Best Ski and Snowboard Racks of 2023 | Switchback Travel

If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, a functional roof rack can be worth its weight in turns in powder snow. These stylish pieces of gear accommodate up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards, feature glove-friendly handles and secure locks, and installation is (usually) fairly easy on any vehicle with pre-existing crossbars. Our list below offers a complete look at the market for winter 2023, from high-end models to budget-friendly designs, including the popular SUVs you’ll see in most resort parking lots. For more details, check out our comparison chart and buying tips below the picks.

our team’s ski/snowboard rack picks

  • Best Overall Ski/Snowboard Rack: Küat Switch 6
  • best high-end ski/snowboard rack: küat grip 6
  • the most affordable ski/snowboard rack: rhino-rack 27″ rack
  • best overall ski/snowboard rack

    1. change for küat 6 ($249)

    Kuat Racks Switch 6 ski snowboard rackCapacity: 6 skis/4 snowboardsLocks: RackT-slot compatible: YesWhat we like: Great build quality for less than the competition; folds down when not in use.What we don’t: Tall profile and doesn’t lock to crossbars.

    Reading: Car ski rack reviews

    Widely known for its selection of premium bike racks, küat recently entered the world of snowsports with the grip (below) and switch here. It’s rare to see a ski rack article headlined by a name other than Yakima or Thule, but we’re die-hard fans of the Switch for a number of reasons. At just $249, the Switch is simple yet elegant, with high-end materials that offer a much better user experience than popular models like the Thule Snowpack ($330) or Yakima Fatcat ($349). Installation was straightforward, taking us a total of 12 minutes from start to finish (we didn’t even open the instruction manual), and the rack is easy to operate with large, glove-friendly handles and sturdy yet smooth-operating locks. And unlike any other model here, the switch flips to lie flat when not in use, which looks great and is a saving grace for aerodynamics and wind noise.

    The Switch 6’s tall, collapsible profile is one of its most defining features, and both a blessing and a curse. it sits much higher off the cross bars than most racks (the sleek handle below measures 4½ inches from the brackets to the top, while the switch measures 6 inches), giving it a rather gangly appearance. however, we haven’t experienced any additional road noise as a result, and the extra height is great news for snowboarders or vehicles with low cross members (there’s more than ample room between the küat and our roof to accommodate a inverted table). Plus, the ability to fold the Switch up when not in use is a huge benefit – when folded down, it has a sleeker profile than any rack here. we wish küat had designed the switch to lock onto the crossbars; You only need an allen key to remove it, which makes it a bit vulnerable to theft. But complaints aside, the Switch 6 (which also comes in a four-ski version) is a true standout value, making it our favorite overall design of the year. see küat switch 6 see küat switch 4

    the best high-end ski/snowboard rack

    2. küat 6 grip ($498)

    Kuat Grip 6 Ski Snowboard RackCapacity: 6 skis/4 snowboardsLocks: Rack and crossbarsT-slot compatible: YesWhat we like: Industry leading design, with high-end materials, sleek look, and an innovative feature set.What we don’t: Expensive and overkill for most.

    With a strong emphasis on utility over style, ski racks have never been the most exciting outdoor gear, until the küat grip, that is. Building on the success of Kuat’s popular NV 2.0 rack, the Grip breathes new life into the ski rack category with high-end materials, a sleek, low-profile design, and innovative features. You simply won’t find a more durable, heavy-duty rack: The mostly metal handle opens and closes easily with heavy-duty, glove-friendly clamps (that won’t freeze like other designs), incorporates two separate locks that secure both the rack (to the crossbars) and your skis, and uses tough, serrated rubber that molds to the individual shape of each ski or board. And uniquely, the küat also features an extender bar, which allows you to slide the bottom of the rack toward you, making it easy to load and unload.

