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Rhino Rack vs Thule vs Yakima

Mark Armstrong
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Finding the best roof rack for your vehicle can be difficult. It’s an important decision and you want to make sure you choose the right one for your needs. With various brands promising excellent results, how do you know which one to go for?

To give you a better idea, we have compared roof racks from Rhino Rack, Thule and Yakima. So you can weigh up the pros and cons and see which one might suit you best.

Different Ways Kayaks Are Transported - Pie ChartPin
Courtesy: americancanoe.org

Roof Racks For Kayaks – Key Features To Look Out For

Before you buy a roof rack there are a few things that you might want to think about. One will be the size of the roof on your vehicle. The maximum weight your vehicle can carry might be another thing to consider.

You may find that your vehicle’s roof already has some sort of standard factory rack, such as roof rails, for which you may need attachments to then secure your kayak rack. Other vehicles may have fixing points designed for attaching a roof rack, so it’s a good idea to check your vehicle’s roof beforehand.

Another thing to keep in mind when you’re securing your kayak is safety, as you don’t want your vessels moving as you’re driving and you definitely don’t want them flying off and causing an accident.

> What about loaders?

Video: How To Secure A Kayak On A Car (with a J Bar Roof Rack)


An important feature to look for is the durability of the roof rack. This will come down to the materials that have been used. Corrosion resistant materials will tend to work best for preventing rust, which will be important considering your roof rack will spend a lot of time out in the elements.


With the various brands of roof racks you will find there are both universal and brand specific accessories. This means you might be limited to the types of kayak carriers or other accessories that you can mount.

So before you buy your roof rack system it can be a good idea to make sure the kayak carrier you prefer can be mounted to that particular roof rack.

Some roof rack systems will require vehicle specific mounting pads or fit kits. These are usually designed for each vehicle model rather than on a one size fits all basis.


You’ll find there are various accessories that are designed to help you either safely hold your kayak on your roof rack or help you load it up onto the rack. These can be particularly handy if you have more than one vessel to load or if you’re by yourself.

> How to carry your kayak WITHOUT a roof rack

Rhino Racks

1: Rhino Rack 2500 Series Euro Rack

Rhino Rack 2500 Series Euro RackPin

With bar lengths ranging from 41 inches to 54 inches, you should be able to find the right fit for your vehicle. This roof rack system features two crossbars and four legs but doesn’t come with the fit kit – pads and clamps – as that will depend on the make and model of your vehicle.

2: Rhino Rack S512 Folding J Style Carrier

Rhino Rack S512 Folding J Style CarrierPin

With a universal mounting system, this kayak carrier is built to work with all types of roof rack crossbars, although you may need a separate mounting kit if you don’t have Rhino Rack crossbars. One feature on this rack is that it has a dedicated paddle holder, so you can secure your paddle safely too.

3: Rhino Rack T Loader Kayak Rack

Rhino Rack T Loader Kayak RackPin

This rack is designed to make it easier to get your yak on top of your vehicle and could work particularly well with pickup trucks and SUVs with higher roofs. It attaches to your tow bar and acts as a lever to take some of the weight of your yak as you push it onto your roof.

It could be ideal for heavier fishing kayaks or longer vessels that might be difficult to load on your own and it also provides a third crossbar to spread the weight.

Thule Racks

1: Thule Complete Crossroad System

Thule Complete Crossroad SystemPin

If you already have factory rails on your vehicle this could be a good choice of roof rack. It attaches directly to your side rails, providing the crossbars to transform it into a roof rack. Because they feature adjustable feet, this system is designed to fit the side rails on all vehicles.

2: Thule 835 Hull-A-Port Pro

Thule 835 Hull-A-Port ProPin

Designed to be compatible with square crossbars, round bars and factory crossbars, this J-style kayak carrier is designed to maximize the space on your roof by allowing you to carry your yak on its side, meaning you have room to carry another yak or other gear. It also folds down when you’re not using it.

3: Thule 898 Pro Hullavator

Thule 898 Pro HullavatorPin

This kayak carrier is designed to help you secure and load your yak onto your roof rack. Its arms pull down to let you secure the vessel at the side of your vehicle and then it help you to lift it onto your roof through a gas assisted mechanism. This means it should be easier if you’re on your own.

Video: Thule Hullavator Pro 898

Yakima Kayak Carriers

1: Yakima Showboat 66

Yakima Showboat 66Pin

This kayak loading rack is designed to work with square, round and most factory crossbars. Its purpose is to aid in the loading process, allowing you to get your yak on top of your vehicle even if you’re by yourself.

The roller system pulls out to give you a platform bar that you can rest one end of your yak on while you then push it up onto the rack with the other end.

Video: Yakima Showboat In Action

2: Yakima Jaylow 

Yakima Jaylow Kayak CarrierPin

This J-style yak carrier can hold up to two kayaks on their sides and can be folded down when not in use. It includes the straps and tie downs for securing your yak safely to the carrier and the rack also features a universal mounting system that’s designed to attach to all types of roof rack crossbars.

3: Yakima JetStream Crossbar

Yakima JetStream CrossbarPin

Designed to work with Yakima’s Streamline tower system, these crossbars are built to offer more aerodynamics and less noise while driving, as well as look a little more streamlined. The tower mounts are sold separately and the type you need will depend on the roof of your vehicle.


By now you’ll probably have decided on the type of roof rack or accessories that you want. The style of roof rack or kayak carrier that you choose will ultimately depend on your vehicle and whether it already has some sort of rack or rail system.

Yes, the answer is “it depends” I’m afraid. The best rack out of the bunch will depend on your kayak (and other) transportation needs

Be sure to check your vehicle’s roof before you buy your roof rack and make sure you know what length of crossbars you might need.

If you have first-hand experience with any roof racks or kayak carriers, we’d love to hear from you – just leave us a comment. And if you think your friends could benefit from this information, simply share this article to help them out.

Rhino Rack vs Thule vs Yakima - Kayak Roof Rack Review And Comparison - PinterestPin

1 thought on “Rhino Rack vs Thule vs Yakima”

  1. In two rounds of shopping for bare-roof racks for my last two cars, I’ve found all three of these companies to be disappointingly unresponsive and arrogant in their customer service. (Seeing the price rise in the past 5 years, I suspect business has been so good that they feel they don’t have to change this.)
    Yakima and Thule both took nearly a year to come up with a fit for my previous car (Altima, one of the most popular cars in the U.S.) Each time I inquired, they wouldn’t even venture a guess as to when I could expect the product. Ended up feeling lucky to find Rhino Rack, which did have a fit for me.
    This time ’round, of course I go back to Rhino Rack. I’m led, following their website’s fit guide, to a product described as a “rack,” a “system” and “bars,” and order it. Turns out it’s only one bar. I explained my frustration with the misleading wording, but customer service was quick to blame me, slow to offer an apology and unwilling to facilitate a solution to the problem.
    I’m now looking for a newcomer to the car rack marketplace — one who actually cares about customers.


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