Best Ski Racks: Safely Transport Your Winter Sports Gear
These top ski racks allow you to safely store your skis and are easy to install
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BY Ashutosh Bhosale / LAST UPDATED ON October 10, 2019
Winter is coming, and you may be thinking about planning a ski trip. But what’s the best way to secure your skis or snowboard to your vehicle? Trying to arrange everything in the back of the vehicle can be challenging and time consuming. Skip the hassle by investing in one of these best-rated rooftop ski racks to carry your gear safely.
This dedicated ski and snowboard rooftop mount can carry up to six skis or four snowboards and has soft as well as hard cushions to hold gear of different thicknesses
- Has an anti-theft locking system
- Universal memory mount fixes onto aero, square, and round crossbars
- Can be opened from both sides of the car
- Has a potentially fragile locking mechanism
- Requires a base rack, which costs extra to purchase
This rooftop mount can carry up to five pairs of skis or two snowboards and also serves as a multipurpose rack for carrying other gear like kayaks, boards, ladders, etc.
- Does not require a base rack system
- Creates an instant, removable rooftop rack for any vehicle—just loop it through the door frames and buckle it
- No anti-theft locking system
- If it rains, the nylon straps get soaked and may drip water in your car
This dedicated ski and snowboard rooftop mount can carry up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards and has a sleek, aerodynamic design with a mirror finish that does not spoil the look of your car.
- Has anti-theft SKS (Same Key System) locks
- Features a large button to open the rack for easy access to your skis even with gloves or mittens on
- Requires a base rack system on the vehicle, which costs extra
- Mounts can be hard to close when storing more than three pairs of skis
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Benefits of Ski Racks
- Free up space. Ski racks create more space in your car that can be used for storing or transporting other items. You can easily access the skis without entering your car, which is also convenient.
- Protect your car. A ski rack protects your car from scratches when the skis shift or move around. It also keeps mud, snow, and other elements outside the car.
- Affordable. Ski racks are available in a range of prices, and many are cheaper than cargo boxes, which serve the same purpose. They allow you to carry your skis wherever you go. When you carry your own skis, you don't have to rent skis for use.
Types of Ski Racks
These are versatile and popular with people going on vacation or camping because they don’t take up space. You can use them on multiple vehicles, and they’re large enough to hold several items. Cargo boxes protect your skis from mud and road salt, keeping them clean. Since they’re lockable, they ensure your skis and luggage are safe. However, they make a car use more gas, produce more noise, and also create more air resistance, especially at high speeds.
Roof Bar Racks
These are easy to install, which is why they’re popular with skiers. They can accommodate skis of different sizes, as well as bicycles, snowboards, and kayaks. They’re affordable and can be locked to prevent theft. Roof bar racks have two load bars that are installed on the roofs of cars. Some vehicles have factory-installed roof racks, while other racks are bought separately.
Hitch Ski Racks
These ski racks provide a great way to carry your skis upright on the back of your car. They’re versatile and easy to mount and dismount. To mount them, you need to install a hitch receiver first. Hitches are usually categorized according to their weight capacity—class II and III hitches are the most common. However, they decrease your visibility through the back window, and your skis get dirty faster.
Established in 1942 by Erik Thulin in Hillerstorp, Sweden, Thule launched its first roof racks in 1962. The company believes in sustainability and responsibly manufactures high-quality, innovative products with the least possible impact on the environment. Its products motivate people to pursue an active life outdoors. The Thule Test Center ensures every product is tested for quality and passes 25 Thule test standards. Try the Thule SnowPack Extender Ski/Snowboard Rack. It’s stylish, easy to use, and ideal for skiing enthusiasts.
Yakima began as a small machine shop in Yakima, Wash. Don Banducci and Steve Cole—avid cyclists and kayakers—acquired the company in 1979. In 1984, Yakima built aerodynamic fairings for all the race vehicles at the Summer Olympics. Yakima designs every product to be unique, and each has excellent safety features. If you’re in the market for a ski rack, consider the Yakima FatCat EVO Rooftop Ski and SnowBoard Mount. It’s universal, lockable, and doesn’t need any tools for installation.
