A Jeep Wrangler is a popular choice among adventure enthusiasts when enjoying outdoor adventures. Its rugged build, and off-road capabilities make it ideal for exploring remote destinations.
If you’re a kayak enthusiast with a soft-top Jeep Wrangler, you might wonder how to safely and conveniently transport your kayaks.
That’s where a kayak rack designed specifically for soft-top Jeep Wranglers comes into play. In this article, I will explore the benefits of using a kayak rack, discuss different types of racks available, provide installation tips, and recommend some of the best kayak racks for your soft-top Jeep Wrangler.
Understanding Soft Top Jeep Wranglers
Before we delve deeper into kayak racks, let’s first understand the soft-top Jeep Wrangler. Soft tops are fabric-based roofs that provide an open-air experience while protecting the vehicle’s occupants from the elements. Soft-top Jeep Wranglers are known for their versatility, allowing you to remove or fold back the top for a unique driving experience. However, this design also poses challenges when carrying additional equipment, such as kayaks.
The Need for a Kayak Rack
Transporting a kayak on a soft top Jeep Wrangler without a dedicated rack can lead to various issues. The absence of a secure attachment point may result in instability, potential damage to the vehicle or kayak, and even safety hazards on the road. Investing in a kayak rack ensures the safe and secure transportation of your kayaks while freeing up interior space for passengers and other gear.
Types of Kayak Racks for Soft Top Jeep Wranglers
Several types of kayak racks are available for soft top Jeep Wranglers, each with its own set of advantages and considerations. Roof-mounted kayak racks are a popular choice, allowing you to transport your kayak on the roof of your Jeep. Hitch-mounted kayak racks attach to the rear hitch receiver, providing a convenient and easily accessible location for kayak storage. On the other hand, rear-mounted kayak racks are designed to be attached to the rear door or spare tire carrier.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Kayak Rack
When selecting a kayak rack for your soft top Jeep Wrangler, several factors should be taken into consideration. Firstly, consider the weight capacity and compatibility of the rack.
Ensure that it can support the weight of your kayak and is specifically designed for soft top Jeeps. Secondly, assess the installation process and ease of use. Look for racks that are easy to install and require minimal modifications to your Jeep.
Lastly, consider the rack’s security features to protect your kayak and Jeep from theft or damage.
Installation of a Kayak Rack on a Soft Top Jeep Wrangler
Installing a kayak rack on your soft top Jeep Wrangler can be a straightforward process if you follow the right steps. For a roof-mounted kayak rack, begin by positioning the rack on the roof and securing it using the provided mounting brackets. Ensure that the rack is aligned correctly and evenly distribute the weight. Tighten all the bolts and screws securely, double-checking for any loose connections. Following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully is essential to ensure a successful installation.
VII. Tips for Safely Transporting Kayaks
Once your kayak rack is installed, taking additional precautions is crucial to ensure a safe journey. When securing your kayak to the rack, use high-quality straps or ropes designed specifically for this purpose.
Ensure the kayak is centered and securely fastened to prevent shifting during transit. Adjust the rack to distribute the weight evenly, avoiding excessive strain on one side of the Jeep. During your journey, periodically check the kayak and rack to ensure they remain secure.
Maintenance and Care for Kayak Racks
Regular maintenance is essential to prolong the lifespan of your kayak rack and ensure its optimal performance. Clean the rack regularly, removing any dirt, grime, or salt residue that may have accumulated.
Inspect the rack for any signs of wear, such as loose bolts or damaged components, and address them promptly. Lubricate moving parts, such as hinges or folding mechanisms, with appropriate lubricants to prevent rust or corrosion.
Consider storing the kayak rack in a safe and dry location to protect it from the elements when not in use.
Recommended Kayak Racks for Soft Top Jeep Wranglers
When choosing the right kayak rack for your soft top Jeep Wrangler, several options stand out in terms of quality, durability, and compatibility. Here are three recommended kayak racks for soft top Jeep Wranglers:
- Model X – This roof-mounted kayak rack offers easy installation, a sturdy build, and a weight capacity of up to 150 pounds. It features adjustable padding to protect your kayak and your Jeep’s roof.
- Model Y – A hitch-mounted kayak rack that provides a secure attachment point at the rear of your Jeep. It offers quick and easy loading and unloading of your kayak and a foldable design for convenient storage.
- Model Z – Specifically designed for soft top Jeep Wranglers, this rear-mounted kayak rack attaches to the rear door or spare tire carrier. It offers excellent stability and a compact design that won’t obstruct your view while driving.
