TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Review

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Kayaking is a great outdoor activity for connecting with nature, having fun with friends, and getting in some gentle exercise. 

However, one of the biggest obstacles most people face when it comes to kayaking is transport.

The average kayak weighs about 35 lbs and measures 10 ft in length, making it quite an awkward object to carry around or fit inside a car. Therefore, the ideal method of transport for a kayak is on the roof of a vehicle. 

This mode of transportation poses problems in itself, however. Many of the racks and contraptions advertised for kayak transport purposes can be expensive, difficult to use, and quite restrictive in terms of use. They can also take up a lot of space on your roof, leaving little to no room for other storage.

That’s where the TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier comes in. 

This J-Bar Rack is an affordable, practical, and highly versatile piece of transportation equipment that can be used not only for kayaks but also for canoes, surfboards, ski equipment, and other outdoor sporting gear. 

If you’ve been searching for an easy-to-use, versatile roof rack that can transport your kayak and sporting gear whilst leaving enough roof space for other purposes, the TMS J-Bar Rack is definitely one to consider.

TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Canoe Boat Surf Ski Roof Top Mounted on Car SUV Crossbar

No. 1
TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Canoe Boat Surf Ski Roof Top Mounted on Car SUV Crossbar
9.4/10 Our Score

The primary feature of the TMS J-Bar Rack is the J-style rack itself. 

The rack comprises two separate steel J-bars which are designed to attach to most crossbars or load bars in parallel positions.

The kayak should then be placed into the J-bar structure on its side. 

These J-bars are wide-mouthed and will accommodate kayaks measuring up to 36 inches wide and weighing up to 75 lbs.

The size of the J-rack is optimal and leaves roof space for other attachments, should you need it. 

The wide-mouthed design makes loading and unloading your kayak easier and minimizes the risk of scratching or other impact-related damages. 

The damage protection offered by the TMS J-Bar Rack is further enhanced by the incorporation of adjustable padding on the bars themselves, which protect both the bars and your equipment.

Moreover, the steel construction of the bars ensures strength and durability, so you can be sure that your kayak or other equipment is held securely in place. 

The steel bars are finished with a powder coating to ensure rust resistance.

However, the included hardware (see below) has been reported to rust when exposed to adverse weather for long periods of time, so if your car stays outside as opposed to in a garage or similar structure, it is recommended that you remove your kayak carrier when it is not being used.

  • Designed to attach to most crossbars or load bars 
  • Durable steel construction
  • Suitable for load-bearing up to 75 lbs
  • Affordable relative to most kayak racks
  • Easy to install and remove
  • Adjustable padding for kayak protection
  • Simple, minimalistic design 
  • Optimal size leaves roof space free 
  • Includes easy-to-use hardware 
  • Includes wrench for installation
  • Includes 2 kayak straps
  • Included wrench not suitable for purpose 
  • Hardware set may rust in adverse weather
  • conditions
  • Additional straps may be required for security
  • Assembly instructions may prove difficult to follow 

TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier Buying Guide

Kayak Straps 

In order to properly secure your kayak to the J-bars, the TMS J-Bar Rack includes a set of two kayak straps.

These kayak straps on their own may be suitable for lightweight kayaks. However, many customers have reported that the provided straps are not sufficient for complete security. Therefore, if your kayak is on the heavier side, it may be worth investing in some additional ratchet straps for peace of mind. 

Crossbar Fitments

The J-bar structures attach to crossbars or load bars using the incorporated crossbar fitments. 

These fitments work simply by tightening the included hardware (see below) to secure the j-bars to your crossbars.

The crossbar fitments are designed to fit most factory or aftermarket crossbars of all shapes and structures, including square, round, oval, and flat. 

However, before purchasing, you should make sure that the fitment dimensions of 3.5 X 1.5 inches are compatible with your crossbar or load bar structure. 

Some customers have also reported that the rack does not fit flat crossbars as well as other structures. 

