best kayak roof rack for cars without rails

Looking to transport your kayak from one area to another by use of a car that lacks rails? If you do, you must first and foremost tap into the best kayak roof rack for cars without rails. As its name implies, this is a rack that does not rely on the car rails to latch and set itself up.

We want to help you to narrow your search appropriately. This, we do, by highlighting and reviewing the best gadgets of these kinds at the moment. As part and parcel of our discussions, we shall also look into some of the questions that are persistently asked about this subject.


First, we start by belaboring the various kinds of the best kayak roof rack for cars without rails:


As its designation implies, this rack comes in the form of the letter ‘J.’ Its ‘J’ shape makes it possible for you to slide it into the rack as the open end of the holder faces the side of the vehicle.

Vertical kayak racks

Also called the ‘stackers,’ this kind of rack holds the kayak on the size. In this way, it allows for carrying a higher-capacity kayak. On the same note, it saves greatly on space as it stands upright and vertical rather than horizontal.

Horizontal kayak racks

If you have plenty of space to use or your kayak is more spacious in size, you have the horizontal rack for your consideration. It lies flat on the ground, takes up more space, and is generally more stable to work with.

In case you have the insufficient muscle power, you may wish to try out the lift-assist racks. They are structured and designed to aid you with the matters of embarking and disembarking the rack onto your car.

Universal kayak racks

Universal kayak racks are so-called because they are designed to fit and work alongside just about any car model around. This might be a great choice if you have many kinds of cars to work with at any given time.


We now review the best kayak roof rack for cars without rails at the moment:

#1: SportRack Complete Roof Rack System


This rack is large enough to fit an entire roof at one go. You may hence look up to it if your kayak is too large or if you want some permanent and long-term solution to your haulage needs.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Complete rack system

It comes about as a complete rack system that incorporates all the tools, parts, and accessories you need to tackle your fitting and transportation needs. That it comes pre-assembled makes it ready for use.

Easy installation

You also stand to enjoy the pleasure of easier installation by choosing to work with this rack. Why? It does not require any assembly prior to installations. Moreover, it is backed by some instructional manuals.


  • Holds a massive 130 pounds of weight
  • Requires no drilling during the installation exercise
  • Integrated and wholesome in its stature and makeup
  • Its durable steel construction lets it last longer
  • Secures the rack to the roof firmly to minimize fidgeting


  • Too large for too small a vehicle

#2: Apex RCB-3745-U Universal Strap-Attached Roof Crossbars


Have many kinds of cars under your consideration? You want to make use of this universal roof rack without rails as it is compatible with many kinds of SUVs, vans, trucks, and cars.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Apex strap-attached steel roof crossbars

A set of the Apex strap-attached steel roof crossbars exist as the primary or core aspects of this rack. You use them to convert the top of your vehicle into a cargo carrier with ease.

Rubber foot pads

Existing to protect your vehicle from accidental scratches are some rubber footpads. These come in three diverse widths and are hence capable of fitting many kinds of vehicles.


  • Fits many makes and models of vehicles
  • Hardly scratches even when exposed to massive impacts
  • Its pulled tension maintains the bars firmly in place
  • Packaged in a truly affordable stature
  • Adjusts to fit varying sizes and shapes of roofs


  • Likely to confuse someone who lacks the necessary expertise

#3: Stanley Universal Car Roof Rack Pad & Luggage Carrier System


When traveling on rough roads, it is not uncommon for the vehicles to shake and potentially damage the items in transit. This is where an anti-vibration universal roof rack without rails of this kind comes in handy.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

2 portable cargo pads

Some two portable cargo pads exist as the premier parts and components of the rack. They are portable and hence a little bit more convenient to make do with. They also spare your items from the likelihood of scratches.

Cam strap and buckles

Complementing the above are the cam straps and the buckles. The former is adjustable whereas the latter is resistant to corrosion. You use these two to fasten the load tightly to prevent fidgeting and vibrations.


  • Dampens shocks and vibrations
  • Light enough to allow for smoother handling and carrying
  • Weatherproof makeup resists all forms of weather damages
  • Good enough for transporting huge and bulky load
  • Can accommodate a whopping 1,000 pounds of load


  • Calls for technical operations and engagements

#4: attwood 11438-7 Universal Rack-Free Car-Top Kayak Carrier Kit


This is yet another universal roof rack without rails that may be used alongside many kinds of load and roofing systems. You hence have it for your consideration if you would wish to use it across numerous kinds of cars.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Supporting foam blocks

Some supporting foam blocks are included as part and parcel of this system. You engage them to prop the items you place on the roof while in transit from one point to another one.

2 straps

A set of 2 straps come along to aid with your fastening and loading. Each of these straps bears some clips and adjusting buckles. They act to enforce the ties further and make the items less inclined to fall off.


