Family Road Trip - Best Roof Racks For Cars Without Rails With A Buyers Guide

Best Roof Racks For Cars Without Rails

Are you looking for the best roof racks for cars without rails to carry your kayak or skis? You’re in luck! There are several different roof rack options available that will work with your vehicle, even if roof rails aren’t fitted.

When it comes to roof racks, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’ll want to ensure that the rack is compatible with your car.

Secondly, you’ll need to decide what type of rack best suits your needs. And finally, you’ll want to consider how easy the rack is to install and remove.

With those factors in mind, let’s look at some of the best roof racks for cars without rails.

Related: Why Are Roof Racks So Expensive?

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Inflatable Roof Racks

FRT - Inflatable Roof Racks From HandiRack

If your car doesn’t have roof rails, you don’t have to miss out on the fun of taking your bike or kayak with you on road trips. An inflatable roof rack is a great solution. They’re much cheaper than a hard rack and usually range from around $50 to $150.

And they can be quickly deflated and stored away when not in use. Plus, they are very lightweight and can be easily switched between different cars.

But for lighter items like bikes, skis, snowboards, and kayaks, an inflatable roof rack is very capable of hauling those items off your car rooftop.

The installation is also straightforward and can be done in minutes.

However, there are also some disadvantages to using an inflatable roof rack. They are not as sturdy as a hard roof rack and can’t carry very heavy items like a cargo box.

So, if you’re planning on carrying a cargo box or anything else very heavy, you’ll probably want to go with a hard rack.

Plus, they must be inflated before each use which can be slightly time-consuming.

Our suggestion for the best inflatable roof rack is the HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars.

We recommend the HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars as the best soft roof rack for those who own a car without rails. The installation process is easy and can be done without any tools.

You must pass the straps through your car and attach them with a buckle. The best part is that you don’t have to inflate the bars yourself – a HandiPump is provided for your convenience.

This roof rack is durable and can hold up to 175 pounds. They’re also cushioned to protect your car’s roof from scratches. However, they may not be suitable for extreme temperatures.

In addition to that, you can’t use this rack to attach soft cargo. Overall, the HandiRack is an excellent option for those looking for an easy-to-use and durable roof rack.

Soft Roof Rack Pads

FRT - Soft Roof Rack Pads From HEYTRIP

Soft roof rack pads are an excellent option for vehicles without rails and offer several benefits. One of the most significant advantages of soft roof rack pads is that they are very easy to install.

Place the foam blocks on your car’s roof and secure them with the straps. The foam block design also provides a more secure grip than other roof racks, making your belongings less likely to slip or fall off.

Soft roof racks are ideally suited for carrying your kayak, canoe, or surfboard. They are also a good choice for carrying bikes, as they will not damage the paintwork on your car.

In addition, soft roof rack pads are often more comfortable to use as they distribute the weight more evenly across the car’s surface. As a result, they are ideal for long journeys where you need to be able to access your luggage easily.

They are affordable and have a similar price range as the inflatable roof racks.

The main disadvantage of soft roof rack pads is that they can be less stable than other types of roof racks. The foam blocks can compress over time, reducing the rack’s grip and stability.

Our pick for the best soft roof rack pad is Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads from HEYTRIP.

If you’re looking for a simple, no-fuss way to transport items on your roof without rails, HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads are an excellent option.

These soft roof rack pads are top-grade EVA foam to provide a soft landing for your loads and effectively reduce vibration during transportation.

It also has a built-in non-slip mat to protect your car roof surface from getting scratched and is fixed tightly to reduce wind noise. The maximum weight load of the HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads is 176 lbs (80kg).

Thanks to its foldable design, it is easy to clean and store in the bag (included) when not used.

One thing to note is that the HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads are installed through the door, which is likely to cause rainwater to infiltrate into the car through the straps if used in rainy weather.

So, this may not be the best option for you if you live in a rainy climate.

Overall, we think the HEYTRIP Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads are the best alternative to the inflatable roof rack for those looking for an easy-to-use, no-fuss roof rack solution for their car without rails.

Be sure to use it on sunny days to avoid water infiltration issues.

Universal Strap Attach Roof Bars

Universal Strap Attach Roof Bars

Universal Strap Attach Roof Bars are great for someone who needs to attach a cargo box or other heavy item to their car. This roof rack system comes with two load bars, towers with suction cups, and attachment straps, so you can easily install them on your vehicle.

These bars attach directly to your car’s roof using a series of easily adjustable straps. The suction cups ensure that the load bars are firmly attached to the top of your vehicle. 

The process only takes a few minutes and doesn’t require any tools, which is excellent for those who aren’t exactly handy. But you must be careful when threading the strap through the ratchet.

If you don’t thread it in the right direction, the ratchet action will pull the thread in the wrong way, making it hard to get it back out.

