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Kayaking is a super fun hobby and the perfect way to get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life.
But, trying to figure out how to haul a kayak on a truck with a tonneau cover can be a daunting task.
Luckily for you, finding the best kayak rack for your truck with a tonneau cover installed on it is a good place to start, and by the end of this article you will be fully clued up on what’s right for your needs (especially if you read the article linked above first).
In a hurry? The best kayak rack for truck with tonneau cover is:
- YAKIMA JayLow Kayak Rack – Best overall
- TMS Kayak J-Bar Carriers – Best budget
- YAKIMA BigStack Kayak Rack – Best for multiple kayaks
- YAKIMA BigCatch Kayak Saddles – Best for fishing/sit-on-top kayaks
- Rhino-Rack Folding J-Style Kayak Carrier
Considerations Before Purchasing Best Kayak Rack for Truck with Tonneau Cover
There are several types of kayak racks available on the market, including J-cradle, saddle-style, and stacker-style racks.
- J-cradle racks are popular among kayakers as they allow for easy loading and unloading of the kayak, and they also help to save space.
- Saddle-style racks are also a popular choice as they offer excellent support for the kayak and are easy to install.
- Stacker-style racks are best suited for transporting multiple kayaks as they allow you to stack them on top of each other or side-by-side.
It is also essential to ensure that the kayak rack you choose is compatible with your bed rack and that the bed rack is compatible with your tonneau cover.
Best Kayak Rack for Truck with Tonneau Cover
1. Best Overall: YAKIMA JayLow Kayak Rack
The YAKIMA JayLow Kayak Racks are our favorite all-round kayak racks. They are super sturdy, easy to install and use and last for years and years.
One of the best things about the Yakima JayLow Kayak Racks is that they can carry up to two kayaks without taking up more bed space. You can either fit one kayak in a J-cradle position with a weight capacity of up to 80 pounds or two kayaks in a vertical, stacked position with a combined weight capacity of up to 110 pounds.
The JayLow Racks are incredibly versatile and can fit most crossbars, including round, square, factory, and aerodynamic crossbars. The minimum crossbar spread required is 24″, and they of course work perfectly with our favorite tonneau cover bed rack the Overhaul HD.
The supplied heavy-duty straps are super sturdy and keep your kayak(s) secure from bouncing, sliding or slipping during transport.
Installation of the Yakima JayLow Kayak Racks is incredibly easy, and can be completed on your own without any special tools or equipment within a couple of minutes. We would suggest also purchasing the SKS lock system if you plan to keep your kayaks stored on the racks to prevent anyone from stealing them.
The Yakima JayLow racks are top quality kayak racks that provide excellent value for money. They are versatile, durable, super secure when paired with the SKS locking mechanism and easy to install, making them the perfect choice for both long and short kayak trips.
2. Best Budget: TMS Kayak J-Bar Carriers
The TMS Kayak J-Bar Style Racks are the best option if you’re looking to haul kayaks without breaking the bank. These racks are suitable for almost all crossbars and loadbars on the market, making them a versatile choice for a variety of setups.
Supplied with 2 sets of racks for hauling up to 2 kayaks and with the option of up to a maximum of 4 sets on a full sized truck, these racks are a great option for solo or small group kayak trips.
The quick on/off hardware ensures fast installation and removal, making it easy to get your kayaks loaded and unloaded in no time.
While these racks may not be Thule or Yakima, they offer a budget-friendly option for those who don’t need the same level of quality or features as higher-end brands. But, if you are transporting a costly kayak, we would really recommend purchasing something more secure, and at the very least, purchasing better quality straps than the ones supplied.
Another negative about the TMS racks is that, while being classed as universal, they often require a decent amount of modification to get a perfect fit on your rack. So, if you’re not especially handy with tools, we’d recommend a simpler set up by purchasing the Yakima kayak racks with the Yakima Overhaul HD bed rack for full peace of mind.
Overall, the TMS Kayak J-Bar Style Racks are a great choice if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option and are prepared to do a little bit of tinkering to get the right fit.
The YAKIMA BigStack Kayak Rack is a perfect, entry-level solution for hauling up to 4 kayaks. With its universal mounting system, it can fit most round, square, factory, and aerodynamic crossbars, as well as obviously being the perfect accompaniment to the YAKIMA Overhaul HD.
