15 Best Jeep Kayak Racks

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15 Best Jeep Kayak Racks

Jeeps are some of the most rugged all-terrain vehicles out there, but they don’t always make it easy to take a kayak along on your adventures. To do so, you will need one of the best Jeep kayak racks.

Fortunately, we have done a lot of the legwork for you to compile a list of roof rack models that are compatible with most models of Jeeps going back to the mid-2000s. On that list, you will find flat crossbars, full roof rack solutions, folding and traditional J-racks, and even a lift-assist kayak rack.

We will also dive into some of the factors you can use to determine which style and model is the best fit for your Jeep!

Photo by Denise Barlock via Shutterstock

Best Jeep Kayak Racks

  1. Rhino Rack Aero Bar
  2. Hooke Road Cross Bars
  3. Trail FX J021T Roof Rack
  4. Rugged Ridge 11703.02 Sherpa Roof Rack
  5. Hooke Road Hard Top Cargo Basket Roof Rack
  6. Snailfly Black Luggage Roof Rack
  7. Thule Hullavator Pro
  8. IKURAM 4-in-1 Folding Kayak J-Rack
  9. Leader Accessories Folding Kayak Rack
  10. ZOVOTA Foldable Kayak Rack
  11. IKURAM 3-in-1 Folding Kayak J-Rack
  12. Malone Downloader Folding Kayak J-Rack
  13. TMS J-Style Racks (Two Pair)
  14. Leader Accessories J-Style Racks (Two Pair)
  15. LT Sport J-Style Rack (Single)

Buying Guide

Photo by Denise Barlock via Shutterstock

We want to acknowledge that your Jeep is unique, and so is the kayak that you have chosen for your paddling adventures. So we want to briefly discuss the different rack styles that we have chosen for this list and some of their important advantages and disadvantages.

Rack Style

There are four main types of Jeep kayak racks you will find on our list below. They are flat crossbars and roof racks, lift-assist racks, folding J-racks, and traditional J-racks.

Let’s briefly discuss some of the pros and cons of each style so that you can narrow in on the best one for you as you scroll down.

Flat Crossbars, Full Roof Racks, and Cargo Baskets

Photo by FabrikaSimf via Shutterstock

If the roof of your Jeep is currently bare, this is the place you must begin. All of the other rack styles require some sort of crossbars or cargo basket roof rack to attach to the roof of your vehicle.

If you only have one or two kayaks, however, you can easily load them flat and face down on crossbars or a more full-roof rack. These racks also have the benefit of prepping your Jeep to carry other loads, such as lumber or an enclosed cargo carrier.

Lift-Assist Racks

PC Thule

This rack style is best if you have a particularly heavy kayak or you are just tired of lifting all that weight on your own. The best models slide out and extend down the side of your vehicle so that you only have to lift your kayak to roughly half the total height of your Jeep’s roof.

Then, the rack takes a portion of the weight while you push the kayak the rest of the way up and onto the roof. Because Jeeps have flat back windows (in most cases), there is really only one model that is compatible, however, and it is quite expensive.

Folding J-Racks

Photo by JD and Beastlet via Flickr

Folding J-style racks are great because they can fold down while you are not using them. This helps reduce their impact on your Jeep’s fuel economy and also helps you avoid hitting something if passing under a sign or going into a parking garage with really low clearance.

Many of these racks actually give you the ability to hold up to two kayaks and some even come with a paddle holder. This helps to further increase the amount of space you can retain inside of your Jeep for other kayaking safety equipment and, on the whole, these racks are generally pretty affordable.

Traditional J-Racks

Photo by Andrew Penney Photography via Flickr

In terms of their function, traditional J-racks work the same as a folding J-rack (when the latter is unfolded). Because they don’t offer folding capability, these racks can compromise your fuel economy even when you aren’t carrying a kayak.

Plus, you will have to remember they are up there if you are pulling into a drive-thru that has a particular low clearance. The major benefit of this rack style, however, is that it is typically going to be the most affordable option you will find.

So, Which Is Best For You?

If your Jeep’s roof is currently bare, then you have an easy choice to go with either flat crossbars or a full roof rack. From there, you can always add another style of rack, but you must start there.

If you think you will want to carry other gear up there when you are not transporting a kayak, you may also consider a cargo basket style roof rack.

