When you have a canoe, you’ve already make a pretty significant investment just by purchasing it. It’s important that you have a way to transport your canoe safely and securely so you can head out onto the water for a stress-free adventure. The last thing you want is to have your canoe damaged in transit.
There’s a lot of different canoe carriers available, ranging in type, size, and how many canoes they can carry. We know that sorting through all of the canoe racks and information can be exhausting. Luckily, we’ve checked out all the canoe carriers on the market and we’ve picked out the best one for getting your canoe onto your vehicle and into the water.
Out Top 3 Choices
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The Yakima SweetRoll is easily our favorite carrier for canoes, whatever your vehicle may be. Its simple installation and versatility to fit with nearly all types of canoes and boats makes it a winner for us. Combine that with how easy it is to load and unload your canoe into this carrier on your roof rack and we think this is an ideal canoe carrier for cars, SUVs, and trucks. You can check out our full review below and our entire list of the seven best canoe carriers.
7 Best Canoe Carriers for Cars, SUVs, & Trucks
1. Yakima SweetRoll – Top Pick
Yakima is one of the top brand names when it comes to roof racks, and this particular model, Yakima’s SweetRoll, is our #1 pick. This carrier for canoes comes fully assembled straight out of the box, with no tools required for a simple installation. This means you have less work to do and can get in the water with your canoe even faster.
The SweetRoll canoe carrier makes loading your canoe onto your vehicle super easy since its spring-loaded base automatically adjusts to the canoe and the integrated rollers allow you to just slide the canoe onto the rack. It’s just as easy to unload it once you’re done, too. It can carry one canoe weighing up to 80 lbs., and is super versatile since the tilting paddles fit most boat types. So if you have multiple water sports toys and want to use this carrier to haul your kayak or other boat, you can do that too. This carrier fits most roof racks, being compatible with Yakima round, square, factory and aerodynamic crossbars, and has a minimum crossbar spread of 24″.
As for protecting that canoe or other boat of yours, the smooth molded pad makes sure your canoe is protected from scratches. All the heavy duty straps and tie-downs you need to keep the canoe secured to the roof of your vehicle are included. SKS Locks will have to be purchased separately.
Carries one canoe up to 80 lbs., smooth molded pad, straps and tie-downs
- Fully assembled, no tools required
- Easy loading and unloading
- Fits most roof racks
- SKS locks are not included
2. Lockrack Universal Rooftop Carrier – Best Locking Carrier
The Lockrack Universal Rooftop Watersports Carrier is exactly what it says it is. It is designed to carry any of your water sports toys and boats, be it a canoe, kayak, or even a couple of paddleboards.
Loading a canoe onto your roof rack is easy to do, even for just one person. That’s because it is a side-loading design where you ratchet your canoe down to secure it to the roof rack. The arms can completely detach from the carrier, so you also have the option for loading the canoe from the rear of the vehicle, or from the side like we just mentioned. Once it’s secured on the roof, it can be locked into position with 4 keys for added safety. With 4 touch points on the canoe, security is no problem. When you aren’t using the carrier, the arms fold in flat.
A unique feature different from other carriers on the market is that it doesn’t require anything else to hold it down. No load straps or tie-downs are necessary with this carrier. You just load up the canoe, lock it into place, and off on your adventure!
Universal use, ratchet arms, 4 keys for securing canoe
- No need for load straps or tie-downs
- Side or rear loading onto roof
- Some users report missing parts in box
3. Thule Hitch Mount Truck Adapter – Best for Trucks
When it comes to hitch mount canoe racks, we really like the Thule Goalpost Adjustable Watersport Carrier. It mounts to your truck’s 2″ hitch receiver and supports the back of the canoe. The front of the canoe is supported by your truck cab’s load bar.
The Goalpost can haul other water toys of all sizes too, including a boat, sup, or kayak. It’s easy to transport the canoe hull side up on the load bars. If you are transporting a kayak, the carrier is compatible with the Thule Hydro-Glide and Set-To-Go kayak saddles.
The Thule Goalpost has a telescoping mast that adjusts to your truck’s cab height, making it work for nearly every truck, regardless of its height. With two vertical load stops and hook straps that connect the center mast to the rear bumper so that no matter the condition, your canoe should stay secure in place on the rack. The load bar on this Thule also features an anti-sway design for a stable, secure transport of your canoe. It has a durable plastic coating that helps to protect it from damage and also includes two vertical load stop attachments. The attachments are what creates the goalpost look. They help to keep your canoe from sliding side to side while being transported.
