Kayak Roof Rack for Cars Without Rails

It does not matter if kayaking has recently become a sport for you, or if you kayak just for the pleasure of it, what matters is that you know how vital it is for you to have the appropriate gear with you at all times. And one of the most important gear that you need to always have with you as a kayaker is the kayak rack.

This rack is usually attached to the roof of a vehicle, and it makes it very easy for you to move your kayak from one spot to another. It sees to it that your kayak is held in place securely to the roof of your vehicle.

There are several models and types of kayak roof rack for cars that do not have rails on the market today and finding one that would suit your unique needs really shouldn’t be a hassle for you. In this article, we will be talking about the different kinds of kayak roof racks for cars that are available, giving you our review of these products for those with and those without rails.

Types of Kayak Roof Rack

We will be looking at the three main types of kayaks roof racks that are mostly used by kayakers to move their kayaks from one end of a body of water to another.

  1. Saddle kayak rack: The saddle kayak racks are the types that are mostly used among kayakers, and this is probably because of their ease of use and because they have the most secured kayak attachment. With the saddle kayak racks, they carry the kayaks in a horizontal position, and what this means is that the kayak would take up all the space up on the roof of your vehicle. When it comes to aerodynamics, there is no bother with its placement.
  2. Stacker Kayak Carrier: This type of kayak roof rack is designed majorly for carrying two to four kayaks at a time, this means that with the stacker kayak carrier, you will have more roof space to accommodate other supplies. The stacker kayak carrier keeps the kayak in a vertical position on the roof of your vehicle, and when it comes to aerodynamics, this may not be a very good option for you to consider, because it just might not be as secure as you would want it to be. For this specific reason, many people consider it a difficult method of carrying a kayak.
  3. J-Cradle Kayak Carrier: This kayak roof rack is set up in a 45-degrees inclination, and that is just how the kayak is held. It gives good security for your kayak, giving extra space for an additional kayak, and this is only if two J-cradles are on your car’s roof.

Top Kayak Roof Rack for Cars Without Rails

To carry a kayak directly on a bare car roof, and this is for cars that do not have rails or gutter, would simply mean that you will be risking denting your car and peeling the paint. Kayak roof racks have the right fittings that would make up for the lack of rails and gutters on cars. Below, we will be giving you reviews on the top car kayak roof rack for cars.

Thule Traverse Foot Roof Rack

This is a rack system designed to make fitting a kayak on the roof of your car a great experience. It has been fused with a number of components that make it highly functional and very respected.

And some of these features are the Advanced AcuTight tensioning tool that will help you get the needed stability; there is also the patented MaxClamp Technology that increases the secure attachment to the car and the lockable outer cover that blend with the roofline of your car and  to hold your kayak in place when it is used with the Thule key locking system.

It has an EZAssembly design that makes installation quite easy.

kayak roof rack for cars without rail

This kayak roof rack’s ease of installation and quality is one reason, undoubtedly, why many individuals prefer the Thule traverse foot roof rack. Although, there have been times when kayakers have complained about its package, saying it does not match the Thule’s standard.

Other complaints have been that some parts were missing or sometimes they came delivered with a dent.

We have no doubt that Thule will keep making top quality rack systems, and this traverse roof rack unit is definitely not an exception. And for this reason, the traverse foot roof rack will be getting a solid 8.5/10 in ratings.

  • This design is innovative                              
  • It gives good security to your kayak.
  • It is easy to install
  • Good quality

  •  There might be some noise when the car is on top speed. 


Yakima Baseline Tower Rack

If you are in search of a gear that would turn your rail-less car’s rooftop into a useful space, especially in terms of carrying your kayak, the Yakima Baseline Tower Rack is what you are looking for. This rack has a triaxial DropHook clip adjustment that makes it perfectly fit onto any car rood shape and it also allows it to seat securely in place, this is after installing it. It has a toe adjustment that gives this unit some edge.

The Yakima Baseline Tower Rack has a bar-bed that enables it to effortlessly suit rounded roof lines; this bar-bed can be set to a pitch of about 12 degrees. This unit is lockable to the vehicle, with the same key system (SKS) locks, and it has a carrying capacity of 100kg. This is a rugged roof rack system. It is compatible with the Jetstream Crossbars or corebar, and the Yakima Roundbar.

When it comes to its quality, this product lives up to standards, but when it comes to ease of installation, there are downsides, many customers are very dissatisfied with this aspect of the unit.

But the good thing is, with the difficulty encountered when installing it, there comes the assurance that it will securely hold your kayak in place. So, after all the laboring you would need to do, there is a reward.


  • It has a secure fit
  • It is versatile.
  • It is very functional.
  • A sturdy model

  • It is hard to install
  • Creates some wind noises. 


INNO INA446 Car Top Roof Rack

INNO is a Japanese manufacturing company, and this is one masterpiece that they have created, the INA446 car top roof rack. This rack is compatible with a variety of crossbars; and this is made possible with the aid of its universal mounting adapters, which was designed in a way that makes loading easy.

This rack was designed with a blend of top-grade rubber and metallic materials. It has adjustable rubber pads that protect your kayak from getting scratches, there is also the integrated hand knob that secures the kayak to the roof of the car, and this is advanced by its locking covers.

INNO INA446 Car Top Roof Rack

This is one rack that you can easily fall in love with, as it has everything that is required to keep the roof of your car and your kayak well protected from any kind of damage. There are also some components that will thrill you; the crane-style spring loaded straps that make its installation quite easy, the covers that keep you from worrying while the system holds your kayak on top of your car’s roof.

This is one rack that we will recommend for those of you who want to move your Kayak from one spot to the other with no worries.


    • It is easy to load.
    •  It is easy to install.
    • Versatile.
    • This rack is made from top quality materials.
    • Comes with good protection.