Additional Features 

Installation Hardware 

The TMS J-Bar Rack includes all the mounting and installation hardware you need to get your kayak carrier set up and ready for use. 

Included are a range of nuts and bolts which correspond to the relevant attachments. A wrench is also included to help with the installation process. However, some reviewers have complained of the quality of the wrench, so it is advisable to purchase a wrench separately for this process if you don’t already have one. 

The included hardware is purpose-designed to provide superior security. The nuts, for example, have a small nylon insert inside which grips onto the relevant bolt, ensuring it does not rotate around the thread after installation. This helps to keep the structure secure.

The installation itself is not especially complicated, so if you’re handy with a wrench or have experience assembling load-bearing structures, you shouldn’t have any problems in this department. However, if you do run into any issues, the rack does come with printed instructions, although some customers have reported that they are difficult to follow.

The mounting hardware is vacuum-sealed to keep it in pristine condition prior to use. However, it should be noted that some consumers have reported hardware rusting when left outside in adverse weather conditions, so make sure that you remove your kayak carrier when it is not in use if you keep your vehicle outside.

No Other Features

Other than installation hardware, the TMS J-Bar Rack Kayak Carrier does not offer much in the way of additional features. However, this should be regarded as a benefit rather than a disadvantage. 

The lack of additional features means that this product is simple, minimalistic, and easy to use. You won’t find yourself struggling with unnecessary attachments or searching for places to store extra features that you won’t use. 

With the TMS J-Bar Rack, you only pay for essential features that will directly contribute to the transportation of your kayak or other equipment. 


  • Model number: KAYAK-RK-J
  • Manufacturer: TMS 
  • Material: Steel
  • Weight: 8 lbs 
  • Dimensions: 18 x 7 x 7 inches 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I load my kayak onto the J-bar rack?

Kayaks can be heavy pieces of sporting equipment, so actually loading your kayak onto the J-bar rack once it’s been installed can be easier said than done. 

If your kayak weighs over 30 lbs, as the majority do, depending on your level of physical strength you may need to get someone else to help you. 

Alternatively, if your vehicle is typically stored in a garage or other sheltered structure, and you are concerned about being able to load your kayak onto the roof, it may be worth investing in a hoist for this purpose. 

Can I lock the J-bar rack?

The rack itself does not come with a locking system. However, if you are concerned about theft when your kayak is unattended, you can install a locking mechanism separately. 

One way to do this is to install a large padlock or repurpose a bike lock. You could also reinforce the provided hardware with lock nuts for added security. 

  Alternatively, specifically designed kayak locks exist on the market to secure your kayak to your roof rack, making it theft-proof. 

Lockable straps are also an option worth considering if, as some customers have recommended, you choose to invest in extra straps to help secure your kayak. 

What other equipment can I use the J-bar rack for?

This J-bar rack is primarily designed for transporting kayaks, so there is no absolute guarantee that it will be suitable for other specific types of sporting equipment. 

However, generally speaking, this versatile rack may also be able to transport surfboards, ski equipment, and smaller canoes, with the help of the straps provided (and, if necessary, your own additional straps). 

Final Thoughts 

Overall, the TMS J-Bar Rack HD Kayak Carrier is a versatile and affordable product. It is a lightweight, durable, and practical alternative to the many more cumbersome and complicated kayak racks on the market. 

However, in some cases, additional purchases may be required in order to get the most out of this product. A higher-quality wrench may potentially be required for installation. Additionally, for heavier kayaks, extra straps may be necessary for security. 

It is also important to note that this rack should not be left exposed to adverse weather conditions for long periods of time, since the hardware set has been reported to rust.

Despite the drawbacks outlined above, the TMS J-Bar Rack remains a great product in terms of practicality and ease of use and will work well for those with more lightweight kayaks and a wrench already to hand. 

Ultimately, if you’ve been looking for a practical, minimalist, and versatile solution to your kayak transport problems and don’t mind potentially making a couple of separate purchases, the TMS J-Bar Rack could be perfect for you! 

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