Yakima BowDown Boat Rack

We’ve read the reviews across the web for the Yakima BowDown Boat Rack and summarize the results below:

Universal Ranking

PeakScore: N/A (out of 100)
User Rating: 3.8 stars 
Expert Rating: N/A stars

Number of Ratings Reviewed: 84

Pros & Cons

Reasons to buy:

User Reviews

  • Works well for kayak loading and unloading quickly.
  • The built-in loading ramp makes it easy to put the kayaks onto the cradle for easy functionality.
  • Able to keep the boat rack on while not transporting kayaks, since it has a low profile shape.
  • The softness and the padding protects the kayaks from getting scratched.
  • Can be folded relatively flat when not in use for compatibility and ease of use when driving.

Expert Reviews

  • Features a J-Cradle fit, which lays relatively flat during and after use.
  • Reduces the space to load a kayak due to the J-shape construction.
  • The flat fold-down lets you get rid of any clearance issues, like with low tunnels or garage doors.
  • The J-cradle is designed for ease of loading for efficiency.
  • The base of each cradle lets you easily slide the kayak onto the cradles for efficiency.
  • Directly mounts to Yakima Racks round bars and Thule Racks load bars for compatibility.
  • Provides a great way to decrease the space required to load a kayak.
  • Allows two boats to be loaded side by side for added compatibility.

Reasons NOT to buy:

User Reviews

  • The tabs to hold your kayak onto the carrier can slip, causing the boat to become unstable and potentially fall.
  • Since there is so much padding, it makes a lot of noise on the road.
  • Some reports of one of the J locks not being able to properly lock into position, lacking stabilization.
  • Some reports of the plastic T that forms the clamp assembly failing during use.
  • The kayak can catch too much wind during high speeds and raise away from the uprights unless you decide to purchase or use extra straps, limiting the functionality.
  • The clamp system has trouble holding onto the round Yakima bars, limiting the functionality.
  • The grip on round bars does not work very efficiently compared to other options.

Expert Reviews

  • J-cradles require you to load the kayaks at a higher point, so you might only be able to use these with smaller cars.


The Yakima BowDown Boat Rack is an easy-to-load, padded, and quick-to-install option that works on a variety of cars. However, there have been many user reports of a lack of a secure connection with round bars, with the kayaks slipping during use when driving at high speeds. Unfortunately, the lack of stability make this a questionable choice for carrying kayaks.


Note: User and expert rankings were reviewed across the web. Some expert reviews include these: 1, 2.