Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack With Tie-Downs Reviews

The Yakima JayLow rooftop kayak rack is one of the most popular racks nowadays. A roof rack is a set of bars which are secured to the roof of an automobile.

This rack can carry bulky items which can’t fit inside the car such as bicycles, canoes, kayaks, luggage, skis, boxes, and containers.  The design and the use of the roof racks have a long history. It allows the automobile user to carry huge objects on the roof without sacrificing the space for the riders.

The most common part of a roof rack system are the crossbars, towers, gear mounts, and fitting pieces. Meanwhile, some of the types of car roof racks are the rain gutter, fixed point, bare roof, factory bars, and side rails.

In the United States, roof racks are known to increase automobile’s air resistance. On the other hand, it can increase by 1% the overall fuel consumption.

Road trips are important in American culture thus people would invest in their automobiles to make it durable and fully-equipped for any kind of adventure. Kayaking is one water adventure that everybody loves.

If you and your friends are planning to hit the water, you should prepare your kayaks too. To do this, you must have a rooftop kayak rack to bring your kayak with you.

In this article, we will discuss one of the best kayak roof racks which are the Yakima JayLow. We’ll explore the company, the product specifications, features, and its pros and cons.

The Evolution of Roof Racks for Automobiles

Years ago, there was little attention on the efficiency and design of roof racks. On the early days, the roof racks were called as ‘luggage racks’ which enables riders to strap their baggage outside their car for long trips.

It is made of galvanized steel tubing for this type of material could be welded and could be bent. Moreover, galvanized steels are rust and corrosion free.

The luggage racks in the early days could be useful however, they lack simplicity, aerodynamics, and aesthetics.

In the middle of 1960s, there was an increase of interest in outdoor adventures just like bicycling, boating, mountaineering, and camping. With this, outdoor adventurers ultimately seek solutions to carry and transport their gears and tools wherever they go.

Meanwhile, in the 1970s, various roof rack companies surfaced to meet the demands of the outdoor goers. They wanted to bring their bulky equipment on their automobiles in long roads, beaches, and mountains.

Thus, in the middle of 1970s,  the ‘Gold Rush Bar’ was unleashed by Yakima Industries. Furthermore, in the 1980s, vehicle companies produced cars without rain gutters and replaced it with racks that clip to the door frame of the car.

Through the years, development has been made on the roof racks. It is now available in round or square shapes based on standard extrusions. These designs are sturdy however, it fails on the aesthetic value and sometimes it creates noise.

Nowadays, companies focus on aerodynamics and reduction of the noises created by the wind in the design of roof racks. Usually, the products are made of aluminum materials which will look modern, corrosion and rust resistant, and will run quietly at the top of the car.

Benefits of Roof Rack for Automobiles

The roof rack systems have evolved through time, from basic machine shop systems to elegant and stylistic units that are easy to install and very functional. Surely, the innovation will continue in the next years to come.

Roof racks can boost the storage capacity of the vehicle. It can transform the roof into the second trunk without sacrificing the space allocated for the rider inside the automobile. This can make your ride comfortable even if you drive for several hours.

In addition, roof racks can provide a strong platform for your expensive and extreme sports equipment such as mountain bikes, kayaks, boats, and others. Roof racks can also protect your car and prevent scratches from your sports equipment.

One of the best roof racks today is the Yakima JayLow. Let us now discuss the company below:

The Yakima Industries

The Yakima Industries was established in 1979 in Yakima, Washington. The company was originally created to manufacture tools and equipment for kayakers and cyclists and it began as a small shop purchased by Don Banducci and Steve Cole.

In 1984, they built the aerodynamics fairings to all race vehicles during the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. In 2006, the company teamed up with Toyota to sponsor the ‘Official Road Warrior Team’.

Through the years, the company hired experts to create innovative products that have been used in recreational sports and competitions.

Today, they have partnered with several companies to promote their products and services. Such is the National Park Foundation, Toyota, Protect our Winter, The Conservation Alliance, Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition, American Whitewater, Professional Ski Instructors of America, National Ski Patrol, PeopleForBikes, and National Interscholastic Cycling Association.

Meanwhile, Yakima offers a wide range of products nowadays. Apart from the United States, Yakima is now available in Canada. They offer roof rack system for boats, bikes, and kayaks. They also have tents and other accessories for camping, fishing, and surfing.

One of the best-sellers of Yakima Industries is the Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack With Tie-Downs. Let us find out about their features and specifications below:

Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack Features and Specifications

The Yakima JayLow rooftop kayak rack will enable you to travel with confidence and arrive with your kayak still intact in your car.

The Jaylow boat carrier requires minimum maintenance, unlike other brands. It will allow the automobile to carry two boats when placed in vertical position (weighing 110 pounds or less) and one boat in J-cradle position (weighing 80 pounds or less).