For those of you with Jeeps that already have crossbars, all of the other racks are reasonable options. If you have a large budget and want help getting your kayak onto the roof of your Jeep, go with a lift assist rack.

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Rhino Rack Aero Bar 4WD SUV Roof Racks | Gutter Mount Base Rack for Jeep Wrangler JK/JL, JT Gladiator; 4 Door Hard Top 2011 - 2020 (2 Set) in Black; Easy Use & Fitment, Large (SG59)
Hooke Road Roof Rack Cross Bars Kayak Cargo Carriers Compatible with Jeep Wrangler JK JL Gladiator JT 2007-2021 (4-Door Hard Top)
Trail FX J021T Roof Rack
Rugged Ridge 11703.02 Sherpa Roof Rack; 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JKU, 4 Door
Thule Hullavator Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier
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Rhino Rack Aero Bar 4WD SUV Roof Racks | Gutter Mount Base Rack for Jeep Wrangler JK/JL, JT Gladiator; 4 Door Hard Top 2011 - 2020 (2 Set) in Black; Easy Use & Fitment, Large (SG59)
Hooke Road Roof Rack Cross Bars Kayak Cargo Carriers Compatible with Jeep Wrangler JK JL Gladiator JT 2007-2021 (4-Door Hard Top)
Trail FX J021T Roof Rack
Rugged Ridge 11703.02 Sherpa Roof Rack; 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JKU, 4 Door
Thule Hullavator Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier
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Rhino Rack Aero Bar 4WD SUV Roof Racks | Gutter Mount Base Rack for Jeep Wrangler JK/JL, JT Gladiator; 4 Door Hard Top 2011 - 2020 (2 Set) in Black; Easy Use & Fitment, Large (SG59)
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Rhino Rack Aero Bar 4WD SUV Roof Racks | Gutter Mount Base Rack for Jeep Wrangler JK/JL, JT Gladiator; 4 Door Hard Top 2011 - 2020 (2 Set) in Black; Easy Use & Fitment, Large (SG59)
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Hooke Road Roof Rack Cross Bars Kayak Cargo Carriers Compatible with Jeep Wrangler JK JL Gladiator JT 2007-2021 (4-Door Hard Top)
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Hooke Road Roof Rack Cross Bars Kayak Cargo Carriers Compatible with Jeep Wrangler JK JL Gladiator JT 2007-2021 (4-Door Hard Top)
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Trail FX J021T Roof Rack
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Trail FX J021T Roof Rack
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Rugged Ridge 11703.02 Sherpa Roof Rack; 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JKU, 4 Door
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Rugged Ridge 11703.02 Sherpa Roof Rack; 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JKU, 4 Door
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Thule Hullavator Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier
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Thule Hullavator Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier
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Jeep Kayak Rack Reviews

Flat Crossbars, Full Roof Racks, and Cargo Baskets

If the roof of your Jeep is currently bare, check out these options that will allow you to load kayaks flat and strap them down with ease.

1. Rhino Rack Aero Bar

Rhino Rack Aero Bar 4WD SUV Roof Racks | Gutter Mount Base Rack for Jeep Wrangler JK/JL, JT Gladiator; 4 Door Hard Top 2011 - 2020 (2 Set) in Black; Easy Use & Fitment, Large (SG59)

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  • Weight Limit: 88 pounds
  • Compatibility: Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-2018), JL (2018-2021), or Gladiator JT (2020-2021)
    • Four-Door Models Only

The Rhino Rack Aero Bars measure approximately 55 inches across and are compatible with all Jeep Wrangler, Gladiator, and JK accessories. Each package comes with two bars, four legs, and everything else you need for a quick and easy installation.

They also have built-in theft deterrent properties that require a special tool to loosen and remove them. The tool is included with the package, so you will just need to keep it safe and secure in order to keep your bars equally secure.

The bars are built with anodized aluminum that makes them strong and durable while keeping them lightweight. The legs are made of glass-reinforced nylon and they are UV treated to minimize ultraviolet degradation over time.

The bars and legs are both finished with powder coating to prevent corrosion and further maximize their lifespan. The bars also feature rubberized top strips to help reduce drag and minimize wind noise.

