Kayaks are hefty and also awkward to lift; carrying a kayak can be a challenge. One renowned way to get your kayak to and from the water is by using a J rack. In this post, we will certainly demonstrate how to pack a kayak on a J rack. 

Tright here are many type of various ways world deliver kayaks from suggest A to point B. Some world use a truck. Others use a trailer. Some world go so much regarding jam a kayak inside their SUV. If you own an blow up kayak, transport is pretty straightforward. 

For those who own a hardshell kayak, using a J rack is a great means to go.

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What is a J rack?

J racks (additionally known as J cradles) are aptly called bereason of their form. Yep, you guessed it, they are shaped favor the letter J. The rack cradles the kayak on its side on peak of your auto. Pictured below are the Yakima JayLow fold-down style cradles. You deserve to buy these on Amazon and also inspect the price below.


PinYakima J Rack
This rack mechanism is popular because it have the right to fit on existing crossbars on optimal of the automobile. If you have a roof rack on your auto, a J cradle is straightforward to add. Depending on the configuration, you deserve to haul one or multiple kayaks.

The cradles have actually pincluding on the upbest percent and also on the bottom of the cradle. The pincluding helps defend your watercraft from scratches and also from slipping.

Type of vehicle

J racks can be provided on assorted vehicles, including compact cars, sedans, SUVs (huge and small), and also trucks. Taller vehicles, like SUVs and trucks, are more tough because you lift the kayak high overhead. 

Usually speaking, smaller cars are much easier to use a J cradle, however it counts on the dimension of the automobile and the perchild doing the lifting.

Some vehicles come via a factory-set up roof rack, and also it’s basic to add J cradles. If your vehicle does not have actually a roof rack, you can buy the crossbars, however this setup have the right to get pretty expensive. 

Who is a J rack great for?

J racks are great for folks that don’t have actually a truck or trailer to transport a kayak. Smaller cars are finest, yet if you can lift your yak on height of your auto, a J cradle is an excellent alternative. 

If you currently have a roof rack with crossbars, a J cradle is an easy add-on. You have the right to move one or even more kayaks, depending on the configuration.

Who shouldn’t use a J cradle?

One of the the majority of hard aspects of utilizing a J cradle is lifting your kayak on height of your auto. Generally, this isn’t an worry on tiny cars, but it calls for lifting your kayak (s) overhead if you have a large auto. If you can’t lift your kayak on peak of your auto, it can be best to check out other alternatives.

How to install a J cradle

Installing a J cradle is pretty easy. Tright here is a clamp that mounts the cradle onto the crossbars. Normally the rack will incorporate adapters to fit different formats of crossbars.


PinYakima J cradle. Use the knobs on the either side of the Yakima logo to tighten the cradle
Some crossbars are round, some square, etc. Clamp the cradle nice and secure to your crossbars, and then you are collection.

Lock it down

Some J racks have actually a lock on them so you deserve to secure them to the crossbars. This is an included layer of security, so hopetotally, no one will run off via your cradles while you are on the water. You will notice in the photo above the lock on the front of the J rack.

Tright here is nopoint worse than returning from your paddle to uncover your J racks are lacking.

How to fill a kayak on a J rack

Now that you have your J rack secucount fastened to the crossbars, following comes the fun component, loading your kayak. Next off, we will certainly discuss how to fill from various positions and also ideal practices.

Please note a lot relies on just how massive and also heavy your kayak is and also just how much weight you deserve to lift. It’s constantly simpler to lift and pack a kayak through a buddy. These are general instructions; you will certainly have to tweak them for your specific demands.

Put your straps on first


Once the J racks are attached to the crossbars, loop your straps with the upideal. Pull the straps in line through the front and also rear of your automobile. This renders it a lot much easier to strap your kayak dvery own, rather of wrestling with the straps after the kayak is in location.

Angle adjustments

With your straps in place, following, you can change the angle of the J cradle uplegal rights. Depfinishing on the version, J racks can often be adjusted to accommodate different angles. They can be situated at 90 levels or tilted back. 

The 90-level option allows you to deliver two kayaks, one on each side of the upbest. Set the upright to the preferred angle and lock the cradle in location.

Situate your kayak on the ground


PinIt’s a lot less complicated to position your kayak on the ground prior to you lift it in area. We will certainly discuss loading the kayak from the side. 

It’s important to have actually the vessel positioned before you start lifting. This method, you deserve to lift the kayak one time and collection it on the cradle. 

This is a vital action to remember, and it’s simpler on your body to have the kayak in the prepared place before you lift.

Loading from the side

Loading from the side is probably the a lot of renowned method to pack a kayak on a J rack. As discussed over, it’s crucial to have actually the kayak positioned appropriately before you the hefty lifting begins.

To start, have actually the lying on the ground beside the automobile with the kayak bow encountering toward the front of the automobile. From below, it’s type of approximately you just how you lift the kayak, and also it also depends on exactly how tall your car is.

Some human being pick up the kayak by the coaming, cradle it through their hand also and also shoulder prior to hoisting it on optimal of the vehicle. Other folks will lift the kayak in a deadlift or clean and press activity.

