Last Updated on July 2, 2022 by Ecorf
As exciting as kayaking is, the thought of carrying a kayak to the river or lake can be very exhausting. We sometimes employ cheaper ‘life hacks’ by using foams and ropes to strap our kayaks to the car, but eventually, accept that a proper mounting system is required.
Kayak roof racks or carriers are really fundamental for frequent kayakers and although purchasing one might be quite tasking and expensive, it is sure to make preparing for a boating trip much more appealing and easy.
Choosing a Kayak Carrier
Selecting a carrier requires considering certain details to narrow down the number of options available to you. Your type of roof set up and the distance to the lake are some of the considerations to be made but one of the major aspects of choosing a kayak carrier is the type you actually want.
Types of Kayak Carriers
- Temporary Carriers: These are just perfect for those cars that don’t have a rack or rail on the roof. These pads can be installed directly on the roof of your car as they don’t require and additional rack system. They are really easy to set up and are really cheap. Temporary kayaks are only meant for short distance drive though. They are designed as foam pads and inflatable pads.
- J Cradle Roof Racks: This rack, alongside every other rack except the temporary carriers, requires a rail on the roof. They are much safer than the temporary carriers and can be used for much longer drives. As the name implies, the J Cradle is shaped as such, usually placed at about 45 degrees on the car rails. They are very stable and relatively easy to load your kayaks on. The elevated installation also means it’s quite difficult for shorter people to use.
- Stackers: This type is actually really helpful especially when carrying more than one kayak. The stacker is used by arranging kayaks against a post in an upright position, thereby reducing the space occupied by one kayak. Stackers are usually cheap and can contain about four kayaks depending on how wide the car roof actually is.
- Saddlers and Rollers: Saddlers are racks that lay horizontally on the car rail to offer more support to the kayak. The saddler takes advantage of the law of aerodynamics and ensures there’s no resistance to the wind. Rollers are also used alongside the saddlers to make loading and unloading easier. Just a little portion of the kayak is lifted and the rest can be rolled. The saddlers and rollers are very stable and can be used even in bad weather conditions.
- Lift Assisted Carriers: This requires installing a lift mechanism. The lift-assisted carriers are the easiest choice in transporting your kayak as you don’t have to carry the full weight of the kayak.
- Horizontal and Vertical Bed Extenders: This is a multipurpose rack meant for trucks that allows for the transportation of oversized things, kayaks inclusive. Although they occupy space, they are very stable and can be extended.
Other Factors to Consider
The type of kayak isn’t the only consideration to be made whilst selecting a kayak to purchase. Some other important aspects should be considered to ensure you acquire a kayak carrier that suits your needs
- Distance to river or lake: Not all carriers are good for long-distance driving because of stability. The temporary carrier is only good for short distances. If you wish to embark on longer distances, then a more secure rack would be needed.
- Amount off kayaks to carry: The number of kayaks you intend on transporting must be considered before selecting a rack. Stackers are most useful for carrying more than one kayak. Just about any type works for one kayak.
- How frequent you kayak: A frequent kayaker would prefer a carrier that is relatively easy to load and unload. The saddles and rollers or the lift-assisted carriers are best for such scenarios. For a less frequent kayaker, any other type would work just fine.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the vast options and details to look into before selecting a carrier, I would like to put your mind at ease as we have made a list of the best kayak carriers available that are sure to suit your needs.
5 Best Kayak Carriers For Two Kayaks
#1 Malone Handirack Inflatable Universal Rooftop Rack
A temporary inflatable pad carrier, the Malone handy rack is a very convenient choice. A slight variation from the normal foam pad, this carrier provides a ‘double action pump’ capable of inflating the carrier in a little over 15 minutes.
It also has 5 D ring points which help in enhanced stability. The Malone Handirack is suitable for less frequent kayakers.
#2 Malone Downloader Universal J-Cradle Kayak Carrier
The Malone Downloader which is arguably the best carrier comes with a built-in ramp which makes loading and unloading very easy. It has a stern lie that attaches to the front and rear of your vehicle for added stability. This makes it a good choice for kayakers that want to carry two kayaks on their vehicles.
#3 Thule 830 Stacker Kayak Carrier
This stacker carrier is an awesome choice for transporting more than one kayak. It has a foldable rod and can be mounted and unmounted easily. The Thule 830 can also contain as many as 4 kayaks. It is also really stable although additional padding might be required to reduce friction.
#4 Yakima Jaylow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack
Standing as one of the cheapest J style roof racks, the Yakima Jaylow has all the components of other J style racks and more. It has a slide rail that effectively protects the car painting and makes loading relatively easier. The added stern also means it’s very stable.
#5 The Kayak Wing– Sea Kayak Racks with Covered Straps
at most 30’’, the kayak wing supports the kayak perfectly and has long strong straps that hold the kayak in place firmly. The strap also has a protector that ensures you don’t have to worry about scratches on your car or boat.
While these are all very good carriers, I would recommend the Malone Downloader. This carrier satisfies all needs in terms of functionality. From its incorporated ramps that eases loading to the stability the added stern gives, The Malone Downloader passes all the criterion for transporting two kayaks at once.
That notwithstanding, all carriers in the list are really good, and you can be sure of satisfaction regardless of which you pick. Cheers.