Yakima JayLow Kayak Rack Review (Easy on, Easy off)

If you’re looking for an easy way to transport your kayak, you should take a look at the Yakima JayLow kayak rack. This rack is designed to make getting your kayak from point A to point B a snap.

This article will provide a comprehensive review of the Yakima JayLow kayak rack. We will cover all of its features and benefits and help you decide if it is the right choice for you.

The Yakima JayLow kayak carrier is a popular option among kayakers, and for good reason. It is a high-quality product that is sure to meet your needs.

Yakima has been designing high-quality, innovative products for years. Keep reading for more information about the Yakima kayak roof rack, including specs, features, and pricing.

Yakima JayLow Kayak Rack Summary

Transporting kayaks is not the easiest thing to do, especially if you don’t have the right equipment. I have seen people strap pool noodles on top of their car and toss a kayak on top.

Yakima JayLowPin

Hey, that can certainly work if you don’t have far to go.

If you are looking for a durable, easy-to-use rack system, the Yakima JayLow kayak carrier is an excellent option. In addition, the cradles come pre-assembled, which is a blessing for folks who are not so mechanically inclined.

With the Yakima kayak rack, you can carry one or two kayaks with each JayLow kayak cradle. Each pair of JayLow cradles can support up to 80 pounds for a single kayak or 110 pounds when you transport two kayaks side-by-side.

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In addition, the JayLow cradles fold down flat when you are not using them, and they have an integrated ramp for easy loading.

We will talk about all of the functionality of the Yakima kayak roof rack in this review.

Yakima JayLow features


The Yakima JayLow kayak carrier is a durable kayak rack made of high-quality materials designed to last. The cradles have an integrated ramp that makes it easy to load your kayak.

The JayLows also have a soft base to hold the kayak in place and cushion your boat to prevent scratches.

The arms are wrapped in foam designed to help keep your kayak from sliding and scratching.


The JayLow kayak rack fits a variety of Yakima crossbars, factory crossbars, and others. It’s a good idea to check directly with Yakima to make sure the cradle will fit your setup.

The J-cradles come with adapters to fit round bars. For other types of crossbars, you can just attach the JayLows directly to the bars.

Yakima JayLow cradle on a Yakima roof rackPin

I have the Yakima CoreBars, and the JayLows attach directly to these crossbars.

Besides fitting on different styles of crossbars, the JayLow cradles are versatile. For example, you can carry up to two kayaks with each pair of cradles.

The arms lock in place at an angle to carry a single kayak. The arms can also lock in a vertical position so you can stack one kayak on each side of the cradle.

In addition, if you have a kayak trailer with crossbars, I have seen people use the JayLows with that kind of setup as well.

Easy to use

The Yakima JayLow kayak carriers are fully assembled ready to use out of the box. Each pair of cradles comes with front and rear tie-down straps and heavy-duty straps for the kayak’s body.

To attach the JayLows to your crossbars, you fold the arm back, lock the red lever in place, and tighten the cradles to the crossbars.


Depending on how tall the roof of your car is, I will tell you that this can be a bit of a shoulder workout to tighten the knobs for a secure fit.

In addition, the Yakima JayLow Kayak Rack folds down flat when you are not using it. This is great when you park your car in the garage. You don’t have to worry about ripping the rack off the roof of your car.

What you need

If you have crossbars on your vehicle already, it’s a good idea to make sure the JayLows are compatible. But, depending on how your vehicle is equipped, you will need some different accessories.

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If your car has a naked roof (no factory crossbars), you will need base clips and crossbars for your JayLows. Some cars have grooves in the roof that are set up for a roof rack too.

Who is the Yakima JayLow kayak rack for?

The Yakima JayLow kayak carrier is an excellent option for anyone transporting kayaks long distances or anyone who wants an easy way to transport kayaks.

The JayLows are durable and easy to use and come with all the necessary straps and adapters you need to transport your kayaks safely.

The JayLow cradles come fully assembled, all you have to do is attach them to crossbars, and you are ready to haul your kayak. I like to say there is minimal assembly required 🙂

Who is the Yakima kayak roof rack not for?

The JayLow kayak rack may not be for everyone. For example, if you have a super heavy kayak, the JayLow kayak rack may not be for you.


The JayLows are designed to carry a kayak up to 80 pounds or two kayaks totaling 110 pounds.

Some fishing kayaks are really heavy. Other kayaks have pedal drive or rudder systems, so a J cradle might not be your best friend in these situations.

If you are transporting a lot of kayaks you are probably better off with a kayak trailer.

How to install a Yakima JayLow kayak rack

Yakim JayLow kayak rack is very easy to install. All you need are crossbars on your vehicle. Then, you slide the base of the JayLows over the crossbars and tighten them up.

Yakima JayLow’s also come with the SKS (Single Key System), so you can lock your Yakima gear up with one single key.

Yakima JayLow warranty

The JayLows comes with a limited lifetime warranty. I can tell you from my experience that Yakima has excellent customer service. 

First, I couldn’t get the key for the JayLows to work with my Yakima base clamps. So I called Yakima, and they sent me new locks for all my gear.

I also had an issue with the coating on the crossbars. The coating was cracking, which can lead to the metal underneath rusting. I called Yakima, and they sent me brand new crossbars. 

I am impressed with Yakima as a company.

One more thing

Depending on what kind of car you have, and how heavy your kayak is, it can be challenging to hoist your kayak onto a roof rack.

By nature kayaks are awkward and can be heavy to lift. If you have a small passenger car, the roof is not as far off the ground like an SUV.

I have a mid-sized SUV and it’s not easy to lift a 63 pound, 12’3″ kayak up there by myself. I invested in a Yakima BoatLoader EVO to help me out. You can check that out here. This extends the length of the crossbars to help with loading.


How do you strap a kayak to JayLow?

Strapping a kayak on a JayLow is pretty straightforward. You can read my complete guide here. I recommend running the straps through the arms of the JayLow first, then setting your kayak on the base of the cradle.

Then loop the straps over each of the kayaks and underneath the base of the crossbars. Then you cinch the straps tight. Be sure to tie down the bow and stern of the kayak also.

Are kayak roof racks safe?

If you make sure that your kayak is strapped down properly and securely, kayak roof racks are safe to use. Make sure your kayak doesn’t exceed the weight limit of your kayak roof rack. Also, be sure you tie down the bow and stern.

How do you attach 2 kayaks to a roof rack?

With the Yakima JayLow arm in the position, you can attach two kayaks to the roof rack, one on either side of the rack.


The Yakima JayLow kayak rack is a versatile and easy-to-install option for transporting your kayaks.

The Yakima JayLows come fully assembled, so all you have to do is attach the cradles to crossbars on your vehicle, and you are ready to go.

With their limited lifetime warranty, customer service from Yakima has been stellar when I’ve contacted them in the past about issues with my products.

If you want a convenient way of hauling one or two kayaks at a time, then this might be just what you’re looking for.

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About the author
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.