2. Hooke Road Cross Bars

Hooke Road Roof Rack Cross Bars Kayak Cargo Carriers Compatible with Jeep Wrangler JK JL Gladiator JT 2007-2021 (4-Door Hard Top)

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  • Weight Limit: 88 pounds
  • Compatibility: Jeep Wrangler JL, JK, or Gladiator JT from 2007 to 2021
    • Four-Door Models Only
    • Hard Tops Only

The Hooke Road roof rack actually comes with two crossbars of slightly varying lengths. The front crossbar measures 50 inches long and the rear crossbar measures closer to 50.78 inches, but both of them measure 3.15 inches wide.

Once the legs are installed, however, the full measurements of these bars are closer to 59.44 and 60.24 inches, respectively. The bars are made of high-quality aluminum alloy and ABS plastic.

These bars easily bolt into the rain gutter mounts on your Jeep’s factory-installed hardtop. The two crossbars come with four mounting brackets that secure into place using M6 screws.

3. Trail FX J021T Roof Rack

Trail FX J021T Roof Rack

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  • Weight Limit: 300 pounds
  • Compatibility: Jeep Wrangler (2007-2018
    • Two Door Models Only

The J021T roof rack from Trail FX is a direct fit, full roof storage solution that is made primarily of steel. The steel tubing is two inches in diameter with a wall thickness of 0.12 inches and it comes with quarter-inch brackets for mounting.

In addition to receiving a powder-coated finish before being packaged, all of the components of this rack are also E-coated. This procedure involves the use of electricity to adhere paint to a surface and further increases the rack’s ability to withstand rust and corrosion.

You will not need to do any drilling to install this roof rack (if you do not want to) and it will also increase your ability to add other accessories to your Jeep down the line. With its large load capacity, it is also a great solution for folks with heavy fishing kayaks.

4. Rugged Ridge 11703.02 Sherpa Roof Rack

Rugged Ridge 11703.02 Sherpa Roof Rack; 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JKU, 4 Door

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  • Weight Limit: 300 pounds
  • Compatibility: Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-2018)
    • Two-Door and Four-Door Models

The Sherpa Roof Rack from Rugged Ridge easily bolts onto the body of your Jeep and there are models available for both two-door and four-door designs. You will not need to make any modifications to install it and all of its components are E-coated before receiving a textured black powder coating to prevent rust.

This rack works with hardtop and soft top models because it boasts a unique tilting feature. The bars can be unlocked and tilted back to make it easier to remove Freedom panels, soft top shells, and hardtop covers.

At the front of the rack, there is also an integrated light bar with a total of three tabs. Plus, you will not need to drill any new holes to install this rack because it is designed to use OE bolt mounting points.

5. Hooke Road Hard Top Cargo Basket Roof Rack

Hooke Road Hard Top Cargo Basket Roof Rack Luggage Carrier Compatible with Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited 4 Door 2007-2018

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  • Weight Limit: 150 pounds
  • Compatibility: Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited (2007-2018)
    • Four-Door Models Only

The hardtop cargo basket roof rack fits the back half of your Jeep’s hardtop roof and can be used to secure one or two kayaks for transport. The benefit of this rack is that it also makes it easy to transport other cargo when you are going camping too far from the water to bring kayaks.

This rack requires bolt-on installation and it measures approximately 53.54 inches across by 58.31 inches long. There are multiple cross rails in place to form the basket, which gives you multiple places to thread kayak straps to secure your vessels.

This rack also comes with two 18-watt LED lights installed at the front and is made with an aerodynamic style that will not drastically compromise your Jeep’s fuel economy on long trips.

6. Snailfly Black Luggage Roof Rack

Snailfly Black Luggage Roof Rack Fit for 2007-2018 Jeep Wrangler JK & 2018-2022 Jeep Wrangler JL Unlimited 2&4DOOR Cross Bars

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  • Weight Limit: 150 pounds
  • Compatibility: Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-2018) and JL Unlimited (2018-2022)
    • Two-Door and Four-Door
    • Hardtop Only

The Snailfly black luggage roof rack comes with all of the necessary legs and mounting hardware for easy installation. The crossbars themselves are slightly different lengths to fit the tapered style of compatible Jeep roofs.

The crossbars are made of powder-coated aluminum that makes them durable and corrosion-resistant while keeping them relatively lightweight. They also mount right to the rain gutter on your hardtop, which takes just minutes.

The bars are a little more than 3 inches wide, which can be an important consideration when imagining what other accessories you will attach on top.