Once they’re in place, you can add any number of rooftop accessories, from cargo boxes and baskets to ski and bike racks, so if you’re looking for an easy-to-use roof rack solution for your car without roof rails.

The Universal Strap Attach Roof Bars system is relatively inexpensive, with the average prices ranging from $60 to $200 – depending on the length of the load bars.

The potential downside of these roof rack systems is that the suction cups can sometimes come loose. Another thing to remember is that you need to ensure that the straps are tight enough so your load doesn’t move around while driving.

But as long as you keep an eye on those two things, the Universal Strap Attach Roof Bars system is a great way to add a roof rack to your car without roof rails.

Our suggestion for a universal strap that attaches roof bars is the SEAH HARDWARE Universal Roof Rack Cross-Bars.

SEAH HARDWARE Universal Roof Rack Cross-Bars

The Universal Roof Rack Crossbars by SEAH HARDWARE offer a great way to transport cargo on your car without roof rails, and they come with a pair of crossbars that are 48 inches long.

The heavy-duty steel tubes make them strong and safe, and the waterproof ratchet tie-downs ensure that they will remain firmly in place on your car top.

The crossbars were not that difficult to assemble, but you must be careful when threading the strap through the ratchet and not too overtight.

The 1800 lbs ratchet tie-down ensures the roof bar will remain to sit tight on your car top. However, there are two drawbacks to this roof rack.

Firstly, it doesn’t work with a two-door car because the distance from the car roof to the bottom of the bar is 6.5 cm. Secondly, the load bar size comes with one option, which is 48 inches long.

If you’re looking for another universal roof rack crossbars option with longer load bars, I recommend you check out Malone VersaRail Universal Cross Bars.

The Malone VersaRail Universal Cross Bars have two load bar options – 50 and 58 inches. Unlike the SEAH HARDWARE Universal Roof Rack Cross-Bars, the Malone crossbars have abrasion-resistant dual suction towers for excellent stability.

Malone VersaRail Universal Cross Bars

Alternatives To Roof Rack System Without Roof Rails

A few options to the roof rack systems we mentioned above don’t need roof rails and aren’t too pricey.

SportRack Complete Roof Rack System is an excellent choice for those who don’t have the rails on their car. It’s easy to install and is very secure, thanks to the integrated locking system.

The rack is compatible with many accessories, so it can be used to carry a variety of items. It’s also made from durable aluminum to hold up to 130 lbs. of weight.

The downside is that the installation process can take a bit longer due to some learning curves. However, this rack provides great versatility and security for your belongings once installed.

SportRack Complete Roof Rack System

Another solution is to install a tower designed for cars without roof rails. We recommend Yakima BaseLine Adjustable Towers as the best product for this because of its excellent build quality and durability.

If you’re looking for a roof rack that’s both adjustable and versatile, the Yakima BaseLine Adjustable Towers is a great option. It can be used with JetStream, CoreBar, and RoundBar crossbars, giving you plenty of options for transporting gear.

And it locks securely to your vehicle with the SKS system. Plus, it has a maximum load rating of 165lbs. The drawback of this option is that it can be a bit expensive as it doesn’t come with load bars.

It would be best to buy separate load bars to make it a complete system. In our opinion, it is worth the investment as it’s a high-quality roof rack. It comes with a lifetime warranty from Yakima.

FAQs on Roof Racks Without Rails

Here are some frequently asked questions about the roof rack system.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Roof Rack System?

There are many benefits of using a roof rack system on your car. A roof rack can give you extra storage space, making it easy to transport large items.

It can also free up space inside your car to carry more passengers or cargo. A roof rack allows you to attach accessories to your cars, such as a cargo box, bicycle rack, or ski rack.

Can I use any roof rack system with my car?

Yes, you can use any roof rack system with your car as long as it is compatible with the make and model of your vehicle. Many different types of roof racks are available on the market, so be sure to research which one will best fit your needs.

How Do I Install A Roof Rack System On My Car Without Roof Rails?

There are three ways you can install a roof rack system on your car without rails. The first way is to use the feet and clips with the roof rack system.

The second way is to use a set of straps around the car roof, and the third is to use a gutter mount kit. Whichever method you choose, make sure you follow the instructions that come with the roof rack system.

What Is The Maximum Weight That A Roof Rack Can Hold?

Most racks have a maximum weight capacity of around 165 pounds. However, some racks can hold more weight, and roof bars can be used to extend the rack’s capacity.

How Does A Roof Rack Affect Car Performance?

A roof rack can affect a car’s performance by adding weight. This can make the car harder to steer and affect its gas mileage.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a way to transport large items or gear in your car without using the roof rails, there are several options available that we have recommended in this post.

We suggest using either a tower-based roof rack system for long-term usage or the soft roof racks if you carry things occasionally. Both have pros and cons, so choose the most suitable for your needs.

Safe road trip!

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