Kayaks are heavy and also awkward, so this might take some time to number out what functions ideal for you.

Once you have the kayak at the very same height as the J cradle, you have the right to remainder it against the side of the cradle and then press the boat up into place. 


If you have a lengthy or hefty kayak, you deserve to likewise attempt an additional technique. For this choice, it’s a great concept to drape a towel or a bathroom mat through a rubber backing over the side of your auto.

To start, position the kayak beside the side of your automobile, bow encountering forward. This time, the ago of the kayak will be at an angle amethod from the vehicle. You deserve to then pick up the front of the kayak and also lean it versus the front cradle.

Remember, the side of the car is defended via a towel or bath mat. You deserve to use the front cradle to hold the kayak bow while you lift the back of the watercraft. 

As you lift the stern of the kayak, you have the right to slide it forward onto the front cradle. Next off, put the ago of the kayak in the rear cradle.

Distribute weight evenly

Try to area your kayak, so its weight is spread evenly on the cradles. If the kayak is too far forward or backward, this can make for a lousy carry experience. Depfinishing on just how lengthy your kayak is, you deserve to just carry out what you can perform.

Strap it down

Cam straps are a great method to secure your kayak to your J rack. Cam straps are straightforward to use and also will certainly host your watercraft securely in area during deliver. But be cautious once you tighten the straps.


You desire the straps to be snug, yet don’t be also aggressive, as you deserve to damage your kayak if you are overzealous.

Next off, you want both straps on peak of the kayak. Lasso both straps over the bow and stern, so they are on top of the kayak. 


Depending on exactly how long your kayak is and also how tall you are, this could take a small creativity.

Then place the straps so that the video camera buckle is lined up on one side of the crossbar. The other end of the strap need to be lined up on the oppowebsite side of the crossbar.


Ensure the video camera buckle is within reach but high sufficient to provide you some room to pull the strap tight. Loop the oppowebsite end of the camera strap underneath the crossbar to accomplish up via the buckle.



Feed the finish of the cam strap through the buckle and also pull tight.


The goal is to have the video camera buckle on one side of the crossbar and also loop the other finish underneath the crossbar, so you have a snug fit.

Rinse and also repeat on the rear of the kayak.

Front and rear tie-downs. 

Often you deserve to hook a strap to the manage on the front and also rear of the kayak and discover an attachment allude on the front and earlier of your vehicle. This helps keep the kayak in area while you are en route.


Sometimes it’s tough to find a tie-down on the front of the vehicle. If you require, you can buy tie-down anchor straps that fit under the hood of your automobile. This offers you a spot to tie dvery own the bow of your kayak.



Other tips for loading a kayak on a J cradle

It’s simpler to pack a kayak on a J rack through two world, yet if you have to do it yourself, assist is on the means. Depending on which brand also of J rack you buy, such as Malone or Yakima, there are load-aid choices obtainable.

These load-aid accessories can make lifting the kayak in area a lot easier.

Pros of making use of a J rack

J racks are a convenient way to transfer your kayak, or kayaks, to and also from the water. Some world use J racks on top of a truck, leaving the truck bed open for all your various other equipment. J cradles gain the kayaks up out of the means.

Another pro of making use of a J cradle is cost. If you already have actually crossbars on your automobile, including cradles have the right to be cost-efficient for transporting your vessel.

You deserve to likewise fold the J cradle as soon as you are not utilizing it, so you deserve to still fit your auto in the garage.



Cons of using a J rack

The biggest drawearlier of using a J rack is lifting the watercraft up and putting it in place. For some world, this is no difficulty, however it’s a large deal for others. The load aid comes in handy for these instances.

Anvarious other con of utilizing a J cradle is price. If you don’t have crossbars already on your auto, that is an added price. Depending on which brand also you buy, you deserve to spfinish most money on a roof rack mechanism.

J cradle weight limits

Somepoint to pay close attention to is the weight limit of the J rack. The last point you desire is for your J racks to break while traveling down the road.

Check the manufacturer’s specs to make certain you are not exceeding the weight limit of the cradle. If you have actually an added hefty kayak, you can should figure out a various method to move your kayak.

Also, you desire to pay attention to the weight limit of your crossbars. Check the specs for your car and the rack manufacturer to be safe.

Alternative methods to carry a kayak

If a J rack is not in your future, tright here are various other methods to deliver a kayak. You have the right to usage a trailer, or if you have a pickup, you have the right to strap it down in the earlier.

Some world strap their kayak directly to the crossbars and also forego a J rack altogether. An inflatable kayak is likewise an attrenergetic choice bereason they are extremely basic to transfer.

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Loading a kayak on a J rack takes a little little bit of planning. Once you get the hang of it, a J cradle is a great method to carry your kayak to and also from the water. 

It’s a good concept to exercise a few times till you get the hang of it. After a long day on the water, you can be exhausted, which deserve to make it even more complicated to hoist your kayak on top of your car. Practice a few dry runs ahead of time.

Go slow, take your time, and also make sure the kayak is secure prior to you head down the road.