10 Best Kayak J Hooks

10 Best Kayak J Hooks
Best Overall 🏆 & Best Budget 💰
TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Canoe Boat Surf Ski Roof Top Mounted on Car SUV Crossbar
Best Runner Up 🥈
DRSPORTS Two Pairs Universal Foldable J-Bar Kayak Rack Folding Car Roof Top Carrier for Canoe, SUP, Kayaks, Surfboard and Ski Board Rooftop Mount on SUV, Car and Truck
TMS J-Bar Kayak Rack
DRSPORTS Two Pairs Universal Foldable Kayak Rack
Pros
  • Affordable J-hooks
  • Great for recreational kayaks
  • Universal mounting system
  • Can carry canoes and SUPs
Cons
  • Doesn’t fold flat
Pros
  • Foldable J-hooks
  • Universal mounting system
  • Can carry canoes and SUPs
  • Simple to install and easy to use
  • Sturdy and durable
Cons
  • They are compatible with round bars
Best Overall 🏆 & Best Budget 💰
TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Canoe Boat Surf Ski Roof Top Mounted on Car SUV Crossbar
TMS J-Bar Kayak Rack
Pros
  • Affordable J-hooks
  • Great for recreational kayaks
  • Universal mounting system
  • Can carry canoes and SUPs
Cons
  • Doesn’t fold flat
Best Runner Up 🥈
DRSPORTS Two Pairs Universal Foldable J-Bar Kayak Rack Folding Car Roof Top Carrier for Canoe, SUP, Kayaks, Surfboard and Ski Board Rooftop Mount on SUV, Car and Truck
DRSPORTS Two Pairs Universal Foldable Kayak Rack
Pros
  • Foldable J-hooks
  • Universal mounting system
  • Can carry canoes and SUPs
  • Simple to install and easy to use
  • Sturdy and durable
Cons
  • They are compatible with round bars
Table of Contents
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    As long as you have crossbars on the top of your vehicle, J hooks make it easier to transport one or two kayaks on your roof and they are pretty easy to use.

    Highly affordable and easy to install on your vehicle’s crossbars, you can simply load your kayaks onto it. When shopping for this kayak transportation accessory, it is important to know what you want in terms of brands and models to choose wisely.

    Read through our review for the 10 best kayak J hooks currently available on the market plus the most important factors to consider when shopping for J hooks.

    Our Top 10 Picks At A Glance

    1. TMS J-Bar Kayak Rack

    TMS J-Bar Kayak Rack

    If you’re looking for J-hooks on a budget, the TMS J-Bar Kayak Rack is an affordable and ideal J-style kayak carrier.

    This rack is designed to carry recreational kayaks up to 36 inches wide and weighs no more than 75 pounds, paddleboards and canoes as long as they fit within weight and width capacity.

    TMS J-Bar Kayak Rack weighs only 8 pounds and is a good option for most vehicle crossbars because of the presence of the universal mounting system.

    The included foam padding and a rubber base pad provide your kayak extra protection while being loaded and transported.

    Pros

    • Affordable J-hooks
    • Great for recreational kayaks
    • Universal mounting system
    • Can carry canoes and SUPs

    Cons

    • Doesn’t fold flat

    2. DRSPORTS Two Pairs Universal Foldable Kayak Rack

    DRSPORTS Two Pairs Universal Foldable Kayak Rack

    This is a double Kayak rack that is designed to mount to virtually all crossbars and load bars on the market. Made of Heavy-Duty Material, the 2 pairs universal foldable J-Bar style rack is lightweight and durable.

    The hooks are designed to be compatible with crossbars with a maximum width of 3.625 inches and a maximum height of 1.25 inches and can support kayaks with a maximum weight of 110 pounds.

    Included to this rack is mounting hardware steel design with adjustable padding for carrying strength and kayak protection, 4 pack 16 feet long hook rope, 4 ratchet kayak, and canoe bow and stern tie-down straps which makes the loading of kayak, canoe, surfboard, and SUP paddle boat easier and quicker.

    The foldable J bar cradle design allows you to fold it down after use to save most of your car rooftop and does not require removing the rack while the folding J bar function minimizes vibration and noise when not in use.

    The foam gasket and rubber pedal design protect the cross bars and prevent canoe or kayak friction.