    The grip dominates the ski rack market in terms of features and quality, but it’s hard to ignore the $500 price tag. We understand the appeal of high-end build quality and fun features, but you’ll want to remind yourself: This is just a ski rack. in the end, all the other deals here get your ski gear up the mountain, too, and some do for half the cost (or less). If you like the idea of ​​the extender bar (we do), the Snow Extender ($430) below is also worth a look. But the Grip is truly one of a kind in terms of functionality, durability, and aesthetics, and is well worth the investment for those looking for the best ski rack money can buy. finally, küat also offers a direct mount kit for t-slot rails ($35); and if you want to save a little money, the grip 4 is a bit cheaper at $429 and holds up to four skis or two snowboards. see küat grip 6 see küat grip 4

    the most economical ski/snowboard rack

    3. rhino-rack 27″ ski and snowboard rack ($188)

    Rhino-Rack ski and snowboard carrier 27 inchCapacity: 6 skis/4 snowboardsLocks: RackT-slot compatible: YesWhat we like: A decent ski rack for significantly less than most.What we don’t: Many plastic parts and fairly involved installation.

    You can spend upwards of $400 on a ski rack, but Australian-based rhino-rack offers several useful inexpensive solutions. For $188, its 27-inch design (model #576) features universal mounts that mount to most crossbar styles, accommodates up to six skis or four snowboards, and secures your gear with an integrated lock. You can also buy a riser (also known as a spacer) separately, which raises the height of the roof rack to create clearance between the roof and bulky bindings. In other words, you get all the essential features for hauling your skis to and from the mountain, along with an affordable price. Notably, the Rhino-Rack also comes in 10-, 13-, and 20-inch lengths, which are great options for solo skiers, smaller vehicles, and when you want to free up space on your rooftop for other toys and accessories.

    It should come as no surprise that the rhino-rack lacks the high-end finishes and refined features of the more expensive models that came before it. Get ready for a more complicated installation, which includes putting various nuts, bolts, and screws in place, and a few more plastic parts. And with less defined handles, the rack is prone to freezing and can be difficult to open with cold hands. Finally, since external bolts connect the brackets to the vehicle’s cross bars, the Rhino-Rack is an easy rack to slide into, though it uses tamper-proof 5mm allen heads, which require a very specific wrench to fit. All told, the user experience is pretty much on par with other entry-level models here, despite checking in at almost $100 less (the budget-oriented Yakima Freshtrack 6 is $299). and rhino-rack also offers master key cores, so you can use one key to open all your rhino-rack gear. view the rhino-rack ski and snowboard rack

    the best of the rest

    4. Yakima Fatcat Evo 6 ($349)

    Yakima FatCat EVO 6 ski snowboard rackCapacity: 6 skis/4 snowboardsLocks: Rack (locks to crossbars)T-slot compatible: YesWhat we like: Sleek, aerodynamic profile and versatile mounting options.What we don’t: Lacks the high quality materials and finishes of the Küats above.

    Yakima’s most premium design, the Fatcat Evo features a sleek, aerodynamic profile that keeps road noise low and style points high. At 40.5 inches wide, the “6” we tested is legitimately large (it easily fits three pairs of skis and two snowboards), and it turned out to be a perfect fit on our wagon’s narrow-width bars. To help, Yakima added an extra mounting point closer to the middle, ideal for narrower roofs or if you want to skew your rack to the side for easier gear access. once installed, the fatcat’s large glove-friendly clamps are easy to operate and close with a nice click, yakima’s sks lock and key (same key system) secures your skis and snowboards, and a function The integrated ski lift raises the rack, offering more clearance for bulky bindings. Lastly, the fatcat’s mount attachment points are hidden inside the ski rack, so locking the skis means you’re also securing the ski rack to the cross members.

    but despite the fatcat’s premium intentions, the design is pretty mediocre in most ways, falling short of the higher quality küats that came before it. Installation took us a long time, the clamps and locks are prone to freezing, and the frame is mostly plastic, including the brackets and latch. And while it’s a small complaint, the logo on our decal started peeling off almost immediately, which is disappointing for a $349 kit. Finally, even though the Fatcat is specifically designed to be low profile, it’s still taller than the previous grip (by ¾ inch). But if you’re stuck between Yakima and Thule, the Fatcat’s streamlined shape is a nice contrast to the vertical snowpack, and most will find it easier to decipher Yakima’s instruction manual (which, unlike Thule’s, actually includes words). Finally, the FatCat is also compatible with T-slot crossbars with an adapter kit (sold separately), offering an even sleeker aesthetic. see the yakima fatcat evo 6 see the yakima fatcat evo 4

