How to Choose Cartop Boat Mounts

Before you hit the water in your kayak or canoe, you’ll need to properly secure it to your vehicle. You can do this by using a roof rack or a foam block base, plus the right attachments to keep the boat firmly in place. By taking these precautions, you can help ensure that your boat arrives safely to its destination.

Your Choice: Car Rack or Blocks

Roof-Mounted Rack Systems

If you’re looking for a new roof-mounted system, Thule and Yakima are two of the most popular brands. Both can be installed on almost any standard-sized car, truck, or van. A basic roof rack system usually consists of 4 vertical towers and 2 horizontal bars that can accommodate various gear-hauling attachments. The towers are typically held in place by clamps, but some models can be permanently attached to the roof of your vehicle. This rack is best suited for 10 feet kayaks

  • Pros: Stable and secure; long-lasting; versatile; can carry additional gear.
  • Cons: More difficult to install and remove than foam blocks; more expensive.

Foam Blocks

These roof-mounted carriers are a great, inexpensive way to transport your kayak. They typically come with straps that attach to your car roof, using downward force to secure the carrier. Some foam blocks (or saddles) are designed to fit between your kayak and the roof of your vehicle, while others are slotted to fit as a mount on the bars of roof racks. The entire system is held together by two or three straps that attach to your car’s roof rack or circle through the interior and attach inside the vehicle. This is a great option for those who don’t have a lot of storage space or who want to be able to take their kayak with them on longer trips.

  • Pros: Low cost; simple to install and remove.
  • Cons: Not as long-lasting as a rack system.

Factory Racks

If your vehicle has factory-installed roof racks, you may need to purchase a universal mount adapter to add attachments. However, some attachments come with universal mounts, so check before you buy an adapter you may not need.

  • Pros: Stable and secure; long-lasting; versatile; can carry additional gear.
  • Cons: Adapters, in addition to attachment mounts, may be required.


Boat mounts are available in a variety of styles, such as cradles, stackers, saddles, and even foam-block carriers. Attachments can be clamped, screwed, or otherwise fastened to rack bars to safely transport boats and other gear.

  • J-cradles and stackers transport kayaks on their sides, making room for additional boats or gear.
  • Saddle-style mounts gently upright the kayak hull, grasping onto the sides of the boat without pressing in too hard on any one area, saving wear and tear on the kayak’s hull’s edges.
  • The ultimate are integrated lift systems. They have a rack mount as well as gas-assist shocks to assist you in raising the boat onto the rack.

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