The Kayak Wing Roof Rack: Affordable and Capable

The Kayak Wing - Kayak Rack

Stable, capable, and affordable – those are the three words that fist come most when we think of the Kayak Wing carrier. After checking out dozens of different brands and models and eliminating many from consideration, we settled a select few – among them –this excellent product.

In this Kayak Wing review, we’ll examine it from every angle to help you decide whether or not this is the kayak carrier for you.

If you are in a hurry and want to get a great deal now for the Kayak Wing Roof Rack, click here to go to Amazon.com and check this awesome price.

If you are looking for a specific topic about the Kayak Wing, is highly probable that we have covered it. Jump directly to any topic by clicking in the table of contents below, or continue reading to learn all there is about this great kayak car roof rack.

A 30 Inch Capacity – From an American Made Product

The Kayak Wing roof rack is designed as a sea kayak carrier and can accommodate boats 32 inches or less. That’s a substantial size allowance. If you love to buy American-made products you’re going to love the kayak wing, since it’s made right here in the USA. And it should be comforting to know that there’s a five year warranty against any breakage included.

Heck, if you’re a regular kayaker and you get five good years of reliable service from your rooftop carrier – you would have to consider that pretty good value –particularly if you paid less than $100 for it.

The Kayak Wing: A Slick, Upright Carrier

As an active kayaker, you should be proud of your sport. And chances are, you’re proud of your vessel too – so why not openly display it as you drive down the road? The Kayak Wing roof rack carries kayaks upright. So it looks pretty slick on top of your car.

Each pair of wings holds one kayak. But these are so compact in size that you can easily carry one or two sets on a single roof. Of course if you’re adding a second kayak, you’ll need to purchase two sets of racks. But when you use how affordable thee are, you won’t be too concerned.

The Kayak Wing - Kayak Rack
The Kayak Wing – Kayak Rack

The Kayak Wing is Designed To Fit

This kayak carrier is designed to naturally fit with most roof racks and kayaks. With its 32 inch with capacity, this carrier can accommodate larger kayaks than many of the J-style racks and saddle roof rack systems out there.

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The Kayak Wing Installation: A Quick and Easy Process

Installation is quick and easy and there are no special tools required. Once installed, the Kayak wing roof rack is sturdy and dependable, despite its light overall weight and small size. Everything you need for a safe a secure load ships in the box as your Kayak Wing roof car top supports. This includes the padded buckle straps to secure your load conveniently and efficiently, without damaging the whole of your boat or your car.

Mounting is easy. Start with each wing. Simply flip it over – one at a time – and remove one hand knob on each bolt. Swing the support bar off to the side, so it’s out of the way. Do this for both wings.

Once that first step is complete, place each wing on the cross bar in the approximate position on top of the vehicle’s roof rack. When you install these, be sure to point the V groove towards the rear of the vehicle.

Now rotate those support bars back until they fit onto the U bolts and screw back on the hand knob you removed earlier. It’s important to tighten these knobs evenly so the bar stays centered and balance. Once the wings are in place, lift one end of the kayak onto the carrier at the back of the vehicle and then simply slide the kayak down onto the front wings as you move it forward on the car.

Make sure that the two wings are evenly positioned and that the cockpit of the kayak is centered between them. Once you’ve got it in place, you can then go ahead and tighten down all the straps. Once the straps are secure – test them. When everything is the way you want it, fold in and tie down any excess strap material, so it’s not blowing in the wind and causing unnecessary noise or acting as a distraction for other drivers.

An Easy Slide Protective Coating

The support wings of this recommended brand are fitted with a black, felt like substance. This coating actually makes it easier to slide your kayak from the back of your vehicle, forward onto the wings. Once strapped down, it will stay securely in place. Just be sure to center the cockpit of the kayak on the roof. Also, make sure it’s spaced evenly between the two wings before strapping it down.

