Imagine you have just bought a new kayak (maybe you really did), and now it is time to head to your first kayaking adventure.
You are excited to finally sit in the boat and start paddling down the lake or the bay of your choosing.
However, there’s one problem still ahead of you! How do you get to the water? Kayaks, especially tandem ones or those designed for big guys, are extremely heavy to carry.
Even if you could carry one, it would be impossible to do so for miles. So the only solution is to transport the kayak in your vehicle. However, how can you do so if you’ve never loaded up such massive cargo on your truck or car? The answer is simple; you need a kayak rack to be able to transport the boat from your garage out to the water.
The good thing about kayak racks is that several of them are versatile and usually fit all vehicle sizes. That is to say, the kayak rack you buy for your SUV will also work for trucks no matter the type. If you are concerned about how a rack is going to fit on your vehicle, opt for a universal one to be completely sure, it will work.
Most manufacturers will happily send you a different kayak holder in return for the one you purchased in case it doesn’t fit your vehicle. Now that we got that out of the way, the question is, how do you choose the right kayak for your needs? Whether it is intended for pickups, cars, or other vehicle types. Naturally, the first thing you need to look at is weight capacity.
Deciding on weight capacity depends on several factors, the most important one being the size of your kayak. If you are planning to transport one kayak with some extra cargo, racks with a weight capacity of up to 350 pounds will get the job done just right.
However, if you have a heavier kayak or perhaps more than one kayak, you will need a more durable rack simply to ensure security during the trip. There are other factors that come to play when it comes to choosing the right kayak racks, including the installation process, construction materials, and the overall quality.
Since making such a decision out of nowhere could be difficult, we decided to help you out by researching the entire market and finding the best kayak racks the market has to offer. Thus, we’ve put together ten reviews of some of the finest and best-rated kayak racks below. You will find several rack types, including kayak car top carriers, kayak rack beds, pickup canoe racks, and much more.
- 1 Best Kayak Racks For Trucks Comparison Table
- 2 Best Kayak Racks For Trucks Reviews
- 2.1 #1 AA Products Model x35 Truck Rack
- 2.2 #2 Darby Industries 944 Extended-A-Truck
- 2.3 #3 ECOTRIC Pick Up Truck Bed
- 2.4 #4 Tricam SLE-1/SKLE-350 Load Extender
- 2.5 #5 LUND Hitch Mounted Truck Bed Extender
- 2.6 #6 TMS 800LB Universal Pick Up Truck Ladder Rack
- 2.7 #7 ROLA 59742 Haul-Your-Might Removable Truck Bed Rack
- 2.8 #8 AA Products Model APX25 Aluminum Truck Rack
- 2.9 #9 Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum Truck Rack
- 2.10 #10 TracRac TracOne Universal Truck Rack
- 3 Best Kayak Racks For Trucks Informational Guide Section
- 3.1 Why do I need racks for loading kayaks?
- 3.2 Do you need a crossbar for kayak racks?
- 3.3 How far apart should racks be?
- 3.4 What types of kayak roof racks exist?
- 3.5 How to choose the right kayak roof rack?
- 3.6 Do you need an extra room on your roof?
- 3.7 Can I have more than one kayak loaded on my car’s roof?
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 In Conclusion To
Best Kayak Racks For Trucks Comparison Table
|Image||Product||Installation process||Durable||Adjustable Features||Load Capacity||Pricing|
|AA Products Model x35 Truck Rack||Easy||Yes||Yes||-||Check On Amazon|
|Darby Industries 944 Extended-A-Truck||Easy||Yes||Yes||-||Check On Amazon|
|ECOTRIC Pick Up Truck Bed||Yes||Yes||Yes||Up to 750 pounds||Check On Amazon|
|Tricam SLE-1/SKLE-350 Load Extender||Yes||Yes||Yes||Up to 350 pounds||Check On Amazon|
|LUND Hitch Mounted Truck Bed Extender||Easy||Durable||Yes||Up to 750 pounds||Check On Amazon|
|TMS 800LB Universal Pick Up Truck Ladder Rack||Easy||Yes||Yes||Up to 800 pounds||Check On Amazon|
|ROLA 59742 Haul-Your-Might Removable Truck Bed Rack||Yes||No||-||Check On Amazon|
|AA Products Model APX25 Aluminum Truck Rack||Easy||Yes||Yes||-||Check On Amazon|
|Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum Truck Rack||Easy||Yes||Yes||Up to 450 pounds||Check On Amazon|
|TracRac TracOne Universal Truck Rack||Easy||Yes||Yes||Up to 800 pounds||Check On Amazon|
Best Kayak Racks For Trucks Reviews
Our first choice when it comes to durable and sturdy kayak pickup racks is the AA Products model X35 truck kayak carrier. This convenient truck kayak rack is affordable and gets the job done just right.
