How to Choose the Right Kayak Roof Rack for Cars Without Rails -:Complete Guide

Are you struggling to find the perfect kayak roof rack for your car without rails? Look no further!

In this guide, you’ll discover all the tips, tricks and details you need to choose the right kayak rack for a stress-free recreational experience. You’ll be ready for your next outdoor adventure in no time!

Understanding what kind of kayak roof rack is best suited to different car types is essential in order to transport your kayak safely. Not all roof racks have been made with the same materials or are suitable for certain types of car roofs. To make sure you purchase the right roof rack, here are some key points to consider:

  1. Introduction When it comes to purchasing a kayak roof rack, it’s important to have an understanding of the different kinds available and what features they offer. Firstly, most cars have rails on the roof where you can attach an adjustable, universal type of roof rack system. However for those without these rails a few other options exist, such as fixed-mount racks and cargo pod systems. There are an array of different styles, sizes and materials used in creating a roof rack so it’s important to be mindful that not all products are suitable for specific cars. Different types of car roofs will depend on if a rails feature should be incorporated into your rack choice; however this does not apply to all cars without this feature. Learning about how weight capacity affects your kayak transportation is essential for safety when loading onto your vehicle’s racks as well as understanding which type offers better security whilst travelling or when left parked up somewhere. Let’s take a closer look at how you can choose the right type of kayak rooftop carrier and details on fitting safely on both with or without factory-installed rails.

Definition of Kayak Roof Rack for Cars Without Rails

Kayak roof racks are designed to provide secure and safe transportation of kayaks on automotive roof racks by allowing kayakers to store kayaks above their car, leaving the interior of their vehicle free of the bulky items and freeing up more space for other belongings. These racks are usually constructed with either aluminum or steel frames, adjustable straps, and padding to protect your kayak. They come in a variety of designs with different features to fit any car without rails.

It’s important to choose the right rack for your needs as not every rooftop rack is created equally; some are made for transport only or can be adapted for storage on a car without side rails. There are also options available that allow for one-person installation and removal, or multiple-person options for larger kayaks.

To help you find the best representative model for your car without rails we have created this guide that covers the key points of consideration when selecting a kayak roof rack that best fits your specific needs.

Importance of choosing the right Kayak Roof Rack

Having the right Kayak Roof Rack on your car can make all the difference when it comes to enjoying your kayaking adventures. Not just any roof rack will do. You must choose a rack that will securely hold your kayak in place and ensure it does not come off or shift while you are driving.

Before you decide on a rooftop rack, consider the types of kayaks you plan to transport, their length and weight, as well as the budget you have in mind. Also be aware that different types of cars may require different rooftops racks. Make sure to have all of this information handy before going shopping for a kayak roof rack.

When looking for the right kayak roof rack for cars without rails, pay attention to weight capacity and type of mount needed. Some racks simply bolt onto existing factory-fitted raingutter mountings which is suitable for most cars with no rails on top like normal family vehicles or vans without rails; some racks attach directly onto existing doors; others require specialized mounting systems designed specifically for certain car roofs;while some may need alternatives such as U-bolts or clamps that clamp onto the door frames and edge sections of certain car models without rails depending upon its shape and size.

It is also important to look at the stability factor when transporting your kayaks using any type of car roof rack system – especially if it involves drilling holes into your vehicle’s rooftop! Ideally, two crossbars should span across two different points from one end to another so as to provide greater support when carrying heavier loads across uneven terrain’s while allowing easy adjustments according to individual needs or preferences. Take time to research safety ratings and customer reviews before hitting up store shelves – so that you will be able to select a good quality Kayak Roof Rack suitable for carrying sports equipment such as kayaks safely and securely over any rougher terrains while traveling with them on top of classically attractive vehicles like convertibles or luxury Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV)s safely with added peace of mind protecting its interior surfaces!

Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Kayak Roof Rack

Before selecting a kayak roof rack for cars without rails, there are several factors that must be taken into account. These include the type of car you have, the size and weight of your kayak, environmental elements to consider, and the kinds of accessories you need to make your adventure more enjoyable.

Type of Car: Not all roof racks are designed for every type of car roof. You will need to consider your car’s shape when selecting a roof rack—a curved roof may require different hardware than a flat roof. Also consider whether your car has an existing rail system or if after-market hardware is necessary for installation.

