Are you looking for the best kayak roof rack for cars without rails? Congratulation! You’re in the right place. In this article, we’re going to give you the 6 top-rated options that our testers have rounded up from the market.
Let’s not waste time and straight go for what is there to know about a kayak roof rack for cars without rails.
Here are the best kayak roof racks for cars without rails (Mar 2023 Update):
- Best Overall: Seah Hardware Universal Roof Rack
- Best For Sunny Days: Malone VersaRail Bare Roof Cross Rail Rack
- Best For Heavier Kayaks: HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars
- Easy To Install: DORSAL Wrap-Rax Soft Surfboard Roof Rack
- Best For Lighter Kayaks: SportRack Complete Roof Rack System
- Best For Long Kayaks: IRONWALLS 2PCS Universal Roof Rack
|6 Best Kayak Roof Racks For Cars Without Rails|
|Seah Hardware Universal Roof Rack|
Best For Sunny Days
|Malone VersaRail Bare Roof Cross Rail Rack|
Best For Heavier Kayaks
|HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars|
Easy To Install
|DORSAL Wrap-Rax Soft Surfboard Roof Rack|
Best For Lighter Kayaks
|SportRack Complete Roof Rack System|
Best For Long Kayaks
|IRONWALLS 2PCS Universal Roof Rack|
Best Overall: Seah Hardware Universal Roof Rack
- Universal fitting – suit all 4-door cars without side rails
- Easy to adjust – include lock nuts and screws
- Heavy-duty – the 48” crossbars made of high-grade steel
- Not work on two-door cars
No other kayak roof racks have been able to beat the Seah.
It features straps going through the door frames and attaching to the rooftop. Besides, the package includes two 48” crossbars made of heavy-duty steel that can hold up well against a max loading weight of 1800 pounds.
This part also comes with lock nuts and screws with multiple position adjustments. The assembly/disassembly takes only around minutes to finish.
The rack earns our highest scoring for its universal fit, which is suitable for most four-door cars with/without side rails.
|Seah Hardware Universal Roof Rack Specifications|
47.6 x 4.8 x 3.2 inches
Max Weight Capacity
suit all 4-door cars without side rails
include lock nuts and screws
the 48” crossbars made of high-grade steel
Highlighting universal fitting, strength, and ease of assembly, the Seah Hardware Roof Rack is our best overall pick for 2020.
Best For Sunny Days: Malone VersaRail Bare Roof Cross Rail Rack
- Ultra-durable – corrosion-resistant steel load bar
- Simple to install – no tools required & a wrench included in the package
- Fit all rack accessory - rectangular shape
- Poor instructions
- The nylon straps aren’t waterproof – not ideal to use during rainy weather
Malone VersaRail is a great set for the price, especially if you’re looking for the best kayak roof rack for sunny days.
It’s built to last, with an emphasis on heavy-duty steel load bar with a corrosion-resistant coating. The decent strength allows this rack to handle a load capacity of 135 pounds and the ultra-wide 1.5” safety attachment straps secure your kayak in place.
It also features a 75-pound pull strength vacuum tower base with a rectangular shape that suits any rack accessory.
The best part is no tools required for its installation. This task is simple and besides, there is a specialized wrench included in the package, which comes in handy for beginners.
|Malone VersaRail Bare Roof Cross Rail Rack Specifications|
50 x 8 x 5.75 inches
Max Weight Capacity
the corrosion-resistant steel load bar
no tools required & a wrench included in the package
Highlighting ultra-durable construction, the Malone VersaRail is our favorite choice for sunny days.
Best For Heavier Kayaks: HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars
- Stronger and ideal for heavier kayaks – a 180-pound weight capacity
- Reliable – certified for use at highway speeds
- Universal fit – suit 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-door vehicles
- Not work on vehicles with curtain airbags or soft-tops
- Air chambers can’t take much heat, nor pressure/load
The third option in our list is for securing a heavier kayak due to its 180-pound weight capacity.
It is tested on different car brands, such as Mercedes, Suzuki, Hyundai, and more to ensure that its roof bars offer universal fit with no gutters or side rails required. It fits 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-door vehicles while the installation won’t take you tons of time.
The best part is this rack is certified for usage at highway speeds.
|HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars Specifications|
14.6 x 7.4 x 5.7 inches
Max Weight Capacity
a 180-pound weight capacity
certified for use at highway speeds
suit 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-door vehicles
Tested and certified for extra security as well as strength, the HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars are a reliable choice for heavier kayaks.
Easy To Install: DORSAL Wrap-Rax Soft Surfboard Roof Rack
- Easy to install – include all pads and straps for setup
- Fit most SUVs or cars without roof racks – adjustable straps
- The installation directions could be easier to follow
While most kayak roof racks on our review list are easy to install, this is even simpler.
It includes all straps for setup and use along with a pad for the back of your car and another pad for the front. The whole assembly averagely takes under 10 minutes and the same with the disassembly.
