Recommendations for Cartop Carrier For Kayak

Submitted byjessicaherron onThu, 09/10/2020 - 05:13

I just bought an Old town Dirigo 106 kayak, and want to carry it on the top of my 2019 Toyota Highlander. The Highlander comes factory-equipped with rails on the top going from front to back, but I will need to also add on some additional rails going from side to side in order to carry the kayak on top without harming the finish. I choose HandiRack Universal Inflatable Bars. So the question (finally!) is whether or not someone can recommend a make/model/source of the additional rails.

See this in your link - "One drawback, on the other hand, is the lack of built-in braces in the HandiRack. You would have to rely on tight straps that you would have to fix from time to time, so you should expect minor stability issues, especially when travelling at high speeds."

What ever you do, what ever you get, the kayak needs to be tied to the vehicle - at each end. This stops twisting with side winds and doesn't load the rack's attachment to the vehicle.

Use an inverted V rope such that the point of the V is at the kayak's ends and the ends of the front V are tied to the front tow points. At the rear just to a tow bar is usually good enough.

If the front doesn't have tow points or anything to tie to, in the groove where the bonnet (hood - USA) edge sits there is usually a bolt or two. Bolt short webbing loops there for the rope to tie to. Here we can buy the loops from a shop which shows that such attachment is recognised by the trade for fastening kayaks.

John VanBuren

Sat, 09/12/2020 - 18:45

I have used both Thule and Yakima bars. Both have worked well for me. I buy longer than usual bars so I can easily fit a third boat on my cars. 

I know both brands are not cheap but they work and the thought of a rack failing at 70 MPH is enough to keep me away from cheaper bars and bar attachment systems.

John VB


Sun, 09/13/2020 - 08:30

I have had Thule and Yakama both for many years. Last year I bought Aero bars from Rhino Racks. Less money than the others, great engineering, strong and totally quiet. These are the newer airplane wing types. Absolutely no wind noise. I'm impressed with them.

I had saddles for the other brands but I hated the wind noise during the winter with the saddles removed and I bought a newer car (Camry) so what I had would not work. I'm not involved in any $$ way with Rhino.