    5. thule snowpack extender ($430)

    Thule SnowPack Extender ski snowboard rackCapacity: 6 skis/4 snowboardsLocks: Rack and crossbarsT-slot compatible: YesWhat we like: Extender bar slides the rack toward you, great for loading and unloading.What we don’t: Difficult-to-decipher instructions; Thule’s keys are flimsy.

    building on the success of their popular snowpack (below), thule’s snowpack extender connects to a slider that allows you to pull the entire rack towards you for easy loading and unloading. This is a feature we only see on one other roof rack (the previous Küat grip) and it adds a lot of convenience, especially for those with taller vehicles or shorter spans. Like the handle, the Snowpack Extender also features two locks for each rack, one to secure the rack to the crossbars and one to lock the rack onto the skis, which is a nice added guarantee. Add in tool-free installation, secure-feeling clamps, and a variety of mounting options (including the ability to add risers to better accommodate bulky fixings), and you’ve got yourself a premium rack from one of the biggest names in overhead storage.

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    However, we do have some complaints with Thule racks in general. First of all, the installation instructions are poorly designed and hard to decipher, with multiple mounting systems represented and no words to accompany the diagrams. Second, Thule’s lock and key system is our least favorite here: the key is constructed of flimsy metal, and the lock is far from working smoothly, a combination that results in its fair share of broken keys. And finally, unlike the large metal handles on the hilt, Thule’s plastic handles tend to freeze in harsh conditions. But if you can nail down the installation and are careful with your lock and key, the Snow Extender is a fully serviceable rack, with a little added convenience, that gets the job done for many. check out the thule snow extender

    6. classic thule ($200)

    Thule Classic ski snowboard rackCapacity: 6 skis/4 snowboardsLocks: RackT-slot compatible: NoWhat we like: A very affordable rack from a trusted brand.What we don’t: Not as theft proof as the Rhino-Rack above.

    The rhino-rack above gets our top budget pick for its great feature set at a low price, but we don’t blame you if you’d rather stick with a trusted name like Thule. For just a few more Washingtons, the Thule Classic combines basic design with Thule’s trusted build quality and history. You won’t find glove-friendly metal clamps, aerodynamic shaping, or tool-less installation here, but what you do get is an affordable rack that will get your skis and snowboards to the slopes. And it doesn’t hurt that, as of this writing, the classic (aka the “universal”) is on sale on amazon for $169.

    We rank the Thule Classic below the Rhino-Rack for several reasons. While both racks aren’t particularly burglar-proof, the Rhino rack does at least go as far as using tamper-proof Allen heads on the mounting hardware. secondly, we have heard from users that the capacity of the classic is limited to four skis and two snowboards; keep in mind that this will depend on the width of your rig, while the rhino-rack’s 27-inch width is more comfortable. In the end, either model will do the job for those in the market for a no-frills, affordable rack. Within this category, it’s also worth checking out Yakima’s now-discontinued Powderhound 6, which adds some premium features and is still available via Amazon for $188 (at press time). watch the Thule classic

    7. yakima freshtrack 6 ($299)

    Yakima Freshtrack 6 ski and snowboard rackCapacity: 6 skis/4 snowboardsLocks: RackT-slot compatible: NoWhat we like: Less pricey than the FatCat above with many of the same features.What we don’t: Tall, non-aerodynamic profile; does not lock to crossbars.

    The fatcat evo above is yakima’s premium aero design, but you can save a lot of money with the freshtrack here. For $299 for the “6” ($50 less than the FatCat), you get a very similar feature set, including tool-less installation, Yakima’s SKS locks, and large, glove-friendly clamps. The FreshTrack also includes Yakima’s Chairlift Accessories, which you can add to create more space between the rack and the roof (great for storing two snowboards from base to base).

    but there are some notable drawbacks to freshtrack’s design. Firstly, it doesn’t lock onto the roof rack or hide fixing points inside the roof rack, which means theft is as easy as turning a key. Second, the FreshTrack isn’t set up for T-slot mounting, which is a nice, fancy method that eliminates the bulk of mounting (this adaptability is offered by models like the FatCat and Snow Extender above). And lastly, the Cool Track is one of the less aerodynamic options here: it measures 7¼ inches from mount to top, which is almost three inches taller than the grip above (and more than an inch taller than the already bulky switch). in most cases, we’ll stick with the older, higher-quality, more comprehensive options, but the new track will do the job anyway. view yakima freshtrack 6 view yakima freshtrack 4

    8. thule snowpack m ($330)

    Thule SnowPack M ski snowboard rack (closed)Capacity: 4 skis/2 snowboardsLocks: Rack and crossbarsT-slot compatible: YesWhat we like: Multiple mounting options and secure, theft-resistant design.What we don’t: Felt decidedly cheap when tested back to back with the Küat Switch above.

