Every situation is different when it comes to vehicle racks. While a base or factory rack system gets you started, you can truly begin to customize your vehicle to your lifestyle when you incorporate rack accessories. Whatever your needs may be, there is usually a roof rack accessory that can be an affordable solution for you.

Rack accessories for kayak car racks come in many shapes and sizes and range from general function to very specialized purposes. In this article we outline rack cradles, a type of accessory that offers security for your boat & rack as well as additional customization based on the cradle style. For paddlers looking to maximize their rack space to carry more than just a single kayak, a J-Cradle might be for them. For those who need some help loading one kayak securely and safely, a V-Cradle is more in line with their needs.


The Bottom Line: Ideal way to decrease space required to load a kayak for those who are looking to carry more on top.

One downside to every vehicle rack is that they can only be so wide. By the time you have a kayak loaded on top, you’ve already used up a majority of the space; forget adding additional cargo up there! As a remedy for those who want to load their boat in conjunction with other gear (like a bike roof rack, cargo box, or even an extra boat), a number of J-Cradles exist.

J-cradles get their name because they are shaped like a ‘J’.  They attach to your bars so that kayaks can fit vertically inside the cradle rather than laying flat, greatly reducing the space required to load a kayak. J-Cradles are often used in tandem so that two boats can be loaded comfortably standing side by side. Keep in mind that these cradles do not increase the load capacity of your rack, so even though you might have the capability to fit more, you still need to consider the weight. Additionally, J-Cradles do require that you load your kayaks at a higher point, so they tend to be more popular on smaller cars.

We have a number of J-Cradles available for purchase that vary by fit and capability. Once you decide that you’re interested in a J-Cradle, you’ll need to decide which one best works for you: Yakima Hullraiser, Malone J Loader Kayak Carrier, Malone J Pro Kayak Carrier, Malone Downloader Folding Kayak Carrier, Yakima Hullraiser Aero, Thule Hull-A-Port 834 Kayak Carrier, Yakima Bowdown Kayak Carrier and the Thule Hull-A-Port Pro 835 Kayak Carrier.


The Bottom Line: The most stable and secure option for those interested in carrying only a kayak on their roof.

Base rack systems are not designed to have things strapped directly to them. This can often result in damage to the cargo and even the rack itself. Pad’s exist as the most basic form protecting this type of damage but when you want to do more, like increase the security, stability and even the ease of loading your kayak, a number of V-Cradles exist.

V-Cradles get their name from their ‘v’ like shape. Often referred to as saddles, V-Cradles have two pads (on both cross bars) that extend up from the base rack to snugly cradle the bottom of your kayak. These pads can be either part of a single cradle or two separate pieces that adjust to fit the width of your boat. These create sturdy and stable systems perfect for holding a single kayak. Additionally, V-Cradles on the front crossbar can be coupled with gliding or rolling saddles on the back crossbar to make it easier to push your kayak into position.

We have a number of V-Cradles available for purchase that vary by fit and capability. Once you decide that you’re interested in a V-Cradle, you’ll need to decide which one best works for you: Yakima Land Shark Saddles, Yakima Mako Saddles, Yakima Mako Aero Universal Saddles, Yakima Even Keel, Thule Set To Go Saddle, Malone Saddle Up Pro Kayak Carrier, Thule Roll Model Kayak Carrier, Thule Glide and Set Kayak Rack with Quick Draws, and the Thule Top Deck Kayak Saddle.

J-Cradles and V-Cradles are only the start of the options you have to customize your rack. When coupled with other roof accessories like a cargo box or bike roof rack you can really start to create a rack system that fits your needs. We offer a great deal of rack options all that can be found here.?utm_source=ackblog&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=blog Thanks for reading and as always share any questions or comments below! – Joseph@ACK

If you are interested in finding out more about base rack options for your vehicle click here. We also have articles for truck owners and vehicles with factory racks.




  1. I just purchased a Ford Escape that has a factory racj with crossbars. If i pad the crossbars can’t I put my yaks directly on them and ratchet thrm doen securely?

    1. Hey Lew, thanks for reaching out! You should have no problem with putting the kayaks on the padded crossbars. Just be sure to check out their capacity before loading multiple kayaks.