5 Best Kayak Roof Rack For Cars Without Rails

Last Updated: January 6th, 2022 | By: Gina

Planning to go kayaking with your pals? Transporting kayaks to distant locations, especially if you don’t live by the lake or a river, could be a real problem. But not anymore, Kayak car roof racks come as a worthy mode of transporting kayaks with ease.

A simple 10 minute DIY installation process that doesn’t require any professional’s help or specialised tools, significantly reducing both cost and effort, further adds to the fun.

Since it’s about kayaks with the fastest trolling motors on the planet, you need to check how durable and sturdy the racks you choose. They need to be transported with great care for safety reasons

That being said, the article below ponders over the different types of kayak roof racks for cars, with & without rails and also sheds light on the most important considerations that you need to keep in mind while buying them. So, let’s get started.

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5 Top Brands Of Kayak Rack For Car Without Rails : A Quick Look-Through

★ Best Overall ★

SportRack Complete Roof Rack

kayak carrier for car without roof rack

★ Premium Choice ★

Malone Downloader Folding

roof racks for cars without rails

★ Best Value ★

Rhino-Rack Nautic 570 Series

kayak racks for cars

Detailed Reviews

1. SportRack Complete Roof Rack System

  • Size: 45.5 x 5.8 x 3.8 inches
  • Weight: 12.5 pounds
  • Load Capacity: 139 lbs.

Key Highlights

  • A complete rack system
  • Easy to install and fits most popular vehicles
  • Locks included for safety
  • Adaptability for all accessories
  • Requires no drilling

This is certainly a great kayak rack for car without rails that offers everything in one package. You get load bars, hooks, locks, and every part that’s required for a perfect set-up. The locks (deter the thefts) come pre-assembled into the roof rack system. The SportRack is ready and easy to install.

This fits most of today’s popular vehicles and doesn’t require any drilling. The adaptability of all accessories makes it comfortable to use as bike rack, Ski rack, kayak rack, and cargo boxes. They gold everything properly and keep them safe.

The Sportrack is certainly a great one with this price tag. The rack is made with materials that feature steel upgrades and are UV and corrosion-resistant. The soft plastic coverings and the sensitive elastic cushions prevent the rooftop from any scratches or chips.

This can hold up to 130 lbs or 59 kgs and this pretty impressive one. It is recommended to check the size guide before you buy this for your vehicle.


  • A sturdy one but makes some noise when on roof.

  • One should fit it tightly to ensure a good grip.

2. Malone Downloader Universal Kayak Rack

The versatility of this product to be mounted on both truck’s and car’s surface marks this as one reason for an excellent choice. The uniquely built design offers to carry three boats and further prevents rubbing when you're transporting kayaks that may be of different lengths.

It can fit various kayak styles (including playboat, white water, touring, and sea). The ability to fold down when not in use, might prevent you from taking it off before going into touchless car washes and parking garages but not any more.

This will provide easy storage with folding ability. The Malone Downloader Universal Kayak Rack includes all hardware necessary for installation onto vehicles. Have a look over the tools.


  • Steel body provides strength and rust prevention.
  • Offers versatility to carry multiple kayaks.
  • Simple and quick DIY installation.
  • Includes all hardware needed for installation onto any vehicle.
  • Portable & easy to store.


  • Does not include tie-down straps or safety cables, which are sold separately and available at most sporting goods stores.

3. Rhino-Rack Nautic 570 Kayak Carrier

Although claimed to be a universal fitment with an optional adapter kit, it works well with most flat-top vehicles and offers more space than other carriers because of its slim design.

The excellent quality straps and have a rubber molded guard, protects your car from the cam cleat. Especially manufactured for light touring boats that are up to 14 feet long, offering 60Lbs of weight, the rack is discreet and easy to use.

Combination of providing both front and rear pads with a variety to fit hull shapes with five years of assured warranty is absolutely remarkable. The product isn't for the people who either have round racks or crossbars.

Also Read: Best Truck Kayak Rack – 5 Reason To Buy This!


  • Can be mounted on various roofs.
  • Offers an optional adapter kit.
  • Best for light touring boats that are up to 14 feet long.
  • Slim design offers a large surface area.


  • Is not suitable for cars that have a spacer block or factory rack on top.
  • Does not come assembled, so some assembly is required before use.

4. Attwood Universal Kayak Roof Rack

Designed to withstand all types of weather conditions and different seasons, with a simple DIY ten minutes installation process, these sturdy roof racks from Attwood Racks before your kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards (SUPs), surfboards, and other sports gear will be safely secured in place for the trip ahead.

The durable aluminum construction with anti-vibration multi-layer foam reduces the vibration and ensures compact storage.

Heavy Duty fabric with 1.5" wide Strong Nylon lashing straps with a capacity of 1200 lbs has been tested via breaking test. Longer straps are for securing the top of your cars, Securing the Kayak or Surfboard by using the Short straps on top.


  • Robust construction.
  • UV rays protected, waterproof, and rust resistant.
  • The easy installation process, with no tools necessary.
  • Require less clearance from the ground.


  • You need to buy straps and a locking mechanism separately.

