Do You Need a Roof Rack for a Kayak

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Last Updated on May 21, 2022

A roof rack is the best accessory on any vehicle for carrying goods over the roof of a vehicle. Among many other things, people often ask if they can carry kayaks or bikes on their roof rack. This article is prepared to explain everything about carrying a kayak over your vehicle’s roof.

Do I need a roof rack to carry a kayak?

No, carrying a kayak using a roof rack isn’t the only way to carry your kayak on your vehicle. There are many other ways to carry a kayak. If you have a truck, it is best to carry the kayak on your truck’s bed. But, for other vehicles or if you can’t carry it on the bed of your truck; the best way to carry a kayak is over the roof using a roof rack.

Do You Need a Roof Rack for a Kayak

How can I carry a kayak in my vehicle?

People who have a kayak often carry it in their vehicles. But you can’t carry a kayak just like any other cargo. You’ll need some extra accessories to carry your kayak on a vehicle. There are various ways to carry a kayak on a vehicle. Here are the most popular and safe ways of carrying a kayak:

  • Carry on your truck’s bed: It is the most common and convenient way to carry your kayak if you have a pickup truck. You’ll need to load and tie down the kayak on your truck’s bed. You can carry multiple kayaks on a truck bed.
  • Using a kayak trailer: This is the easiest way to carry a kayak. A small trailer is capable of carrying one or two kayaks. Your car should be capable of pulling light loads and it should have a tow hitch to use this method.
  • Roof rack: You can carry your kayak over the roof of your vehicle by installing a roof rack. You can carry various cargos on a roof rack. You can use different kinds of accessories (J-style racks, saddles, stalkers) on the side rails or the crossbars of your roof rack to carry the kayak. If you have a bare or naked roof, then you’ll have to choose inflatable or foam pads.
  • Inflatable pads or foam pads: These pads are widely available in many stores. These pads are placed over the roof of the vehicle and they reduce the chances of scratching or damaging the roof. 
  • Without any accessories: You can also carry your kayak over your roof without using any accessories. You can choose to load the kayak over the roof and tie it down with some kind of roof. We aren’t suggesting it as this method is risky and can damage your vehicle’s roof.

How do kayak roof rack works?

You can find various kinds of roof racks to load a kayak over your car’s roof. Many companies make different roof racks for carrying kayaks. You can also use your existing roof rack if it has the capability to carry the weight of your kayak. You’ll need to install accessories like J-style racks, saddles, or stalkers on the crossbars or the side rails.

As the J-style racks, saddles, or stalkers have different shapes made to load a kayak, your kayak should fit right into the space. You’ll need to load the kayak over the roof and place it right into the racks or saddles. Then tie it down with a roof (non-stretchable) or strap.


If you don’t have a truck, roof racks are the best way to haul a kayak. A roof rack can also be used to carry pretty much any type of cargo. Load your kayak carefully on your vehicle, it can scratch or damage the car. No matter which method you choose, always use good-quality ropes or straps to tie down the kayak.

Author: Charles King

Charles King is an automotive enthusiast with a keen interest in the latest technologies and products. He likes to educate himself and help other car lovers by sharing his knowledge. This website is a place for him to share his thoughts and experiences.

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