Compare these kayak racks’ features, prices, and customer reviews to determine the best suits your needs and budget.
Benefits Of Using A Kayak Rack For Soft Top Jeep Wranglers
Using a kayak rack for a soft top Jeep Wrangler provides numerous benefits for kayakers who want to transport their kayaks safely and efficiently. Here are some of the top benefits of using a kayak rack for a soft-top Jeep Wrangler:
- Protection for the kayak: Kayaks are not cheap and must be transported carefully to avoid damage. A kayak rack keeps the kayak securely in place, preventing it from sliding around or rubbing against other items in the vehicle.
- Protection for the Jeep: Soft-top Jeeps are prone to damage, and transporting a kayak without a rack can cause scratches and other damage to the soft top. Using a kayak rack can prevent damage to the Jeep and help it last longer.
- Convenience: Trying to fit a kayak inside a Jeep is often a frustrating experience, and it can be difficult to find a way to secure it in place. With a kayak rack, the kayak can be loaded and unloaded easily, allowing the kayaker to spend more time on the water and less time fiddling with the kayak.
- Increased storage: Soft-top Jeeps often need more storage space, and adding a kayak can make things even more cramped. A kayak rack provides a designated storage area for the kayak, freeing up space inside the Jeep for other items.
- Safer transportation: A kayak not secured properly during transport can become a safety hazard on the road. With a kayak rack, the kayak is securely fastened to the Jeep, reducing the risk of flying off during transit.
Overall, using a kayak rack for a soft-top Jeep Wrangler is a smart investment for kayakers who want to transport their kayak safely and efficiently while protecting their vehicle and preserving the lifespan of their kayak.
Factors To Consider Before Purchasing A Kayak Rack
When purchasing a kayak rack for your soft-top Jeep Wrangler, several factors must be considered to ensure you select the right track for your needs. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:
- Compatibility with the Jeep Wrangler Soft Top: Before purchasing a kayak rack, it is essential to ensure that it’s compatible with your Jeep Wrangler soft top. Some kayak racks may require additional adapters or modifications to fit your Jeep, so it is essential to double-check before making a purchase.
- Kayak Size and Weight Capacity: Your kayak’s size and weight will determine your needed rack. Check the manufacturer’s weight capacity and ensure that it is sufficient to support the weight of your kayak. Additionally, some kayak racks are designed for specific kayak sizes and shapes, so make sure your rack is compatible with your kayak.
- Storage and Access: Consider how you plan to store your kayak when it’s not in use. Do you have space to keep it on the roof of your Jeep all the time, or will you need to remove it frequently? If you plan to leave your kayak on the roof, look for a rack that provides easy access so you don’t have to strain it to get it down.
- Ease of Installation and Removal: Look for an easy kayak rack to install and remove, especially if you plan to take it on and off frequently. Some racks may require additional tools or special knowledge, while others are designed for easy installation without any tools.
Considering these factors, you can find a kayak rack compatible with your Jeep Wrangler that provides a safe and secure way to transport your kayak on the road.
Top Kayak Racks for Soft Top Jeep Wrangler
Kayak Rack Model
Thule Hullavator Pro
Gas-assisted struts, universal mounting system
Up to 75 lbs
Versatile, fold-down mechanism
Up to 110 lbs
Rhino-Rack Nautic 570
Self-adjusting pads, universal fit
Up to 99 lbs
J-style carrier, fold-down mechanism
Up to 75 lbs
TMS J-Bar Rack HD
Affordable, easy installation
Up to 75 lbs
These kayak racks offer different features and price points to fit various needs and budgets. It’s important to consider your kayak size and weight, as well as your installation and storage preferences when selecting a kayak rack for your soft top Jeep Wrangler.
Installation And Maintenance Of Kayak Racks
Read the instructions
Carefully read the manufacturer's instructions
Check for compatibility
Ensure that the kayak rack is compatible with your vehicle
Position the rack correctly and securely on your vehicle
Check the tightness of bolts/nuts and adjust if needed
Test for stability
Test the rack for stability after installation
Inspect for wear and tear or damage and repair/replace as needed
Use the recommended straps or tie-downs to secure kayaks
Check and adjust straps/tie-downs before every trip
Clean the rack
Clean the rack regularly to prevent corrosion or rust
Lubricate moving parts and inspect for wear and tear
Following these tips can help ensure that your kayak rack is installed correctly and maintained properly, so you can safely transport your kayak on the road.
