Best Canoe Carriers For Any Trip (2019)

The last thing you want to happen on a canoeing trip is for your canoe to fall from what’s holding it up as you drive. It instantly ruins your trip or worst, your canoe gets damaged. And, don’t forget about the damage it can bring if it causes an accident on the road. This is the reason you need the best canoe carriers and canoe racks on your next adventure. Otherwise, this could happen to you.

Lucky for the lady who captured the whole thing, she was vigilant enough to keep away from the accident. Imagine if it were a distracted driver surprised by the canoe suddenly in front of him.

Canoe carriers aren’t just another gear for your vehicle to look sporty. They are there for your canoeing needs. They give a stable, padded, and secure method of carrying your canoe from the waters to your roof rack.

Putting up and taking down the bulky canoe becomes easier with canoe loaders, rollers, and lifters. Suck kits include tiedown straps for that added security.


Comparison Table

The most effective canoe carrier should be able to securely and safely fit your roof, carefully handle your canoe, and easy to load. These features aren’t too hard to find in a canoe carrier. The challenge is getting all the features without a hefty price tag.

Product Name ImagesCurrent Price
1. Yakima KeelOver Rooftop Canoe CarrierYakima KeelOver Canoe Rack
2. Thule Portage Canoe Carrier Thule 819 Portage Canoe Carrier
3. Thule Goalpost Hitch Mounted Load BarThule 997 Goal Post Hitch Mount Truck Adapter Canoe and Kayak Carriers
4. SportRack Canoe CarrierSportRack Jetty 6" Foam Canoe Carrier-SR5528
5. Malone BigFoot Pro Canoe CarrierMalone Big Foot Pro Universal Car Rack Canoe Carrier with Bow and Stern Lines
6. Inno Locker Watersport CarrierINNO Racks - Water Sport Car Top Mount - Board, Kayak and Canoe Roof Rack
7. Lockrack Adjustable Watersport CarrierLockrack Universal Rooftop Watersports Carrier, Aluminum

Among the 7 carriers we reviewed, we picked Thule Portage Canoe Carrier. Portage is easier to use and is more secure as it has the ratcheting tie-downs that can be referenced as the pulleys. These will make securing the bow/stern tie-downs much easier.


Best Canoe Carriers

We scoured through online retailer websites and researched the most effective systems to transport your canoes. Hopefully, you get an idea of what to look for, for your next canoeing adventure.

#1. Yakima KeelOver Rooftop Canoe Carrier – Fits Any Roof Rack

Yakima KeelOver Rooftop Canoe Carrier

KeelOver Rooftop Canoe Carrier is another product from Yakima’s Watersport Carrier line. Carry 1 canoe hull side up on your roof rack with gunwale brackets. Universally mounts to almost any crossbar styles, KeelOver Rooftop Canoe Carrier includes long-lasting straps as well as tie-downs to guarantee canoe’s safety.

Features

  • 4 Gunwale brackets clutch a canoe hull-side up on your roof-rack crossbars
  • Easy installation with universal mounting hardware
    • Clamps, 2 T-bolt length options guarantee a tight fit on your roof rack
    • Rubber pads on brackets to keep crossbars and roof finish from scratches and scruff
  • Package comes with tie-downs and ropes to help fix your canoe to your vehicle
    • Tie-downs have buckle covers that lash the canoe to crossbars

Specifications

  • Carrying capacity: 1 canoe
  • Application: Fits aero, elliptical, round, square, and most factory crossbars
    • Max crossbar dimensions: 3- ½ inches tall x 3- ½ inches wide
  • Comes with limited lifetime warranty
ProsCons
Rubber pads don't mark the vehicleCarrier can’t be mounted far out
Sturdy straps kept the canoe in place
Unloading the canoe requires an extra hand
Small, light, and easy to transport

#2. Thule Portage Canoe Carrier – Nice universal option

Thule Portage Canoe Carrier

Thule Portage canoe carrier offers effortless transportation of a canoe on your vehicle’s roof rack crossbars. Just raise your boat, hull-side up, and position it on the bases. Feel the need to adjust the spacing as needed. Finally, tighten up the gunwales in place with the integrated hand knobs. Check out Thule’s video that shows how this carrier can be used.

