If you are an avid kayaker, it’s likely that your family and friends are also into the sport. This can be great fun and an excellent bonding activity, but it can be difficult to organize.
Transporting one kayak is all well and good, but when you need to move 2 or more it becomes significantly harder.
It is unlikely that you will be able to fit 2 kayaks into the car, and it makes no sense to do multiple trips or to rent a kayak when you own one.
We are here to give you the rundown of the best 2 kayak roof racks on the market and answer all of your roof rack questions.
BEST ROOF RACK OVERALL
Our top pick overall is the IKURAM 4 in 1 Folding Kayak Carrier Rack that can be found on Amazon.com for $149.99.
It is suitable for use on SUVs, trucks, and cars and can be used to transport kayaks and standing paddle boards.
The rack is made from aviation grade aluminum with thick rubber saddles to prevent damage to your kayak. The rack can hold kayaks up to a width of 42 inches and a weight of 158 pounds.
The product comes as part of a kit which also includes 2 Native paddle holders, an installation kit, and 2 heavy duty straps. This includes everything that you would need to get going and requires minimal effort to install.
While a slightly pricier roof rack, the build quality is exceptional and it is easy to use. It is scratch and corrosion resistant, lightweight and durable. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
BEST VALUE ROOF RACK
The best value roof rack is the CargoLoc Aluminum Rooftop Crossbar Set, on Amazon.com for just $46.62.
This rack is 2 pieces and measures 52 inches, making it suitable for side rails up to 46 inches apart. The rack comes complete with adjustable clamps to ensure a secure attachment.
The rack is made of aluminum and has a maximum load capacity of 150 pounds. It is lockable using a key to ensure confidence in the security of your kayaks.
The rack comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
BEST J-STYLE RACK
Our favorite J-Style rack is the Yakima JayLow Fold Down Rooftop Kayak Carrier. This is priced at $199.99 on Amazon.com.
This rack is marketed as having a tool free installation, arriving at your home fully assembled and ready to use.
The rack is compatible with most crossbars, provided there is a gap between them of no less than 24 inches.
The J-style rack can carry 2 kayaks up to a maximum weight of 110 pounds. It has thick padding on all contact points, meaning that the paintwork of your kayaks will be protected.
The rack kit includes heavy duty straps as well as ropes to tie the bow and stern to your vehicle. You can also purchase an SKS lock (same key system) separately.
The rack can be collapsed and folds flat when not in use. This allows you to travel through areas with reduced clearance and reduces the drag on your vehicle.
BEST CROSSBAR RACK
The best crossbar rack on Amazon.com is the Seah Hardware Universal Roof Rack Crossbars, priced at only $68.99. These can be purchased in orange or black and fit most car roofs.
The rack is made of a steel alloy and measures 48 inches across. The rack attaches to the roof using straps which are run through the vehicle doors and secured together on the interior of the car.
They can handle a load of up to 150 pounds. Consumer reviews note that at speeds in excess of 60mph there is a slight buffering noise.
It is a really easy rack to install and remove. If you do not wish to invest in pads for the rack, a pool noodle slit down one side will work perfectly as a layer of padding.
The only real downside is the fact they must be attached inside the car. This means that if the weather is wet, the straps will become saturated with water.
Over time this will move along the lengths of the straps and will eventually begin to drip water on the interior of your car.
BEST PAD RACK
The best rack pads are the Cor Surf Aero Roof Rack Pads, priced at $30.99 on Amazon.com.
These are made from a high-density foam covered in a 600 denier Oxford fabric coated in PVC. They are incredibly durable and weatherproof, as well as easy to install.
They attach to the roof racks on your vehicle with a strong Velcro fastening. The size is fairly standard and the pads should fit a large variety of vehicle roof racks.
They are designed to provide increased protection to the finish of your kayak and the roof of your vehicle while in transit.
BEST STACKER RACK
Our favorite stacker rack is the Thule Hull-a-Port XT Rooftop Kayak Carrier, for $199.95 on Amazon.com.
This is an expensive rack which comes as part of the brand name. Thule has long been known as an industry leader in this niche and you really do get what you pay for in terms of the quality.