    Last but not least is the snowpack m, Thule’s most affordable offering and one of the most ubiquitous racks on the ski slopes. For $100 less than the previous Snowshroud Extender, the Snowshroud is a very similar design that features a smaller footprint (it also comes in an “L” version) and forgoes the slider. It also cuts about 1.5 inches off the height of the extender, which is good for aerodynamics and road noise. but the rest of the rack is almost identical, with multiple mounting options (including compatibility with t-slots and universal clamps that work with most styles of crossbars), three hinge points to secure boards and skis of all sizes. , and a support suitable for gloves. clamp that closes with a nice reassuring click.

    we tested the thule snowpack m together with the küat switch 6 and the differences between the two racks were obvious. the küat sits much higher than crossbars, which is great for accommodating upside-down snowboards (you can raise the Thule a little over an inch with the included risers, but only if you’re installing it on a bar with a center channel). Plus, despite the snow blanket’s tool-less installation, mounting the switch was noticeably easier. And finally, the Snowpack’s keys feel cheap and their locks have a history of icing, far from the premium, rugged nature of the switch’s design. but on the plus side, the snowcap locks onto the crossbars regardless of mounting method (the switch doesn’t), which will be an important feature for some. view thule m snow pack view thule l snow pack

    9. Weightless ($180)

    INNO Gravity ski snowboard rackCapacity: 3 skis/2 snowboardsLocks: Rack (locks to crossbars)T-slot compatible: NoWhat we like: A half-length option for individuals, couples, or competitive rooftop real estate.What we don’t: Not particularly high quality; won’t fit two snowboards on all crossbars.

    inno offers a wide selection of vehicle accessories for everything from bikes to fishing gear, and gravity is your ski and snowboard rack. Measuring just over 14 inches in usable space, the Gravity is the smallest design here, accommodating up to three fat skis or two snowboards. The price is on the smaller side, too: At just $180, the Inno is cheaper than our previous budget pick and is a great deal for couples or solo skiers/riders who don’t anticipate needing more storage space. Not only that, but mid-size racks can also be a useful solution if you have limited space on your rooftop (for example, if you’re also carrying a kayak or bikes, or have a small tent on the roof). roof as the foot of the Thule hill).

    Since the Thule, Yakima and Kuat frames are all full length, the Inno is a nice minimalist option to have on your radar. rhino-racks also offers some in its 10-inch and 13-inch models, which are $143 and $166, respectively. Keep in mind that you sacrifice some quality with all of these budget models: the Inno in particular is a challenge to install, and many users report problems with stuck locks. Also, snowboarders will want to be careful: if you’re bringing two boards, they’ll need to be laid bottom to bottom, which means you’ll need crossbars high enough to allow clearance between the roof and the bindings on top. downboard (inno makes a gravity rack with risers, also compatible with t-slot crossbars, but not available in the us). But for the right user, the Gravity is a functional roof rack that will cost you significantly less than most alternatives. see the inno gravity

    ski/snowboard rack comparison table

    ski/snowboard rack buying tips

    • ski/snowboard rack capacity
    • ski/snowboard rack dimensions
    • ski/snowboard rack features
      • opening/closing mechanisms
      • blockages
      • rubber pads
      • extender bars
      • will my snowboard fit upside down?
      • roof rack compatibility
      • rack installation
      • materials and build quality
      • weight
      • wind noise and aerodynamics
      • hitch-mounted racks
      • roof racks vs. cargo boxes
      • ski/snowboard rack capacity