It features 8 C-clamps that require no drilling, making the installation process a lot simpler. It also comes with ratchet lashing stripes and two pairs of ratchet kayak and canoe bows.
Overall, this all-in-one kayak roof rack set is the perfect adventure bundle for two kayaks, that is to say, it is a 2-kayak roof rack, making it a great choice if you’re planning on kayaking in two.
Most importantly, this pickup kayak rack is simple and easy to set up and take down in a matter of minutes. This set includes two pairs of kayak J racks, which means there are four racks in total, meant for carrying two (2) kayaks.
Each rack includes heavy-duty extended bolts for extra security, as well as an adjustable rope hanger. With all of the mounting hardware included in the package, you won’t have to worry about any extra expenses.
Besides, it was designed to be an easy kayak rack. As such, all you need do is to simply strap on your kayak and you’re ready for the adventure.
Next up is the Darby Industries extended truck rack that can serve both as a roof rack and as an extender behind the truck. It features 4-inch-wide support and adjustable components that allow you to adjust the height if you plan on using it as a kayaks roof rack.
Most importantly, this rack will help you carry your kayak safely without worrying about it falling down on the road. What’s best about this car roof rack is that it is a portable roof rack, which is because of its convenient and really cool design.
Also, it is a removable roof rack and, as such, can be easily stored behind the seat of the vehicle, so it’s always around even when not in use. Besides being very simple to set up even if you’ve never used a car kayak rack before, this specific rack comes with a red flag to mark the length of your truck extension, as required by traffic laws.
Overall, this well-designed cartop kayak rack will solve the problem of portability and transport when it comes to organizing kayak adventures. It is durable and sturdy enough to carry heavier kayaks or tandem kayaks designed for two people.
The only downside of this model is the poor-quality welds, even though the kayak makes up for this flaw in other features and the portable design.
Moving on, this is another example of a high-quality kayak car carrier. This is a kayak truck bed rack extender that will provide extra storage space in the back of your car, where you can safely store your kayaks.
This bed extension is so strong and durable that it is made for transporting longer boats, i.e. it was manufactured to serve as a long canoe carrier, meaning it can withstand large weight capacity.
It is fully adjustable both in terms of width and length, meaning it will fit any specific type of truck or vehicle, regardless of size. For instance, if you have a Toyota Tacoma, it would work great with it.
That is to say; it can work for both small trucks and for pickup trucks. The rack is made of heavy-duty steel tubing with a capacity of 750lbs. Thus, you can safely store any additional storage if you need extra space.
Moreover, this versatile truck bed extender can come in handy in different situations, such as for example, moving furniture or transporting larger cargo.
Just like the previous model we reviewed, this kayaks roof rack also comes with a red flag required by law so you can mark the length of the extension. Another thing that we must mention is that the hitch extender fits into a 2-inch square hitch receiver.
However, it can be adjusted to 1 ¼ inch receivers if you have a hitch adapter. Keep in mind that the adapter is not included in the price, meaning you will have to make an additional purchase if you want to adjust the hitch size.
Overall, this kayak carrier is an affordable solution for carrying kayaks and extra cargo, especially if you need a durable bed extender with larger weight capacity.
Next up is the Tricam load extender with a lower capacity of 350 pounds. Tricam is one of the leading manufacturers of tools and accessories in this field, which means this truckload extender is guaranteed to be of great quality.