  • A polypropylene rope that measures 15 feet comes along to aid with fastening
  • Negates the need for a dedicated kayak carrier strap
  • Packaged with everything you need for your haulage needs
  • Easier to remove and store away when no longer in use
  • Manufactured by the super elegant and reliable Attwood Corporation


  • Takes some toll to master, comprehend and subsequently use

#5: Alfa Gear Universal Folding Lightweight Anti-Vibration Roof Rack


Intending to transport your kayaks in an area that is prone to excess precipitation? If we heard you right, we would wish to draw your attention to this water and weatherproof universal roof rack without rails.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Multi-layer foam padding

A multi-layer foam padding ranks at the very top of what it has to provide. The role of this is to dampen any vibrations and allow for smoother and seamless transportation of the load in question.

Strong Nylon lashing straps

To fasten and tighten the load firmly, you make use of some strong Nylon lashing straps. So strong and reliable are these straps that they fasten a whopping 1,200 pounds of load conveniently.


  • Resists the infiltration and seepage of water
  • Light enough to enable seamless handling and engagement
  • Useful for fastening and hauling many kinds of apparatus
  • Secures your items firmly on the roofs of the racks it is deployed
  • Thanks to its universal fit, the item suits many car models


  • Demands excess muscle power to carry and handle

#6: Alfa Gear Universal Folding Lightweight Anti-Vibration Roof Rack pad


Wishing to haul other waterborne pieces of gear besides the kayak? We ask you to consider using this universal roof rack without rails for your choice and ultimate use. Its universal character enables you to achieve this sacred end.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Heavy-duty 600D fabric

At its core is the heavy-duty 600D fabric that provides the padding and the strength necessary to support the kayak while in transit. Being tough also negates the need for frequent repairs.

Extra-long straps

Also coming along are some extra-long straps that work to aid in securing the board at the top of your car. The extra length allows for a sheer massive tightening that is beyond the scope of ordinary alternatives.


  • Its material makeup is tough and enduring
  • Folds to allow for smoother storage and handling
  • Weighs a paltry 2.64 pounds
  • Has a whopping 600-pound breaking strength
  • The roof is soft enough for smoother engagements


  • Prepare to part with lots of cash to afford it

#7: Rhino-Rack Nautic 570 Series Kayak/Canoe Carrier


If you shuffle back and forth the kayaks and the canoes in your water sporting ventures, you need a similarly multipurpose carrier of this kind. It is configured to handle these two items with exceptional ease.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Spring-loaded rear cradles

At its rear are some cradles that are loaded with springs. The cradle is covered with felt to allow for easier rear mounting when the need to do so arises.

Large contact surface area

It does have a large contact surface area that measures a whopping 75 mm by 200 mm. Thanks to this sheer largeness, the item does give off some additional stability when engaging in the transportation of your kayaks.


  • Fits many popular roof rack crossbar brands thanks to the universal fitment
  • Confers additional stability when hauling your luggage
  • Cushions your kayaks from stress and vibrations
  • Exhibits great and legendary engineering
  • Guards against both water and ultraviolet radiation damages


  • Slightly difficult to care for and maintain

#8: WOOWAVE Kayak Roof Rack Pads Universal Car Roof Rack


Sometimes it could be that you want to haul so much more than the kayak itself. For that role, you need a complete and wholesome haulage apparatus. This comes with its own storage bag that contains other items as well.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Grade EPE foam-padded interior

Its interior is padded with foam to allow for more secure, comfortable, and hassle-free handling of your kayaks and other pieces of equipment. These materials spare your items from the losses and damages that come about.

Aerodynamic design

In all, the item bears the aerodynamic design. Thanks to this design, it acts to safeguard your items from the impacts and intense hits that usually come about when transporting the same to the required venues.


  • Made of quite durable materials
  • Resists any possible damages by the ultraviolet radiation
  • Fastened using the bungee cords that are tighter
  • Appropriately equipped for use in all weather conditions
  • Strong enough to manage a higher level of performance for you


  • Likely to clutter your spaces with excess items

#9: Onefeng Sports 165LB Kayak Roof Rack, TPE Car Roof Rack Pad


It is not uncommon for these racks to slip and fall off when subjected to excess moisture. You do not want this to happen to you while on the move. That is why you would rather lay your hands on a non-slip rack of this kind.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Polyester material

Its fabric component is made of super tough and powerful Polyester material. It is subsequently lighter but at the same time strong enough to safeguard the items from scratches and other issues.

Non-slip pad

Rounding it all up is a non-slip pad that measures 2 mm thick. This pad serves to shield the roof of your car from the scratches and other agents of damages that potentially come along.


  • Ensures a stronger performance thanks to the durable buckles
  • Its buckles are simpler and subsequently easier to make use of
  • Hardly capable of damaging your car due to the TPE materials makeup
  • Due to its soft nature, it is useful in all-weather conditions
  • Resists the damages of and by the sun


  • Unsuitable for the fishing kayaks

#10: Best Marine Kayak Roof Rack Pads


Muddy and dusty off-road conditions are generally highly prone to the risks of fidgeting. If you must ply such routes, you have to secure your kayak by opting for a rack that does not vibrate.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Shock-resistant EPE foam

Making it appropriately suited to dampen the vibrations is the shock-resistant EPE foam material. This acts to make the movements a bit uniform and spare the gadget from any possible damages along the way.