        The racks on our list range in capacity from two skis or one snowboard to six skis or four snowboards. the most common sizes carry four to six skis (or two to four snowboards), which will suit the needs of most families or small groups. however, it is important to note that these specifications are general guidelines and do not apply in all situations. For example, the Thule snowpack (size M) we tested (which claims to fit four skis or two snowboards) sat so low on the cross members of our Subaru Impreza that a snowboard couldn’t fit in the upside-down position, and our two boards were too wide to fit side by side (snowpack maxes out at 19.6 inches). so before settling on a rack, be sure to consider the width of your gear (thick powder skis or extra-wide snowboards may require a larger rack), the height of your pre-existing crossbars, and the number of maximum amount of equipment you could carry. you want to take.

        ski/snowboard rack dimensions

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        The listed capacity of a rack provides a good idea of ​​how many skis and snowboards it can accommodate, but you can learn a lot more by looking at the specific dimensions. Manufacturers typically provide a length, width, and height measurement for their racks, with height and length being the most important specifications for most users. the height of a rack alludes to its aerodynamics, as well as hinting at how much headroom it provides above the roof (needed for bulky snowboard bindings, more on that below). On the other hand, the length specification is useful in determining how much gear the roof rack can fit, as well as whether or not it will extend over the sides of your vehicle’s roof. You’ll want to be careful when interpreting this dimension: sometimes it’s a measure of internal (usable) length; in other cases, it specifies the total length. finally, some manufacturers provide a measurement for the space between the rack brackets, which is important for users with smaller vehicles (for example, a 6-ski rack was very tight on the rear cross member of our wagon).

        Some manufacturers make it easier than others to dig into the dimensions of a rack. Kuat’s Fit Guide uses simple diagrams to clearly lay out the switch and grip length, height, and width between mounts. Thule offers dimensions for its snow racks, including external length and load width (usable length). And while Yakima only provides external dimensions for its racks, it specifies that its FatCat 6 can fit six pairs of skis up to 136mm at the tip (the FreshTrack 6, on the other hand, fits six pairs up to 120mm wide). In the end, if you think you’re going to maximize your rack or ceiling, or want to get a better idea of ​​a rack’s aerodynamics, it might be a good idea to take a closer look at the dimensions.

        characteristics of the ski/snowboard rack

        open/close mechanisms all of the ski and snowboard racks listed above are hinged on one end and open/close mechanisms on the other. Since they are specifically designed for winter use, these latches are generally large and easy to operate with gloves or mittens. Most of the time, a shelf won’t lock unless it’s closed properly (you’ll want to hear an audible click), which offers a good level of assurance that your equipment is secure. More importantly, we’ve noticed that some of the more basic designs tend to freeze up, while the premium models, like the Küat Grip, have large, easy-to-grip handles that are specifically designed to prevent ice buildup.

        locks locks are an important feature on a ski/snowboard rack, so much so that we see them on all the models listed above. these are integrated into the opening/closing mechanism (as in the case of the yakima fatcat evo) or placed to the side, as we see in the küat grip. It’s important to note that we see a lot of variation in the quality of locks and keys: küat designs work smoothly and are durable, while Thule locks are tricky to turn (it doesn’t take much research to find complaints about breaks, too).

        In addition to the padlocks on the opening/closing mechanism, many modern racks (such as the küat grip and the Thule snowpack) also feature padlocks that secure the rack to the cross member. This ensures that your roof rack is not easily stolen from the roof of your vehicle, with or without your skis attached. Also, some racks achieve a similar effect by hiding the mount adjustments inside the rack, which means you’ll have to unlock the rack and remove the skis and rubber pad to remove the entire setup from the vehicle. Since this will be a very important feature for many, we have noted the locks included in each of the above articles.