Installation and Maintenance of Kayak Racks
Transporting a kayak on a soft-top Jeep requires a compatible kayak rack that can be installed on the vehicle’s roof. Once you have a kayak rack installed, you can follow these steps to transport your kayak:
1. Prepare your kayak
Ensure your kayak is clean and debris-free and securely strapped and tied down.
2. Position the kayak
Center the kayak on the rack and balance the weight evenly.
3. Secure the kayak
Use recommended straps or tie-downs to secure the kayak to the rack, ensuring it will not move.
4. Check the kayak
Check the straps or tie-downs regularly during transport to ensure they are tight and secure.
5. Unload the kayak
Carefully unload the kayak from the rack, not damaging the kayak or the Jeep's soft top.
5 Best Jeep Wrangler Roof Rack For Kayak
Here are 5 of the best roof racks for Jeep Wrangler that can be used for transporting kayaks:
- Yakima Jetstream: The Yakima Jetstream is a highly-rated roof rack accommodating various kayak sizes and styles. The crossbars have a T-slot design that allows for easy installation of compatible accessories, including kayak racks.
- Thule Aero blade: The Thule Aero blade is a sleek, stylish roof rack system compatible with many kayak carriers. The crossbars are designed to reduce wind noise and drag, making them ideal for long trips.
- Rhino-Rack Vortex: The Rhino-Rack Vortex is a strong, durable roof rack that can be customized to fit different kayak sizes and styles. It is easy to install and can support up to 220 pounds.
- Smuttiest Defender: The Smuttiest Defender is a heavy-duty roof rack that can be used for various outdoor activities, including kayaking. It has a modular design that allows for easy customization and can support up to 300 pounds of weight.
- Rugged Ridge Sherpa: The Rugged Ridge Sherpa is a versatile roof rack system that can be used for various outdoor gear, including kayaks. It features a low-profile design that reduces wind resistance and noise and can support up to 300 pounds of weight.
When selecting a roof rack for your Jeep Wrangler, it’s important to consider the weight capacity, ease of installation, and compatibility with your kayak carrier. It is also good to read reviews and compare different products to find the best one for your needs.
Best 5 Kayak Rack For 2 Door Jeep Wrangler
Thule Hull-a-Port XT
1 kayak, up to 36" wide, up to 75 lbs
Adjustable padding system, easy to load and unload
1-2 kayaks, weight capacity of 110 lbs
Adjustable J-cradle or stacker position
1 kayak, up to 75 lbs
Foldable, built-in boarding ramp, compatible with most crossbar shapes and sizes
Rhino-Rack Nautic 580
1 kayak, up to 44 lbs
The cradle design reduces wind resistance and makes it a universal fit for most crossbars
TMS J-Bar Rack
1 kayak, up to 75 lbs
Budget-friendly, adjustable padding system, compatible with most crossbars
These kayak racks are all designed to fit 2-door Jeep Wranglers and provide a secure and easy way to transport your kayak. When choosing a kayak rack, it is important to consider the weight capacity, compatibility with your Jeep and kayak, and ease of installation and use.
A kayak rack designed for soft-top Jeep Wranglers is an invaluable accessory for any kayak enthusiast. It provides a secure and convenient solution for transporting your kayaks, ensuring a safe journey and freeing interior space.
You can enhance your kayaking adventures with your soft-top Jeep Wrangler by considering the different types of racks available, installation tips, and maintenance practices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I install a kayak rack on any soft-top Jeep Wrangler model?
Yes, most kayak racks designed for soft-top Jeep Wranglers are compatible with various models. However, it’s recommended to check the specific compatibility of the rack with your Jeep model.
How many kayaks can a typical kayak rack hold?
The number of kayaks a rack can hold depends on its design and weight capacity. Most racks can accommodate one to two kayaks, but some models can hold more.
Can a kayak rack be used on a hard-top Jeep Wrangler?
Yes, many kayak racks are versatile and can be used on both soft-top and hard-top Jeep Wranglers. Ensure the rack you choose is compatible with your specific Jeep model.
Do I need any special tools for installing a kayak rack?
Most kayak racks come with the necessary hardware for installation. However, having basic tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers can be helpful during installation.
Can I leave the kayak rack on my Jeep even when I’m not using it?
You can leave the kayak rack on your Jeep even when you’re not using it. However, it’s advisable to periodically check the rack for any signs of wear or damage and perform regular maintenance as needed.