Best Kayak Roof Rack for Car without Rails 

If you are searching for the ideal kayak rack for cars without built-in rails? We’ve done the legwork and discovered options to suit every budget, ranging from budget-friendly to top-of-the-line.

Best Kayak Roof Rack

5 types of Best Kayak Roof Racks for Cars Without Rails

 Before introducing about Best Kayak Roof Rack I will guide you about the types of kayak roof racks it is very helpful to understand different styles of kayak roof rocks.People also take their pick in best gopro camera and save their beautiful moments.

         Clamp Attach Crossbars

These crossbars grab onto your car’s roof like strong hands, providing a sturdy base for your kayak. They’re like having a traditional rail system without actually having rails.

         Strap and Suction Attach Crossbars

 These crossbars use clever tricks to stay put. They sneak straps inside your car doors to hold them in place, and some even have suction cups that suck tightly onto your roof like little octopus arms.

         Soft Roof Rack Pads

 These pads are like Comy cushions for your kayak and your car’s roof. They’re easy to put on and take off, making them perfect for occasional kayak trips. And some for Best Big Guys Kayaks.

          Inflatable Roof Racks

 These Best Kayak Roof Racks are like inflatable pool toys but for your kayak. They blow up when you need them, making them super convenient and space-saving.

          Foam Blocks

 These blocks are the simplest and most affordable option. They’re like squishy pillows for your Best Kayak Roof Rack, and you just strap your kayak on top for a secure ride.

  • Best Rack for Cars Without Rails: Thule Evo Clamp + Wing Bar Evo
  • Budget-Friendly Crossbars: Malone Versa Rail Bare Roof Cross Rail System
  • Top Soft Roof Rack Pads: Yakima Easy Top Universal Roof Rack
  • Inflatable Roof Rack: Handi Rack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars

Thule Evo Clamp + WingBar Evo

Best Overall Rack for Cars Without Rails

Thule Evo Clamp + WingBar Evo


Maximum Load: 165 lbs

Thule has a well-deserved reputation for making top-notch products, and their latest combo, the Evo Clamp paired with the WingBar Evo, lives up to the brand’s high standards.

Right off the bat, you can see the strong, Average kayaking speed and reliable design of this combo. It can handle an impressive 165 lbs, making it a trustworthy choice whether you’re carrying a lightweight kayak or something heavier. The fact that it can securely attach to a car’s roof without rails means you can hit the road with confidence, knowing your Best Kayak Roof Rack is safe.

The WingBar Evo, a crucial part of this system, is designed with aerodynamics in mind. This not only reduces wind noise during your trips but also adds versatility for different kayak mounts.

Thule didn’t miss the details either – including a torque wrench shows they care about your vehicle’s well-being. This ensures you don’t tighten the rack too much and risk damaging your car’s roof – a thoughtful touch often overlooked by other brands.

Sure, there might be a bit of a learning curve, especially with the instruction manual being a bit confusing. But fear not, plenty of YouTube tutorials break down the installation process step by step.

What makes this product stand out? It’s the perfect mix of strength, functionality, and good looks that’s hard to find elsewhere. And let’s not forget Thule’s excellent customer support, adding an extra layer of trust to an already impressive package.


  • Built to last: Thule roof racks are tough cookies, made for years of adventure.
  • Quiet ride: Say goodbye to roof rack roar – the sleek WingBar design cuts through the wind silently.
  • Hauls it all: No mountain of gear is too much for these racks, they can handle whatever you throw at them.
  • Got your back: Thule’s got your back with top-notch support, just in case.


  • Pricey: Be prepared to pay a premium for Thule quality.
  • Instruction overload: The manual could use some Cliff Notes – keep it simple, Thule!

Malone VersaRail Bare Roof Cross Rail System

Best Budget-Friendly Crossbars

Malone VersaRail Bare Roof Cross


Maximum Load: 135 lbs

The Malone VersaRail system is a budget-friendly way to secure stuff on your car roof. It uses twin-cup vacuum towers and straps that grip your vehicle tightly.

Even though it’s not super expensive, it can handle a good amount of weight, up to 135 lbs. That might not be as much as fancier options, but it’s plenty for most folks.

Now, it’s not perfect. If it rains, there’s a chance water might drip down the straps and sneak into your car. It’s not a huge deal if you’re ready for it.