    Pros

    • Foldable J-hooks
    • Universal mounting system
    • Can carry canoes and SUPs
    • Simple to install and easy to use
    • Sturdy and durable

    Cons

    • They are compatible with round bars

    3. Leader Accessories Two Pair Folding J Hooks

    Leader Accessories Two Pair Folding J Hooks

    If you’re on the lookout for a J hook that can carry two kayaks on a vehicle’s roof and allows you to attach other roof-mounted accessories to your vehicle’s crossbars, Leader Accessories Two Pair Folding J Hooks is a great option.

    These J hooks are compatible with most square, factory, and aerodynamic crossbars and can be separated to attach another roof cargo accessory in between or can be installed separately on two vehicles.

    Constructed with powder-coated steel, it offers excellent durability and corrosion resistance and each set of hooks is rated for a max kayak weight of about 100 pounds.

    It features foldable vertical support on the hooks that folds flat when you are not transporting a kayak, a quick-release handle that makes it easy to fold them flat once you have unloaded your kayaks, and a total of four cam-style tie-down straps to help you secure your kayak.

    Also, the extra foam padded design prevents the canoe or kayak from scratching and rubbing.

    Pros

    • Included flat handle
    • Folds flat when not in use
    • Can carry canoes and SUPs
    • Simple to install
    • Sturdy and durable
    • Easy to use

    Cons

    • They are compatible with round bars

    4. IKURAM Single J Hooks

    IKURAM Single J Hooks

    The IKURAM Single J Hooks weigh up to 158 pounds and can accommodate kayaks up to 42 inches wide. 

    Each hook is secured to round or square crossbars using two bolts and twist-on star-shaped nuts that tighten the bottom of the hooks and the installation plate around your crossbars.

    Made with aviation-grade anodized aluminum alloys, these J cradles are lightweight and corrosion-resistant. 

    They are equally water-resistant, there’s no need to panic over completely drying off your kayak after paddles or taking them off when it rains.

    This hook comes with two heavy-duty cam straps to help you secure your kayak and a release handle on the side of the hooks that allows you to adjust the angle of the vertical support to accommodate kayaks of different sizes and raise or lower the upright portion of the hook.

    They fold down flat when not in use which impacts your vehicle’s fuel economy. These straps can handle larger kayaks and the included paddle hooks in the middle of the upright portion help keep everything secure on the roof and out of your way.

    Pros

    • Easy to use and set up
    • Paddle holder straps included
    • Sturdy and durable
    • Fold down flat when not in use

    Cons

    • Not the cheapest J hook in the market

    5. OxGord J Hooks

    OxGord J Hooks

    OxGord hooks are an extremely economical set of J hooks that fit universally on round, square, oval, and flat crossbars, and they are constructed from heavy-duty steel tubing.

    Each hook measures up to 20 inches long by 5.5 inches wide by 16 inches tall and offers you enough cushion for one of the best recreational kayaks at an extremely affordable price.

    Installing this hook doesn’t need additional tools but can be simply screwed on and tightened down using all of the hardware that is included when you make the purchase.

    Pros

    • Sturdy and durable
    • Easy to install
    • Securing straps included
    • Affordable

    Cons

    • The hood and trunk anchor straps material aren’t great
    • The bolts used are not rust-resistant

    6. Yakima JayLow Kayak Carrier

    Yakima JayLow Kayak Carrier

    The Yakima JayLow is a known J-style kayak carrier that is designed to work with most vehicle crossbars and can be ideal for both standard cars, SUVs, and minivans.

    It can carry two kayaks in a vertical, stacked position up to 110 lbs combined but can comfortably hold up a kayak in a J-cradle position up to 80 lbs.

    Included in this carrier are heavy-duty straps and stern tie-down to secure your gear, and an integrated ramp to make loading your kayak a little easier. To adjust the position of the J-cradle, an additional convenient cam lever is also included

    The durable padded contact points provide protection and grip while traveling and the SKS Lockable (sold separately) provides added security.

    For better clearance and to reduce drag, the rack also folds flat when not in use. Comes fully assembled and is easily installed in about 10 minutes.

    Pros

    • Sturdy and durable
    • Easy to install
    • Straps included
    • Folds down flat when not in use
    • Great for small, lightweight kayaks

    Cons

    • Not for long or heavy kayaks

    7. Malone Downloader Folding J Hooks

    Malone Downloader Folding J Hooks

    The Malone Downloader is a good solution for longer, lightweight kayaks. With a load capacity of 75 pounds, it might be able to carry a heavy fishing kayak.

    The downloader standout among equals because of its compatibility with the Malone Telos XL Load Assist Module (sold separately) which makes it easier to load your kayak onto the rack.

    These folding J-cradles feature corrosion-resistant aluminum construction for strength and durability while reducing overall weight.

