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Best Bike and Kayak Racks for SUVs - Reviews of Trunk and Roof Transport Systems

Updated on September 25, 2014

Loading a Kayak on an SUV Roof Rack - How To Video

When looking to buy a roof rack for an SUV, it's important to know first that these transport systems help expand the capability of your vehicle to carry tools, equipment, bicycles, camping/traveling gear, kayaks and other supplies.

Since there are quite a few well known companies out there that specialize in roof mounted racks, there are a couple of key considerations to keep in mind when selecting the appropriate system.

First, the typical configuration of popular racks consists of several different parts:

  1. Four towers (or foot packs) - The towers are the main support structure for the rack system. It goes between your van or car and the items you will be carrying on top of it (such as a specialized setup for kayaks, bikes, snowboards or traveling equipment).
  2. Two Load Bars - The load bars are designed to support the weight and dimensions of the items that will be carried above.
  3. Rubber-coated steel straps - The rubber coating on the steel straps helps ensure that your vehicle and the items you will be carrying will arrive undamaged (i.e. that won't dig into the valuable cargo).
  4. Security locks - High priced items like kayaks or tools and equipment need to be protected. The security locks act as a theft deterrent providing peace of mind.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
SUV mount from the trailer hitch using Allen Sports Deluxe 4 Bike Rack system
SUV mount from the trailer hitch using Allen Sports Deluxe 4 Bike Rack system
SUV mount from the trailer hitch using Allen Sports Deluxe 4 Bike Rack system | Source

A Few Other Factors to Consider

  • Ease of installation right out of the box makes life a lot easier.
  • Setup should take no longer than 15-20 minutes.
  • There are quite a few brands that offer this feature in their models (Thule is a good example).
  • Rubberized mounts that are soft to help ensure a tight and secure fit on the roof without causing damage to your vehicles paint.
  • The roof rack should not move around freely even when the vehicle does.
  • If you decide to purchase an OEM roof rack, expect to pay double what it would cost to get one from Amazon.
  • A roof rack should be durable and able to withstand the elements

Allen Roof Carrier System

These roof racks are ideal for the outside enthusiast. They are affordable but really well made. Instead of putting your bike in the trunk or trying to lift it on the top of the roof, try one of these trunk racks. For around $28 you can't beat the value

The Different Types of Racks

Roof racks can be used to meet several purposes. Here is a list of the top 4 types of roof rack systems:

  • Bicycle Racks: Prevent damage to your vehicle and bicycle by getting a roof rack that is specifically designed to carry bikes. Having a bike roof rack frees up space inside your vehicle. Bicycles are generally lightweight, making it easier to lift onto the roof.
  • Snowboard and Ski Racks: Skis and snowboards are not just awkward in length and dimensions (especially if other fellow skiers and snowboarders are in the vehicle), they also have layers of wax and sharp edges that cause a hazard to those inside. Ski or Snowboard carriers are convenient because after a day on the slopes you don't have to worry about the left over snow, dirt, etc. on the ski or board getting the inside of your vehicle wet or dirty.
  • Kayak or Canoe Racks: Unless you have access to a trailer which can be expensive and also prove difficult to tow, having a kayak or canoe roof rack make a lot of sense. It stores these expensive items securely on the top of the vehicle, helping to minimize scratches and abrasions to your vehicle and the kayaks.
  • Open or Closed Roof Cargo Boxes or Rails: One of the most overlooked and valuable roof racks are the open or closed cargo boxes/racks. With these boxes you can store anything from canopies, suitcases, tents or coolers. It is designed to free up space one the inside of the vehicle while still providing easy access for unloading

Do you have any specific recommendations for a roof rack? Leave a comment below letting us know which carrier you use on your SUV

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