Also, while it fits on lots of different cars, the strap placement might be a bit tricky for certain interiors. It could make the inside of your car feel a bit cramped. It’s not a flaw, just something to think about.

In a nutshell, the Malone VersaRail is a solid and affordable choice. It might not be a permanent solution like some pricier ones, but if you’re just getting into kayaking, it’s a great pick.


  • Budget-friendly: Save your money for more adventures!
  • Easy setup: No engineering degree required!
  • Handles 135 lbs: Bring all the gear!
  • Quiet ride: No whistling in the wind!


  • Headroom hugger: Tall passengers beware!
  • Rainy day blues: Don’t let the water in!
  • Not for long-term: More of a temporary travel buddy.

  Yakima EasyTop Universal Roof Rack

Best Soft Roof Rack Pads

  Yakima EasyTop Universal Roof Rack


Maximum Load: 80 lbs

The Yakima EasyTop Universal Roof Rack is a fantastic pick for those who want convenience and practicality without committing to permanent fixtures.

Let’s start with how easy it is. No tools, no confusing manual—just as simple as securing a belt. This user-friendly approach lets any regular car handle up to 80 lbs of adventure gear, from kayaks to skis.

It’s not just simple; it’s smart. The streamlined design cuts down on drag. What’s cool is how Yakima takes care of both your car and your gear. The padding protects your vehicle from scratches, and it creates a comfy spot for your kayak. The double-latching buckle makes sure whatever you put on top stays on top, even on bumpy rides.

Now, the not-so-great stuff. The straps, while sturdy, might dip into your car’s space, especially if you’ve got tall passengers. And when it rains, the strap design could bring some water inside the car, especially during heavy downpours.


  • Easy on the wallet
  • No muss, no fuss setup
  • Cushy for your kayak and car
  • Light and easy to stash away


  • Might steal some headroom from your passengers
  • Rainy days might call for extra leak-proofing

HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack

HandiRack Universal Inflatable Best Kayak Roof Rack

HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack


Maximum Load: 180 lbs

A few years back, if someone mentioned “inflatable roof rack,” most of us would have been confused. But today, the HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars are not just real—they’re changing the game for transporting kayaks.

Let’s talk about what makes them stand out: super easy setup. No complicated stuff here. With the pump they provide, you can get your car ready for kayaking in just a few minutes.

But it’s not just about being fast. The HandiRack also takes care of your gear. It can handle up to 180 lbs, so it’s not just for kayaks—stand-up paddleboards, surfboards, and more fit comfortably.

Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the downside?” Well, there are a couple. Heavy rain can let some water in through the straps, and while the included tie-down straps work, you might want to upgrade to stronger cam straps for extra security.


  • Sets up in seconds, no tools are needed.
  • Soft padding protects the car and cargo.
  • Handles kayaks, bikes, boxes, and more.
  • Budget-friendly compared to traditional racks.


  • Might leak in the rain.
  • Straps could be better, the upgrade is recommended.
  • Unsure how long inflatable tubes will last.

Buying Guide: Factors to Consider

guide kayak

Choosing the Best Kayak Roof Rack for a car without rails can be a bit daunting at first. But don’t worry, we’re here to help make the process easier.

Ease of Use

Deciphering complicated instructions is the last thing you want when you’re eager to hit the water. Let’s break down how different roof rack styles compare in terms of user-friendliness:

Foam Pads

These are super easy. No tools are needed—just put them on your car roof, place your kayak on top, and use straps to secure everything. Simple and hassle-free!

Inflatable Racks

 Take the HandiRack, for example. It needs a pump and a few minutes of your time. Inflate it quickly, and when you’re done, deflate and store it away. Easy peasy!

Crossbar Racks

 Installing these might seem tricky, especially with products like the Thule Evo Clamp + WingBar Evo. These racks are for those who want a more permanent solution.


When thinking about the Best Kayak Roof Rack, durability is a crucial factor. Even though easy installation and a low price tag might be tempting, what good is a rack if it wears out quickly?

Some brands offer impressive warranties, but real durability goes beyond just a guarantee.

 A Best Kayak Roof Rack, whether for kayaks or other gear, is meant to last through many adventures.

Crossbar racks are often praised for their sturdy build, and top-tier brands like Thule have earned a solid reputation for long-lasting products.