It allows you to extend the length of your vehicle and thus carry additional cargo such as kayaks and larger boats up to 350 pounds.
Its most important and most valued feature is the convenience and portability it provides by allowing users to transport and access load quickly and easily.
Moreover, this particular product can be used both as a canoe roof rack and as a bed extender, depending on your vehicle type or installation preferences. The rack can be adjusted in terms of height, providing five different height options.
When it comes to durability, you don’t have to doubt whether this rack can take the load. It is constructed of heavy-duty 2-inch tubular steel with powder coating that prevents rusting and damage.
Despite being rust-resistant, this canoe holder should be maintained regularly and dried after each use to lengthen its lifespan. Moreover, this load extender can be used both vertically and horizontally, giving you more than one option to store your kayak.
It is also easy to store, as you can break it into two pieces and fit it inside the vehicle when not in use.
Let’s not forget that the manufacturer provides a limited 1-year warranty, meaning you don’t have to worry about any issues when you first order the product.
The next kayak rack/canoe carrier we chose to put on our list is the LUND hitch mounted truck bed extender. This extender is very easy to install in order to lengthen the cargo area of your vehicle.
In fact, it is a very easy kayak rack, probably one of the easiest ever manufactured. It provides an additional seven inches of space, which is more than enough to store a large kayak along with additional cargo.
An interesting feature that makes this kayak rack stand out is the side wings that can be adjusted from 27 to 49 inches to make the storage space more convenient.
When it comes to loading capacity, the LUND hitch mounted truck bed extender can handle up to 750 pounds of weight. The side supports can be folded down if necessary, either to provide more room or to store the rack when not in use.
Moreover, the rack fits a standard two-inch receiver, and it is DOT approved for safety and convenience. The racks we mentioned before this one all came with a red flag.
However, LUND went a step further and included the red reflective tape in the price, along with the original red flag.
Overall, this truck bed extender is a convenient solution for cargo carrying and kayak transportation, even though it cannot be used as a kayak/canoe roof rack like most of the products on our list.
Next up is the TMS universal pick-up truck kayak ladder rack with the largest capacity on our list. This rack can carry up to 800 pounds of weight, making it one of the most durable options here.
This large capacity allows you to carry more than one kayak at one time. That is to say; it can serve as a double kayak roof rack and also as a triple kayak roof rack.
You can store plenty of additional cargo and items that wouldn’t otherwise fit into your vehicle. This truck ladder rack is quite easy to install, as long as you follow the provided instructions.
Even though it features already prepared welds, most of its welds feature small gaps, which can be considered a downside.
However, this isn’t too big of a problem if you look at the bigger picture, that is, the fact that this rack is quite an affordable solution for such large weight capacity. The rack is made of heavy-duty steel for extra strength and durability.
It is definitely built to last, which is especially important for those who go on kayaking adventures more often. This kayak rack features a very functional and simple to use a design that makes it an easy load kayak roof rack such that you can load and unload kayaks in no time.
Such large capacity definitely puts it on top when it comes to convenience and quality of pick-up truck kayak racks.
Next up is the ROLA removable truck rack that will surprise you with its quality and functional features.
Before we go deeper into the actual features of this particular truck bed kayak carrier, we have to mention that the manufacturer of this model offers a large five-year limited warranty, which is definitely a great bonus when making a purchase.
With that said, the ROLA truck bed rack features a slightly different structure compared to the previous models we reviewed.
It has silver anodized aluminum kayak crossbars, with each bar being coated with special powder to increase strength and ensure rust resistance.
The stainless-steel hardware is built to last, meaning you won’t have to replace any components of this rack any time soon. And being a DIY truck kayak rack, all you have to do is set it up on your vehicle, and it’s ready to rock!
What’s interesting about this particular model is the anti-theft features. This includes a lockable accessory channel for T-bolt applications that makes your cargo safe and secure at all times.
Most importantly, this rack fits most trucks out there, regardless of size. As such, it can be used for small trucks and also for large ones.
