Malone HandiRack Inflatable Roof Rack Review: Portable and Affordable

Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks

So you’re interested in a kayak carrier for the top of your vehicle. But you’re not sure exactly which way to go. That’s exactly the position we found ourselves in not too long ago. What we learned was valuable – and we’re happy to share that information with you. The bottom line is that you do have options, and no – you don’t have to spend a lot of money.

In this Malone HandiRack Inflatable Roof Rack Review, we’ll introduce you to what we feel is the perfect choice when you’re just starting out in kayaking and you don’t want to spend a fortune on accessories like a kayak rack. With a smart and portable design, and also an awesome price, the Malone HandiRack can be a great option for you.

If you are in a hurry, and want to get a great deal now for the Malone HandiRack Inflatable Roof Rack, click here. If you have a few minutes for the research, choose a topic from the table of contents below, or just keep reading.

The Malone HandiRack Inflatable Features

But Seriously… An Inflatable Kayak Carrier?

When we stumbled upon this Malone inflatable roof rack, we thought it was a joke. I mean, how can something you pump up with air be strong and stable enough to carry something as large and oddly shaped as a kayak on the roof of a car? But as we dug deeper, our first reaction of doubt quickly changed to one of admiration.

Here’s a roof rack that’s different from virtually every other roof rack on the market. First and foremost – it’s made by Malone, one of the top names in the entire industry. The HandiRack inflatable car roof rack is an excellent solution when there are some uncertainties lingering regarding potential use.

Who Might This Be Best Suited For?

Maybe you’re new to kayaking and you’re not sure it’s something you’ll be doing on a regular basis. You want to test the waters and see if it’s a good fit. That’s just one potential scenario where the Handirack inflatable would be a good choice. Or, you could be a serious weekend kayaker and a sales professional during the week. In that case, you probably don’t want to be driving your car around with a kayak carrier strapped to the top.

What’s great about the Malone HandiRack is its portability. It sets up in minutes, so you’re ready to load in no time at all. And it’s not only useful for caring your kayaks, but a wide variety of other things such as windsurfing boards, snowboards and skis – even ladders. When you don’t need to haul anything on your roof, the HandiRack tucks away tidily in the supplied tote bag – which you can then store in the trunk. Easy peasy. It’s there when you need. And it’s not an eyesore when you don’t.

Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks
Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks
Get the best price on the Malone HandiRack and more at Amazon.com

More Pluses than Minuses

Malone’s inflatable Handirack roof rack offers all of the advantages of a quality kayak roof rack without the disadvantages. It’s a rugged rack that can span the distance of any roof and support virtually any type of kayak mounted on top of the vehicle’s roof. It’s also so quick and easy to set up that you can be up and running in a matter of minutes.

This inflatable handy rack features a rugged and resilient, three ply nylon construction. Each of the two supports is essentially an air pocket. You simply inflate it with the included pump and this air pocket supports the weight of the kayak – or anything else you happen to be carrying on your car’s roof.

Ideal in Sunny Weather – But Not In Heavy Rain

Another thing that’s different about the HandiRack from most other roof rack systems is that the strap is secured through the inside of the car’s cabin. That’s right. It runs through the interior – across the top. In a car with plenty of headroom – you’re good to go and will barely notice it – even with passengers in the back seat. But where it’s less than perfect is when it’s raining heavily outside. That’s when the Handirack is probably not the best option because on those rainy days, water tends to trickle down the strap and drip water inside the car.

Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks
Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks

All You Need In a Carrier

Malone’s HandiRack comes complete with one double action air pump and ten foot cam-style load straps to secure your cargo. Also provided with this inflatable kayak carrier are bow and stern tie-downs. Five built-in D rings provide solid anchor points to securely strap down your cargo.

Each inflatable nylon chamber support measures 4 inches in height, 9 inches wide, and 37 inches long. And the HandiRack comes with a two year limited warranty. Its low-profile design means that it’s a fuel-efficient way of carrying your cargo. And this rooftop kayak carrier can easily support loads up to 180 pounds. That’s huge – particularly when you compare this capacity to many of the steel-framed racks.

Simplicity, Affordability and Portability in One

This is a simple design that works surprisingly well. You strap the racks on top of the car by fitting the tie-downs through the open doors and then inflating the supports on top. Then you load your kayak. What could be simpler? The only real drawback is that it gets wet when it’s raining. But if you’re driving in clear weather, you’ll have no problem whatsoever using the Malone inflatable roof rack. If your car lacks a factory-installed roof rack (unusual these days, but possible) – this inflatable could be perfect for you. Or, maybe a standard type of kayak carrier doesn’t fit your model of car. Once again, the HandiRack inflatable carrier could be the best choice for you.

