lift-assist kayak

INNO INA453 Kayak Lifter Review

Bill Nikolaou
Bill Nikolaou
January 5, 2024

In the world of water sports, your equipment isn't just about performance; it's about convenience, safety, and efficiency.

Having guided teams down rapids for over 7 years, I've used and seen countless transporting tools. The INNO INA453 Kayak Lifter recently made its way into my gear collection, and after extensive use, here's my thorough take on it.

Also check out: Best Lift-Assist Kayak Racks

INNO INA453 Kayak Lifter Review

INNO INA453 Kayak Lifter Review

4.1/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Looking for a kayak lifter that marries safety with versatility, and doesn't break the bank? From slim racing to broad recreational kayaks, the INNO INA453 fits them all.


  • Effortless Loading: The lifter's design takes the strain out of kayak mounting.
  • Safety First: Robust securing mechanisms ensure the kayak remains firmly in place.
  • Compatibility: Designed to accommodate various kayak sizes, solo and tandem kayaks.


  • Installation: First-time installation can be slightly tricky.
  • Price Point: Positioned at a premium price range.

Product specs

  • Gas Spring System: Ensures smooth lifting and lowering.
  • Padded Mechanisms: Offers protection to both your vehicle and the kayak.
  • Robust Build: Manufactured with high-grade materials ensuring longevity and durability.
  • Technical specs

    Weight Capacity: Can handle kayaks weighing up to 90 lbs.

    Build Material: High-quality corrosion-resistant metal combined with rubberized padding.

    Dimensions: Suited for kayaks with a width of up to 36 inches.

    Vehicle fit

    For vehicles with pre-installed roof rails, the fit is practically universal.

    The recommended crossbar size by the manufacturer is:

    • 3 1/2inch deep
    • 1 1/8inch high
    • distance to roof more than 2 3/4inch
    INNO INA453 vehicle fit guide

    In terms of shape. Almost all round bar crossbars will be a great fit.

    While it fits seamlessly on most standard SUVs and sedans, it's always recommended to cross-check your vehicle's roof specifications.

    In-depth research

    Price, Value & Resale 7/10
    Performance & Features 8/10
    Reviews & Reputation 6/10
    Ease of Use & Installation 8/10
    Durability & Maintenance 8/10
    Safety & Security 8/10
    Versatility & Expandability 7/10
    Design & Appearance 6/10
    After-Sale Service 7/10
    Storage & Portability 8/10

    Learn more about our testing & scoring methodology.

    A Personal Take on the INNO INA453

    I remember the struggle of transporting my first kayak—a precarious balancing act, set of DIY solutions, and an endless search for the perfect rack.

    Over the years, the INA453 became my go-to. I’ve tested it in ways an average user might never imagine. From rugged terrains leading to hidden white water gems, to sun-soaked days at more peaceful streams, the INNO INA453 has been my silent partner. This review isn't just about technical specifications; it's an account of years of wear and tear.

    Who Is This For?

    The INNO INA453 Rooftop Cargo Rack Kayak Lifter caters to a broader spectrum.

    The Newbie: If you've just got your first kayak and you're figuring out the logistics of transporting it, the INA453 is your answer to a secure and hassle-free experience.

    The Weekend Warrior: For those who just want to escape the city grind over the weekend, this rack ensures your kayak gets there safely with you.

    The Professional: Seasoned kayakers and instructors, like myself, who need their gear to be as steadfast and reliable as their years of training—INNO understands your demands.

    The Family Outing: If your idea of family time involves water and paddles, and you're often faced with the task of transporting more than one kayak, the reliability and sturdiness of the INA453 will be your best friend.

    Price, Value & Resale

    Starting with the price—yes, it isn’t pocket change.

    But, what you're getting is a blend of innovative features and durability.

    The value for money?

    I'd say it's on point, especially for those frequently transporting their kayaks. As for resale—like most equipment in this niche, there's depreciation, but the INA453's robust build might give you a decent return if maintained well.

    Performance & Functionality

    The INNO INA453 isn’t just a pretty face.

    Its features—ranging from an advanced lift mechanism to its sturdy build—makes transporting kayaks feel like a breeze.

    And vehicle compatibility? It's surprisingly versatile, fitting a wide range of models (from sedans to SUVs).

    Reviews & Brand Reputation

    Online? The user ratings are positive, echoing my sentiments.

    And INNO, as a brand, has quite the footprint in the market—a testament to their commitment to quality.

    Ease of Use & Installation

    On a daily basis, it's a charm—simplifying the task of loading and unloading kayaks. I barely hesitate to go out on the water because there is very little resistance to strap the kayak and get going quickly.

    Installation? Okay, it might take a hot minute, but it's intuitive, and you'll only wrestle with it once.

    Watch this demonstration of how it's done.

    Durability & Maintenance

    Constructed with top-notch materials, it promises longevity.

    Rain or shine, it withstands the elements, though I'd recommend a regular wipe down (just a personal touch).

    Maintenance is fairly straightforward, with no intricate cleaning rituals necessary.

