🥇 Top 7 Best Canoe Carriers For Any Trip (2020)

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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 worse, 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 who was 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 transporting your canoe safely. They give a stable, padded, and secure method of carrying your canoe from the waters to your roof rack.

Canoe loaders, rollers, and lifters make loading up and taking down your canoe a whole lot easier. Not only that, but also suck kits include tie-down straps for that added security.


Our Top 3 Choice

Yakima KeelOver Rooftop Canoe Carrier

Yakima KeelOver Rooftop Canoe Carrier
9.5/10
  • 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
Thule Portage Canoe Carrier

Thule Portage Canoe Carrier
8.9/10
  • Canoe Carrying Capacity: 1 canoe
  • Application: Fits aero, elliptical, round, square & factory crossbars
  • Maximum weight capacity: 150 pounds
  • Crossbar spread: 24 inches to 36 inches
Thule Goalpost Hitch Mounted Load Bar

Thule Goalpost Hitch Mounted Load Bar
8.3/10
  • Weight capacity: 165 pounds
  • Telescopes vertically from 54- ½ inch to 66 inches. Length of straps-1 x 6.5 feet
  • US-made with lifetime warranty
  • Dimensions: 12.5 x 58 x 73.8 inch

The most effective canoe carrier should securely and safely fit your roof, carefully handle your canoe, and easily 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.

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 Carrier Reviews

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 when embarking on your next canoeing adventure.

1. Yakima KeelOver Rooftop Canoe Carrier

No. 1
1. Yakima KeelOver Rooftop Canoe Carrier
9.5/10 Our Score

Features

  • 4 Gunwale brackets clutch a canoe hull-side up on your roof-rack crossbars
  • Easy installation with universal mounting hardwareClamps, 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 vehicleTie-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

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.

Pros
  • Rubber pads don’t mark the vehicle
  • Sturdy straps kept the canoe in place
  • Small, light, and easy to transport
Cons
  • Carrier can’t be mounted far out
  • Unloading the canoe requires an extra hand

2. Thule Portage Canoe Carrier

No. 2
2. Thule Portage Canoe Carrier
8.9/10 Our Score

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

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.

Pros
  • Strong, durable load straps with buckle bumpers
  • Cushioned weatherproof padding
  • Easy to use, reliable and sporty looking
Cons
  • Too bulky


3. Thule Goalpost Hitch Mounted Load Bar

No. 3
3. Thule Goalpost Hitch Mounted Load Bar
8.3/10 Our Score

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

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.

Pros
  • Works with kayak, canoe and paddleboard racks
  • Load straps help stabilize and hold load
  • Easy to assemble, install, and put down
Cons
  • Package may arrive with missing parts
  • Extra tie-downs needed

4. SportRack Canoe Carrier

No. 4
4. SportRack Canoe Carrier
7.9/10 Our Score

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
  • Mounts on naked roofs, SportRack Roof Rack Systems and almost any factory crossbars
  • Size:Block length: 6 inches
  • Strap length: 15 ft
  • Rope length: 20 ft
  • Comes with limited lifetime warranty

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. 

Pros
  • Works on naked roofs and almost any crossbar styles
  • Needs no permanent change to your vehicle
  • Easy to use, great fit, and great value
Cons
  • Foam not firm enough to elevate canoe above car roof
  • Rope not long enough to secure the front or back of canoe

5. Malone BigFoot Pro Canoe Carrier

No. 5
5. Malone BigFoot Pro Canoe Carrier
7.5/10 Our Score

Features

  • 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
  • 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

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

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.

Pros
  • Fits almost any aftermarket and factory cross rails
  • Corrosion resistant construction
  • Fits T-slot aluminum car & truck racks
Cons
  • Cannot fit extra wide canoe

6. Inno Locker Watersport Carrier

No. 6
6. Inno Locker Watersport Carrier
6.9/10 Our Score

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

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.

Pros
  • Rubber coated straps and adjustable corner pads keep your vehicle scratchless
  • Transport kayaks, canoes, and wind/paddle/sail/SUP/long and short boards
Cons
  • Standard bolts that are included for mounting this rack are too long
  • Creates minimal wind drag

7. Lockrack Adjustable Watersport Carrier

No. 7
7. Lockrack Adjustable Watersport Carrier
6.3/10 Our Score

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

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.

Pros
  • Reduces the need for load straps
  • Adjustable base
  • Easy installation with included hardware and tools
Cons
  • Package usually comes with missing parts

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 carriers have 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 canoeing 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 are usually 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? If the answer is yes, then having a secure and solid carrier and rack with saddles and cradles is the best way to go. But, if you live near the waters or you must drive a fair distance, temporary solutions like inflatable or foam padding can do.

Be mindful of the driving distance. Make sure it isn’t so far that you may encounter inclement weather. Such conditions may be hard for temporary solutions 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 both 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 appropriate for what 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 a long enough 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 affix 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 safe. 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 open water, 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)

Will a canoe carrier work if I have no crossbars?

A: These 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.

Is the Thule Goalpost for truck use only?

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

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.

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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