If you’re a proud Jeep owner, you know that these vehicles are built for off-road adventures. But when it comes to carrying a kayak, Jeep roofs may pose a challenge. That’s why we’ve done the research to help you find the best kayak racks for your Jeep. Whether you’re planning a solo trip or a group expedition, we’ve got you covered!
Types of Racks: Choose What Suits You Best
Roof Rack Crossbars: Versatile and Convenient
Crossbars are a popular choice for Jeep owners looking for versatility. With crossbars, you have the option to directly secure your kayak to the roof, or add a specialized kayak rack. This flexibility allows you to carry not only your kayak but also other rooftop cargo. It’s like having an extra storage space for your adventure gear!
J-Cradles: Optimal Space Utilization
J-cradles are a favorite among Jeep owners who want to maximize roof space. By carrying your kayak on its side, J-cradles free up room on your roof for additional cargo or a second set of J-cradles for a second kayak. Look for a rack that folds down when not in use, giving you the clearance you need to drive into garages or parking lots without removing the entire rack.
Hitch-Mount Racks: Easy Loading, Increased Capacity
If you’re loading a kayak onto your Jeep by yourself, a hitch-mount rack can be a game-changer. Designed to mount to your Jeep’s tow hitch, these racks provide additional crossbars for extended length. Some even allow vertical storage for kayaks against the back door of your Jeep. However, do check compatibility with your Jeep model and kayak type.
Lift-Assist Racks: Effortless Loading
No more struggling to lift a heavy kayak onto your Jeep! Lift-assist racks are the perfect solution. These racks help take the weight of the kayak, making it easier for you to load it onto your roof. Though they can be a bit pricey, lift-assist racks are worth the investment, especially if you frequently adventure alone.
Top Jeep Kayak Racks Reviewed
Rhino Rack Folding J-Style Kayak Carrier (best for Wrangler)
The Rhino Rack Folding J-Style Kayak Carrier is a universal mounting system that fits most crossbars. Though not compatible with Thule’s Aero bars or Professional crossbars, it’s a reliable option for your Wrangler. With padded J-cradles and included straps, it ensures your kayak stays secure during transit. The best part? It folds flat, allowing you to drive in low clearance zones without removing the rack.
Thule Compass Kayak Carrier (best for Cherokee)
If you’re looking to carry more than one kayak, the Thule Compass Kayak Rack is an excellent choice. With options for J-cradle, saddle, or stacker configurations, it can accommodate two kayaks or even a kayak and a SUP. Though on the pricier side, its universal mounting system and enhanced protection features make it a great investment for Jeep Cherokees.
Yakima JayLow Kayak Rack (best for Gladiator)
The Yakima JayLow Kayak Rack is a versatile choice for Gladiator owners. It can carry one kayak in a J-cradle configuration or two kayaks in a vertical stacked position. The integrated ramp makes loading your kayak a breeze. While it may not be suitable for heavy kayaks, its compatibility with most crossbars and folding design make it a convenient option.
Rhino Rack Fixed J-Style Kayak Carrier (best for Compass)
Designed for Compass owners, the Rhino Rack Fixed J-Style Kayak Carrier features a universal mounting design and rubber tube padding for added kayak protection. With a weight capacity of 99 pounds, it’s perfect for transporting heavy fishing kayaks. While it doesn’t fold flat, it offers excellent kayak security and comes with two padded straps.
Inno Kayak Roof Rack (best for Renegade)
The Inno Kayak Roof Rack is a universal option that can be installed on various vehicles, including the Renegade. With padded cradles and a foldable design, it provides a secure and convenient solution for carrying up to two kayaks. Its universal mounts and easy folding mechanism make it a top choice for Renegade owners.
For the full list of reviewed Jeep kayak racks, visit East Coast Paddle Sports.
How to Choose the Perfect Rack for Your Jeep
Choosing the right kayak rack for your Jeep depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors such as the type of rack, the number of kayaks you plan to carry, and your budget. If you often paddle solo, a load-assist rack may be worth the investment. Meanwhile, padded crossbars can be a more cost-effective solution.
Loading a Kayak on Your Jeep: Tips and Tricks
Loading a kayak onto your Jeep can be a challenging task, especially if you’re doing it alone. However, with the right tools and techniques, it becomes much easier. Consider using load-assist accessories or having a helping hand. You can find various tools designed specifically for kayaking, such as kayak rollers with suction cups. Check out our video guide on how to strap and carry a kayak on a Jeep with load assist.
Jeep Kayak Racks: FAQs
- How do you put a kayak on a Jeep without a rack?
- Should I buy a hitch-mounted or roof-mounted kayak rack for my Jeep?
- How do you put a kayak on top of a Jeep by yourself?
- Can I fit a 12-foot kayak on the roof?
- Do kayak racks carry canoes?
For answers to these FAQs and more, check out our comprehensive FAQ section on Jeep kayak racks.
Racking Up: Conclusion
After careful consideration, our top pick for the best Jeep kayak rack is the Rhino Rack Folding J-Style Carrier. Its durability, ease of use, and fold-flat feature make it the perfect companion for your adventures. If you’re looking for a rack with lift-assist technology, our runner-up, the Thule Hullavator Pro, is an excellent choice. Remember to consider your kayak type, loading preferences, and budget when selecting a rack for your Jeep. Happy kayaking!
This article was brought to you by East Coast Paddle Sports. Visit ecpaddlesports.com for more information.