The Kayak Wing support mounts fit a variety of different roof rack systems, including those made by major manufacturers, as well as most factory installed roof racks. Brackets on the Kayak Wing provide a firm fit on a solid crossbar width up to 3 ¼ inches. That’s huge because it means you don’t need to add any special cross bars – at least, in most cases.

The Kayak Wing - Kayak Rack
The Kayak Wing – Kayak Rack

Just How Compact is The Kayak Wing?

Each wing measures about 4.5 inches by 8 inches x 21 inches long. So the Kayak Wing system is among the most compact roof racks out there. It’s important to know is that a minimum of 1 ½ inches is necessary between the cars roof and the bottom of the roof rack. But to be on the safe side, better make that minimum clearance 1 ¾ inches instead. If there’s any less space, you’ll probably need a different roof top carrier system.

Straps Are Protected and Quick To Connect

Straps provided with the Kayak Wing Roof Rack offer excellent protection with their neoprene covers. This acts as a protective barrier, so you don’t have a metal strap rubbing up against your kayak – or your car. By the way, we highly recommend buying a brand like Kayak Wing that provides these padded buckles, since not every manufacturer does.

Yes, the quick straps do the job, although they don’t have a ratchet assembly, which really tends to tighten those straps down firmly. But the straps certainly do the job and when combined with a bow and stern strap, your load should be safely secured.

The Kayak Wing Price Delights Consumers

This Kayak Wing Set is one of the more affordable kayak racks on the market these days. At less than $100 – it’s a steal. This is especially true when you consider that everything you need is included in the package, although you can always upgrade your straps to those with ratchets.

With this design the wings support the kayak well. But it’s the straps that really secure the kayak in place, ensuring that it doesn’t move too much. With the kayak wing you can load any kayak that fits fairly easily. And these vessels stay well positioned in place when tied down properly.

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Fits Many, But It’s Better For Some

Since the shape of the V wing is quite narrow, we suggest that the Kayak Wing is best suited for narrow hulls. This is due to the fact that the wider the boat, the less effectively it tends to sit inside the relatively small Kayak Wing.

The Kayak Wing - Kayak Rack
The Kayak Wing – Kayak Rack

Tie the excess straps out

Some people say that the straps tend to vibrate and make noise while driving. That can happen with most any rack or cargo system. Other buyers have found a simple solution by tying off those straps with bungee cords, so they are no longer as free to vibrate in the wind.

The Idea of Saddle Type Carriers

The way it works with saddle carriers is this: you load your kayak with the bow pointing forward and you do so from the back of the vehicle. You simply place the hull of the kayak on the rear wing. Then you change your position so that you’re able gently slide the kayak up and over the forward wing. Then simply position it so the cockpit is centered and you’ve found the sweet spot. Now it’s only a matter of strapping it down properly and you’re good to go.

When your shipment arrives, you’ll notice that the wings come pre-assembled. The good thing about this is you can see how and where everything fits in the right place. You need to loosen all the knobs and remove half of them to install it however.

Quick Loading and Unloading with the Kayak Wing

With the wings in place and a little bit of experience, you’ll find that you’re able to load your kayak and get it in the right position – in only a minute or two – tops. That’s handy. Then tie it down. The provided strap seems to be enough to restrain the kayak and hold it firmly in position even over long distances.

If you have any uncertainty, you can always add a couple of additional straps, making sure that these wrap around the boat entirely as well as around the rack on the roof of the car. You can’t be too careful when carrying anything on your roof. But it’s especially important to follow good safety procedures when you’re carrying something as heavy as an 80 pound kayak. This can do serious damage – much more than say a pair of skis – if it ever breaks free. Don’t take a chance. Double check to make sure every load is rock solid.

Don’t Forget the Cockpit Cover

It’s a good idea to use a cockpit cover, since this one rides with cockpit open on top. Having the cover will reduce wind resistance for improve mileage.

The Kayak Wing - Kayak Rack
The Kayak Wing – Kayak Rack

What Makes This One a Great Choice?

