Hands down the best vehicle to haul a kayak in is a truck with a bed. But, for those of y’all that don’t own a truck, there are roof racks to fit your vehicle. Yakima and Thule make great metal roof racks that last years. They are temporary roof racks (no drilling required!) but you have the option to leave them on your car for extended periods.
I know pool noodles will work as rack padding for a short time, but they quickly loose structure due to sun damage and a kayak’s weight will leave a permanent dent in the foam. Homemade wooden frames weaken with rain and the vibrations of the vehicle. PVC piping has also been used, but is too flimsy. I have seen some low quality homemade metal welded racks but they are not built to last or hold much weight.
I had a friend that wasn’t willing to spring for a Yakima roof rack for his Chevy Cobalt car and instead built his own roof rack to carry his Tarpon 140. While driving down to the coast, his roof rack failed which caused the kayak to scratch the paint off his roof and fall to the ground which broke a number of parts on his kayak and punctured a hole through the kayak body.
Please invest in a proper roof rack to support your kayak. It’s like buying a large plasma screen TV and leaving in on a rickety shelf that could break any minute. If you go to Thule or Yakima’s website, there is a tab titled “Fit Guide” or “Fit My Car” where you will follow the steps to input information about the make and model of your vehicle and the proper rack setup with options will be displayed for you to choose from, or for a more personalized service you can use this form “Rack Helper” and one of our qualified customer service staff members will help you get the right rack for your needs.
Another very important aspect to kayak transport is using proper strapping techniques; but that will be a topic for another day.
Be safe and spring for the better rack. It may save you a lot of grief.
Austin Canoe and Kayak – San Marcos