Skeptics Quickly Become Converted

Most buyers who had their doubts at the time of purchase were more than satisfied with what they got from the HandiRack. It’s not some rinky-dink production. Not at all. It’s a quality, well made product from a leading manufacturer in the field – Malone.

What some folks like most about this one is that it’s so easy to install and to remove from your car. And it stores conveniently in the provided tote bag inside the trunk, garage, or shed. It sets up in just a few minutes and it does hold a kayak securely to the roof.

Granted, the provided pump is not of the highest quality. But it gets the job done and makes inflating the pockets relatively easy. And, the complete package is affordable and likely within the budget of most avid kayakers. If you’re going to be out on the water on a regular basis, just leave your supports on top of the roof fully inflated. Then next weekend – or whenever you’re ready to head out again, check the air pressure inside the chambers. Top it up accordingly, so it can support a full load – and you’re good to go again.

Get an awesome deal for the Malone HandiRack and other great accessories at Amazon.com
Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks
Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks

Not Just For Kayaks

The open design of the Malone HandiRack makes the possibilities endless. These roof racks are not just used for kayaks. They’re great for both summer and winter activities, as it will hold a variety of sporting and outdoor equipment. It’s not unusual to see a Malone inflatable roof rack carrying a wide variety of boats and other cargo – including canoes, stand up paddle boards, surfboards, and even household items like furniture pieces and long ladders. So you don’t have to be a weekly kayaker to get a lot of value out of this rooftop rack system. It’s a handy device to have on hand – regardless.

What’s In The Box?

  • 1 Double Action Air Pump
  • 1 Storage Tote Bag
  • 2 HandiRack Inflatable Carrier Supports With Attachment Straps
  • 2 Cam Buckled Load Straps
  • 2 Straps – To Serve As Bow and Stern Tie-Downs
  • 1 Instruction Manual

Malone’s HandiRack inflatable roof rack system also comes with a one year warranty.

Looking for a quick and easy solution to get your vessel to your chosen destination? This is it. Or, if you’re not quite sure about kayaking in general and you just need some sort of device to get your boat to the water, and you don’t want to sink more money into it than you have to – the HandiRack might be the ideal option for you. It’s very convenient easy to pack inside the trunk and easy to inflate and install. Malone also backs up their product with a strong guarantee.

What Did We Like Most About the Malone HandiRack Inflatable?

Each part of this particular roof rack has a single strap. So tying it down securely is easy. With pads that are made of a solid, three ply nylon construction – the Malone HandiRack should last a number of seasons – if not a number years. And the low-profile design means that the kayak – or any other cargo – will sit closer to the roof and therefore provide slightly better fuel consumption.

The fact that it boasts a weight capacity of up 280 pounds (which is significantly higher than a lot of racks out there) means it should be able to withstand the rigors of regular use by a busy family of kayaking enthusiasts. We like that it comes with two cam straps to secure the load and basic bow and stern tie-downs. But we recommend getting the ratchet type of tie-downs as a secondary purchase for added ease of use and peace of mind.

If there’s one thing that weighs on the mind of the driver carrying any kind of load, its whether it is tied down safely and securely and never going to budge – or will it spring lose and cause a serious accident on the highway. Nobody wants that. And nothing works quite as well in our experience as ratchet straps.

A Product Developed Through Experience

It seems obvious that Malone’s product engineers actually get out there to put their designs to the test. I bet most of them are avid kayakers too. That’s because of all the details of the Handirack inflatable car roof rack they got right.

For example, each support is padded, so it likely prevents scratches and scuff marks on your kayak. Every built in ring is a solid anchor – perfect to use as tie- down points. The fact that it comes with a convenient storage bag, and double-action pump – so there’s no extra hardware to buy. Everything you need is right there in the box.

Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks
Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks

Just a Head’s Up

One thing you should do before installing these inflatable supports is be sure that your roof is good and clean. Give it a good wash and then dry it off. This ensures a stronger, more secure tie-down.

Also, when installing the Malone HandiRack, be sure to keep the supports even on both sides. And pull down the straps as tight as you can. Install the supports first and get everything positioned in the right place before you inflate the air cylinders. Be sure to keep the buckles away from the actual kayak and your car’s paint finish to prevent against scratches.

Customers Love It Too

After checking out the Malone Handirack in detail, we were not the least bit surprised to discover that it rates a solid 4.2 out of 5 possible stars – from almost 300 customer reviews. That’s an excellent score from a significant sampling of actual buyers – and for such an affordable roof rack system.

Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks
Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks

The Good (What Buyers Like Most)

These are made from good-quality fabric

This is vital to the durability of a product such as this. Fortunately, Malone builds these from a high-quality, three-ply nylon, so it should hold up for a number of seasons, without any problems.

The provided straps are strong and capable

There’s nothing worse than looking forward to a beautiful day of kayaking, only to have a strap fall apart on you as you try tightening the kayak to the rack. That’s what can happen with a flimsy strap. Malone gets it right with strong, stable straps.

These inflatable air chambers provide a soft cushion on your car’s rooftop

This racking system even works on sun roofs. A cushioned grip makes a lot of sense – especially these days when many of our roads have potholes, cracked payment and bumps. As you cruise with a loaded Handirack, those air pockets act as cushions, absorbing the shock and keeping hold of the cargo.

Get the best price on the Malone HandiRack and more at Amazon.com

The rack seems solid and stable at highway speeds of 60 to 70 mph

This means it is ideal for those longer trips, where highway driving is unavoidable.

HandiRack’s air pump ships with two nozzles

And these come attached, so they are much harder to misplace. If you’ve every promised your child a game of soccer, only to discover that the ball is deflated and you’re missing the required nozzle to inflate it – you’ll appreciate this. The second nozzle is a back-up tool that you’ll only use when you need it. But it sure is nice to know it’s there.

The included pump is lightweight and works quite well

It helps fill the chambers quickly and effectively, and it’s a compact unit, so it’s easy to stow away when you don’t need it.

It’s a very versatile car rack carrier

This alone is a huge advantage most other kayak racks simply can’t match. It works great as a kayak carrier. But there’s so much more you can haul with this thing as well, so it’s handy to have around.

Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks
Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks

It looks great and works admirably

Chances are, you’ll hear from other kayakers about your kayak rack and how sleek it looks. But it also works very well too.

You can enjoy a quick and easy set up

In fact, it takes just minutes to put the kayak on the car. If you don’t like messing around with steel racks, trying to get them to align properly, you’ll enjoy the ease with which this one connects.

It’s a less permanent install and that’s a definite plus

Put it on when you want it – take it off when you don’t. There’s nothing to it.

It’s compact to store

Just take the few parts and fit them into the supplied tote bag. It will fit conveniently in any trunk or storage space. So it’s completely out of sight and out of mind when you’re not using the Malone inflatable.

You get lots of tie-down rings to use

This makes the HandiRack safe and secure when properly installed. So you can enjoy greater peace of mind whenever you’re driving with a load.

It’s an affordable roof rack

When you work hard for your money – you pay attention to prices. So it’s a pleasant surprise when you get something of this quality that’s so versatile – at a price that you can easily live with.

Since it has inflatable air chambers, it’s easier to slide the kayak into position

Nobody talks about this advantage. But it’s something you can discover only from use and is particularly helpful the first couple of times you use it.

The Not So Good

  • Can only transport one kayak at a time
  • You need to constantly monitor the pressure in the air chambers (items can move as the pockets compress)
  • Black material gets hot in the sun
  • Straps provided are not the ratchet type (so it’s harder to tighten them down)
  • Straps run inside the cabin of your car and can hold water and drip during rainstorms
  • It makes some noise
  • Can be a target for easy theft (best to remove them when you’re parked in a public place)
  • Air chambers can’t take excessive heat (it may be just a matter of time before they break down in the hot sun)
Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks
Handirack Universal Inflatable Roof Racks

The Verdict

Hopefully you gained some helpful insights from this Malone Handirack inflatable roof rack review. It’s our hope that it helps you determine if this roof rack carrier is right for you.

There’s no doubt that this is a quality kayak carrier – one that’s much more versatile and affordable than most. It can carry many different kinds of loads. The fact that it is inflatable makes it a handy choice. You simply pump it up and install when you need it and deflate and remove when you don’t – then simply store it away in the trunk of your car, in the handy tote. What could be easier – or more convenient?

For the occasional kayaker, paddle boarder, or surfboarder, the Malone inflatable handy rack is a perfect solution. But even serious kayakers find it a terrific choice.

But if you still have doubts and think you would be better with a conventional roof rack, check the Jakima Jaylow Carrier. It’s a great choice, from a well know manufacturer in the field and with outstanding quality. Another standard roof rack, and very budget friendly is the JDM Auto Lights 2. And be sure to check out our top 10 kayak roof racks for more reviews and find your match!

About the author

    Martin Tripodi

    Software Engineer, husband, father, and avid enthusiast of outdoor activities! Total fan of great quality and functional gear, spends part of his free time researching and compiling loads of information in the form of guides, product recommendations and reviews.

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