  • Stable, solid and reliable
  • Lightweight carrying rack
  • Felt pads protect the kayak and make it easy to slide your boat smoothly on the v-wings
  • Fits a variety of different roof rack systems including those pre-installed on cars and SUV’s
  • 5 year warranty against breakage
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Approximate dimensions: 21”x 8” x 4 ½”
  • A minimum clearance of 1 ½ inches is recommended between the roof of the car and the underside of roof rack. That’s what the manufacturer claims is necessary. But for the most problem-free installation, we recommend a minimum of 1 ¾ inches of clearance.

The Kayak Wing vs. The Malone SeaWing

Some buyers like to compare the Kayak Wing by Great Lakes to the SeaWing by Malone. But for the most part, we found that the pluses and minuses between these two models basically cancel each other out. But we do recommend the Kayak Wing for a couple of advantages.

First, the Kayak Wing boasts a lush, felt-like protective covering which makes it easy to slide the Kayak onto the roof of the car or truck. This is a huge advantage. And if you favor keeping the carrier attached to your car for the season, the Kayak Wing makes sense. Although it takes more time to get it mounted, once it’s up on your roof, it should serve you dependably all season long. Also, the Malone SeaWing tends to produce a whistling sound as you’re driving at Interstate speeds that can quickly get on your nerves.

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The Good (What Buyers Like Most)

It’s ideal for sea kayaks

You don’t see many carrier options that are perfect for sea kayaks – but this one is made for the task.

It’s easy to install on the car

It’s a simple and effective system. Once you see how the parts connect, it’s an easy job to set the Kayak Wing up on your vehicle.

Heavy-duty straps hold the load down tight

Nothing is more important that the integrity of your tie downs. But if you’re working with a cheaply made product, it’s very difficult. Fortunately, Kayak Wing gets it right. One buyer reports that after more than 1000 miles of driving, the kayak stayed strapped into position. That’s huge.

It’s a simple design that’s easy to use

All you do is slide your kayak up and onto the wings and then strap it down. That’s all there is to it. So this may be the easiest way to haul a kayak.

The Kayak Wing - Kayak Rack
The Kayak Wing – Kayak Rack

It loads easily

This is one of the most important considerations when choosing a kayak carrier. In this case, one person can load and unload without difficulty.

Instructions for installation are easy-to-understand

Imagine that. The Great Lakes Company gets it right by supplying instructions that are easy to follow to get this thing assembled the correct way.

They offer top-notch customer service

We hope everything goes super smooth and that you don’t have to contact customer service. But if you do – you’re in good hands with this manufacturer.

It features a wider than average straps seem to evenly distribute the weight

It’s a small detail that can make a big difference. Load safety is critically important.

It uses little material and is lightweight yet functions superbly well

We suppose this accounts for the low price. At any rate, it’s a superb design.

The Kayak Wing - Kayak Rack
You can even use it on stationary racks!

The Not So Good

  • Strap lacks a ratchet system (so you have to tie it down or buy ratchet straps)
  • Buckle could be better protected with a neoprene sleeve that covers it on both sides
  • Knobs that tighten the wings to the rack are difficult to turn
  • Mostly made of plastic
  • Metal bracket is a little too short to work with a round rack

The Verdict

This is an affordable option that will suit a lot of different people and types of kayak (shapes, sizes, and hull styles). And the Kayak Wing can accommodate both V-shaped hulls as well as flat bottom designs. If you’re planning to carry two kayaks at the same time – the Kayak wing is a cost effective and safe way to do so.

The Kayak Wing is a complete Kayak carrier system designed to fit most any rooftop cross bars roof and kayak. It is lightning quick to install. And it’s easy to set-up – with no tools required. All necessary items are provided, including the straps for a safe, stable and convenient tie down. You shouldn’t have to worry about hull damage such as dents and scratches with the rubber latch covers provided.

But if you are still not sure, and want to invest a bit more on your roof rack, check out the Yakima Jaylow, a great J-style from a top brand. Also check our selection of the best kayak roof racks here for the top 10 racks out there..

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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