The rack can hold up to 2 kayaks and has a maximum weight limit of 130 pounds. It also serves as a J-cradle rack if you only need to transport one kayak.
It has integrated StrapCatch technology to make loading and unloading kayaks a breeze.
The rack comes fully assembled and can fold flat when not in use. The kit includes load straps, buckle bumpers, and stern tie downs.
BEST SADDLE RACK
The top rated saddle rack on Amazon.com is the Car Rack & Carriers Universal Saddles for $59.95.
This is a fully customizable kayak carrying system and will fit almost all kayak shapes.
The saddles are covered in a rubber layer to ensure no scratches to the finish of your kayak. The rubber also increases the grip on the kayak to prevent slipping. The paddles pivot in multiple directions for ease of use.
The hardware can be used with almost all crossbars and comes with heavy duty straps and tie downs to secure the kayak to your vehicle.
The shape of the saddles is designed to provide the best security while in transport with the least air resistance to minimize your car’s fuel usage.
Can you fit 2 kayaks on a roof rack?
Yes, most roof racks are designed with the intention of being able to carry at least 2 kayaks. This makes them easier to use and more suitable for day to day life.
To attach multiple kayaks to a roof rack, it is a good idea to get some accessories such as 2 J-Hooks or a stacker.
You should also gather 2 sets of ratchet straps. It is also a good idea to get a friend to help you, as this reduces your risk of injury.
You should set up the straps on the roof rack before you attempt to attach the kayaks. Thread one strap underneath the crossbar that is at the front and do the same with a second strap on the back crossbar.
Try to place them so they fall in the center of the crossbars – the front one should divide your windscreen in half and the back should do the same for your rear view window.
Place the first kayak on one side of your roof rack. Try to put it as off to one side as you can, to leave space for the second kayak.
Wrap the straps around each end of the kayak to secure it in place. The straps do not need to be tightened yet, keep them fairly slack. This will allow you working space for attaching the second kayak.
Place the second one onto the roof rack as well, pushing it against the first one. If space is your friend, then you can leave a little gap between them. This will prevent damage from friction that is generated as the car moves.
If you can, readjust the positioning of the first kayak a little to create a small gap.
Secure the second kayak with the straps. Tie them over both ends of the kayak and tighten the buckles to ensure the kayak remains still.
At this point, you can make necessary adjustments to ensure the straps are tight and secure. If they are not, you run the risk of your kayaks flying off as you drive along. Repeat this on the first kayak too, ensuring all straps are taut and stable.
We would strongly recommend going back and double checking all of your straps, kayaks, and buckles.
The kayaks should not be able to move around and you should wrap any excess strap length around the crossbars. This will secure them and prevent them from interfering with your field of vision as you are driving.
Can you stack 2 kayaks on a car?
Yes you can.
If you are attempting to do this we would recommend purchasing a stacker rack for the roof of your car.
How many kayaks can be on a roof rack?
This really depends on the size of your car and your roof rack.
If you are planning on transporting more than 2 kayaks at once, we would recommend purchasing a stacker roof rack. These allow you to carry the most kayaks and is really only limited by the width of your car and crossbars.
With stackers, you can comfortably and confidently transport up to 5 kayaks at any one time. Again, the longer the length of your crossbars, the more kayaks will be able to fit. It is not advised to transport more than this as it begins to become dangerous.
When you are traveling at high speeds there are a lot of forces in play upon the kayaks. If they are not attached correctly then they can easily fly off the top of your vehicle, causing road accidents and potentially putting pedestrians in danger too.
Kayaks add a decent amount of weight onto your car and raise your vehicle’s center of gravity at the same time. This means that it can potentially become very unstable and can cause issues.
It is worth checking the maximum weight capacity of your vehicle’s roof and of the roof rack itself. You should be able to find this information in your owner’s manual. This is the safest way to decide how many kayaks your vehicle is capable of transporting on the roof.
How do you carry 2 kayaks?
There are so many ways to transport kayaks, and we have detailed the safest methods for doing so here. You can tie them onto your vehicle or roof rack using cam straps, ropes, or bungee cords.
