Should I buy a Foam roof top rack?

I need to buy a car roof top rack to carry my Kayak to the ocean and saw some foam racks in the store the other day but wasn’t sure if I should get one or which one I should get. What are the Pros and Cons of Foam roof top carriers?

Pros-cheap, adaptable to different
vehicles. Cons:

  1. If you have a plastic kayak, it may be difficult to rig things to avoid downward pressure distorting the hull. Distortion can also occur with “glass” boats, but they pop back into shape.

  2. The stability of the foam carrier setup depends more on the tying arrangement at the ends than it does with (expensive) metal racks. Ideally you need a tie-down point toward each corner of the car, running to firm connecting points toward the ends of the kayak. Some cars don’t have tie points, and they must be improvised.

  3. Some foam carrier kits want you to run a strap around the middle of the boat, through the doors, and through the cabin of the car. There can be problems with leaking in the rain. Other kits just want you to strap the foam cradles to the boat.

    I’ve only used foam carrier kits a few times. I think you can get away with them if you have good inverted V rope connections at the ends of the kayak. However, my Necky, a plastic touring kayak, has toggle carrying handles that are mounted by screws screwed down into the plastic, and I don’t trust that arrangement. You will have to assess how securely your potential tie points are attached to the boat.

    With a Yakima, Thule, or similar system, you’ll be much poorer, but the kayak can be more firmly attached to the crossbars or to cradles. This means that the ropes connecting the kayak to the ends of the car need not be so tight.

    You should expect feedback from people who use foam cradles all the time.

I’ve seen that
using only foam blocks without a rigid rack support can distort the car’s roof panel once you cinch the straps tight. much better to invest in a rack system that transfers the load to the structural frame of the roof.

if you get Yakima racks you can use the foam blocks that have a round hole through them as inexpensive cradles – item #58613.