        Finally, if you’ve outfitted your vehicles with a variety of roof racks and cargo boxes, you probably have a bunch of little keys lying around. Many brands including Kuat, Thule and Yakima let you keep it simple with replacement lock core assemblies that open with a universal key. For example, you can buy a pack of four keyed-same system (SKS) lock cores ($70) and insert them into all of your Yakima products. With this setup, there’s no more confusion about which key works with which lock – you have one Yakima key to operate all of your Yakima products. Rubber Pads All of the racks listed above feature a rubber pad on the upper and lower arms, which interlock securely and hold tension on skis and snowboards. In most cases, this is a continuous piece of rubber that conforms to the shape of the items on the shelf and usually offers a nice, firm hold. The küat grip has taken the idea to the next level, with individual rubber teeth that allow for a more precise closure regardless of different shapes and sizes. however, this is far from the grip’s main selling point, and overall we have few complaints regarding the rubber pads on any of the aforementioned racks.

        extender bars extender bars are a relatively new feature that we have started to see make its way into the roof rack market. And for good reason: these bars (seen on the küat grip and Thule snow extender above) slide the rack to the side of the vehicle, allowing you to load and unload without awkwardly slouching on the roof. For high roofed vehicles, shorter people, or just making life easier when loading and unloading a bunch of skis or boards, this is a game changer that we hope to see more companies adopt over time.

        Does my snowboard fit upside down?

        Many of the above bike racks claim to accommodate up to four snowboards, but this can be a hard rule to follow. to fit that many boards, they have to be loaded from base to base; in other words, the first one is loaded upside down and the next one is stacked on top right side up. this can pose a clearance issue on low cross members or if you have particularly bulky bindings (not usually a problem with ski bindings), and is also influenced by the type of rack being used. For example, we couldn’t fit two base snowboards based on the Thule Snow Pack (loaded on our Subaru Impreza), but the taller küat switch accommodated them with ease.

        a taller roof rack and cross bars will go a long way to address this situation, but the good news is that many roof rack manufacturers offer risers to create more clearance between the roof rack and the roof. sometimes these are integrated into the frame, as in the case of the yakima fatcat evo, and sometimes they are an addition you can add during installation (note that thule risers are only compatible with their t-slot crossbars ). Also, generally speaking, the use of universal brackets will raise the frame off the crossbars more than t-slot brackets. If you anticipate free rooftop space to be an issue, these are certainly factors to consider.

        roof rack compatibility

        Before you install your ski/snowboard rack, you’ll need to make sure your vehicle has the proper cross bars. Cross bars come with a vehicle or can be installed after purchase. brands like yakima and thule are great places to start for aftermarket cross bars, and the helpful buyer’s guides on their website will help you get your car fit for the right setup (if your roof doesn’t have side rails to accommodate a standard set of crossbars, check out thule’s evo clamp). There are many different styles of crossbars, including aero, square, and round shapes, and many aftermarket varieties also come with a center channel (Yakima calls them t-slots, while Thule refers to them as t-tracks) for a sleeker look that hides the brackets inside the frame.

        The good news is that once you’ve installed the crossbars, a lot of the work is done. Most modern racks come standard with universal brackets, designed to work with all types of cross bars. Many are also configured to mount to racks with center channels (sometimes you’ll have to buy the hardware separately, like with the Yakima Fatcat). Two other things to consider are crossbar dimensions and crossbar extension. each shelf will specify the size of crossbars it can accommodate (for example, the küat grip maxes out at 4.25 x 2 x 0.5 inches), along with the recommended extension (which will also depend on the length of your racks). skis or snowboards). but in all but the most unusual cases, you can expect your rack to fit onto your crossbars with ease.

        rack installation

        Most modern ski and snowboard racks are fairly easy to install, as long as you have a little mechanical aptitude. most will come unassembled, requiring some assembly before even installation. Each manufacturer includes an assembly instruction manual with helpful photos (in particular, we’ve found Thule’s wordless manual particularly baffling), and watching online videos can also be helpful. In most cases, you don’t need any tools: Yakima’s racks offer tool-less installation, while Küat includes a few allen keys to help with assembly.

        When installing your shelf, you’ll want to consider whether you want to skew it to one side for easier loading and unloading. Some larger racks, like the Kuat Grip 6 and FatCat Evo 6, offer two separate mounting positions to keep them well balanced even when set to the side. it is also worth thinking about which side you want to open your shelf; In many environments it won’t matter, but if you’re loading and unloading on the side of the road (as might be the case with many city dwellers), you’ll probably want to put the open/close mechanism on the passenger side.

        materials and construction quality

        Most ski and snowboard racks feature a combination of lightweight metal, strong plastic, and rubber. Most premium designs are constructed predominantly of metal for durability and a great high-end finish, and include rubber strips on each side that form a secure seal around skis or snowboards. Entry-level racks are typically constructed of heavy-duty plastic, which is great for saving weight and cost and is relatively strong, but it won’t hold up to the rigors of the road or metal models. küat’s grip is almost as premium as it gets in terms of materials, with large metal components and high-quality rubber teeth to keep gear in place.