You can tie them so that the hulls are facing down, which is hugely effective if you do not have more than one strap. If you have 2 straps, you can flip the kayaks so that the cockpits are facing down. This is really useful if you are anticipating rain.
You can use a stacker and multiple ropes to mount many kayaks on their sides on the roof of your vehicle. You can lie kayaks with the cockpits facing one another in a position known as 69.
This method is really effective when you have an even number of kayaks to transport as it saves space. This can be done with the bottom kayak mounted on your car hull side down, or you can arrange them all in this 69 position on their sides.
How can I carry 2 kayaks without a roof rack?
There are a couple of methods that you can use to transport multiple kayaks without a roof rack. The 2 best methods to do this involve the use of pool noodles and foam blocks.
For the pool noodle method, they will be used as padding for the roof of your car. You will need 2 full length pool noodles with a thickness of at least 3 inches.
You will also require some steel poles to act as a reinforcement for the noodles, and some 20 foot cam straps to attach the kayaks. Alternatively, you can use bungee cord and rope.
Measure the width of your car’s roof, and cut the pool noodles to slightly less than this distance. Thread the cam straps through the noodles, ensuring that the noodles fall in the center of the straps.
There should be an equal length of strap protruding from both ends of the pool noodle. At the same time, insert your steel poles into the pool noodle. It does not matter if your steel poles are wider than the car, as this will increase the stability.
Position your pool noodles on the roof of your car. One should be near the front and the other near the rear. Before you tie them into place you should check the distance between them does not exceed the length of your kayak.
Generally speaking, a 24 to 48 inch gap between the noodles is sufficient, but this varies according to your car and kayak lengths.
When you are happy with the positioning, you can open the doors of your car and pull the cam straps inside the vehicle. Pull them tight so that the racks do not change position and secure in place.
Pop the kayaks on the top of the noodles, face down. Center them and run 2 extra cam straps over the kayaks and back into your car. Tie the bow and stern to the bumpers using a rope and you’re good to go.
For the foam block method you will need 2 sets of foam blocks that are at least 20 inches long, 4 inches wide, and 4 inches high. The blocks cannot be wider than the roof of your car.
You can get rectangular blocks, but there are also many designed to have a dip in the center shaped like a V. These are the preferred block of choice as they will allow for a much more stable attachment.
Other blocks contain slits to feed straps through for additional security. You will also need 6 cam straps a minimum of 20 feet long each.
As you did with the pool noodles, you should position the foam blocks on the top of your car’s roof. They should be a decent distance apart from one another but again, compare this with the length of your kayak for the best results and most accurate positioning.
Place your kayaks on top of the foam blocks. If you have the standard rectangular blocks then you should lie the kayaks face down with the cockpit facing the roof of your car. If you have the V-shaped blocks you can mount the kayaks on their sides with the hulls facing one another.
Once they have been mounted, throw 2 cam straps over the top of the kayaks, roughly where the blocks are. Open your car doors and tie the cam straps together inside the car. Do this for both blocks, and then check the range of motion the kayaks have.
They should be relatively still and stable. Once you are satisfied with this, tie the bow and sterns of each kayak to your front and back bumpers respectively. This can be done using more cam straps, bungee cords, or simple rope.
Can you fit a kayak in an SUV?
Generally speaking, yes you can. Obviously the easiest kayak to fit into an SUV is an inflatable version as they can be collapsed. Smaller, 6 foot kayaks will also fit inside an SUV with very little trouble.
Longer kayaks may be more tricky to fit in and there is no guarantee that you will be able to close the trunk of your car. To fit a long kayak into your SUV, you should collapse the rear seating area.
Slide the kayak over the back, nose first, until it rests between the two front seats. If the nose is allowed to get too close to the windscreen this could cause issues.
If you brake harshly then there is a good chance the kayak will fly through the windscreen which can cause serious accidents.
If you can close the trunk of your SUV you’re good to go. If you cannot, you should secure it in place using rope or cam straps. We would also recommend adding some padding around the kayak to prevent any damage to the body during transit.
It is vital to take safety precautions for you and other road users if you are transporting a kayak in this manner.
We recommend installing a red flag onto any protruding areas of the kayak. This will draw attention to it and reduce the chances of accidents occurring.