Lift-Assist Racks

If you are sick of lifting the entire weight of your kayak to get it on top of your jeep, consider this option from some of the best easy-load kayak roof racks.

7. Thule Hullavator Pro

Thule Hullavator Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier, Black/Silver

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  • Weight Limit: 75 pounds
  • Compatibility: Thule AeroBlade and SquareBar Crossbars

The Thule Hullavator Pro is the only lift-assist, easy-load kayak rack on our list because, quite frankly, it is the best one. While it doesn’t come with a small price tag, this rack will make loading and unloading your kayak so much easier.

The gas struts on this rack will support up to 40 pounds of the kayak’s weight as you guide it up onto your roof. Once there, you will not have to fuss with moving anything around and can simply strap your kayak down and get on your way.

It extends down so that you can load your kayak onto it at waist height instead of over your head. It also boasts a total of eight padded points to support and protect your kayak during loading/unloading and while you are driving.

Folding J-Racks

If you already have a set of crossbars on top of your jeep, check out these folding J-style racks.

8. IKURAM 4-in-1 Folding Kayak J-Rack

IKURAM R Kayak/Surf/Ski Roof Carrier Rack of Bilateral Premier J-Style Folding 4-in-1 for Canoe, SUP, Kayaks, Surfboard and Ski Board Rooftop Mount on SUV, Car and Truck

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  • Weight Limit: 158 pounds
  • Compatibility: Most Round, Square, and Oval-Shaped Factory Installed Crossbars

The four-in-one IKURAM folding J-rack can accommodate two kayaks or a variety of other recreation accessories of your choice. Imagine easier transport of paddleboards, surfboards, snowboards, skis, and much more.

The racks are made of aviation-grade aluminum alloys that are corrosion-resistant and engineered to last. The also boasts a quick fold-down design and the upright leg can be locked into multiple positions for maximum versatility.

The racks even include rubber straps that can secure up to two kayak paddles with your kayaks. Plus, these racks even come with heavy-duty tie-down straps so that you do not have to bother finding them elsewhere.

9. Leader Accessories Folding Kayak Rack

Leader Accessories Folding Kayak Rack 4 PCS/Set J Bar Car Roof Rack for Canoe Surf Board SUP On Roof Top Mount on SUV, Car and Truck Crossbar with 4 pcs Tie Down Straps

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  • Weight Limit: 100 pounds
  • Compatibility: Most Square, Factory, and Aerodynamic Crossbars
    • Won’t work with round crossbars

The Leader Accessories Folding Kayak Rack actually comes with two separate pairs designed to be installed on your existing crossbars or cargo basket. Each rack folds down separately as needed and they feature a quick-release handle that makes them a cinch to adjust.

Lots of foam padding on these racks help to protect your kayaks from damage during loading and unloading. The racks themselves are made of powder-coated steel tubing that is durable and rust-resistant.

Other than round bars, these racks can quickly be installed on almost any other style of crossbars. They feature hand-tightened brackets that hold them in place so you will not need any additional tools to get them set up.

10. ZOVOTA Foldable Kayak Rack

ZOVOTA Foldable Kayak Rack J-Bar Roof Rack Sets Adjustable J-Style Kayak Carrier for Car SUV Roof Top (Black)

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  • Weight Limit: Unknown
  • Compatibility: Most Round, Square, and Oval-Shaped Factory Installed Crossbars

ZOVOTA is a relatively new entry into the world of kayak racks, but they do make one of the most affordable designs in this sector. The racks feature a soft rubber base to make it safer to slide a heavier kayak from the back of your Jeep.

They also feature high-density foam on the arms to reduce friction and provide safer transport for your kayak. This rack also includes a rubber paddle keeper strap so that you do not have to store your paddle inside your Jeep.

11. IKURAM 3-in-1 Folding Kayak J-Rack

IKURAM R Kayak/Surf/Ski Roof Carrier Rack of J-Style Folding Universal Field & Stream 3-in-1 Multifunction for Canoe, SUP, Kayaks, Surfboard and Ski Board Rooftop Mount on SUV, Car and Truck

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  • Weight Limit: 160 pounds
  • Compatibility: Most Round, Square, and Oval-Shaped Factory Installed Crossbars

If you like the other IKURAM model but don’t need a rack that can carry two kayaks, their 3-in-1 folding option may be better for you. It features the same aviation-grade anodized aluminum alloy design for great durability and excellent carrying capacity.