        The racks on our list range from 6.5lbs to 23lbs. In most cases, weight won’t be too much of a consideration in deciding which rack is right for you, but it’s worth mentioning for a few reasons. Firstly, other things being equal, a heavier frame can indicate higher quality, as designs made predominantly of metal will weigh more than those with a greater amount of plastic. In an era where much gear is purchased online, this can provide a useful clue to guide your selection. second, keep in mind that most vehicle roofs max out at around 165lbs, so the heavier your rack, the less additional gear you can add (although this shouldn’t be much of a concern). with skis and snowboards). and finally, weight plays a small factor in installation, although none of the racks above should be particularly difficult to lift.

        wind noise and aerodynamics

        Regardless of size or design, the rack is likely to create a bit of extra drag while riding (especially when carrying skis or snowboards). And while the exact science on this is hard to calculate (note that a number of factors come into play, including vehicle type, interior load, speed, and external wind conditions), higher resistance often gives resulting in lower fuel consumption and more wind noise there are a few ways to silence this whistle, including DIY solutions and aftermarket purchases: you can wrap a towel (and tape) or bungee around the front bar , swap out the aero crossbars (yakima’s jetstream is a popular choice), or add a fairing (like the thule airscreen xt). Also worth mentioning are luggage racks like the Küat switch, which folds into a more streamlined position when not in use. While these fixes may not completely eliminate wind noise and drag, they will go a long way toward smoothing out airflow, which is well worth it for a quieter drive (and the gas savings could pay off). fruits in the long term).

        hook racks

        Most snow sports enthusiasts will opt for roof-mounted racks, which can carry up to six pairs of skis, are fairly easy to reach in most small to medium-sized vehicles, and still allow access to the trunk or rear hatch. however, if you drive a van or sport utility vehicle with a high roof or already have a hitch-mounted bike rack (for bikes or other storage), a hitch-mounted ski/snowboard rack is worth considering. These racks (like the Thule Streetcar and the Yakima Hitchhiker) are add-on pieces that stick to pre-existing infrastructure: The Hitchhiker, for example, needs to be installed on a mast-style roof rack, while the Streetcar requires a double-arm hitch rack. . and yakima also makes the snow bank, which attaches to their versatile exo hitch system.

        Most hitch racks can accommodate up to six skis or four snowboards, making them a great choice for families or large groups, and also leaving the roof open for other uses (like a tent rooftop or boat storage). But these roof racks have their drawbacks: They make accessing the trunk easier, they can interfere with a vehicle’s backup camera, and they’ll add extra length to your footprint, which comes into play especially when navigating tight spaces around town. They’re also much more expensive with an all-in, considering you’ll need to purchase the hitch bike rack separately. but if you’re seasonally migrating from biking to skiing and back again, they can be a great all-in-one solution for carrying gear.

        roof racks vs. cargo boxes

        If you’re thinking about buying a roof rack for your skis or snowboards, chances are you’ve also considered a roof cargo box. Most rooftop cargo boxes are designed to fit multiple pairs of skis, along with a host of other gear (including wet gloves, ski pants, helmets, and more). Not only do they fit more than one rack, but cargo boxes also protect your skis and snowboards from the elements, which may be worth it for overnight storage or long road trips.

        Many buyers will go with a cargo box for its added benefits, but they come at a cost, both literally and figuratively. Our favorite mid-range model, the Thule Motion XT XL, checks in at $950, which is nearly double the cost of our top-ranked Küat Grip 4 ($429). Second, they can be difficult to install (you’ll probably need two people) and take up a lot of space in the garage when not in use. And lastly, they are typically less aerodynamic than an aero ski rack, leading to more hiss and rooftop road noise. But for a versatile roof rack that’s useful summer, winter, and everything in between, there’s a lot to like about a cargo box. back to our ski/snowboard rack picks back to our ski/snowboard rack comparison chart

        See also: 2018 Audi Q5 Review, Pricing, and Specs

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