Size and Weight: Depending on the size and weight of your kayak, you will need to purchase an appropriate rack system that is capable of supporting it. The capacity for any given rack is listed in its specifications and can vary greatly between models. Make sure to factor this in when making your selection so that you don’t risk damage to either the kayak or car due to improper weight distribution.

Environment: If you plan on regularly bringing your yacht in salt water environments then pay special attention to climatic features like humidity, salt content, extreme weather etc before purchasing a particular model as some materials may not be suited for these conditions.

Accessories: When choosing a particular model take into account any sport specific accessories that may enhance your trips such as bike carriers, ski/snowboard racks and additional ties downs etc-which can further secure cargo while on the move!

The Type of Car

When you are choosing a kayak roof rack for your car, you will need to take into consideration a few important factors. Most importantly, you must consider the kind of vehicle that you have. If your car does not have factory-installed roof rails, it is best to choose racks with specialized clamps instead.

This kind of rack will usually require no drilling or permanent modifications in order to be installed properly, and is preferred over heavy-duty suck-type mount racks which are generally considered difficult to install and are not as secure as clamped models.

When you purchase your kayak roof rack, confirm that the model is right for your specific car make and model – many models provide compatibility information for multiple manufacturers’ vehicles. Additionally, be sure to check the maximum weight capacity of each model before buying; it may be necessary to check the manufacturer’s website if this information isn’t displayed on the product box or packaging.

The Number of Kayaks

The next consideration when choosing the right kayak roof rack for cars without rails is the number of kayaks you plan to transport. If you only transport a single kayak, then you may opt for a J-style rack with two cradles that can carry up to 75lbs each.

However, if you want to carry more than one kayak at a time, then you should opt for larger racks that can support multiple boats. Multi-boat racks typically consist of several sets of cradles and universal cross bars that are designed to fit almost any vehicle. These types of racks may also come with additional features such as adjustable straps or locking mechanisms.

Whatever style rack you choose, always make sure it offers enough room and support to carry the number of kayaks you will be transporting safely.

Kayak Size and Weight

When shopping for kayak roof racks, you need to consider how much cargo you plan on carrying and the weight of the items being moved. You should also keep in mind the weight capacity of your vehicle. This includes both the rack itself and any extras like foam padding, brackets, straps and tie-downs. To ensure a safe ride, it is important to purchase a roof rack system that can handle your total load securely.

It is also important to consider the width and length of your kayak when selecting a roof rack system. It is generally recommended that you choose a kayak roof rack that offers both horizontal supports as well as vertical supports so you can properly support your kayak either way. This will help ensure its secure placement on your vehicle’s roof while driving. A few extra inches of clearance between the top of the vehicle’s roof and the bottom of your kayak can also help to prevent scraping or scuffing during transport. If possible, try actually placing your kayak onto different racks before committing to one in order to test for fitment issues or size constraints.

The Type of Kayak

When it comes to choosing the right kayak roof rack for cars without rails, the type of kayak must be taken into consideration. You will often see a wide range of kayaks with different designs and sizes that are suited to a variety of uses.

Sit-on-top kayaks: These are the most common type of rigid plastic kayaks and are suitable for recreational paddling, flat water touring and fishing. They are lighter than their traditional counterparts and typically hold one person, with some variations that can hold up to 3 people.

Touring/sea/whitewater kayaks: These types of models are designed more sturdily than sit-on-top models, with a slightly longer deck length, greater depth and slightly narrower beam width. They provide more stability in rougher waters while still allowing you to turn quickly when needed.

Foldable/inflatable kayaks: This design allows you to easily transport your boat on a roof rack without having to worry about it taking up too much space in your vehicle or garage. These models have become increasingly popular due to their performance capabilities, convenience and affordability compared to traditional hardshell models. In order to make sure the roof racks you purchase can carry these types of boats securely, please check out our guide on how to pick the right inflatable or folding kayak roof rack.

How to Install a Kayak Roof Rack

Installing a kayak roof rack is relatively simple and with the correct instructions, can be completed in about an hour. Before you get started, make sure you have all the necessary tools and parts for the installation:

  • Kayak roof rack
    • Ratcheting straps or other tie-down equipment
    • Crossbar padding or foam blocks
    • Ladder or step stool
    • Screwdriver or drill

Basic Tools Required

A basic set of tools is necessary for installing any new roof rack. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the type of railings, integrated rails, crossbars, non-locking towers, and racks you need may vary. Here is a list of the most common supplies you will need.

