The Toyota Prius, known for its fuel efficiency, is a favorite among city dwellers. However, when the call of the wild beckons, Prius owners often find themselves yearning for adventure beyond the city limits. A popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts is kayaking – a sport that provides an escape into nature’s embrace. But, how does one transport a kayak with a Prius? Enter the realm of kayak racks. In this guide, we’ll journey through the options available, shedding light on the ideal racks that marry well with the Toyota Prius, ensuring a secure transit for your kayak.
Best 6 Kayak Racks for Toyota Prius
01. Thule Compass Kayak Roof Rack
|Versatile Carry Options||Premium Price|
|Thick Rubber Saddles for Maximum Protection||Clamps Don’t Fit All Cross Bars|
|Integrated StrapCatch for Easy Loading||No Locking Option|
|Quick, Tool-free Install||Thumb Screws Easily Removed|
The Thule Compass Kayak Roof Rack rolled into my life like a breath of fresh air, promising to be the companion my Jeep Compass and I needed for our water adventures. The first thing that caught my eye was its versatility. Whether you are a solo kayaker or prefer company, this rack has got you covered. It seamlessly transitions from holding a single kayak in J-style or saddle mode to cradling two kayaks in stacker mode, and if SUPs are your thing, it holds up to two in saddle mode. The thick rubber saddles and padded upright are like a cozy bed for your kayaks, ensuring they stay snug and unscathed.
The integrated StrapCatch feature made loading my kayak less of a chore and more of a breeze. The ease it brought to managing straps was nothing short of a game-changer. Despite its sturdy build, installing the Thule Compass was a no-sweat affair, thanks to the universal mounting hardware. The promise of a quick, tool-free install wasn’t an empty one, and it folded down flat when not in use, which was a neat feature for someone who likes things tidy.
However, every rose has its thorns, and the Thule Compass was no exception. The premium price tag was a bit of a sting, considering some of its downfalls. The lack of a locking option was a tad disappointing, and the universal clamps were not as universal as I had hoped. They seemed to have a love-hate relationship with my crossbars, which meant a game of patience ensued to ensure a secure fit. And the thumb screws? They practically rolled out the red carpet for any opportunist thief.
02. YOLENY Folding Kayak Rack
|Adjustable Folding Design||Short Bolts for Certain Crossbars|
|Comprehensive Protection||Initial Strapping Can Catch Wind|
|Sturdy & Durable Materials|
|Easy to Install|
The YOLENY Folding Kayak Rack rolled into my weekend adventure with a promise of holding my kayak securely as I venture into the wild with my trusty Toyota Prius. The adjustable folding design is a charm, offering a range of locking angles that are easy to switch between, thanks to an ergonomic handle. The setup was simple and straightforward, a relief for someone who’d rather spend time on the water than fiddling with installation.
It was love at first sight with the comprehensive protection this rack offers. The 8mm thick sponge covers are like a gentle cradle for my kayak, ensuring it sits snugly without a hint of metal against its body. The solid locking system and PA6 straps are just the cherry on top, holding everything securely in place as I meander through both calm and rough terrains.
However, the journey wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. The bolts provided seemed to play hard to get with the crossbars of my Prius, demanding a bit of a hunt to find the perfect match. A small hiccup, but a hiccup nonetheless. On my maiden voyage, the tie-downs seemed to catch the whims of the wind, serenading me with a tune akin to Tibetan throat singing. Not the kind of music you want for a long drive. Thankfully, the return trip was more harmonious, making me wonder what magic had occurred.
The YOLENY Folding Kayak Rack is a robust companion for occasional kayakers. Its aviation-grade aluminum alloy stands tall against the tests of weather and time, promising many adventures together. Despite the initial musical escapade and the bolt mismatch, the rack has nestled well with my Prius, ready to embrace many more weekends of water and wilderness.
03. IKURAM R Kayak Roof Carrier
|Quick Raise and Fold Design||Subpar Straps|
|Native Paddle Holders||Inconsistent Fitting on Aero-style Crossbars|
|High-Density Foam Rubber Saddles||Initial Reliability Concerns|
|Multiple Carrying Functions|
The first thing that caught my fancy was the quick raise and fold design. The ease with which I could adjust the J-bars to accommodate my kayak’s shape felt like a breeze. The front release handle was a neat touch, making the transition from a J-cradle to different configurations a no-fuss affair. It’s clear that this rack was designed with a good dose of thoughtfulness.
