1ec251ee2b3c40da9694b7bf7893c699You just got your new kayak and are stoked to hit the water – but wait, how do you take it there? Depending on your needs and budget, there are an overwhelming amount of options out there for you to transport your kayak. Today I’m focusing on rack systems for car-topping your kayak. Just like the name implies, car-topping is when you’re carrying your kayak on top of your car. Easy peasy! Now let’s explore these three ways to transport your boat using various types of kayak car racks:

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 5.49.18 PMSaddles

Kayak saddles make it easier for you to load and remove your kayak because there’s no need to flip your kayak upside down or turn it on its side. If you’re using something with built in rollers, like the Whispbar Saddle Roller Kayak Carrier loading your kayak from the rear is a breeze. This is something important to consider if you’re planning on going out alone or want the ability to easily independently load your boat on your roof. The saddles are adjustable so you can secure your boat safely and keep it in the same position as when you’re on the water so you’ll have the least possible height when driving. This is especially handy if you’re in an area with low-clearance ceilings like a parking garage.


Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 5.45.01 PMA kayak cradle rack holds your kayak sideways and are one of the most popular options. With a J-Cradle,  you’ll find it’s very low maintenance and versatile. With something like the Yakima JayLow  (love that name) you’ll be able to fold your J-Cradle kayak carrier flat when not in use, carry one boat in the J-Cradle position, or two boats in the vertical stacker position. A J-Cradle is compatible with the base rack system car racks that come standard on your car or with any separate multi-purpose roof rack crossbars.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 5.45.59 PMFoam Blocks and Sleeves

If you’re looking for a quick and easy temporary system for transporting your kayak, this is it. The Quick Straps Sports Rack features magnum foam sleeves to cushion your kayak and is secured using ratchet straps that loop around your car’s roof through the doors. Foam blocks like on the Malone Stax Pro Two Boat Universal Car Rack Carrier are designed to pair with any pre-existing roof rack or an aftermarket system. Similar to a J-Cradle rack, this holds your kayak on its side allowing you to transport two boats. Both foam blocks and sleeves feature “no tool needed” assembly so you can easily toss them up on your car or a friend’s. This is also the least expensive method for car-topping your kayak.

Of these three styles of car-topping systems which do you prefer? I’d love to hear your experiences and any specific products y’all are using!

Devyn, Always on Top

P.S. Check out this short video that shows how to properly tie down a kayak to a roof rack.