 They use high-quality materials, ensuring their racks endure more than some cheaper options. However, budget-friendly choices can also be durable; it’s just essential to do thorough research and understand the trade-offs.

Durability isn’t only about the initial quality; maintenance plays a role too. Here are some steps to make sure your Best Kayak Roof Rack lasts a long time:

  • Check Regularly: Look over your Best Kayak Roof Rack now and then, especially before going on long trips, to make sure it’s not damaged.
  • Clean After Use: After every trip, clean off any dirt, grime, or water left on the rack. This helps it last longer.
  • Store Right: When you’re not using it, keep your soft roof rack in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Tight but Not Too Tight: Keep an eye on the fittings. Make sure they’re snug, but not too tight, to avoid unnecessary strain on the rack.


Choosing the Best Kayak Roof Rack: How Much to Spend?

  • Foam Blocks ($20-$60): Budget-friendly but might lack stability and durability. Good for occasional use or tight budgets.
  • Inflatable Roof Racks ($50-$150): A bit pricier, but adaptable and user-friendly. Great for those wanting flexibility without breaking the bank.
  • Soft Roof Rack Pads ($100-$200): Balances cost and functionality. Ideal for occasional kayakers seeking more stability than foam blocks provide.
  • Crossbar Racks ($150-$500+): Premium options from brands like Thule and Yakima. Pricey but offers durability, stability, and sometimes improved fuel efficiency.

Remember, investing a bit more upfront in a quality rack pays off in the long run, saving you money on frequent replacements and giving you peace of mind on every journey.

How to Install a Roof Rack on a Car Without Rails

            Prepare the Feet

  • Gather all components and check for position indicators on each foot.
  • Match each foot with its correct position and attach protective rubber or padding to prevent scratches on your car’s roof.

Attach Crossbars to Feet

  • Slide each foot onto the ends of the crossbars, making sure they are aligned properly.
  • Some racks may have a release mechanism or button to assist with this step.

Adjust the Scale (if provided)

  • If your rack comes with a measuring device or scale, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set the recommended measurement.
  • Ensure both ends of the bar align with this measurement.

Position the Rack on the Car:

  • Place the assembled rack (crossbars with attached feet) onto your car’s roof.
  • Use a measuring tape and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine the optimal distance between the front and rear bars for a secure fit.

Tighten the Rack:

  • Begin tightening the feet to secure the rack to the car.
  • Some racks come with a tool or indicator to signal when it’s sufficiently tight, preventing over-tightening and potential damage to your car.

Safety Check

  • Before hitting the road, perform a safety check to ensure the rack is stable and doesn’t move when nudged.
  • Some racks may have a release mechanism or button to assist with this step.

Final Touches

  • Once secured, attach any end caps or covers for a polished look and reduced wind noise.
  • Consider adding lock cylinders or extra security features for added protection.

Remember, these steps are general guidelines. Always refer to the manufacturer’s official installation guide for your specific roof rack to ensure a secure fit.


Yes, you can use modern roof racks on lots of cars, even those without rails. They work for small cars, big SUVs, and everything in between. Just check the manufacturer’s guidelines to be sure it fits your car right.

Universal roof racks are great for lots of car owners. They work well on many different vehicles, which is perfect for homes with more than one car. These racks are a budget-friendly option compared to having permanent roof rails.

They’re easy to install, save space, and can be taken apart and stored when you’re not using them, so they don’t have to stay on your car all the time.

Sure! To attach kayak mounts like J-cradles, saddle mounts, or stackers, you usually need crossbars. While foam pads or inflatable racks can be temporary solutions, they don’t work with specialized kayak mounts. With these temporary options, you just put the kayak on them without using extra mounts.


Choosing the Best Kayak Roof Rack is important. It’s not just about getting your kayak from one place to another. It’s about keeping your kayak safe, protecting your vehicle, and making sure you feel at ease.

So, how do you pick the right one? Think about what you need and like, and consider how often you go kayaking. If you’re a casual kayaker who likes spontaneity, Thule Evo Clamp + WingBar Evo is great for durability and style. If you’re on a budget, Malone VersaRail or Yakima EasyTop perform well without being too expensive. 

And if you want something innovative and easy, the HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars are worth checking out. Your choice depends on your kayaking habits and what features matter most to you.

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