This Australian company was founded by Rich Cropley in 1992. That same year, it sold its first ski racks. By 1998, Rhino-Rack had become an international brand with operations in more than 60 countries. The company only grew more innovative with time and launched the Pioneer platform rack range in 2010. In 2020, the product received a Gold Accolade during the International Good Design Awards. Get yourself one of Rhino-Rack’s best-selling products, the Rhino-Rack Ski Carrier, and make your skiing experiences memorable.
Ski Rack Pricing
- $100-$200: Many of the ski racks here can carry two snowboards or four pairs of skis. Some have a tool-free mounting design for easy installation and locks for added security.
- $200-$300: Products in this range are usually easy to mount and dismount. They can typically hold six pairs of skis and up to four snowboards. They have a universal mounting system.
- $300 and up: These commonly have great aerodynamics and are usually made from aluminum for durability. A majority are designed for specific vehicles.
Generally, the greater the capacity of a ski rack, the better. A rack with a larger capacity can accommodate more skis, and no one has to sit with them. But avoid the temptation to get a ski rack that’s too big. It will cost you more, and you may end up with a lot of unused space. To buy the right ski rack, know how many skis you’ll be transporting and make a slight allowance for extras. Smaller models can carry two pairs of skis, while larger models can hold up to six pairs.
Hitch racks and other ski racks installed on the rear doors of vehicles don’t affect their fuel efficiency. However, a roof rack significantly affects your car’s fuel efficiency, especially when you drive long distances. It increases the air resistance, so your car uses more energy to move at high speeds. Avoid large and bulky ski racks, as they considerably increase the air resistance. Fuel efficiency is also affected by the gear a ski rack carries and by its design. An aerodynamic design is best because it minimizes fuel waste.
To ensure you get good value for your money, get a multipurpose ski rack. You can use it throughout the year and not just during the winter skiing season. It should also have an understated design so you don’t have to worry about removing it. A multipurpose rack can transport other outdoor gear such as surfboards, kayaks, paddles, and fishing poles.
- Ease of Installation and Use. Don’t get a ski rack that’s difficult to install or use. It shouldn’t be bulky or require accessories that you have to use every time you transport your skis. If you use the rack only during the skiing season, it should be easy to mount and dismount. You should also be able to use it when wearing gloves so you don’t get exposed to chilly weather.
- Vehicle Compatibility. Most ski racks are designed to fit any vehicle, but some are only meant for specific vehicles. It’s important to ensure you get the right roof rack because each vehicle has a different set of crossbars. Vehicle crossbars come in three types: round, square, and aerodynamic. Aerodynamic bars are the quietest and most expensive, square bars are the cheapest but make the most noise, and round bars produce minimal noise and are fairly priced.
- Your Budget. Ski racks vary in price, so you can get one at any budget. There are some excellent ski racks that don’t cost a pretty penny, but you’ll only find them if you do a little research. Alternatively, you can set up email alerts to get notified when your favorite manufacturer has a sale. The best ski racks are usually made of aluminum.
Best Ski Racks Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- It is better to buy a rooftop rack instead of a rooftop cargo box. Keeping skis in a cargo box carries the risk of them moving around and creating a lot of noise or breaking something else in the cargo box.
- Make sure the rack you’re buying is compatible with your car or base rack. For example, many hitch-mounted ski racks are not an all-in-one solution and require you to have a hitch-mounted bike rack as a base rack.
- The best way to load skis on a rooftop rack is by pairing them together and placing them tips backward. This reduces any damage to the skis due to wind impact.
Q: What is the difference between a roof rail and roof bars/racks?
Roof rails are the factory-fitted rails that run from the front to rear on both sides of the roof. They cannot be used as roof racks on their own. Roof racks are a set of bars that are often mounted on the roof rails or on factory-fitted fixpoints. These serve as the base rack for mounting your dedicated ski rack.
Q: How much weight can I carry with multipurpose racks?
You should not exceed the maximum load provided in the mounting instructions. You must also consider the maximum roof load provided by the car manufacturer and follow the lower limit between the two.
Q: Do rooftop ski racks make a lot of noise?
Rooftop ski racks are generally not noisy. However, if you happen to hear a whistling sound, it can be stopped by moving the front bar slightly forward or backward.
Our top pick is the INNO Gravity Universal Mount Ski/Snowboard Rack since it is made for the specific purpose of carrying skis and snowboards and has an anti-theft locking system.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Yakima EasyTop Loader Multipurpose Roof Rack.