This product is already assembled when taken out of the box and it does not require any tool in installation. It can fit Yakima Streamline, square, round, aerodynamic, and factory bars. In addition, you can easily adjust the position of the product with the use of integrated cam lever.

When not in use, you can fold the Yakima JayLow and make it flat. Meanwhile, the minimum crossbar spreads are 24 inches or more.

Furthermore, the product includes 2 heavy-duty straps, 4 bar adaptors, 2 JayLow, and 2 bow-stern tie-down. Finally, the dimension of the Yakima JayLow is 6.69″ x 6″ x 20″ and it weighs about 11 pounds.

Installation of the Yakima JayLow in your Car

To install, the Yakima JayLow, first, open the red lever and lift up on the padded arm then lock the arm in place by closing the red lever.

For Yakima ram bars, place the round bar adaptors on the bars before loosening the mounts and place the cradles on top of the adaptors

For other bar shapes, simply place the cradles onto your crossbars and tighten it, making sure that the knobs are in a horizontal position.

To lock, you can get the SKS Same Key System. It is a set of lock for all your Yakima gear and you’ll only need one key for everything.

Now that the cradle is installed, feed the heavy-duty straps through the arms. It is easier to do this with the arm and the shut position.

Once you feed the straps through, extend the arms in their full-open position and lock. Now you’re ready to load.

Loading the Kayaks on the Rooftop Rack

The JayLow features integrated ramps and a soft base that makes it easy to load and cushions your boat to make it and your vehicles scratch-free.

Slide your boat up the ramps and into the cradle. Pass the straps over the boat, underneath the cross bars, and up through the inside of the tower. Now feed the loose end to the buckle and tighten it. Take the excess strap and wrap it up out of the way. Repeat this process on the other cradle.

For extra stability and security on the road, always use the bow-stern tie-down straps. Loop the small strap through your boat, then feed the loose end of the long strap through the buckle. Take the loop end of the strap and feed the middle hook through, attaching it to the middle mounting point underneath your bumper. Straps like this protect your vehicle finish.

Tighten the strap and fold away the excess. Repeat the process for the bow. Now you’re ready to head out to the water.

Steps on Loading Two Kayaks on Rooftop Rack

Even if you got two kayaks, the JayLow can handle both. To configure the JayLow as a stacker, adjust the arm, spread it in a vertical position and lock. Load the first boat as before and load your second boat on the other side of the vehicle vertically against the opposite side of the JayLow arms. Strap both boats down using the same process you have.

When not in use, you can fold the arms down to give your car some aerodynamic on the road. The rack can carry sea and wet water kayaks and many types of recreational boats.

Pros of using the Yakima JayLow 

There are various advantages of using the Yakima JayLow Folding J-Cradle Rooftop Kayak Rack.

First, it is compatible with a wide range of vehicles. It is compatible with Sedan, SUV, Convertible, and others.

Second, it can be installed in only 10 minutes without any tools required. The parts are pre-installed as you buy it from the company.

In addition, it functions as vertical or J-style. The J-Style rack is the standard one and it is an excellent choice for getting your kayak from one point to another. It is easier for taller paddlers and great for small cars, as the kayak is tilted vertically to save the space on the roof.

Lastly, it can carry two kayaks or any recreational boats. It can protect your cars from scratches and make sure that your kayaks are safe as you travel on the road.

Cons of using the Yakima JayLow 

There are also cons of using the Yakima JayLow. One major drawback of the Yakima JayLow could be the price. There are some customers who complaints with the price of the rack, for other brands sell $100-$150 for the racks.

Second, some people complain about the rack whining due to strong winds when folded flat and not in use. Some customers need to take it down when not in use, which could cause another hassle.

How to Choose the Right Roof Rack for Kayak

Ideally, kayaks should be stored close to the shore, river, or lake. Better yet, we want to live close to the water and avoid driving for long hours.

But in reality, the majority of us lives far from the water and need to drive for hours to go kayaking. Our cars have a critical part to play in owning a kayak.

If you wishing to get into water sports, keep this tips in mind, as buying the right type of rooftop kayak rack could save your time, effort, money, and damage to your car.

First, choose which car will bring your kayaks most of the time. Check if how many kayaks can it carry and if it has space for paddles and other kayaking gear. Check the condition and space of your roof too.

Second, determine how convenient it will be to load or unload your kayak. Consider if you can get to the roof without using the ladder. Once you have figured these things, you can start buying rooftop kayak racks, such as the Yakima JayLow.


In sum, the Yakima JayLow is a good rooftop kayak rack for any adventurers. It is the product of years of innovation of Yakima Industries. Its features are one-of-a-kind thus it has been receiving good feedbacks from its customers.

In addition, the Yakima JayLow has more advantages than disadvantages, because the company has made sure that the customers will receive it in its best quality.

Overall, this is a recommended product for adventurers. You can check it on its official website and install it on your automobile now!

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