    Included in this rack are 2 lengths of bolts for easy installation, a universal fitting system, and the foam padding on the J-cradles has replaceable acrylic fabric sleeves.

    These J-style hooks are designed to carry one kayak and are compatible with most square, round, and factory-installed crossbars.

    Pros

    • Folding J-cradles
    • Corrosion-resistant construction
    • Compatible with Malone Telos XL Load Assist Module (sold separately)
    • Two lengths of mounting bolts included

    Cons

    • Not for very heavy kayaks

    8. OUHOUG A001 J Hooks

    OUHOUG A001 J Hooks

    The OUHOUG A001 J Hooks have a weight capacity of 150 pounds and can accommodate kayaks up to 36 inches wide. Constructed from thickened steel tubing with adjustable padding, they’re durable, lightweight, and resistant to damage and corrosion.

    The OxGord set comes with complete kayak accessories such as tie-down ropes and loops to help you easily secure the bow and stern of your kayak. 

    It also features a cam-style tie-down anchor strap and wide mouth J bar quick on/off hardware that helps you secure them to your crossbars or remove them to another vehicle quickly without additional tools.

    The OUHOUG comes with a few extra accessories such as a propeller hook and a fixed strap for lashing and stabilizing kayaks.

    The ultra-high density foam pad protects the kayak from rubbing and getting damaged effectively and the foam padding and the rubber base are anti-slip, water, and sun resistant.

    This J-Cradle fits round, square, oval, and flat crossbars with a maximum width of 3.5 inches and a maximum height of 1.5 inches. It supports various vehicles such as canoes, paddleboards, skis, and other outdoor gear.

    Pros

    • Kayak accessories for transporting kayaks included
    • Easy to install
    • Durable and lightweight
    • Rust- resistant
    • Tie-down straps included

    Cons

    • It takes time and effort to set it up
    • It is not the most premium material

    9. Thule Hull-a-Port Pro XT Kayak Rack

    Thule Hull-a-Port Pro XT Kayak Rack

    These durable dual-position J-hooks are a pro version of the regular Hull-a-Port rack which can carry one or two kayaks. With a carrying capacity of 130 pounds, it can comfortably accommodate heavier solo kayaks, such as fishing kayaks.

    This J-cradles features a universal mounting system that’s designed to fit all types of crossbars up to 80 mm wide. This means it can work with different cargos.

    The Hull-a-Port Pro XT comes with tie-down straps for the bow and stern, and buckle bumpers to safely secure your kayak to your vehicle.

    The J-hooks are padded to help protect the hull of your kayak and fold down flat when not in use. The built-in StrapCatch is for convenience while loading.

    Pros

    • Ideal for a heavier kayak
    • Universal mount
    • Tie-down straps included
    • Folds flat

    Cons

    • Not cheap compared to other kayaks J-hooks

    10. AA-Racks 2 Pair J Hooks 180

    AA-Racks 2 Pair J Hooks 180

    The AA-Racks folding J hooks come in two sets that allow you to carry 2 kayaks in different ways. It can be adjusted to fit different shapes of kayaks and other outdoor gears, minimizing vibration, noise, and safety during transportation.

    This is an advantage if you have other roof-mounted accessories, such as a Cargo Carrier installed to the Vault Cargo roof rack rails for an easy kayak transportation solution.

    The ratchet straps that come with the hooks are rated for a break strength of 2200 pounds and each set of hooks can handle kayaks weighing up to 150 pounds.

    The extra thick foam padding on the kayak carrier provides a better grasp of the kayaks and the enlarged rubber base gives better support to protect your car roof from scratch. They are anti-slip, sun and water-resistant.

    These hooks are compatible with crossbars up to 3.625 inches wide and up to 1.25 inches tall and also fold completely flat when you aren’t using them.

    Pros

    • Sturdy and durable
    • Quick and easy to install
    • Ratchet straps included
    • Folds flat when not in use
    • Easy to assemble

    Cons

    • Tie-down straps are not included
    • Can only be used with a kayak carrier

    Factors To Consider Before Purchasing A Kayak J Hooks

    There is a variety of kayak J hooks in the market today but the factors for buying kayak J hooks can be prioritized according to your personal preferences. Here is an outline of some factors that need to be considered before buying a kayak J hooks.

    Weight Capacity

    The weight of the J hooks you want to buy should be rated for the weight of your kayak.  Fishing kayaks are the heaviest design and they weigh more than 100 pounds even before you load in any of your kayak fishing gear.