Also, it fits the trucks that don’t have any integrated bed rack system. This rack can be combined with other accessories from ROLA as well (even though no other accessories are included in the price).
What does come in your package are rubber bumper strips that will keep your cargo protected during the trip?
Overall, this is a very safe kayak rack that will keep the cargo in place for long adventures. It is lightweight but durable enough to feature large weight capacity.
It is important to mention that the powder coating also keeps this truck bed kayak rack protected from weather elements.
Next up is the AA Products Model APx25 pickup kayak carrier. If you remember the beginning of our review list, we have already mentioned one truck canoe rack model from AA Products, the X35 that provides all the features you need for convenient storage and cargo transportation.
Their APX25 model is another convenient aluminum truck rack with 8 c-clamps that require no drilling whatsoever. This allows for a convenient and simple installation process that you can get done by yourself, as long as you follow the instructions properly.
This specific truck rack is a double kayak carrier as it can fit two kayaks because it comes with two sets of J-racks.
It also includes ratchet lashings strips to secure the cargo during the trip. The last thing you want to happen is to have your cargo slide down in the middle of driving and cause damage on the road.
With this AA Products aluminum truck rack, you won’t have to worry about cargo safety because your kayaks will be attached and secured maximally.
Moreover, this all-in-one set is ready for adventure right out of the box. All you have to do is install it on your truck and put up your kayaks for transportation. The heavy-duty stripes will do the job when it comes to keeping the kayaks in place.
Moving on, the next kayak pickup truck rack model on our list is the Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum Truck Rack. This versatile kayak truck carrier is suitable for transporting any type of large cargo without having to drill any hole.
The rack is simple to install without damaging your vehicle or the carrier itself. It has a specific feature that you won’t find in other models on this list.
Namely, it features superior aerodynamics that redirects air properly during the drive, thus ensuring a quiet ride with no squeaky noises or wobbling. If you’re looking for a kayak rack system that will provide a safe and comfortable ride, this is a good option to keep in mind.
Moreover, this kayak hauler also features an advanced security lock design that makes it practically impossible for your kayak or other types of cargo to move during transportation.
Speaking of cargo, the Pro Aluminum truck rack can handle up to 450 pounds of storage, which is enough to pack up a kayak and all the other essentials you will need for the upcoming adventure.
This pickup truck kayak rack offers maximum versatility when it comes to loading transportation, allowing you to store oversized loads in a variety of ways.
Overall, this is a convenient and high-quality solution that won’t let you down even if you go on kayaking adventures frequently!
The last pickup truck kayak carrier on our list is the TracRac TracOne Universal truck rack model. As its name suggests, this is a universal kayak hitch mount that fits onto a variety of vehicles.
It is designed as per the one-size-fits-all model, meaning you don’t have to worry if it is going to fit your vehicle properly.
Moreover, this universal rack features a single axis clamp system that doesn’t require any drilling. It usually takes around 30 to 40 minutes to set up this rack without needing professional help.
Make sure to follow the instructions in detail to ensure the rack is installed properly. This is the second kayak rack on our list to feature a large weight capacity of up to 800 pounds.
It was designed for those adventurers who carry large cargo more often in order to ensure a safe and secure way of transportation. The rack is made of premium quality materials, including elliptical crossbars.
The special design of these crossbars eliminates wind resistance during transportation, thus making the whole process a lot easier and smoother. Another interesting feature is the airfoil trip strips located in the slots of the crossbars. These strips prevent the air from whistling through the slots and thus making annoying noises that could disturb you during the trip.
Moreover, the crossbar structure ensures better strength and durability that is required for long trips and larger cargo transportation. The aluminum is also rust-free, which means you don’t have to worry about the rack suffering from outdoor weather elements.
Lastly, we must not forget to mention the adjustable features that allow you to set the rack up just the way it needs to be done.
Best Kayak Racks For Trucks Informational Guide Section
Why do I need racks for loading kayaks?
It’s your first kayak loading, huh? No worries, we’ve got you covered! There are just a few simple steps you’ll need to follow, and you’ll basically be an expert.
The first step is to carry your kayak to your vehicle, then the next step is to place your kayak on to the rack on your car top kayak carrier, and the last is to tie it down.
