3 Ways to Transport Your Canoe or Kayak

Getting your paddle craft to and from the water is a breeze if you have the right setup

Grey car with yellow canoe on roof
If you don’t have a truck or trailer, a roof-mounted rack is the safest way to haul your kayak or canoe.Thule

Sometimes, getting a new toy for the outdoors also means investing in a way to carry it. This is especially true of canoes, kayaks, and SUPs, which are usually hauled via car or truck rack. If you already have the bars and roof mounts but need a rack specifically designed to haul such a vessel, here are a few configurations that will work for almost any paddle craft.

J-Racks

J-shaped rack kayak or canoe carrier
A J-shaped rack can securely hold a canoe or kayak whenever you’re traveling.Ecotric

The J-style rack is particularly well suited for kayak transport. Available in either a one-piece or folding design, they cradle the hull firmly and securely, requiring minimal straps and tie-outs. One-piece J racks are inherently sturdy but less adaptable to hull shape and size. Fold-down versions are more flexible with regard to hull compatibility and allow you to position the vessel for maximum aerodynamic efficiency and noise reduction. But they do have moving parts that may have a little more play under load and can wear out over time.

Center Post Racks

Thule Compass Kayak Carrier
A folding rack is nice because it collapses out of the way when you’re not hauling anything.Thule

A rack with an adjustable center post is about the most versatile way to car top your yak or SUP. Fold flat to car-top a single vessel, recline one way or the other as a J-rack, or rig two SUPS on the edge with the post in the upright position.

Saddle Racks

Car Rack & Carriers Universal Saddles Kayak Carrier Canoe Boat
A saddle mount is a great setup for the solo paddler.Car Rack & Carriers

Saddle mounts carry the canoe or kayak in an upright position, one at a time. That is a very stable configuration, but it exposes the topsides to weather and road dirt and takes up more room than hauling the boat on edge. They are the most economical rack style of the three noted here, and are ideal for an occasional paddler with a single boat.