Unlike many other brands that are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, the supplied straps are extremely heavy-duty and well-made. You won’t need to purchase better ones to feel like your kayaks are safe.
Installation of the BigStack Kayak Rack is a breeze, taking only 10 minutes to set up and mount to your crossbars, especially when paired with YAKIMA branded crossbars.
The only downside to this stacker-style rack is the difficult in loading and unloading, and while it’s never going to be an easy task considering how cumbersome kayaks are, there are definitely more convenient stackers to deal with such as the Thule 830. However, Thule don’t recommend use of their accessories on anything other than Thule rack systems (even though they are compatible with square, round, and elliptical crossbars), so we’ve chosen not to include them on this list.
Overall, the YAKIMA BigStack Kayak Rack is a good, cheap, entry-level option for transporting multiple kayaks. Its universal mounting system, durability, and quick and easy installation make it a great choice if you’re looking to haul multiple kayaks without breaking the bank.
The YAKIMA BigCatch Kayak Saddles are the perfect choice for nearly any rack system, and of course work very well with the YAKIMA Overhaul HD bed rack (our best rated truck bed rack system for trucks with tonneau covers).
What sets these saddles apart is their design, which is specifically tailored to support the extra weight of fishing and sit-on-top kayaks. With a 150 lb. capacity, these saddles can hold even the heaviest fishing kayaks perfectly and prevent slipping, sliding, and bouncing during transportation.
Installation is simple and tool-free, making it easy for you to get set up and going in just a moments notice. Once in place, the saddles provide a secure and stable platform for your kayak, giving you peace of mind while on the road.
The YAKIMA BigCatch Kayak Saddles are our favorite choice for hauling kayaks on a truck with a tonneau cover. They are well-designed, easy to install, and provide the kind of support and stability that is essential when transporting your kayak.
The Rhino-Rack Folding J-Style Kayak Carrier is a feature packed kayak rack built from super sturdy materials with minimal plastic parts. It is designed to mount to most elliptical and round bars but does not mount to square bars.
One of the best things about the Rhino-Rack Carrier is its weight capacity of 132 pounds, making it suitable for a wide range of kayaks. It’s one of the best-built kayak carriers on the market with very little play at the hinge, ensuring you can give it a good beating and it won’t fail you.
Installation of the Rhino-Rack is a breeze, and can be done in under 30 minutes with basic tools.
One of our favorite features is its ability to securely hold your paddle as well as your kayak. There aren’t many options on the market that give you this feature and it’s such a nice little touch that saves hassle of trying to fit your paddle in somewhere else.
The most disappointing aspect of the Rhino-Rack is that it doesn’t have a locking feature. If you’re only planning day trips with your kayak this might not be much of a problem, but if you like to go on longer trips, it means there is nowhere to securely lock your kayak to when you’re not using it.
Overall, the Rhino-Rack is definitely up there as one of the best kayak racks, with unique features and amazing build-quality. However, if security is important to you, we’d recommend one of the other options that feature secure locking systems.
Can You Use a Thule Truck Rack with Tonneau Cover?
Thule is a leading brand in the truck rack industry, offering a wide range of products to meet the needs of different truck owners.
However, if you’re looking to use a Thule truck rack with a tonneau cover, you may be disappointed to learn that most Thule racks aren’t compatible with tonneau covers.
For instance, one of the only tonneau covers that are compatible with a Thule TracRac is the BAK Revolver X2. This cover can be rolled up and stored behind the cab, allowing you to install the TracRac without any interference.
On the other hand, no tonneau covers are compatible with the Thule XSporter rack system. This is due to the design of the XSporter, which mounts to the inside of the bed rails of your truck and cannot accommodate a tonneau cover.
Can You Use a Yakima Truck Rack with Tonneau Cover?
The Yakima Overhaul HD truck rack is compatible with some tonneau covers, but it does require an additional kit to make it compatible.
In particular, the Overhaul HD is designed to work with Retrax bed covers, which are known for their durability and sleek appearance.
If you already have a Retrax bed cover or are planning to purchase one, the Yakima Overhaul HD truck rack may be a great option for you.