Mounts to hitch receiver, telescoping mast with adjustable height, two vertical load stop and hook straps
- Sturdy load straps
- Anti-sway design on load bar
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Requires Thule Hydro-Glide or Set-To-Go kayak saddles if hauling a kayak
4. Malone Big Foot Pro Carrier – Best Value
The Malone Big Foot Pro is a solid and affordable option for even the most casual canoer. It’s an easy product to install on the roof rack and can fit on pretty much any vehicle or trailer cross rail system. You install it by having the brackets face each other. The brackets will hold the canoe onto the roof rack. The polycarbon platform attaches to round, square, and factory oval cross rails and can carry one canoe, up to 90 lbs. in weight. Your canoe or boat will be secure in place on the roof rack and stable to this frame and the padded deck area helps to ensure a smooth transport by eliminating and movement or shifting while in transit.
It comes with four padded gunwale brackets, four universal-fit Jawz mounting blocks, eight 40mm and 50mm mounting bolts with T-knobs, one set of bow and stern safety tie-downs, and two 12-foot buckle straps.
Occasionally, the brackets will need to be tightened. It’s important to note that the bolts provided may not fit some of the more compact factory roof racks as they may be too long. If you have this issue, it’s recommended that you buy shorter bolts or shorten the provided bolts by cutting the ends off. This canoe carrier is corrosion-free and UV-resistant.
Polycarbon platform, carry one canoe up to 90 lbs., four padded gunwale brackets, tie-downs and straps
- Fits most rail systems
- Corrosion-free and UV resistant
- Brackets have to be tightened
5. INNO Board Locking Roof Carrier – Most Versatile
The INNO is a great, versatile carrier for transporting your canoe, kayak, paddleboard, sail board, long or short board. With a universal mounting system, it mounts on square, round, Aero, and most factory bars. It’s easy to install, and doesn’t require any tools. You just clamp it onto your roof rack crossbars. Then you turn over the cam lever on the clamp, which releases the bolt. The bracket slides under the roof rack crossbars and attaches to the bracket with the bolt. Just tighten it up and close the lever! The floating strap system keeps the buckles elevated, which makes loading and unloading your canoe easy to do.
The straps have a rubber coating that help keep your canoe from getting scratched and dinged during transport. They ratchet over the boat and tighten down with integrated hand knobs to keep your canoe in place. Board pads, locking covers, and keys are all included.
Universal mounting system, rubber coated straps, includes board pads, locking covers and keys
- Transports canoe, kayak, paddleboard, sail board, long board, or short board
- Easy to install
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Potential for wind drag
6. Malone Standard Foam Block Universal Car Top Canoe Carrier Kit – Best for Bare Roofs
This foam block option from Malone is a great choice for someone looking at canoe carriers on a budget or someone who doesn’t have a roof rack on their car since it easily mounts on the roof. It’s so simple to use! This canoe carrier includes four 6″ long non-skid EVA foam blocks to hold the canoe safely in place.
With a universal fit, the blocks will work with round, square, and oval load bars. The kit also includes 15′ tie-down cords, a 15′ heavy duty strap, a set of bow and stern safety tie-downs, and four s-hooks. When you aren’t using the blocks to haul around your canoe, you can easily store them in the provided travel tote. This canoe carrier system comes with a one year limited warranty.
It’s also important to note that choosing something cheaper like the foam blocks may work for the short term or for someone who doesn’t use their canoe a lot, but if you are going to be loading and unloading a canoe onto your vehicle often, then it will probably make more sense to spend the additional money for a sturdier, more long lasting canoe carrier.
EVA foam blocks, tie-downs and straps, travel tote included
- Easy to use
- One year limited warranty
- Best for occasional use
7. TMS J-Bar Rack – Best Budget Option
This TMS carrier is a great budget choice as far as canoe carriers go. The installation of this canoe carrier is really simple and easy to do. It features a wide mouth J bar that makes it easy for loading and unloading the canoe on the top of the car. The J style design is nice because it leaves roof space on your vehicle, while securing the boat on its side.