  • Tape measure: Making sure that all of your hardware fits your car is crucial to a successful installation. Make sure to leave enough slack when measuring as you don’t want to have parts that don’t fit!
  • Socket wrench or ratchet and socket set: You will need this tool to access the mounting hardware in your car or on the roof rack itself.
  • Allen/hex key set: Many roof racks use bolts with nylon lock nuts and require an Allen/hex key for installation.
  • Drill and Phillips head bit (or electric screwdriver): If you are mounting racks directly onto roof rails or footpack then a drill with a Phillips head will come in handy. This tool can also be used to attach crossbars onto towers if necessary.
  • Ladder: A ladder will allow safe access to the top of your car when installing any rooftop components such as tall towers or crossbars.

Installation Instructions

Getting the right kayak rack and correctly installing it will give you the confidence to take your kayak anywhere and keep it safe during transport. Keep in mind that most suction cup racks for cars without rails are designed for lighter weight single kayaks, so maximum load may be limited when compared to a kayak rack designed for a car with rails.

Installing the right kayak rack on your car can seem daunting at first, but following these simple instructions should provide you with a reliable and secure transport system. Before you begin installation, make sure you have gathered all of the needed materials such as screws, bolts, nuts and washers.

First begin by attaching any straps that may be present on your particular model to the roof of your car. Be sure to inspect them throughout the process of installation to ensure they are free from any damage or wear. Make sure they are adjusted to fit snugly against your vehicle’s roof without causing any scratches. Anchor each strap by using the provided screws or bolts to secure them firmly in place according to manufacturer instructions.

Next attach the suction cups according to their instructions for use (usually located on each cup). Ensure that all of the cups are firmly attached by pushing down hard on each one before you move on with installation; this will help ensure proper contact between cups and vehicle surface. Then adjust each cup in such a way that they grip firmly onto your vehicle’s roof without damaging it in any way or allowing gaps between them – this is important for providing adequate support and keeping your vehicle safe during transport. It’s also a good idea to inspect the clips at least once more prior beginning riding while carrying your kayak.

Finally double check all connections before heading out onto roads; tightening loose connections if needed, ensuring cups have not come off accidentally & rechecking configuration (type & size) of clips used — if deviating from manufacturer recommendations has been done previously by yourself or someone else then ensure extra care is taken during installation process if changing it back manually after inspection before travel**


Finding the correct kayak roof rack for cars without rails can seem daunting. But by understanding your car’s capabilities, you can find the ideal kayak rack with ease. Consider the weight of your vessel, the compatibility with your vehicle and ensure that it is properly assembled and installed before hitting the water.

No matter if you own a vehicle with flush or raised rails, or have a car without either, modern innovations have created better solutions than ever before for safe transport of kayaks and other recreational vessels. Paddle safely and take full advantage of your vehicle’s cargo options to get out on the water faster!


Can you put a kayak carrier on a car without roof rails? 

Yes, you can use a kayak carrier that attaches to the car’s door frame or rain gutters.

Can you have a roof rack without rails? 

Yes, some roof racks use suction cups or clamps to attach directly to the car’s roof.

How do you strap a kayak to the roof without rails? 

You can use foam blocks, straps, and bow/stern lines to secure the kayak directly to the car’s roof.

What roof rack do I need for a kayak? 

You can use a kayak-specific roof rack or a universal roof rack that can accommodate kayak carriers.

What is the easiest kayak rack to use? 

A J-cradle kayak rack is often considered the easiest to use, as it allows for easy loading and unloading of the kayak.

Can you put a kayak on just crossbars? 

Yes, you can use foam blocks or a kayak carrier to secure the kayak directly to the car’s crossbars.

What is the best way to carry a kayak on a car? 

The best way to carry a kayak on a car is to use a kayak-specific roof rack or a universal roof rack with a kayak carrier, and secure the kayak with straps and bow/stern lines.

How do you put a kayak on top of a car without a rack? 

You can use foam blocks and straps to secure the kayak directly to the car’s roof, or use a temporary rack that attaches to the car’s door frame or rain gutters.

Can you anchor a kayak without a trolley? 

Yes, you can anchor a kayak without a trolley by using a rope or chain attached to a stationary object.

What is the difference between roof rails and roof racks? 

Roof rails are a permanent fixture on the car’s roof, while roof racks are removable and can be attached to the roof rails or directly to the car’s roof. Roof rails are often used as an anchor point for roof racks or other accessories.

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