How Much Do Kayak Racks Cost? 2023 Price Guide

two kayaks attached to vehicle roof rack

With over 7 years of experience working as a white water instructor, I'm here to help you navigate the world of kayak racks and find the perfect one for your needs.

But first, let me answer the burning question- how much does a kayak rack cost?

Before shopping for a kayak rack, you’ll want to know how much it might end up costing you. Everyone wants to save money, so it’s important to buy a kayak rack at the appropriate price point for your situation.

Kayak racks typically cost between $20 and $650, which is a wide range of prices. Here is more accurate cost range based on the kayak rack type:

  1. Foam carriers cost $20 to $80
  2. J-Style racks cost $100 to $400
  3. Vertical racks cost $150 to $550
  4. Horizontal racks cost $100 to $500
  5. Lift-assist racks cost $150 to $650

The variation in prices is largely due to the different types of kayak racks available.

While some people may only need a cheap kayak rack, you may find yourself needing one that is more expensive.

In this article, I will break down the different types of kayak racks and their price ranges, ensuring that you make an informed decision. Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or just starting out, I've got you covered.

Also check out: Why are roof racks so expensive?

Foam Kayak Carrier Cost

A foam kayak carrier holds your kayak using foam blocks sitting on top of the car. This is the cheapest type of kayak rack.

foam kit roof rack for kayaks

Foam kayak carriers cost between $20 and $80 depending on the sturdiness of the system.

Some foam kayak carriers are very simple and only provide 2 foam blocks and straps, while others may have a metal bar to provide extra support and the ability to adjust for different size kayaks.

Although they are simple and cheap, they aren’t very secure and shouldn’t be used for long trips.

View foam kayak carrier prices on Amazon.

J-Style Kayak Rack Cost

A J-style kayak rack is shaped in a “J” to hold the kayak on the roof of your car. They are the most common type of kayak rack.

jracks for kayak vehicle roof system

J-style kayak racks typically cost between $100 and $400.

Cheaper J-style kayak racks are simple and transport the kayak without many special features, while more expensive ones may feature special loading systems, better padding, better quality, and much more.

J-style kayak racks are best for the average kayak user, as they are straightforward and stable without being very expensive.

View J-style kayak rack prices on Amazon.

Also check out: Best J-style kayak racks

Vertical Kayak Rack Cost

A vertical kayak rack holds the kayak on its side to maximize how many kayaks can fit on your roof.

vehicle with vertical kayak rack

Vertical kayak racks cost between $150 and $650 and can provide enough space to fit up to 4 kayaks depending on your vehicle size and roof rack weight capacity.

Most vertical kayak racks are similar in style and features, which makes the price range pretty small. A vertical kayak is best if you need to carry more than 2 kayaks at a time.

View vertical kayak rack prices on Amazon.

Also check out: Best high capacity kayak racks

Horizontal Kayak Rack Cost

A horizontal kayak rack allows the kayak to sit flat on the roof of your car. This type of rack provides the most surface area contact with the kayak.

horizontal kayak racks

Horizontal kayak racks without lift assistance typically cost between $100 and $500.

The price is affected by several factors, such as stability, quality, and features.

Cheap horizontal kayak racks are simple and straightforward, while expensive ones typically offer easy-load systems and have better quality overall.

A horizontal kayak rack is best if you’re looking for a simple, stable rack that is aerodynamic to help increase gas mileage.

View horizontal kayak rack prices on Amazon.

Also check out: Best horizontal kayak racks

Lift-Assist Kayak Rack Cost

A lift-assist kayak rack is designed to make it easier to load the kayak onto your car. This can be a problem for many people since kayaks are awkward and heavy.

Prices for lift-assist kayaks vary greatly, costing anywhere from $100 to $650.

The prices depend on how much lift assistance the rack offers.

A cheap lift-assist kayak rack may simply provide an extension bar to make it easier to slide the kayak onto the roof, such as the Thule 847 Outrigger II.

Expensive racks can reduce the height you’ll need to lift the kayak and carry some of the kayak’s weight. A great example of this is the Thule 898 Hullavator Pro, which helps reduce the weight of the kayak up to 40 lbs!

Lift-Assist kayak racks are best for those who struggle to lift kayaks onto their roof.

View lift-assist kayak rack prices on Amazon.

Also check out: Best horizontal kayak racks

What Makes Kayak Racks Expensive?

Expensive kayak racks may not seem to be worth it at first glance, but there are several reasons why kayak racks can be so costly.

Kayak racks can be expensive because of their quality, style, and features.

Any high-quality kayak rack will cost more than a cheaper version of the same rack with the features because more expensive materials are used in its design. Having a high-quality rack is important to keep your kayak safe while transporting.

Another factor in the price of a kayak rack is the style. As you can read in the sections above, the style of the kayak has a great effect on the price. Simple foam block designs are inexpensive, while lift-assist designs can become very expensive.

The features offered by the kayak rack also influence the price. Many expensive kayak racks will include some type of lift assistance. Additionally, they may provide extra ways of securing the kayak.

All these factors can greatly affect the price of the kayak rack. This doesn’t mean that one price point is better than another, but rather that you must choose how much to spend depending on your situation.

How Much Should I Spend on a Kayak Rack?

With the wide variation in kayak rack prices, it’s important to know how much you should spend for your personal situation.

If you need a simple solution to transport your kayak occasionally, you should look to spend between $25 and $100 on a kayak rack.

If you’ll be transporting your kayak frequently or need special lifting assistance, you should consider spending $100 to $650 on a kayak rack.

Consider your personal situation when deciding how much to spend on a kayak rack. Determine which type of kayak rack best fits your needs. Choose a rack with the appropriate features and quality.

Also, check out: High-Capacity Kayak Racks

Where Can I Buy a Kayak Rack?

You can buy a kayak rack both online and in-store in many different places.

A wide selection of kayak racks can be purchased online through Amazon or other retailers that offer online purchasing, such as DICK’S Sporting Goods or REI.

View kayak rack prices on Amazon.

You can also purchase a kayak rack in-store at any popular retailer but may have a limited selection.

Bottom Line for the Costs of Kayak Racks

When it comes to shopping for a kayak rack, it's crucial to consider the cost and find the right price point for your needs.

The price range for kayak racks is quite wide, ranging from $20 to $650. However, the cost varies depending on the type of rack you choose.

If you're looking for a budget-friendly option, foam carriers are a great choice, with prices ranging from $20 to $80. They provide a simple and affordable solution for transporting your kayak.

For those seeking a more advanced and secure option, J-Style racks are worth considering. They range from $100 to $400 and offer a convenient way to transport your kayak on the roof of your vehicle.

If space is a concern, vertical racks are a fantastic option. While they may be pricier, ranging from $150 to $550, they allow you to store your kayak vertically, saving valuable space.

Lastly, horizontal racks offer a versatile solution, with prices ranging from $100 to $500. They provide easy loading and unloading of your kayak and are suitable for various vehicle types.

The price you should be spending on a kayak rack depends on your specific needs and budget.

In conclusion, by understanding the different types of racks available and their corresponding price ranges, you can make a well-informed decision.

Whether you opt for a budget-friendly foam carrier or invest in a more advanced J-Style or vertical rack, there is a solution out there for everyone.

Happy kayaking!

Bill Nikolaou
I live for wild rides on rivers, and have passion for digital marketing. With 7 years of experience in white water guiding, I've transported more gear than most folks will in a lifetime. Need a reliable rack or carrier? I got you covered!