Kayak rack that doesn't deform kayaks?

Is there a bad/better/best list of kayak racks for the top of the car? Anyone have advice on good racks to use? I’ll be looking to carry 2 kayaks at a time or a canoe if i get one.
I was going to get the J-Racks (thule hull-a-port) but saw some cocked sideways this weekend from people improperly tying down their boats. I also noticed one that was tied so tight it was deforming the cheap kayak. Also I’m not sure if they can hold a canoe, which i miiiiight get.
So i was thikning of maybe getting 1 J-cradle/hullaport set and 1 Dockglide set so i can carry 2 at once but also potentially carry a canoe. Then i saw the thule compass, which looks great but has a bunch of negative reviews.

Any advice on racks that are good without damaging the boat by needing to tighten it excessively tight…or racks to stay away from?

I think cradles are the most supportive. Mashing boats is typically operator error.
I carry my kayaks in cradles and keep a set of canoe clips in case. That may not be the name but they are made by Yakima. The gunnels are put on the clips. They prevent gunnel damage and prevent the canoe from moving while driving.

Thule, Yakima, and Malone are some of the best reviewed rack manufacturers, have option to carry both kayaks and canoes, and have fit kits for the most vehicles. J-racks generally don’t work well with most canoes. Carried that way, even if they fit on the J-racks, they present too much surface area to catch the wind and can easily deform the sides of the canoe. Canoes are best transported upside down using canoe mounts.

For the kayak, I prefer saddles as the most secure way to transport them. However if you have a narrow car and are not willing to use longer bars, a J-rack may be the only option to carry both.

Unless you are tall or the car is short J-racks can be more difficult to solo load, as loading from the rear does not work that well in most cases.

With a proper rack system, boats only need to be strapped down snuggly. The shape of the canoe or kayak will help keep it secure. Use camlock straps, not ratchet straps to avoid overtightening. Always use bow and stern tiedowns in addition to the main straps.

Most of the boats deformed by being lashed to racks were either left on them too long on hot days and/or the owners used ratchet straps on them, which put WAY too much pressure on them. I have hauled boats thousands of miles on square tubed Thule racks, directly mounted without saddles, for nearly 20 years, using NRS or Thule cam straps and bow and stern guy lines, and have never warped or oilcanned a hull. Hauling a plastic boat hull side up instead of upright also minimizes the chance of deformation that would affect performance.


A little hull deformation?

It’s not the rack, its how, and how long, and temperature being strapped down. You want to maximize surface contact with the rack.

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Less than 40 bucks for two.


Top of car you need cradles that fit the hull or form to it with rollers which have multiple contact points. Yakima is good. Flat plate cradles are not for me.

:scream: It’s just a flesh wound. It’ll buff out.

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A lot of it depends on the boat. My first boat, a Perception America, would deform just glimpsing the sun. You could not tie it down without making it into an oil can.

The Cobra Eliminator I bought after that would not deform, unless you used a ratchet strap on it. It was a denser plastic.

Plastic boats can be tough to tie down. With a rigid hull you can tell when a boat is snugged down, not so much with some plastics. They will wobble, even when they are squished.

Do we know what kind of kayak the OP is thinking about hauling on the roof.

We haul one canoe and one rec-kayak and they both fit on the roof of our KIA Soul upside down with my DIY extended rack I made it wide enough to load 2 canoes or 3 rec-kayaks side by side. I normally load them the night before and just barely snug up the cam straps. Right before we leave I pull them tight and as soon as we get where we are going I loosen them.

Rec-kayaks have a long cockpit and sit fine on that opening upside down. I think both boats are more aerodynamic that way and won’t hold water if it rains. I sometimes leave them on the car for a day or two if I know we will be going again. We have two cars so I can do that. always with the straps under light pressure. :canoe:

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Good question. I’m going to be using it for sea kayaks as well as whitewater/crossover boats.

I just responded to pics of boats on cars and said that most if not all roto or poly yaks should be carried deck down so as to not deform in any way the hull or bottoms…This only pertains to saddles or of the type

what Yakima kayak rack set up is shown in this picture - looks like apes up front and rollers on the back?

Yakima saddles if on a vehicle.

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Ooh, I like that one in the foreground. Clever design. I’ve been thinking how to store a boat in the garage but I don’t have 17 feet of uninterrupted wall space to do a wall mount. I was thinking of a pair of those folding aluminum stands with webbing, but this looks sturdier, resistant to toppling if someone bangs into it.

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Suspenz good for light duty.

I have had the wooden stands blow over. I tied the higher stands wood stands to the neighbors fence.

Some CD decals and reflective flags to go on, new wide base seat, glass behind seat combing, glass reinforce in seat area. Oh yeah SEA-LECT pedals after removing Yakima sliders.

Take SUSPENZ in truck then take boat out and use battery power Worx pressure washer. With container of water 3 gallons. Then boat is clean before loading and unloading.

Wooden ones cost 40 for two PT wood, screws, webbing. 30 minutes labor with chop saw. Hand saw about an hour my guess.

What you are likely seeing is oil canning. This happens when boats are improperly stored in extreme heat. The heat warps the plastic.
That said, I would advise you not to use ratchet straps, and to find a rack that allows you to tie your boat down on its side.

Have you got plans/dimensions for those sling racks? And, would it be possible to build them (and use them) for two kayaks vertically?