    So it is important to go through the original specifications of your kayak and ensure that its weight is below the rated capacity of the J hooks you purchase. 

    Also, if your kayak has gone through any modification, be sure to account for how those modifications may have altered the weight of your kayak during this step.

    However, if you have one of the best whitewater kayaks, you should not have a problem with most of these J hook models on the market.

    Frequency of Use

    Evaluating how often you go out kayaking is another important factor. For one that paddles multiple times a week, there might not be the need to install and remove your J hooks every time you gear up for a paddle.

    On the other hand, if you work at a location that requires you to park in a parking garage, for example, you might not want to have a tall set of J hooks on your crossbars all the time considering the height that these hooks will add to your vehicle.

    As a regular kayaker, to avoid the impact of J hooks on your vehicle’s fuel economy and accessibility when you aren’t paddling, consider getting a folding model that will be installed permanently on your crossbars and only adjusted to their vertical positioning when you are ready to transport a kayak.

    On the other hand, if you kayak occasionally, consider getting a traditional set of J hooks that are still easy to install and remove as needed. They’re also very affordable compared with the folding design.

    Your Crossbars

    There are different types of crossbars which include round, square, oval, factory-installed, or aerodynamic crossbars. There’s a need to know the type of crossbar your new J hook will fit in. 

    To get a better idea of what crossbars you are working with, simply measure the width and height of your crossbars. Take note of their shape as well.

    Also, to understand how much space different sets of J hooks will require on your crossbars when they are installed, you need to measure the total length of your crossbars from both ends of your vehicle.

    Number of Kayaks

    While some of the J hooks you will find above in our list are built for a single kayak, others can handle two kayaks. This implies that the number of kayaks that you will typically be transporting is a factor that narrows down your options.

    Also, there’s a possibility that your kayak quiver will expand in the future and if you’re fortunate enough to get an economical pair of J hooks at a lower price, you can use that opportunity to prepare for transporting multiple kayaks in the nearest future.

    Other Roof Mounted Cargo

    Different roof-mounted cargo options can be installed on roof rack crossbars. These include awnings, road showers, rooftop tents and so many other accessories that you might attach to create your ideal setup.

    Ensure that you have enough room to attach one of these sets of J hooks if you have one or two of these accessories already installed on your crossbars. Even if there are no accessories currently installed on your crossbar, there might still be a need for them in the future.

    So you must think about what your ideal will really look like and then consider how much space your ideal set of J hooks will be able to take up.

    How To Use A Kayak Roof Rack

    These tips may come in handy regardless of what type of kayak vehicle rack you use.

    Before purchasing a new rack, ensure that it is compatible with your vehicle. Try to know;  if it will require horizontal crossbars, if there are permanent hooks beneath your car, if the weight and size limit of the rack is sufficient for your car or kayaks, etc.

    Use padding or tape to avoid damage if you notice that the straps are directly rubbing against your vehicle (e.g., they go through the interior of your car).

    In addition to kayak tie-down straps, use a bow and stern lines (ratchet or cam style).

    Loose strap ends need to be secured so they don’t vibrate in the wind.

    If you don’t have hooks, make use of looped hood and trunk anchor straps on your bow and stern lines.

    The use of bungee cords should be avoided because winds and bumps cause them to stretch, and your kayak can easily fly off the roof.

    Check for laxity in the straps by giving the rack and kayak a firm shake.

    Before taking a test drive, do well to check the weather forecast. You can begin with the speed level of 40 mph and gradually increase the speed.

    At regular intervals throughout the trip, inspect your tie downs.

    Pros of J Hook Roof Racks

    • Kayak J hooks at very affordable, especially relative to other styles of roof racks. 
    • They’re easy to assemble, install and remove. 
    • They’re stable and securely hold your kayak.
    • Can tighten from one side of the car and doesn’t require any extra padding. 
    • It can fit up to two kayaks on a narrow roof and most of them can fold flat when not in use.

    Cons of J Hook Roof Racks

    • They require horizontal cross bars
    • Still have to lift the kayak onto a car roof
    • It May is not suitable in very high winds

    The Hull-a-Port Pro XT stands out to be the best kayak J-Hook rack because it is a durable, strong, and dual-position J-hook that can be great for carrying a single heavy fishing kayak or two kayaks. It is also a foldable  J hook that conveniently folds down against your roof rack for clearance.

    Yakima Jaylow with its weight up to 80-pound capacity and integrated load ramp for easier loading is a good runner-up. It also has a foldable J hook which is a choice if you want to keep it on your roof rack even when it is not in use.

