rack option for 2 kaysk on rental cars

We are considering dropping from 2 cars to 1 car. Problem is the car we would keep is one that isn’t able to carry 2 boats and gear (a sporty little car, so even if we did figure a way to get 2 boats on the roof, the gear for 2 people wouldn’t fit in the back).

We do have a lot of these hourly rental cars (Zipcar, City Car Share, etc.), and all of the standard rental car company options. But it seems that few cars in rental car fleets have cross bars of any type any more. If they did, I would just use standard rack attachments from Thule or Yakima with the factory cross bars.

So, looking for ideas for reliable ways to attach 2 touring kayaks to the roof of a car that doesn’t have rails or cross bars. Not looking to buy the towers and attachment kits for a variety of different cars - so instead looking for some sort of mounting method that is reasonably universal. Needs to be secure enough for even a few hours of highway driving. But of course, not something that damages the car. Any ideas on products out there that meet this need?

Consider getting a trailer
If your sporty car can manage it, consider one of the light-weight trailers available.

I’d guess that most rental car companies prohibit mounting roof racks. Not that they should ever actually find out.

I agree with the trailer idea
You can get a Class II trailer hitch (1 1/4" receiver, for maximum 1000 # load) installed on any car for around $300. These are not bulky and wil not change he appearance of your car. A double kayak trailer runs $700 to $1100, though some people make them from the $400 Harbor Freight traliers.

Foam blocks?

– Last Updated: Jun-17-15 9:57 PM EST –

If you're looking to haul the kayaks on a rental car (which you appear to be given the title of this thread), why not the foam blocks and cam straps so many here seems to advocate for folks with vehicles without rails or racks?

parking issues
Part of the issue is parking - we only have parking for one car, so the second sits on the street. So no room for a trailer.

have had foam blocks scratch
I have foam blocks I sometimes use with the factory roof rack on the sports car. I have sometimes put them directly on the paint (so not putting rack on) when just storing a boat on the roof of the car in the garage (so not driving) and had them put scratches in the paint.

Just a thought
If I had to drop to just 1 vehicle, I would have to keep the vehicle that I needed the most to do what I needed to do. But there are some things I really want to do, which means that I forgo “really nice” for more utility.

You can rent pick up trucks.

Otherwise, a rental is not going to be too happy you’re sticking things up on top that might fall off. You REALLY would want to clarify this situation with your car insurance company. Rental co. finds a little roof ding and it could get very expensive. Roofs, with no racks, are not meant to support much weight on many vehicles nowadays. You would want to get the manufacturer’s specs on a potential model. Getting complex, isn’t it ?

But… another thought. You sound urban.

Say you go anywhere. If you do not have a secure way of attaching your kayaks to the vehicle (heavy duty lock and cable thru the hitch, for instance) you now have theft- bait sitting there on top of your vehicle in the parking lot of anywhere you stop. Like at a restaurant. You also want to consider whether or not you want to leave your “sporty little car,” or your nice rental parked at a water recreational put- in, and be willing to risk having it broken into by pond scum. Thieves love rental cars because people frequently lock their valuables inside thinking it’s safer than the hotel.

We came back to our shuttle vehicle one time last year at a well- used, normally safe city/county park, and there were some REAL sketchy characters parked right next to it that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, just standing there, staring at us the whole time. This is a good sized lot, with only a few cars there, and yet, here they are next to ours. There were already some cars in the lot with their windows broken out - we knew to be on high alert because someone had come down to the water already and warned everybody something was going on because they had just gone up to the lot, and had found their car windows broken. They had called the cops, but cops were not able to respond immediately, nor was park patrol. Ugh. At that time, they said they didn’t see anyone. I think these creeps either fled and came back, or called up somebody else to come have a looky loo.

Fortunately there were two of us, and neither of us ever took our eyes off of these creeps as we very carefully and deliberately got into our vehicle. I am pretty sure they had already checked it out and were not happy that it was only an old manual transmission with the radio missing, and nothing else interesting, but I’m glad we didn’t end up getting robbed. I was sort of stunned to see this at this location, because this was still on a weekend and it wasn’t going to be dark for several hours, but these scum were pretty bold.