Fit most SUVs and cars without roof racks thanks to the adjustable straps. They’re also strong enough to hold up to 3 surfboards or a heavy kayak at highway speeds.
|DORSAL Wrap-Rax Soft Surfboard Roof Rack Specifications|
0.39 x 0.39 x 0.39 inches
include all pads and straps for setup
Boasting an easy-to-install design, the DORSAL Wrap-Rax Soft Surfboard Roof Rack takes you less time for assembly while giving more time for enjoying your outdoor trips.
Best For Lighter Kayaks: SportRack Complete Roof Rack System
- Ideal for lightweight kayaks – a weight capacity of 130 pounds
- Installation is straightforward – include locks, hooks, and load bars in the package
- Durable – man-made materials
- Locks could be stronger
- The metal on tower feet hooks is quite thick
If you have a lighter kayak needed transporting on the top of your car, SportRack Complete Roof Rack System is worth considering.
Its weight capacity is 130 pounds and the design is adaptable to any kayak/skis/bike accessory with no drilling or tools required. Plus, everything needed for installation (such as locks, hooks, and load bars) is included in the package.
The superbly sophisticated man-made materials make it a reliable product to last you a lifetime.
A big bonus is it doesn’t make any noise when driving at highway speeds.
|SportRack Complete Roof Rack System Specifications|
45.5 inches x 5.8 inches x 3.8 inches
Max Weight Capacity
weight capacity of 130 pounds
include locks, hooks, and load bars in the package
SportRack Complete Roof Rack System is secure, reliable, and durable, along with a weight capacity of 130 pounds, making it a great choice for lighter kayaks.
Best For Long Kayaks: IRONWALLS 2PCS Universal Roof Rack
- Ideal for ultra-long kayaks - adjustable base feet angle
- Save your car paint from damaging – rubber gaskets
- Reduce wind noise efficiently – streamline construction
The highlight point of this kayak roof rack is its adjustable base feet angle, which allows it to fit most car roof arcs with no issues. That also means if your kayak is, unfortunately, a little bit too long, this can handle that like a breeze.
On the other hand, rubber gaskets prevent your car paint from being damaged during transportation.
We also like its streamline construction, which adds sportier visual appeal while cutting off up to 70% wind sound.
The assembly? Don’t worry, it’s very easy and quick because all the accessories needed for this task are included in the package. Meanwhile, its simple design is a huge bonus.
|IRONWALLS 2PCS Universal Roof Rack Specifications|
45.67 x 4.72 x 4.33 inches
Max Weight Capacity
adjustable base feet angle
For those whose kayaks are ultra-long, we highly recommend using this IRONWALLS 2PCS Universal Roof Rack.
How To Choose The Best Kayak Roof Rack For Cars Without Rails?
While some cars are built with a factory crossbar, you’ll need a crossbar if you want your kayak carriers designed mainly for kayak transport only.
Pay attention to this optional part’s quality as well as the measurement (length and width). The measurement depends on your car’s roof space as well as the number of kayaks you intend to carry.
In case that your car already has a crossbar, what you should consider buying is a stacker, a J-cradle, or a chair.
Number of kayaks
This is another important feature to keep in mind when considering the best kayak roof rack for cars without rails.
Commonly, the number of kayaks is one of two at a time.
But if you’re a big family and intend to carry more than two kayaks at once, stackers or dual-kayak roof racks might be a better choice because they deliver higher boat capacities. Besides, don’t forget to fix cracks on the roof of your car (if available).
You will want to take the least time to assemble/disassemble your boats if you hit the paddle daily. One of the comfiest kayak roof racks for cars without rails is a J-cradle as they’re quick and simple when loading/unloading a kayak.
Besides, some kayakers utilize a saddle above their rack as well as a few pairs of rollers on the back.
Which Brands Make The Best Kayak Roof Rack For Cars Without Rails?
One of the biggest privately-owned manufacturers specialized in rack accessories and sports trailers. It’s located in Portland, Maine with over 20 years’ experience in industry innovation and leadership.
At the current, Malone has had 2,500 retail stores located throughout New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan, Europe, South America, Canada, and the United States.
This is a young dynamic company, commenced operations as an importer of the HandiRack in 2005. Two years later, they bought the intellectual property rights to the product.
Dorsal Fin is the leading US Manufacturer of Stand Up Paddleboards, Traction, Leashes, and SUP and Surfboard Fins.
This brand designs budget-friendly and reliable roof racks, making it easy for everyone to carry their items outside.
Do you need a kayak rack?
If you have a hardshell kayak that can’t fit your vehicle’s trunk or backseat, a specialized kayak rack comes in handy.
What can I use a roof rack for?
A lot! Once the roof rack is assembled on your vehicle, you can use it as your winter sport racks, SUP boards, surfboards, kayak racks, bike racks, or roof boxes.
Do you need crossbars for a kayak rack?
Crossbars are something worth investing in if you want sophisticated carriers designed for the business of transporting kayaks.
Should I get a roof box for my roof rack?
Yes, you should, as long as you want to:
- Increase the comfort of your vehicle
- Have an area to lock sporting equipment
- Make your vehicle versatile
- Maximize storage space
How do I tie down a kayak on a roof rack?
This review is designed to pick out the nuanced pros and cons of the best kayak roof rack for cars without rails available on the market. We hope our findings have helped you locate the right one for your vehicle, needs, and budget.