    Remember that not all of these J-hooks will be compatible with all roof racks, crossbars, and vehicles and as such demand you check in advance the types of fittings you require for your specific crossbars or vehicle. 

    Also, keep in mind the weight capacity of the rack and make sure it will be suitable for your particular kayak before you choose.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    J hooks are not universal to all vehicles but depend on the type of roof rack you have already installed on top of your vehicle.

     

    To get these J hooks installed in your car, a suitable crossbar is needed. This implies that there's a need to buy one unless your vehicle comes with factory crossbars installed.

     

    While some J-style carriers come with a universal mounting system, which is designed to fit most types of crossbars, others will require you to purchase additional mounting hardware to fit your particular crossbars.

    The difficulty in loading your kayak if you're by yourself is one of the cons of using a J-style kayak carrier. If you're dealing with a heavy kayak, it can be more difficult to load them safely.

     

    For those that might want to struggle with lifting their kayak onto the roof, then a load-assist rack is great assistance.

     

    You need lift assist racks for taller vehicles like SUVs and minivans, as they can allow you to lift the kayak to a lower, more comfortable height. You can as well conveniently secure your kayak to the rack at the side of your vehicle instead of on top of your roof.

     

    The Thule Hullavator Pro offers you heavy lifting with gas-assisted struts that can take the weight of your kayak as it’s loaded onto your roof and the Yakima Showdown rack which can also be a good load-assist option for SUVs are some of the different types of load assists.

    Step 1: Lift your kayak

     

    Particularly if you're dealing with tall vehicles like SUVs and minivans, you may need assistance from another person to lift your kayak onto the J-rack.

     

    Sit your kayak alongside your vehicle so that it’s close to and parallel with your vehicle then lift the kayak on its side so that the cockpit or seat is facing you and the bottom base of the hull is facing the side of your vehicle. Or the use of a kayak loader is an alternative option to lift your Kayak.

     

     

    Step 2: Position your kayak

     

    Positioning your kayak requires you to lift your kayak onto the J-cradles so that the center of the hull is positioned midway between each cradle for balance. Have the bottom or back of the hull positioned flat against the back of the J-cradle.

     

     

    Step 3: Secure your kayak

     

    Once your kayak is safely in the J-rack, for each hook, use your cam straps or buckle straps to tie down the kayak to the J-cradle by looping the cam strap through the top of the J-hook.

     

    So you don't scratch your car with the buckle straps when you throw it over the kayak, the buckle end should be shorter than the non-buckle end.

     

    Have each strap go across your kayak so that you can reach it on the other side of your vehicle and then secure the straps to your crossbars by cinching the cam strap so that it’s tight.

     

    Ensure to tie the ends of the straps so that they’re not loose and then further secure the kayak to your vehicle by using bow and stern tie-downs on the front and back of your vehicle.

     

    You can choose to lock your kayak to the roof rack by using a cable lock through a point on your kayak and securing it to the crossbars and J-hooks. This help to prevent theft.

    The shortest answer to this is yes!

     

    It may surprise you to know that bow and stern lines are not just there to further tighten down your kayak onto your vehicle but rather, they’re there solely to prevent the kayak from thrusting forward or backward if in the process of transporting you suddenly have to slam on the brakes.

     

    They are also used to prevent the kayak from flying through the back windshield of the vehicle in front of you.

     

    Attach the bow line to the front of your kayak through the handle, and secured it somewhere in the front of your vehicle.

     

    Many vehicles come with a factory tow hook or latch of some sort installed beneath the bumper or hood, but if there's no one installed, you're to invest in a hood loop strap that attaches to an available bolt head located under your hood or simply purchase a looped trunk anchor strap which simply lodges inside your closed front hood or rear trunk door.

     

    These two additional straps should be taut and secure, but they don’t have to be over-tightened to prevent them from damaging your kayak in some cases.

    Due to the position or shape of the J-cradle, which may not be suitable for other items, most J-hooks are designed to hold kayaks only but some are designed to be used for other items such as canoes, surfboards, and paddleboards.

     

    It is better to check the specifications of the particular model of J-hooks you’re interested in if you’re looking for a J-rack that can be used for other things.

     

    If you plan to load your kayak or SUP onto your car frequently, folding J-hooks can be useful. Especially when they're not in use, they can fold flat on your roof without taking them off to reinstall them for each trip.

     

    For one that doesn't kayak all the time and plans to remove them each time to free up your roof rack for other gear such as a roof box or cargo box,  non-folding J hooks may be ideal for you.

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