Jeeps are great vehicles for adventuring. They are capable of mild-intermediate off-road driving, while still performing great in normal driving conditions, such as highway driving.
For this reason, Jeeps are a popular choice for outdoor activities, such as kayaking. If you’re a Jeep owner that likes to kayak, you’ll need to figure out a way to haul your kayaks safely to your destination.
We wrote this article to showcase best kayak racks for Jeeps so you can find the perfect one!
Should I buy a hitch-mounted or a roof-mounted kayak rack for my Jeep?
The first question you must consider is how you want to mount your kayak.
There are two main options for mounting kayaks to a Jeep: On the roof or attached to hitch.
For most Jeeps, if you have a larger kayak, you should use a hitch-mounted kayak rack. For smaller kayaks, a roof-mounted kayak rack will work just fine.
Hitch-mounted kayak racks give an extra contact point for the kayak to rest on, as you can see in the image below. It also increased the visibility in the front windshield.
On the other hand, if your kayak is long, it will hang over each end of the vehicle. This will affect visibility and also makes the kayak less stable during transportation. See this image as an example:
Overall, you’re better off using a hitch kayak rack, unless you have a short kayak. Below, we list the best kayak racks for Jeeps depending on how you want to mount them.
Best Hitch Kayak Rack for Jeeps – Rhino Rack T-Loader
If your kayak is long, you may want to invest in a hitch kayak rack to transport your kayak safely.
Our top pick for the best hitch kayak rack for Jeeps is the Rhino Rack T-Loader.
The T-Loader slides into your 2-inch hitch receiver and allows you to haul a kayak, canoe, paddleboard, etc.! It is also adjustable and includes straps for extra stability.
This will be more stable than a roof rack alone and also helps with visibility since the kayak will not hang over the front of your Jeep as much.
NOTE: If your Jeep has a spare tire attached to the rear, you will need a hitch extender so the rack clears the spare tire!
Best Roof Kayak Racks for Jeeps
If you want to stick with a roof-mounted kayak rack, there are some great options available.
Here are our picks for the 2 top kayak racks for Jeeps:
- Yakima JayLow (Affordable, durable, and versatile)
- Thule Hullavator (Lift-assisted rack)
Both of these options make carrying your kayak safe and easy.
Keep in mind, you’ll need to have a roof rack on your Jeep in order to use these racks.
1. Yakima JayLow
The Yakima JayLow is a great option for carrying a kayak on the roof of your Jeep.
The JayLow is affordable and made of high-quality materials. It’s one of Yakima’s most popular products (and for good reason).
One great advantage of this rack is the ability to carry two kayaks at once! If you’re familiar with this type of kayak rack, they usually only carry one kayak at a time, so this is a great bonus.
Jeep owners also reported having extra roof space after mounting two kayaks using this rack.
This rack also folds away when you’re not using it, which will help with vehicle clearance and aerodynamics.
2. Thule Hullavator Pro
The Thule Hullavator Pro is our other top choice for a Jeep roof kayak rack.
Although we list this rack second, it is quite an amazing rack. Although it’s technically a better rack than the Yakima JayLow, not everyone needs the over-the-top features that the Hullavator Pro offers.
The Hullavator Pro is a lift-assist kayak rack, which means it will carry up to 40lbs. of your kayak’s weight when lifting it on the roof!
It’s definitely not for everyone since this rack is significantly more expensive than the JayLow, but people who struggle to get their kayak on their roof find it to be amazing.
The Hullavator Pro allows people who would have trouble lifting a kayak onto the roof of a Jeep to enjoy the sport of kayaking.
One important detail to note is that you’ll need Thule crossbars for this to work properly.
Choosing a Roof Rack for Your Jeep Wrangler/Gladiator
To use a kayak rack with your Jeep Wrangler or Gladiator, you will also need a roof rack.
With so many roof rack options out there, we’ve picked a few great roof racks that you should consider buying for your Jeep.
You’ll also need to keep in mind whether you have a hard-top or soft-top, so we’ve split our choices into sections depending on your roof.
Also check out: Why are roof racks so expensive?
Jeep Roof Rack for Hard Top
If you have a hard top Jeep, it is pretty easy to pick a great, affordable roof rack.
Here are a few of our top roof rack choices for your hard top Jeep.
1. Rhino Rack Aero Bar
The Rhino Rack Aero Bar is a very popular choice if you’re looking for a good quality and affordable pair of roof rack crossbars.
Installation is also very easy, so this makes for a great simple roof rack setup.
With this roof rack, you’ll be able to mount all sorts of different things to your roof, such as kayak racks, cargo carriers/baskets, and much more.
2. Trail FX J029T Roof Rack
If you’re looking for something more than just 2 simple crossbars like the Aero Bar, the Trail FX J029T Roof Rack is a fantastic option.
The J029T is stylish, practical, and still not extremely expensive.
This roof rack has 4 load-bearing crossbars in addition to a “cage-like” structure that wraps around the vehicle to mount the rack into place.
Not only is this rack very functional, but it also transforms the appearance of your Jeep, giving it a rugged look.
Jeep Roof Rack for Soft Top
Finding a roof rack that works with a soft-top Jeep Wrangler or Gladiator is difficult.
However, the Rugged Ridge 11703.02 Roof Rack was designed to allow the soft-top to remain functional, therefore it is a great option for a soft-top Jeep.
Although it’s more expensive that other roof racks, the ability to work with a soft-top Jeep makes it worth it.
For some reason, the crossbars for this rack are sold separately, so don’t forget to get those too!