The Top 5 Most Fuel Efficient Kayak Racks

October 25, 2022

Kayaks on top of a car

That roof rack that’s been on your car for a year could be costing you more in gas every time you fill up. Adding anything to the outside of your car is going to affect your vehicle’s wind resistance, this is no exemption for a roof rack.

Roof racks make any car’s aerodynamics worse by increasing the frontal area and increasing the drag coefficient of a vehicle, making the engine work harder against wind resistance to achieve the same speeds. Even just leaving the roof rack on your car with no cargo can cost you more in gas. 

Of course, cargo, like kayaks, has the biggest impact as it adds a lot of area exposed to winds from the front and sides. The total magnitude of this effect depends largely on the aerodynamics (size and shape) of the car, the rack itself, and the cargo on it. But
long story short: Roof racks are a drag on fuel economy. 

With the cost of gas these days, your trip to your favorite paddling spot can add a bit of a sour taste to your weekend getaway. The most fuel efficient kayak would be an inflatable kayak, but sometimes you want to take your hardshell kayak out for a paddle. We've taken a look at the current selection of kayak racks and found the TOP 5 Fuel Efficient Kayak Roof Racks for you. Save money while getting you, and your kayak, to the water in style!


1. Thule Top Deck Kayak Roof Rack -The Top Deck hauls your kayak hull down, keeping the wind drag at a minimum. The pieces of the rack are fairly low profile so that cuts down on drag when you are not hauling your kayak.










2. Malone Saddle Up Pro Kayak Roof Rack - A bit taller than the Top Deck but still rather low profile with a very aerodynamic design for when you aren’t carrying your kayak up top. Malone Auto Racks makes a quality product that is kind to your wallet, too!











3. Yakima JayLow Kayak Roof Rack - This rack can hold 1 kayak in a J-cradle, and you can even strap a second kayak on the other side. By folding down when not in use it keeps a very limited profile so less wind drag.










4. Thule Hull-a-Port Aero Kayak Roof Rack - another folding flat J-cradle that installs tool-free on Thule crossbars and comes with locks! It’s also padded to protect your kayak










5. Malone DownLoader Kayak Roof Rack - This one also folds down when not in use and compatible with the Malone Telos and TelosXL Load Assist Racks that help you load your kayak off the side of you vehicle with an easy to use ratcheting load assist (Telos and TelosXL sold separately). 










Shop our range of hundreds of kayak racks and kayak trailers at Outdoorplay from the best brands in adventure gear from Kuat, Thule, Yakima, Saris and Malone. We ship worldwide and offer free shipping over $49 to the contiguous United States. 



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Stacey JohnsonCustomer Experience ManagerStacey has been with Outdoorplay for over 17 years, sharing wisdom from her years of experience and passion for all kinds of kayaking (whitewater, recreational, and touring), stand-up paddle boarding, and rafting. When she's not out on the water, Stacey also enjoys camping with her family and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the Cascade mountains.