The native paddle holders were a pleasant surprise. They held my paddles securely, alleviating the minor headache of figuring out where to stash them while on the move. The high-density foam rubber saddles were like a snug bed for my kayak, cushioning it against the bumps and grinds of the road. These features showed a level of attention that resonated well with me.
However, the journey had its share of ripples. The tie-down straps that came along seemed to have missed the memo on quality. They felt unreliable, which was a bit of a let-down considering the otherwise sturdy build of the rack. A fellow traveler’s tale of a highway mishap due to strap failure was enough to send me on a quest for a more reliable strap replacement. Also, the fitting on aero-style crossbars left something to be desired. It held but with a hint of uncertainty, a dance of sorts as it wiggled slightly on the bars.
04. HIGHRAZON Kayak Roof Rack
|Anti-rust Coating||Assembly Required|
|Strong Support with Carbon Steel Build||Original Straps are Short|
|Universal Design||Concerns about Hardware Rusting|
|Easy to Install and Secure||Assembly Tool Inadequacy|
The anti-rust coating caught my eye right away. This little feature reassured me that the HIGHRAZON Kayak Roof Rack would withstand the test of weather and time. The build, boasting quality carbon steel, promised a strong support for my kayak, and the universal design seemed like a sweet deal, allowing for a snug fit on my Prius.
However, the journey to get it mounted felt like a mini-adventure of its own. The assembly was a rendezvous with a puzzle, each piece waiting to find its place. The accompanying tool seemed to have taken a leaf out of an IKEA manual, and trust me, switching to a ratchet tool set was a lifesaver. The original straps seemed to have a bit of stage fright, shy of reaching across comfortably. A quick trip to the hardware store for longer, sturdier straps and we were back on track.
The installation was pretty straightforward once the assembly was conquered. The quick on/off hardware nuts were a breeze to work with, making the installation and removal a no-sweat affair. The additional nylon ropes were a thoughtful touch, ensuring my kayak stayed put, no matter the twists and turns on the road.
05. XGeek Kayak Roof Rack
|Easy to Assemble||Strap Design Flaws|
|Good Load Bearing Capacity||Initial Bolt Length Issues|
|Durable Materials||Instructions on Strap Usage Missing|
|Non-Scratch Setup||Single Rack for Two Kayaks can be Tricky|
|Lifting and Folding Design|
|Suitable for Various Cross Bar Shapes|
On the plus side, the XGeek Kayak Roof Rack itself is pretty sturdy, and I love that it’s got a place to hold my paddles – that’s a neat little bonus. The foam pads do their job, keeping my kayak from getting scratched up, and the whole thing was pretty easy to put together.
Now, on the downside, the instructions for strapping down the kayaks? Not the clearest. Took me a minute to figure out the best way to secure everything without the straps slipping through the slots on the rack. And while it’s advertised as being able to hold two kayaks, I’d stick to one if you can. With two on there, things get a bit precarious.
I also ran into the whole too-long-bolt issue that I saw some other folks mention. Ended up having to make a run to the hardware store to get that sorted, which was a bit of a hassle. But once that was all taken care of, the rack did its job pretty well.
All in all, it’s a decent rack for the price. Just be ready to do a bit of fiddling to get everything set up right, and maybe keep it to one kayak at a time if you can help it.
06. AA-Racks J-Bar Rack
|Easy Installation||Wobble Over Time|
|Great Equipment Protection||Initial Carriage Bolt Length|
|Thickened Foam Padding||Requires Tight Fastening|
|Reinforced Base||May Twist When Unloading|
|Affordable Price Point|
|Responsive Customer Service|
These racks were surprisingly straightforward to set up, and they’ve been fantastic for hauling around our kayaks all summer long. I did notice a bit of a wobble after a few months, but once the kayaks are strapped in tightly, they don’t budge an inch.
They’ve held up impressively well, especially considering the affordable price point. The foam padding is a nice touch, keeping our kayaks scratch-free and secure. The versatile design is also a big plus, as it means we can use the racks for our surfboards too when the season calls for it.
That said, I’ve had to get a bit creative when it comes to keeping them tightly secured to the racks, especially when unloading. They have a tendency to twist and bend back if not handled carefully. But for the price and the functionality, these J-Bars are a solid choice for anyone looking to transport their water gear without breaking the bank.