It can also accommodate kayaks up to 42 inches wide and comes with two kayak straps and a clear installation kit. The quick-release handles also make it easy to fold these racks in any direction you choose because they are capable of swinging up to 180 degrees.

12. Malone Downloader Folding Kayak J-Rack

Malone Downloader Folding J-Style Universal Car Rack Kayak Carrier with Bow and Stern Lines

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  • Weight Limit: 75 pounds
  • Compatibility: Round, Square, and Most Oval-Shaped Factory Installed Crossbars

The Malone Downloader Folding Racks are great for easy loading because they come with a built-in boarding ramp. This ramp makes it much easier to get the bow of your kayak up at an angle before moving to the stern and then lifting and sliding it up into place.

This is a typical technique used for loading a heavier kayak by yourself and that is precisely what these racks are designed for. They also fold down to increase your overhead clearance when you are not transporting a kayak.

Furthermore, these racks are compatible with the Malone Telos XL Lift Assist Module. This module can temporarily be put in place to make it even easier to load heavy kayaks onto the top of your Jeep.

Traditional J-Style Racks

If you want to find a kayak rack solution for your Jeep that keeps a little extra money in your wallet, check out these traditional J-style rack options that can mount to a Jeep with existing crossbars.

13. TMS J-Style Rack (Two Pair)

Lifetime Warranty TMS® 2 Pairs J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Canoe Boat Surf Ski Roof Top Mount Car SUV Crossbar

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  • Weight Limit: 75 pounds
  • Compatibility: Most Round, Square, and Oval-Shaped Factory Installed Crossbars

The TMS pair of J-style racks are super easy to install and there is no need for additional tools or hardware to do so. They simply sit on your crossbars (or rails of a cargo basket) and tighten using a total of four bolts.

They offer a nearly universal fit with steel construction and adjustable padding so you can protect the most sensitive areas of your kayak. They can accommodate kayaks up to 36 inches wide and also come with two sets of tie-down straps.

14. Leader Accessories J-Style Rack (Two Pair)

Leader Accessories Kayak Rack 2 Pair J Bar for Canoe Surf Board SUP On Roof Top Mount Crossbar with 4 pcs Tie Down Straps

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  • Weight Limit: 150 pounds
  • Compatibility: Most Square, Factory, and Aerodynamic Crossbars
    • Won’t work with round crossbars

This pair of J-style racks from Leader Accessories also installs quickly and easily using the same design as the TMS racks. They also feature steel construction with a powder-coated finish for excellent rust resistance.

The padding on these racks can also be adjusted and they, too, come with a total of four tie-down straps. The major difference between these racks and the TMS pair is that these are ever-so-slightly more affordable!

15. LT Sport J-Style Rack (Single)

LT Sport J Bar Kayak Carrier Rack Canoe Surfboard Universal Car Roof Top Holder

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  • Weight Limit: 75 pounds
  • Compatibility: Most Square, Factory, and Aerodynamic Crossbars
    • Maximum Crossbar Width of 3.5 inches

The LT Sport J-style rack is the most affordable option if you only need to transport a single kayak. It features aluminum construction with plenty of padding on the uprights and a foam base to further protect the hull of your kayak.

These racks are also easy to install and more lightweight than the two above. They just will not fit wider crossbars, so you will need to be aware of that before purchasing.

Our Pick – Thule Hullavator Pro

Thule Hullavator Pro Rooftop Kayak Carrier, Black/Silver

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Have you ever heard of the saying “work smarter, not harder?” Well, that is exactly what this roof rack is all about because it is meant to minimize the amount of work you do just to get your kayak on the water.

Whether you are interested in casual paddling or you use your kayak for serious weekly workouts, getting your paddle craft on and off your Jeep is usually even more difficult than paddling itself.

While you will need crossbars to make the Hullavator Pro compatible with your Jeep and it does have a higher price tag, it is the only model on our list that quite literally takes some of the weight off your shoulders when loading and unloading your kayak.

For that reason (and really that reason alone!), it is our top pick for the best Jeep kayak rack!

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Best Jeep Kayak Racks

Author: Peter SalisburyPete is the Owner of KayakHelp.com. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of KayakHelp.com. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.

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