15-foot rope

Included as part of the packaging of this rack is a rope that measures 15 feet. It serves to anchor the item conveniently to prevent it from fidgeting or falling off when the ride gets too rough.


  • Holds your kayaks firmly to the pads and the roofs
  • Both straps wrap through the interior rather than the doors of your vehicle
  • Backed by a legendary back-end customer service regime
  • Works without the input of the crossbars
  • Accepts other accessories as well during its functioning


  • Slightly difficult to engage

#11: HandiRack Universal Inflatable Roof Rack Bars


Have many kinds of vehicles to work with? Get your hand on a universal roof rack without rails of this kind and use it to pair and connect your kayaks and other items well. It is compatible with diverse car models and makes.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Spacious character

The design of the rack boasts of some spacious character that lets it handle and tackle many kinds of apparatus. Common examples of these are snowboards, canoes, and an assortment of do-it-yourself materials.

Innovative technology

Throughout its make, the rack boasts of innovative technology. Among the benefits of this technology are a load capacity of 175 pounds and the ability to inflate or deflate as need be.


  • Enables some quick fits and relative ease of installations
  • Comes handy and ready for use (demands no prior installation)
  • Very light and portable for your convenient engagements
  • Serves many kinds of purposes
  • Fits numerous kinds of cars


  • Calls for some above-average expertise to handle and engage

#12: IKURAM R Kayak/Surf/Ski Roof Carrier Rack


Short on space? You badly want this J-style folding rack for your use and engagement. Why? It greatly optimizes the limited spaces available to enable you to stash a larger rack in a somewhat cramped-up space.

Outstanding Features and Benefits

Universal and easy mounting

By and large, the gadget is packaged in a universal and easy mounting character. In light of these two, you need not put in too much effort to try and engage its parts and set it up for use.

Quick raise and fold design

Complementing the above is the quick rise and the folding design. These two make for some easy engagements as they greatly simplify the handling of the gadget altogether.


  • Its J-style transports the kayak in a manner that is safer and easier
  • Mounting hardware accompanies it for the purpose of simplified installations
  • Derived from a strong and high-quality aviation-grade Aluminum alloy
  • Resists corrosion and rusting conveniently thanks to the rust-resistant makeup
  • Bears and endures all spates of weather damages


  • Limited to the smaller kayaks only


In this segment of our discussions, we examine the factors to consider to find the best kayak roof rack for cars without rails:

Car model

The model of the car should be the leading consideration here. A great rack has to be able to fit and pair seamlessly with the precise model of the car in use to guarantee seamless operations.

Roof dimensions

Next, you have to consider the dimensions of the roof. You have to ensure that the size of the roof mirrors that of the rack to minimize any distortions that may arise in times of use and fitting.

Sheer size

Additionally, you also have to consider the sheer size of the rack itself. Is it large enough to accommodate the size of the kayak you intend to carry and transport from one area to another?

Type of rack

Racks come in different shades and forms. You must invest some of your time to study and get to know them before embarking on a hunt for a suitable one for your course.

The intended environment of use

Where exactly would you wish to dedicate the rack to? Is it in hot or cold weather? Is that area prone to higher precipitation? If so, the rack has to be weatherproof to protect your kayaks from weather damages.


Let us now round it up with answers to some leading questions about the best kayak roof rack for cars without rails:

Q1. Do you need crossbars for a kayak rack?

A. NOT necessarily! There are kayak racks that are designed for fixing and mounting without the use of crossbars.

Q2. How do you transport a kayak in a car without a rack?

A. Follow these steps to transport a kayak on a car without a rack:

  • Fix and secure the pool noodles at the top of your car
  • Lift your kayak and place it atop the pool noodles
  • Tie and fasten the kayak by use of straps
  • Secure its stern and bow tightly

Q3. Do you need a vertical kayak rack for your car?

A. YES, you need! If you are short on space, you badly need a vertical kayak for your car. That is given its ability to take up a very limited amount of space per given time. Moreover, the vertical racks fold for easier storage and remote transportation.

Q4. Can you put a kayak on your roof without a rack?

A. YES, but you must bring in some other pieces of equipment to secure and support it as need be. The top example of these is the foam block. It serves to dampen vibrations and hence secure your items well while in transit.

Q5. Should a kayak be transported upside down?

A. YES, though not all! You must study the one you have thoroughly to ascertain whether indeed it may be transported upside down or not.

WRAP UP We do hope that the pieces of information we have provided above about the best kayak roof rack for cars without rails have been eye-opening to you. Indeed, these items are stronger and pretty reliable to make great use of. You should give them the topmost priority in your search for the best gadgets to use.

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