Malone HandiRack Inflatable Universal Rooftop Rack

If you are in the market looking for kayak racks for your car that has no rails and, also very functional, the Malone handirack inflatable universal rooftop rack is the one for you. Its distinctive nature can be seen in both its makeup and in its efficiency.

This kayak roof rack is made from durable 420-dernier nylon, and it has a carrying capacity of about 80kg. And its carrying capacity is something that even some metal racks cannot take. It has an integrated double action air pump, and its installation process is quite easy; you can set it up in just a matter of minutes.

It has 5 different D-ring anchor points that give enough protection to the kayak, and it also has a cam style load strap. It has a width of 23cm and a length of 94cm.

Malone HandiRack Inflatable Universal Rooftop Rack

Many kayakers that have used this unit have complained of this rack’s inability to resist heat, and how it does not effectively retain water, and this is for when it starts to rain. But if you look at the main point of this rack, the Malone handirack inflatable rooftop rack will be scored high.

It is quite good, and it is a handy alternative. It also does not make any sound when the car is on full speed.


  • It is quite sturdy
  • It is of good quality, and is affordable
  • Convenient to use and, also easy to install
  • Offers some good protection.

  • It may scratch your car
  • Its air chambers are not heat resistant and are prone to quick damages. 


Road Trip HQ Car Roof Rack

The Malone Handirack inflatable roof rack is not the only inflatable roof rack available on the market, in fact, the Road Trip car roof rack is a self-inflatable rack. Added to it are the necessary tools/items that you will need to successfully set it up seamlessly. Once you open the valves of the rack, it inflates itself, and is ready to use in the space of two minutes. The rack’s kit has two inflatable bars and two separate tie-down straps that are 2.7 meters long, that secure the kayak on the roof, while the car is in motion.


The rack is soft but rugged, and you should be rest assured that your car’s painting will be in tact as this rack is fixed to your car’s rooftop. Its carrying capacity is about 45kg. This is an amazing roof rack and it gets a 9/10.


  • It is convenient to use
  • It is strong and durable
  • It is easy to install and is self-inflating
  • It is affordable
  • Has a good cushion for the kayak
  • There are no cons. 

SportRack SR1002 Roof Rack System

This roof rack unit has the carrying capacity of about 59kg and it does efficiently do its job. This rack is made from steel, and it is coated with black plastic, keeping rust resistant, and, also, protecting it from the UV rays. Its package comes with two square crossbars, and four roof rack feet clamps that can be fixed to the top of the roof with the help of clips that are included in the kit. There are rubber pads at the bottom of the feet that makes sure that the paint in your car is kept intact.

SportRack SR1002 Roof Rack System

This rack also features an integrated lock system that helps to keep it secure and to ward off anyone that might try to steal it. It works on just about any type of vehicle’s rooftop, but it is vital that you check the unique numbering system, which is available on each rack, as this helps you find the best fit for your car.


Some users of the product have found some reasons to complain about certain features of this rack. Some users complain about the difficulty they face when trying to shut their car’s door after the rack has been installed, and another complaint they have is that the wind noise is too strong.

But looking away from that, the SportRack SR1002 Roof Rack System is a good gear for the safe transporting of your kayak, even when you are moving at high speed. Another thing, this rack can be considered an all-weather gear, because it has a weatherstrip that keeps water away in the rainy season. When you look at this, and its ability to resist UV rays, you will agree with the fact that gear is an all-weather one.

  • It is easy to install
  • It is lightweight
  • It is affordable
  • Very sturdy 

  •  Creates lots of wind noise 


Malone Versarail Crossrail System

And we end our review with the Malone Versarail Crossrail System roof rack. Included in the package of this rack unit are abrasion resistant dual suctions towers, vinyl coated steel bars, attachment straps and several other relevant items needed to make the installation of this unit quite easy.

This rack comes in two length types: 50 inches and 58 inches, and it will comfortably carry a load that weighs about 60kg.

Malone Versarail Crossrail System

The Malone Versarail Crossrail System roof rack is a good rack for carrying your kayak around. But when it is the rainy season, there comes a problem, there would be a rainy mess right inside your car. And for this reason, many people have been very critical about the Malone versarail crossrail system rack.

To add to that, users have complained about the quality of its straps, with some suggesting that there needs to be a ratchet straps and not what they currently have in use. And sometimes, accessories are found to be missing from the package.

Although this rack system has its good qualities, we have to say that there needs to be quite a few improvements made to this unit, and one of those is the gutter clips that it is missing. The absence of these clips is really messing up the quality of this rack system. After all that, we will give this roof rack a 7/10.


  • It is durable
  •  It is rust resistant
  • Quite easy to install
  • High quality


Before Buying A Roof Rack                                

There are a few things you need to know before you buy a rack system.

  1. You need to know the width of your car. How wide is your car? This is important because not all racks fit all cars and buying just any one would lead to you regretting. And to avoid this, find out if the rack will be a good fit.



  1. Is there a rain gutter?

Some cars come with rain gutters, and these are narrow channels that allow rain run off the front and rear of your car’s roof. There are a number of racks that will attach to rain gutters either permanently or temporarily.

  1. Your budget

How much have you set aside for this item? To acquire a safe roof rack system, you would probably end up buying one from one of the reputable brands out there, like the ones mentioned in the list.

  1. The Weight

If you plan on attaching the roof rack to an already existing rack, then you would need to consider the heaviest weight that it would be carrying. If the roof rack will be mounted gutterless or in the rain gutters of your car, then you should ensure that it can accommodate the largest weight.

  1. Accessories

Not all roof racks come with accessories in their packages. These accessories make it easy for you to mount the rack onto your car’s roof. So, before making any purchase, ask what accessories come with the roof rack system you are buying.