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What Are the Different Types of Kayak Racks?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Storing a kayak safely usually involves the use of a rack system to keep the kayak off the ground and away from potential damage. Kayak racks can be designed for use on car roofs, in garages or other storage spaces, near a body of water, or in any other open space. Some racks are homemade and built from durable materials such as metal or wood, while others are prefabricated for a certain application. Kayak racks for automobiles will vary in style and design, usually based on the type of vehicle on which the rack will be mounted.

Large storage kayak racks are designed to hold several kayaks at once. These racks usually feature shelves on which the kayaks can be rested. The kayaks are usually rested upside down on the racks to prevent water from entering the cockpit and potentially causing damage to the boat. Such racks are usually made from wood or metal, and the materials will need to be treated to prevent moisture damage resulting from rain or snow. These kayak racks can be covered in the winter with tarps, though usually the kayaks are put in indoor storage during winter months.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Car racks will vary in design, but the general concept is to secure the kayaks to the roof of the vehicle safely and securely. Some of the racks feature J-shaped cradles that are mounted at the front and rear of the vehicle's roof. The kayak is rested in the cradles and secured with straps. This design props the kayak up on end for ease of mounting and dismounting, and slight aerodynamic advantage. J-shaped kayak racks are fairly inexpensive and easy to install on a vehicle rooftop.

Carrying a kayak in a pickup truck will require different styles of kayak racks. One of the more common styles features a cage that mounts over the truck bed. The kayak is then secured to the top of this cage, which is usually made from water resistant metal. The user will usually be able to slide the kayak onto the rack while standing on the ground, but for exceptionally tall pickup trucks, the user may have to lift the kayak into the truck bed, then stand in the bed while mounting the kayak to the rack. The kayak is usually secured to the rack with ratcheting straps that can cinch down on the kayak body to prevent it from moving during transport.

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