Features

  • Includes 4 gunwale braces with rubber padded bases
    • Can be used to carry a canoe, ladder, lumber or any open-hulled boat
  • Inclined sides of brackets allow easy canoe loading
  • Steel-strengthened FlipFit® mounting brackets lets installation on almost any crossbars

Specifications

  • Capacity: 1 canoe
    • Maximum weight capacity: 150 pounds
  • Application: Fits aero, elliptical, round, square, and most factory crossbars
    • Crossbar spread: 24 inches to 36 inches
    • May need adapter (THXADAPT12 – sold separately) to allow installation on crossbars with top channels
  • Comes with lifetime warranty
ProsCons
Strong, durable load straps with buckle bumpersToo bulky
Cushioned weatherproof padding
Easy to use, reliable and sporty looking

#3. Thule Goalpost Hitch Mounted Load Bar – Ideal for hauling canoes longer than your truck bed

Thule Goalpost Hitch Mounted Load Bar

Carry loads longer than your truck bed like canoes and kayak with Goalpost Hitch Mounted Load Bar. Works with a 2-inch hitch receiver, it can simply be adjusted to position various heights. This system includes 2 load stabs that offer added lateral load support.

Features

  • Mounts to current 2-inch trailer hitch receiver
  • Telescoping arms and uprights let you adjust height easily for different trucks and SUVs sizes
  • Durable construction out of high strength steel

Specifications

  • Weight capacity: 165 pounds
  • Telescopes vertically from 54- ½ inch to 66 inches
  • US-made with lifetime warranty
ProsCons
Works with kayak, canoe and paddleboard racksPackage may arrive with missing parts
Load straps help stabilize and hold load
Extra tie-downs needed
Easy to assemble, install, and put down

#4. SportRack Canoe Carrier – Lightweight and just right for small vehicles

SportRack Canoe Carrier

SportRack Canoe Carrier is an overall kit that includes all you need to carry a canoe on the roof of your car. It has 4 hard-wearing foam blocks that feature a nice, non-skid bottom that retains the blocks in its place during loading and transporting. Perfect for small bare roof vehicles. 

Features

  • Custom-cut slots on the blocks that attach to canoe gunwales
  • Sturdy polypropylene strap with a chrome-plated buckle that helps secure canoe to a vehicle
  • Includes extra-long ropes that fasten the canoe’s bow and stern for carrying

Specifications

  • Carrying capacity: 1 canoe
  • Application: Mounts on naked roofs, SportRack Roof Rack Systems, and aero, elliptical, square, and almost any factory crossbars
  • Size:
    • Block length: 6 inches
    • Strap length: 15 ft
    • Rope length: 20 ft
  • Comes with limited lifetime warranty
ProsCons
Works on naked roofs and almost any crossbar stylesFoam not firm enough to elevate canoe above car roof
Needs no permanent change to your vehicle
Rope not long enough to secure the front or back of canoe
Easy to use, great fit, and great value

#5. Malone BigFoot Pro Canoe Carrier – Simple to install and simple to use canoe carrier

Malone BigFoot Pro Canoe Carrier

Carry a canoe on the roof rack of your vehicle with Malone BigFoot Pro Canoe Carrier. This system works well with a round, square, oval, arrow, and elliptical crossbars. Malone prides itself on having the strongest four-point gunwale transport system in the industry.

Malone BigFoot Pro Canoe Carrier can be installed by having the brackets face each other first. These brackets are going to hold the canoe on your vehicle’s roof rack. The package comes with 15-foot long cam buckle straps that secure the canoe your vehicle’s roof rack. Buckles are protected underneath, so you won’t have to worry about your canoe or your car from scratches or any damages.

Features

  • 4 Gunwale brackets with rubber padded bases make it easy to carry not just a canoe, but a ladder, some climbers, or any open-hulled boat
  • Elevated side bases that hold canoe in place during transport
  • Simple installation on almost any crossbar styles
  • Molded nylon brackets are constructed to be durable and corrosion resistant

Specifications

  • Carrying capacity: 1 canoe
  • Weight capacity: 165 pounds
  • Size:
    • Dimensions: 5- ½ inch wide x 5- ¼ inch long x 4- ¼ inch tall
    • Strap length: 15 ft long
    • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Comes with limited lifetime warranty
ProsCons
Fits almost any aftermarket and factory cross railsCannot fit extra wide canoe
Corrosion resistant construction
Fits T-slot aluminum car & truck racks

#6. Inno Locker Watersport Carrier – Perfect for any watersport gear

Inno Locker Watersport Carrier

Transport a canoe or a kayak, 2 wind boards or 3 shortboards, 2 longboards or 2 SUPs with ease with Inno Locker Watersport Carrier. Its universal mounting system installs effortlessly on round bars, square bars, and most factory crossbar systems.