Made from alloy steel, this canoe carrier is sturdy and has adjustable padding for protecting your canoe or boat from getting scratched. Its design means that it is compatible with most crossbars and load bars. This canoe carrier can accommodate one boat up to 75 lbs. Straps are included with this carrier, but a lot of users note that the straps are not very high quality so they end up purchasing replacements straps to get the security they need from this carrier. But, for the cheap price for this carrier, you may find that it’s worth it to buy new straps.
Carry one canoe up to 75 lbs., J style design, alloy steel, straps
- Easy to install
- Sturdy carrier
- Compatible with most crossbars and load bars
- Low quality straps
When you are thinking of purchasing a canoe carrier for your car, SUV, or truck, you want to make sure you select the right carrier for not just your canoe, but also your vehicle. We’ve identified several things we think you should consider when looking at canoe carriers: vehicle roof type, driving distance, number of canoes, and security. If you are looking for the best roof rack specifically for kayak, I recommend reading our recent article about it.
Vehicle Roof Type
It’s important that you make sure your car roof is set up to handle the canoe carrier you plan to purchase. What type of canoe carrier you get will very much depend on the type of roof rack system you have on your vehicle. There are several styles of roof rack setups, which we will go over.
If you have a bare, or naked roof, that means you don’t have any rails on your vehicle. You have a few options with this roof type for transporting a canoe. You can either go with a foam pad carrier and tie-down straps, or you can install a roof rack system on your vehicle so that you can use any carrier you want. If you are looking for a long-lasting canoe carrier, it probably makes sense for you to go ahead and invest in installing a roof rack.
Built-In Cross Bars
If your vehicle is equipped with built-in cross bars, then you are in luck! Generally speaking, you won’t need any extra hardware to install your canoe carrier to the cross bars. Even if you purchase aftermarket crossbars, you shouldn’t require anything additional to install a canoe carrier.
Elevated Side Rails
Elevated side rails are pretty common in SUVs, trucks, and crossover vehicles. The rails run from the front to the back of your vehicle, so you just need to attach crossbars to the rails. You generally won’t need to purchase any additional hardware to install the canoe carrier, apart from the crossbars.
Flush Side Rails
Flush side rails means that the rails are not raised, so there is no vertical space between the bottom of the rail and the roof of your vehicle. You will need to attach a roof rack design to fit these rails, and once you’ve done that, you will be able to attach any canoe carrier you like to the roof rack system.
With any of these roof types, it’s important to check the weight capacity of your vehicle roof, particularly if you are transporting more than one canoe.
Depending on where you typically get in the water with your canoe, you may want to consider one canoe carrier model over another since some canoe racks are better able to handle long distance trips better than others. If you plan to drive a long way, you are probably best to select a canoe carrier that has saddles and cradles to provide additional security for your canoe. If you typically take your canoe out near to your house, then something on the more wallet-friendly end like foam pads could work just fine for you. You also want to make sure that you use sturdy tie-downs if you opt to go with foam pads to make sure the canoe stays tight to your vehicle. The last thing you want is a storm popping up and the canoe taking on damage because it’s not as secure as it should be.
Number of Canoes
How many canoes you plan to transport is another important consideration when purchasing a canoe carrier. Many carriers are only designed to support one canoe, while others are able to haul two canoes. If you do get a canoe carrier that can handle multiple canoes, you will also need to make sure that your roof rack can hold the canoes. Generally speaking, most vehicles can transport two boats. If you need to carry multiple canoes, you will want to consider a stacker to extend the width of your vehicle roof.
Security is definitely a feature you will want to consider when reviewing carriers for canoes. Not only do you want the canoe to be secured safely to your vehicle roof rack, but you also want to make sure that it is secure from someone looking to steal your canoe if you park your car somewhere and leave it. Canoes are not cheap, so you will want to make sure and invest in a way of locking it up to your car roof so that it can’t easily be stolen. This can usually be accomplished with some heavy duty straps.
When it comes to finding the best canoe rack for cars, we think it’s important that the canoe rack is easy to use, especially if you will be using it a lot, as well as provide a secure way to transport your canoe on your roof as you head out for your water adventure. When we evaluated all the options for hauling around your canoes, we found the best one in the Yakima SweetRoll. It makes loading canoes easy to do with its integrated rollers and spring loaded base. And the smooth molded pads provided exceptional protection so that your canoe doesn’t get scratched while in transport. Overall, the SweetRoll is a great investment for carrying around your canoe.
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