5. Thule Hullavator Pro 898 Kayak Rack System

If you are looking for a high-quality roof rack that will last for years, then look no further than the Thule 480 Traverse Foot Pack. This is an economic investment that will fit almost every factory rack.

The J-cradle rail offers hassle free on and off hardware. Plus, it also includes stern tie-downs and two ratcheting bows. 40 lbs assist gas struts, waist level loading, and protective padding tends to provide a secure grip that ensures the kayak won't slip away.

The product offers a lifetime warranty with an easy installation process with mounting hardware for square and T- track crossbars.


  • Affordable.
  • Lifetime Warranty.
  • Protection from rust and hail.
  • Protective padding prevents scratches.


  • It is less durable than other options.
  • The retail price can be expensive for some customers.

Types Of Kayak Roof Rack That Doesn't Need Rails:

J-Cradle Kayak Carrier:

They're perfect for those who have a hatchback without an opening rear window and cars whose tops aren't large enough to handle all their gear at once. These racks also work best when there is no clearance between the top edge and back bumper because they allow you to load your boat from either side of the vehicle rather than just one direction.

A J-cradle Kayak roof rack is installed at a 45-degree angle and leaves enough- space for two Kayaks to beak, creating enough open space for two kayaks on the carrier.
These racks attach to the vehicle's top, inside edges and can be good for taller vehicles with curved roofs such as SUVs.
The only downside is it takes up more space on your car's trunk until the boats are removed after use.

Rooftop Mounted Carrier:

  • This type of rack is the most stable and offers a good view for drivers. These carriers are also more aerodynamic than other types of roof racks and can be installed on top of any vehicle with little or no modifications needed to your car’s roof.
  • Best suited to taller vehicles with curved roofs such as SUVs, this type of kayak roof racks attaches to the vehicle’s top inside edges.
  • Unfortunately, they have minimal storage space inside the carrier due to their large size, which makes it difficult when you’re trying to load up gear before hitting the road.
  • The downside is these carriers do not allow for two kayaks at once because one side has an opening that needs clearance from obstructions like branches and bushes to open upwards without damaging anything below it.

Stacker Kayak Carrier:

This type of kayak roof rack is similar to the trunk-mounted carrier in that it has one long side and a narrow opening on either end for loading.

The advantage over other racks is you can stack multiple carriers, giving yourself more storage space inside your vehicle.

You do need rails or some ledge for this type of rack to attach to, which means installation will be complicated if you don't have these features already installed in your car's roof.

Canoe Roof Rack:

Ideal for canoes not designed with handles, this canoe roof rack attaches directly to the top edge at each corner without any crossbars needed due to its relatively small size.
The downside is there are no safety straps included, so carrying canoes up a ladder is not recommended.

How Many Kayaks Can Fit On A Roof Rack?

A few factors come into play when figuring out how many kayaks will fit on your roof.

  1. First, you need to know whether or not the kayak is an inflatable boat or hard-shell (rigid) boat. A hard-shell type of boat will take up more space than an inflatable one because it has no give in it. This means that if you plan on taking both types of boats with you, make sure they're either too rigid and one inflatable or three inflatables so there's enough room for all of them!
  2. Second, you need to know the length of your kayak. Generally, a hard-shell boat will take up more space than an inflatable one because it has no give in it. This means that if you plan on taking both types of boats with you, make sure they're either too rigid and one inflatable or three inflatables so there's enough room for all of them.
  3. Third, you need to know the width of your kayak. Generally, a hard-shell boat will take up more space than an inflatable one because it has no give in it. This means that if you plan on taking both types of boats with you, make sure they're either too rigid and one inflatable or three inflatables, so there's enough room for all of them.
  4. Fourth, you need to know the height of your kayak. Generally, a hard-shell boat will take up more space than an inflatable one because it has no give in it. This means that if you plan on taking both types of boats with you, make sure they're either too rigid and one inflatable or three inflatables so there's enough room for all of them.
  5. Fifth, if you don't know the width or height of your kayak, it will be challenging to figure out how many will fit on a roof rack. To get an idea about the width, think about how many inches you can fit between your car and the other side of the garage. For height, measure from the floor to ceiling in a room that would be large enough for a kayak (about 12 feet)
  6. Sixth, if you have an SUV, it will most likely have plenty of space on its roof rack, but if you have a car or truck, it may not be as easy. Measure your roof rack to see how many inches are on each side of the bar that holds up the kayak, and then subtract two inches for every inch in width, which is about half a kayak. For example, if the rack is six inches wide, then you can fit three kayaks.

Take care when driving with a roof full of kayaks because they may shift and start hitting each other.

Car Rooftop Kayak Rack

Factors To Consider Before Purchasing A Roof Rack For A Car Without Rails

Before taking any decision about which one is the best. Let us look at some of the necessary considerations and some of the questions you need to ask yourself. Like:

  • Is the kayak light enough for one person to carry?
  • Will this system work with our vehicle so we can transport two or more boats at once?
  • What is the shape of our roof rack – will hooks fit over crossbars without an attachment kit needed?