Let’s break this down, shall we? Once you’ve got your kayak to your car, you’ll have to make sure that your roof is well equipped.
You need to have crossbars installed (these usually come factory-installed; if not, please check out the next answer), on which you are going to attach your racks, after which you will cradle your boat into a J or V shape.
Then you come to tying it down. For this, you’ll need two 12ft (minimum) long straps and some knotting skills. Secure your bow and stern, and there you have it! A properly loaded kayak, to be safely transported.
It is a similar procedure if you are using a kayak hitch carrier, with the exception that you will have to hitch your kayak on a pickup truck or any other vehicle you have.
Do you need a crossbar for kayak racks?
Crossbars are an essential part of the gear that makes a kayak carrier, so in short- yes, you would need to install crossbars on your car’s roof.
If your car doesn’t happen to have anything on which you can attach your kayak, don’t despair! Just instead of crossbars, you install foam pads, and you’re good to go.
If your car doesn’t have this issue- good for you! In this case, and if you are planning on buying specialized carriers, used solely for carrying kayaks- you definitely have to have crossbars.
Some cars come with built-in carriers, and in those instances, you can just buy saddles or stackers (more on the different types of racks below), but you have to make sure to check if those carriers have any weight limitations, so your kayak stays safe and sound!
If your car does not have any crossbars installed prior, then you will need to get a pair of top-notch crossbars to make sure to keep it safely tied.
How far apart should racks be?
Racks’ positions heavily depend on the size of your kayak, first and foremost. It’s usually recommended to keep the distance between the racks at around 40% of your kayak’s length.
For instance, if your kayak is 9′ long, it is always recommended to keep them no closer than 3’7 from the kayak’s both ends, just so you’re safe if the straps happen to get loose.
In the case of owning a 12′ kayak, a maximum of 4’5 should be kept, and if you have a kayak that is 14′ long, then the best solution is to keep them 6′ apart, or ideally less than that.
What types of kayak roof racks exist?
There are several types of kayak/canoe roof racks available out there, and here’s a quick go-through to get you to fully understand the various types, as well as their main characteristics and purposes:
- Pads – Also known as the “one step roof rack,” are temporary solutions, usually inflatable or made of foam. They’re an ideal solution for those who need a quick solution for carrying their kayak and don’t have time or desire to install additional gear.
- Crossbars- they’re solid bars, which are the beginning of racks, to which you attach your kayak – more on crossbars in the answer for question number 2.
- J-Cradles – These are made of a holding arm and a base; you guessed it- shaped like the letter J. The name might not get an award for creativity, but the purpose and usage of J-cradles could get an award for convenience. If you use these racks, you will be able to load your kayak from your car’s side, leaving more room on the other side of the roof for other luggage or any other additional desired gear. This type of rack is usually recommended for larger kayaks rather than smaller ones.
- Saddles – This type of rack, which is a more permanent solution for kayak enthusiasts, allows your kayak to be attached to an already existing roof rack, whereby the bottom of it is being held. This way, the kayak is positioned flatly on the top of the roof of your car. Just as the J-cradles, this rack is very useful for larger sized boats.
- Rollers – These bad boys are a great kayak-loading helper, as you just place the front of your boat and just roll the rest on to the roof. They’re usually used as a replacement for saddles.
- Stackers – Another type of racks that carries a name that says it all. This rack allows you to stack multiple kayaks on your vehicle’s roof, where each kayak stands on its edge, thereby allowing you to load your other stuff. Unlike the previous few, this type, which you simply attach to the crossbars and tie-down, is far better to be used for smaller kayaks.
How to choose the right kayak roof rack?
In the previous question, we answered which rack types there are, and now we will guide you to your ideal racks. It’s important to choose your kayak roof rack based on your needs and wants.
First, you have to ask yourself a few questions: Do I go kayaking often? Do I need or want a permanent carrier on my vehicle? How large is my car? Can I reach the roof of my car? Do I need extra room on my roof for additional things? How big is my kayak? Have you answered these questions? Good, now you can read up on some recommendations.