Inno Locker Watersport Carrier is easy to install with no tools required. Simply clamp it to an existing crossbar. Turn over the cam lever on the mounting clamp to release the bolt. Then, the bracket can slide under the crossbar and reattach with the bolt to the bracket. Tighten up the knot and simply close the lever. 

Features

  • Simple to load with integrated straps
  • Foam pads are made with high-density to protect cargo during transport
  • Gears are secured with locking covers

Specifications

  • Carrying capacity: 1 canoe or kayak; 2 stand-up paddleboards; 3 shortboards; 2 windsurf boards; or 2 longboards
  • Application: Mounts on round, square, aero, elliptical, and most factory crossbars
  • Comes with limited lifetime warranty
ProsCons
Rubber coated straps and adjustable corner pads keep your vehicle scratchless Standard bolts that are included for mounting this rack are too long
Transport kayaks, canoes, and wind/paddle/sail/SUP/long and short boards
Creates minimal wind drag

#7. Lockrack Adjustable Watersport Carrier – Theft preventing canoe carrying system

Lockrack Adjustable Watersport Carrier for Canoe

Lockrack Adjustable Watersport Carrier is your universal carrier for any watersport toys you have. Engineered to withstand any weather conditions, it eases your canoe hauling experience with its lockable bars that readily adjust and snap into place.

It has its patented theft-prevention design that guarantees no one robs you of your treasured water toy. Without the hassles of ropes, straps, and tie-downs, one person can quickly and easily put and remove the canoe to and from the carrier. Even with the strong winds.

Features

  • Built-in locking system guards your gear to the carrier
    • Package includes 4 keys
  • Rubber-coated, snapping arms hold your gear securely at 4 touch points
  • Lightweight aluminum construction is corrosion resistant

Specifications

  • Carrying capacity: up to 2 canoes
  • Application: Can be mounted to round, square, aero, elliptical, and any factory crossbars
  • Weight Capacity: 175 pounds
  • Comes with 1-year limited warranty
ProsCons
Reduces the need for load straps
Package usually comes with missing parts
Adjustable base
Easy installation with included hardware and tools

Do You Need A Canoe Carrier?

Transporting a canoe is easiest when you have curved cradles that properly secure and protect your boat. Having a canoe carrier allows a safe mounting of your canoe. Canoe carrier has kits that include foam blocks and anti-slip bottoms. These are mostly compatible with factory racks as well as aftermarket cross rails, providing that soft cushioning for your boat.


Buying Guide: What to Consider in Getting Canoe Carriers?

There are a lot of options for canoe carriers in the market with the rising popularity of outdoor sports. But, how do you pick the best among them? Each canoe carrier has its own feature that makes them stand out against the others. Such features should make you think whether they are what you should focus on. Here are some pointers you can go by in deciding which canoe carrier to take on your next trip.

Your Vehicle Roof Setup

The most important thing to consider in getting a canoe carrier is how your roof is set up. Find out which type of vehicle roof you have as what you need to set up your canoe carrier depends on it as well. Your vehicle roof setup may be any of the following;

  1. Normal or bare roof. These are smooth and do not have gutters and rails
  2. Roof raised rails (Stock or Aftermarket. These are the stylish factory or aftermarket installed roof attachment.
  3. Flush rails. These are rails that are new and have been introduced on most European makes and models.
  4. Rain Gutters. These are bent edges that channel water away from the car doors and other openings.

For bare roof and roof railed without crossbars, you may opt to go with the cheapest and simplest way. This is to install inflatable or foam pads. These do not need the additional buys for other crossbars. However, if you feel like needing cradles and saddles on your roof, it would be wise to get those crossbars instead.

Don’t forget to check the load capacity of your vehicle roof. It is one major concern when hauling one or more canoes. Make sure that your canoe carrier is also compatible with your roof setup. Most of the time, boat carriers and rack require a precise crossbar.