Best Kayak Carriage System
Critical Considerations To Check Before Making A Purchase:


A reasonable consideration before purchasing a custom-made kayak roof rack that doesn't need rails is if you'll have any difficulty lifting and moving around heavier ones. Some people find they can't even lift their weight when trying to haul up heavy items like bikes or gearboxes, but others may find it easy to do so.

The Shape Of Your Vehicle's Roof Rack:

It would be best if you also considered the shape of your vehicle's roof rack. For example, will you be able to get hooks over crossbars without needing an attachment kit? This is a consideration because the right roof rack can depend on your specific vehicle.

When the roof rack doesn't fit snugly over your vehicle, it may cause you to lose precious cargo or kayak.

What Is Your Budget?

The cost of the rack should be a consideration. Some roof racks are up to $500, which may not fit into everyone's budget, but there are also more affordable options available that still work well for kayaks and other cargo users.

The Design:

The design of the rack should also factor in when determining what kind of roof rack will work best for you. Some racks have more space inside than others. If these matters, then these details shouldn't go unnoticed before making a purchase decision.


Durability is also a key consideration for the right roof rack. The higher-quality racks are typically more durable, but some lower-quality options can last just as long if taken with care of properly or not misused. Therefore, it's essential to consider all factors before making a final decision on what kind of kayak roof rack will work best.

Weather Conditions:

Many different types of drivers have different preferences for what type of conditions they're driving in. For example, some drivers may want a rack that's easier to break down so it can be moved or stored away from their vehicle when not needed. In contrast, others might prefer one that is resistant to rust and corrosion for those who live in wetter climates where snow/rain are more prominent.


It is your choice to select the best kayak in the world from your place of business and something else. Whether you propose to take your first kayak or visit a remote region to your lifetime adventure, you need to deliver your kayak in a convenient and secure way.

If you are a new kayaker, you will be particularly concerned about the kayak flying during transport or about how you can go overboard without causing damage to your vehicle and boat on land.

You can always buy much rope and put it on the vehicle's roof but it's likely that you're both hurting your best kayak and the roof. If those are your issues, ensure this article allows you to address those first problems and gives a hassle-loose, repair-loose experience.

A kayak rack, which is also known as a Kayak carrier, is the most essential equipment for safe and convenient transport.

Frequently Asked Question's
Q1. Is it required to make holes in my car roof?

Penetrating or drilling isn’t required. In any case, this is a choice on certain vehicles, on the off chance that you favor a perpetual mount. We have multi-sport frameworks that can be rooftop hooked up without the need for boring, welding, or for all time introducing whatever on your vehicle. In general, they can be added and discarded quickly.

Q2. Is it possible to get replacement parts for my rack?

Absolutely! A large range of replacement parts is already available online during a rack attack. We definitely should put anything we don’t have in the house. Look at your specific item on the comprehensive page and check whether there are any links to the replacement parts.

Q3. Which type of kayak rack is best for a car without rails?

Thule 480 Traverse Foot Pack and HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars could be an ideal choice in kayak racks for a car without rails. It very well may be utilized to associate a kayak to a vehicle with no derails crossbars. You can also check other listed racks and find the one as per your requirement.

Q4. Is it possible to go through a car wash with my rack on my car?

No! At the point when you wash your vehicle, you should expel the rack on the grounds that Racks can rest on a portion of the vehicle wash apparatus and harm your vehicle, or more awful. Also, washing your vehicle can blow earth under the stack of your rack framework, which will harm the completion of the vehicle. You need to remove the rack with the goal that you can tidy up any water spots or earth that figured out how to get under your cushion.

Q5: What are some of the benefits of roof racks for cars without rails?

Without having to purchase an expensive and bulky kayak carrier, you can now put your canoe on top of your car. Gone is the need to constantly carry it in and out. You also might not have a lot of space inside your vehicle, so this solves that problem too!

Lastly, with many people choosing alternative transportation methods such as biking or taking public transit, there will be more options available for parking spaces at various locations. This means that no matter where you go- whether it’s a day trip or cross-country vacation-you’ll never run into issues finding somewhere safe to park your bike or get off the bus!

Q6: What are some of the drawbacks to a roof rack for cars without rails?

The only downside is that it won’t work with everyone. If you have specific requirements or desires, such as not wanting your canoe on top of your car- this isn’t an option for you. It also might be difficult if there’s no one around with a vehicle high enough off the ground and wide enough to store your kayak carrier in place safely!

Q7: How much does a rack cost?

They can range from $150-$400 depending on what style and material you want, but typically most people spend less than $250 when choosing these racks. Additionally, many sites offer free shipping so expect them at your door within days!

Q8: What do roof-mounted kayak racks look like?

They are typically designed to be installed on the front or rear of a vehicle, and they have bars that hook onto the side rails of your roof.

Q9: What is meant by roof-mounted kayak racks?

Roof-mounted car racks will essentially attach to your vehicle’s existing roof rack with solid metal hooks, which then hold up any number of items in place for you when driving around town! For those who need some help transporting their gear from one location to another, this may prove helpful as it provides an extra layer of security while doing so. Police officers also recommend these kinds of carriers because they are secure and can’t slide off easily without warning. Plus, there are no worries about scratching up your car’s paint job.