Vehicle Rooftop Racks for Your Kayak or Stand Up Paddle Board

May 15, 2022

Are you looking for a vehicle rooftop rack for your kayak or stand-up paddle board? Read on to learn what you need to consider before you purchase your rooftop rack.

Bill Jacksons Kayak

So you bought a kayak or stand up paddle board, and you are excited to use it.  Now you need to get it to the water. For those with waterfront property with a dock, this is easy. The hardest part was getting it home from the store. At Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure, we have staff who will deliver for a fee. Once it is at your house, adventure at your leisure.

But for those who don’t have waterfront property, they’ll need to transport the kayak or SUP each time they want to use it. If it isn’t inflatable or their vehicle isn’t a truck, a roof top car rack or trailer will be needed. If you choose a roof top rack, read on to learn what you will need to consider when purchasing a rack.

Product fit is determined by the vehicle:

When you go into an outfitter to buy a rack, the first question the sales associate will ask is what kind of vehicle. Rack manufacturers will engineer different products to fit various vehicles. The manufacturers have online fit guides (YakimaThule) to determine what product is appropriate for your car, SUV or truck. Outfitters will adhere stringently to the recommendation because to vary has liability implications. Sometimes one brand will have a higher load limit, or greater crossbar spread, which often determines the rack chosen.

What are you transporting on the rack?

The second question an outfitter will ask is “what are you carrying”. Each vehicle will have a load limit. The vehicular load limit is an aggregate of the rack and the cargo. To go over the limit will distort the roof, and change the fit of the rack causing it to shift. It’s important to remember that the load limit is not just for what you are transporting, but also accessories used to do so. If you are looking to make it easier to load a kayak by adding a Thule Hullavator Pro (weighs 39.7 pounds) and your rack has a limit of 100 pounds, your boat had better weigh less than 60 pounds. To do so would exceed the weight limit. An outfitter may refuse to sell the system to you to avoid liability.

Purchase online or at a shop:

Assembly of the rack system is very precise. If you are mechanically minded and very good at following directions, it is understandable to purchase online. Rack manufacturers sell these products all over the world, and the instructions are pictorial to avoid having to have multiple languages accommodated. These instructions are good if you have an understanding of the process of rack installation. If you don’t, watch out. Remember to be patient and thorough as the safety of other drivers is a stake.

Even if you are good at following directions, you may still want to purchase from a brick and mortar store. Often installation is free if you purchase from them. Their installers having more experience in building and attaching the rack gives them an advantage and speed.

Understand safety guidelines:

Read and understand safety guidelines for the use of the rack. Failing to do so can void the warranty and more importantly compromise safety.  And example of this is the use of bow and stern lines on boats and paddle boards.  Straps will hold a kayak to the rack, but when traveling at speed air flowing along the boat may cause lift. This can cause stress on the rack. A bow and stern line will stabilize the kayak keeping is where it needs to be, on your car.

It is also important to use the correct straps. Bungee cords are too dynamic (stretchy), and can allow the lashed object to slip. Instead use static straps with almost no stretch. This will give you a more solid attachement.

Our recommendation:

Of course, our recommendation is to buy from a local outfitter. Their experience will make selection, assembly and installation as smooth as possible. If you are in the Tampa Bay Area, we hope you will choose us.  If you have any questions, call us at 727-576-4169 or email at mailto:kayak@billjacksons.com.