 

Loading and Unloading

How often do you go on a canoe trip? If you’re the type who takes every chance to go canoeing, then you should go for a canoe carrier that requires less effort in loading. Cheaper ones usually are inconvenient and harder to load. More advanced options allow more convenient loading features. Such attributes come in handy as it keeps you from taking too much time loading and unloading your boat.

Driving Distance

Driving long distance to get to the waters, having a secure and solid carrier and rack with saddles and cradles is the best way to go. But, if live near the waters or you must drive a fair distance, temporary solutions like inflatable or foam pad can do.

Be mindful of the driving distance. Make sure it isn’t too far to encounter inclement weather. Such conditions may be hard from temporary solutions to have to hold up against. You don’t want to get your foam pads blown by the wind. Sure, you may tie them down tight, but that could damage the canoe and your car finish.

Number of Canoes

Consider the number of canoes you plan to bring with your vehicle. Also, make sure the number of boats you carry is just the right number that your roof can handle. Otherwise, you may get them a stacker instead. Most vehicles can hold up to 2 boats at a time. Transporting more than two is safer with the stacker. Stackers extend your roof’s width and loading capacity.

If your vehicle does not have that long roofline to support a canoe rack, you can make use of hitch mount canoe racks too. With its telescopic design, no gear is too long and too awkward to bring. Canoes are secured with a feature most of them has, anti-wobble design.

Dos and Don’ts in Transporting Canoes

  • DOs
    • Use a premium quality roof rack
    • Use high-grade straps to secure your canoes
    • Check your straps regularly for signs of wear and tear. Replace when necessary.
    • Check if your gears are firmly fitted
    • Use pads between your boats and bars
  • DON’Ts
    • Overload your roof
    • Forget to check your overall height. Consider some freeways where there may be vertical clearances
    • Use bungee straps
    • Use nylon rope to lash the canoe to the roof rack
    • Use wooden planks as crossbars
    • Use J-cradle style carriers for larger canoes

With any carrier, rack, or loaders you use to transport your canoe, it is always wise to position them properly for safety. It helps to fix them with their open side down. Such a process reduces the chances of distortion. This also keeps rainwater from accruing.

Tie your canoe as soon as you put them up your roof. There are instances when people put their boat up on top of the car, gets distracted by something and drives off with gears unsecured. No, you don’t want your canoe shooting off from your roof.

Also, make it a habit to check the weight capacity of your vehicle’s roof as noted on the car owner’s manual as well as the weight capacity stated by the roof rack manufacturer. Always use the lower of the two weight limits.

Guard Your Canoe Against Thieves

Anything left exposed outside your vehicle is pure eye-candy to opportunist robbers. They attract attention and without security features, your expensive canoe could be gone in a matter of minutes. Use a rack or carrier guard security cable or lockable straps to make sure your canoes are still there when you get back from taking that 5-minute coffee break.

Thule has lockable straps that use buckles to keep your canoes safely. They contain a sturdy and durable steel core that aid excellently with preventing theft.


Conclusion

The safest way to bring your canoe to the water, if you are not living near the beaches, is to transport it with gears that can hold them safely while you drive. They prolong the life of your water toy by ensuring they are being carried safely and securely. You don’t want to transport your canoes with just ties and straps. Or, your canoes might not get there in one piece.

Canoe carriers are engineered to help you load, unload, and secure your boat without any worries. These keep you confident that by the time you arrive by the waters, you still have a canoe to use.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Will these works if I have no crossbars?

A: This will need either Factory Installed Cross Bars or aftermarket roof rack system. Best way to check this out is to go check the manufacturer’s website. Usually, they have an online tool where you can enter your exact Year, Make and Model for the correct roof rack system you need.

Q: Is Thule Goalpost for truck use only?

A: No. This will work in any vehicle with a 2″ box receiver hitch can use this.

Q: Can foam blocks work with other cross bars or sport rack?

A: Yes, they work with either crossbars, side rails, and even a bare car roof. You may want to add some ratcheting straps to make sure your canoe stays snug.

Q: What do I do if my vehicle doesn’t have side rails?

A: The brackets must attach to the crossbars with wingnuts and they are adjustable. Be sure to have a base roof rack system prior to getting any canoe carrier.

Check out our other articles on Inflatable Roof Racks and Rooftop Cargo Bags!

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