My wife and I are beginner kayakers. We are planning to buy a tandem kayak and go to a nearby reservoir and take our 2 year old along.

I've just started looking at car racks and realized that it is a confusing world. I drive a 2010 Honda Accord 4 door (standard size sedan) with no side rails. So my requirements for the car rack are something that would fit a car without side rails and hold a tandem kayak.

I've looked at a few different brands of racks, with towers and foot, and base clips that will work on my type of car.

Also, should I transport the kayak using EVA foam pads?

  • Take a look at: outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/13511/3313 and outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/6318/3313 .... J-bars are a good option, I use those. What kayaks do you have (width could play a factor) ?
    – Aravona
    Aug 16, 2016 at 8:54
  • You mention there are no side rails but I'm wondering if you have any form of factory roof rack?
    – Glenn
    Aug 16, 2016 at 17:00
  • Also could you provide more information about the size and style tandem boats you are interested in. The strength and weight of the boat makes a big difference in what kind of rack you will want or need.
    – Glenn
    Aug 16, 2016 at 17:03

2 Answers 2


I swear by Thule for transporting anything on the roof. Over the years I have had various vehicles, and various transport requirements, and this type of bar has:

  • replaceable mounts, so for the cars with side rails I can connect to them, and for those without I have been able to clip on.
  • standard size fitting, so I can carry bikes, kayaks, surfboards, a roof box, etc by simply replacing the mounts.
  • strength and rigidity, letting me carry 4 bikes, or 2 kayaks, or many surfboards.

The kayak mounts I like are J-shaped, with foam, allowing the kayaks to be securely mounted on their sides, with decent padding.

  • I've been looking at Thule as well. I have a question about the J-Shaped kayak mounts. Will one pair of J-Shaped kayak mounts (2), can it fit two kayaks? I saw Thule Sells "Thule Hull-a-Port PRO 835PRO" which folds when not in use and since it folds I think it can be used to transport two kayaks. My hypothesis is based on this video of J-bar from Yakima showing how to mount two kayaks youtu.be/X48fF4r3Z08?t=2m Aug 16, 2016 at 12:13
  • Additionally, I found these universal J-bars which are quite inexpensive but do not fold amazon.com/Lifetime-Warranty-Pairs-Carrier-Crossbar/dp/… Aug 16, 2016 at 12:15
  • @Omnipresent We used these: outdoorhub.co.uk/… not sure if they'd ship to you but we've had no issues with them, and we rarely take them off the car. So you can get reasonably priced folding ones too :)
    – Aravona
    Aug 16, 2016 at 13:59
  • J-bars be good for composite sea kayaks but have little use otherwise. Plastic boats just don't need the extra protection and other shapes of boats are a poor fit, with better options available.
    – Niall
    Aug 17, 2016 at 21:32

Inflatable racks are becoming quite popular for situations like yours. Everyone I've spoken to who's used them likes them. You'll only be able to carry 1-2 boasts on an inflatable rack.

Unless I'm expecting to carry a lot of boats I don't bother fitting my uprights, instead putting the boat upside down. On a light, and lightly-loaded, car boats on their sides can get interesting in crosswinds

It's not obvious which country you're in but Halfords' own roof racks aren't bad if you're in the UK (though the screws they come with are a bit rubbish). I've had them for a few cars.

  • I used to use the Halfords own, but they didn't quite cope as well with wear and tear over time (I tend to take them all off the car until needed as I don't like the noise/drag so I need something that handles being loosened and tightened regularly)
    – Rory Alsop
    Aug 16, 2016 at 14:07
  • @RoryAlsop me too. On the hatchback (foot screwed down behind door seal) type I got some better screws (stainless steel socket head rather than apparently made of cheese and with a slotted head). I'd forgotten until you mentioned it. Their universal estate/roof-rails type are on their third car now - probably around 12 years with some time off in the middle.
    – Chris H
    Aug 16, 2016 at 14:12
  • I would be cautious about anything but a rigid rack system with a long tandem boat. Particularly if it is a typically built recreational kayak (pliable on the hull and along the long axis).
    – Glenn
    Aug 16, 2016 at 17:05
  • @Glenn, it depends on the car and the boat, but I don't disagree. A topo duo on a decent size 4-door is very different to a tourer or sea kayak on a shorter car.
    – Chris H
    Aug 16, 2016 at 18:46

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