    Safety & Security

    This rack's got backbone—holding kayaks sturdily without flinching.

    Safety features? Check.

    And for those worried about their gear while they grab a bite, the security features are reliable.

    Versatility & Expandability

    While primarily for kayaks, with a bit of creativity, you might find more uses for it.

    And while it doesn't expand per say, its design can cater to various kayak sizes.

    Design & Appearance

    Crafted with quality materials that scream durability, its design doesn't just serve a function—it looks good doing it.

    Size-wise, it's not overwhelming, subtly complementing most vehicle designs.

    After-Sale Service

    Had to call customer service once (for a buddy)—prompt and professional.

    They offer a decent warranty, but here's hoping you won’t need it.

    Over the years, INNO's product evolution reflects customer feedback—always a good sign.

    Storage & Portability

    When off-duty, storing it is no fuss.

    Transferring between vehicles or storing it in your home? Not a Herculean task, but you might break a slight sweat.

    Alternatives and competitors

    The INNO INA453 Kayak Lifter competes in a market with notable alternatives like the Thule Hullavator Pro—a premium lift-assist kayak rack, and the Yakima ShowDown—known for its slide-and-tilt mechanism suitable for both kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.

    While these products offer various features, the INNO INA453 stands out due to its superior safety mechanisms, versatile compatibility for different kayak sizes, and a seamless fit for most standard vehicles.

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    User reviews

    A Game-Changer Out Here in the Country!

    Rating: 4.9 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    I've seen my fair share of racks come and go but the INA453 hit the nail. It feel secure loading up after a calm paddle in the creek or taking it down the old dirt road. Previous racks didn't quite hold up or fit the bill, but this one? A total game-changer. Well worth the investment!

    Reliable, But Needs Better Instructions

    Rating: 4.3 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

    The INA453 is mostly great. It's a sturdy piece of kit, and I felt confident driving it around. However, the installation took a bit longer than I anticipated, and the instructions could have been clearer. Once it's on, it's great, but prepare to spend some time getting it set up just right.

    Decent for the Budget, But There's Room for Improvement

    Rating: 4.0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    For the price point, the INA453 is decent. It does its job, and I've had no major issues with it really. However, I've seen some higher-end racks with vertical loading that seem much better. If you're on a budget, it's a solid choice, but if you can spare a little more, there might be better options out there.

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    Expert Q&A

    Q: How does the kayak loader work and can you load it by yourself?

    A: Kayak loaders or racks are designed to make the process of loading and unloading your kayak easier. Its key feature is a set of cradles and assist bars that pivot and extend outward. When you're ready to load your kayak, you place one end onto the extended assist bars. This means you only have to lift half the weight at a time. Once the kayak's end is on the assist bars, you can easily slide and pivot the kayak into position on the roof. The mechanism acts as a fulcrum, reducing the strength needed to load the kayak.

    So, can you load it by yourself? Well, the answer generally is, "Yes, but..." Here's what I mean: With a bit of practice and the right technique, many solo paddlers manage to get their kayaks onto their car racks without any assistance. They might start by placing the bow of the kayak onto the rear part of the rack or a roller, then lift and slide the rest of the kayak into place.

    Q: Can you hang a kayak from scupper holes?

    A: Hanging a kayak by its scupper holes is a topic that gets some debate. On one hand, there are racks and storage systems specifically designed to hang sit-on-top kayaks by their scupper holes. The advantage is that these systems put no pressure on the hull, preventing any potential warping over time.

    However, there's a cautionary side to this. Not all kayaks are made equally, and the strength and design of scupper holes can vary. Hanging a heavy kayak loaded with gear by its scupper holes might not be the best idea, as it could put undue stress on them. Over time, this could lead to cracks, or damage.

    I see many people do hang their sit-on-tops by the scupper holes without any issues. However, it's wise to make sure the kayak is empty and to regularly inspect the scupper holes for any signs of stress or damage.

    Q: Is the INNO INA453 Kayak Lifter compatible with all types of roof racks?

    A: The INNO INA453 Lifter is designed to be universal and fit most crossbars on the market, be they square, round, oval, or factory bars.

    Q: Does it come with all necessary mounting hardware?

    A: Yes, the INNO INA453 Kayak Lifter typically comes with all the required mounting hardware. The package usually includes clamps and tools to secure the system to your roof rack.

    Q: How much weight can it handle? Is it suitable for tandem or larger kayaks?

    A: The INNO INA453 Kayak Lifter has a weight capacity of up to 90 lbs. Tandem or larger kayaks can vary in weight, so it's essential to ensure that your kayak's weight is within the lifter's limit.

    Resources & references

    The INNO INA453 Kayak Lifter, in my professional and personal experience, shines in its promise of convenience and safety.

    While it does come with a steeper price tag and an initial learning curve, its benefits significantly outweigh its drawbacks.

    I would recommend it both to seasoned and occasional kayakers as this lifter could very well be a game-changer in your water sports adventures.

    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!