross bar. These options are the mounts. They grip to the crossbar and allow you to set your kayak in them securely. We have an option at #5 that is a very affordable and popular option to add this functionality to your vehicle. 

Another thing to look into is upgrading from included tie downs if you feel the pair you receive isn’t up to standard. 


Hopefully, this guide helped you make an informed decision on the mount that works best for you. We know we sound like a broken record, but make sure you get a pair of crossbars first to mount your rack to!

With that said, there are some nice choices in this category. We think that the Yakima is the super fancy bells and whistles buy, while the TMS pair is a great overall value. If you’re trying to save some money, the ECOTRIC might be worth a second look. 

Whatever you choose, come back and let us know how it worked out! We love hearing from our readers. Good luck on your search. 


I'm the owner of Beast Auto. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I love anything automotive related, and taking road trips all across my beautiful state.

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