If you happen to go kayaking often, the best solution for you is to get permanent carriers. J-cradles or saddles are the solutions for you. If you are not committed to this sport as much, or you just like to stream down a river for the fun and enjoyment of it, it would be easier and more convenient for you to get a temporary solution, as the pads.
Okay, now that we have that covered, let’s move on to your car. Technically, the size of your vehicle doesn’t directly correlate to the type of racks you’ll get, but it can be useful to know that with bigger vehicles, especially the ones that have almost unreachable roofs, there are racks that are more convenient.
Now, this is a tip to save you from back pain- if you can’t reach your rooftop, you’ll either have to lift your entire boat up in order to load it, or you could get yourself a pair of rollers, and save some time and help you avoid seeing a doctor.
Do you need an extra room on your roof?
If your answer is yes, we have a strong winner- we’d recommend you to get J-cradles or stackers, because those two allow you to load more things on to your car.
Lastly, another thing you should consider when choosing a kayak rack is the size of your kayaks, because not every type is suitable for every boat size. J-cradles and saddles are ideal for larger kayaks, while stackers are more useful for smaller boats.
Can I have more than one kayak loaded on my car’s roof?
Of course! Sure, it depends on the sizes of your kayaks, and the size of your vehicle, as well as the type of your racks, but it is very doable. There are several dual kayak roof carriers on the market.
You just have to make sure that you have the right type that is suitable for your vehicle (for more information on how to choose the best roof racks to look into question 5), and that you have them properly assembled (width between them, more on that in question 3).
Frequently Asked Questions
Will roof racks damage my car's roof?
Can I remove my racks when I'm not using them?
Can installing racks damage my car?
Can I transfer my racks to my new car?
What's the safest way to position my kayak on my racks?
Can I transport my kayak without racks and how?
In Conclusion To
This marks the end of our detailed guide on choosing and purchasing car kayak racks, canoe truck racks, and racks for different vehicles. We’re glad to see you’ve made it all the way down here!
No matter what you are looking for, whether it is a car-top kayak rack, a fishing kayak roof rack, a dual kayak rooftop carrier, or whatnot, we are sure you would have found something that works for you in our guide.
Besides, if you have read all the way throughout the informational guide section and the frequently asked questions, we are sure that you are now more familiar with the idea of kayak racks and the process of kayak transformation. Some of the most important things to keep in mind, in this case, including looking for the right features in a kayak rack and recognizing the difference between different types of racks.
For instance, some racks can be installed only as truck bed extenders, while other models can be used both as roof racks and bed extenders. It is up to you to decide which is your preferred way of transporting large cargo.
This can also depend on the type of vehicle you have. For instance, if you own a pickup truck, using a rack as a bed extender would sound like the most logical solution.
However, if you own a minivan or a regular vehicle, a kayak roof rack carrier would seem like the better option to settle for. In case you are not sure which type of application to go for, you can always choose kayak racks that can be used both ways – the more versatility, the better!
Other things you should pay attention to are the build quality of the rack and the type of material used in construction. The majority of racks are either made of aluminum or heavy-duty steel bars. Either way, make sure the rack has a proper powder coating to protect it from outdoor elements and water.
However, make sure to keep in mind that just because a rack is rust-resistant, it doesn’t mean it is maintenance-free. In fact, if you want the new rack to last as long as possible, you have to maintain it regularly. This includes cleaning the rack after each use and drying it in case it gets wet. Once your rack is a couple of years old, you can consider adding an additional layer of powder coating to ensure more resistance.
Overall, investing in a kayak rack is a smart and even necessary move if you are planning on taking your kayak on fun adventures. If you haven’t purchased a kayak yet, make sure to settle that purchase first so you can know which weight capacity to choose when buying a rack.
Both the rack and the kayak must fit each other in order to avoid any inconveniences. As always, make sure to leave us a comment below if you have any questions and concerns that were not addressed in the informational guide or the frequently asked questions section.
We would love to know if you have already made your choice and which kayak rack you opted for, so leave a comment, and we will get in touch with you quickly!