The same thing has happened to us when we came back from a bike ride at a different park one evening at dusk, very busy trails normally, there are a couple of people hanging around the car, and since this is a bike trail and they don’t have bikes… they don’t exactly look like joggers, either… we rode past them to see what they were going to do next, which was going to give them a chance to get away from the car without our having to have an immediate interaction, like “what are you doing, get away from my car, please.” which worked like a charm. We stopped at a distance, turned around, and shone our lights in their direction, they left. Win-win. Big sign at this lot “take your valuables, lock your doors” NO KIDDING- and there had been stories on the news about problems here (it’s right across from a church, too funny) so a little more caution is in order.

Most of the time, nothing happens, but if something does, I’d rather not be dealing with a “rental car” situation, too.

Toys drive the car choice
It was bikes before paddling, then kayaks, with carpooling musicians through most of that… I haven’t had any use for other than a wagon/hatch type vehicle since the early 80’s. When I got married it was to someone who had painted, as in paintings, so he arrived with the same criteria for a car as me even before we both got into kayaking.

My point being that the toys have driven the car choice. So - is there a possibility of losing both of the current vehicles to get into one that will work for the boats?

X’s two
Every car or truck I have bought in the past thirty years have been bought for our toys.

I could care less what is under the hood or what it looks like.

Mine need to be 4x 4, have a flat roof, have good view and have the capability of mounting a permanently attached to the roof a roof rack with 78" bars.

I doubt that the OP will find anything suitable.

How about a U-Haul rental trailer for each trip out?

Jack L

Exactly What Charles River Kayaks
Gave me to transport the 21.5 ft. long Stellar SEL surfski I rented from them in Boston on the top of my rental car. Worked like a charm reaching speeds of 70 mph heading for Gloucester. Although they provided straps, I used my own: three 20 ft. long cam buckle straps, from Go Bananas Hawaii (two up front and one in the back). Straps were looped around the ski and cinched tight inside the car directly under the headliner.

Foam blocks are $60 a pair, light and fit in a suitcase, which I use to carry my rental Fenn Swordfish from Surfski Kauai on top of my rental car when visiting Kauai to do a Na Pali run in an hour and a half from Hanalei to Polihale. I’ve seen the foam blocks for sale at both REI Boston, MA, Berkeley, CA. and Go Bananas, HI.

If no foam blocks available, well, I’ve seen and copied Aussie Surf Lifesavers transport their surfskis resting on rolled up hotel towels in the absence of roof racks. I’ve personally transported two Epic V-10’s a short distance this way on a rackless car.

new kayaks instead
Sell the kayaks you have and get folders or inflatables. That is the best solution for folks with your urban storage and transport issues. Some suggestions:




There are also light trailers that fold up to stand against a wall if you have a place that one could be leaned against and secured with a cable or chain lock.

But folding kayaks are ideal for your situation, also very enjoyable boats to own since you can check them onto an airline flight and take them anywhere you go on vacation. And they are very light, averaging half the weight of hardshell boats. I’ve been paddling folders for 13 years, from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts and all types of waters in between.

Or you could do this
Not serious but I saw this last night


Find someone who drives for Uber who has a rack?

What kind of car? Have you considered a front rack and a rear t bar on hitch mount?

If it’s for occasional trips, U Haul may be able to rent you a truck or van with a rack. Van may have old-style rain gutters if it’s fullsize.

Convert kayaks to folding
A universal, inexpensive, reliable system to cartop two kayaks on any car?

The only way that I can think of is a Sawzall and Waterproof Duct Tape! Label the pieces with permanent marker at each cutline so that you can easily put them together properly later. Carry out the surgery in minutes with a Sawzall. Transport your kayaks with no muss and no fuss in the trunk of your random vehicle, and piece them together with Waterproof Duct Tape when you arrive at your chosen waterway - voila, you’re cutting through the water smartly in your handmade folding kayaks!