If you’re part of a ski-happy family, chances are you’ve already bought the car of your dreams complete with AWD, loads of torque, plenty of cargo and a decent set of cross bars. The only thing that’s left is the rack you’re going to bolt onto the roof for trips to the mountains, but which one are you going to get? What goes into choosing a roof rack for skis?
As with anything else, if you want to do something correctly, copy the professionals. The higher-rated, more expensive racks are centered around convenience, security, and ergonomics (meaning it fits your vehicle). Universal racks are fine to consider, but before you buy one make sure it fits properly. Do some research and try to find other people who have used the rack you’re considering on your car. If it doesn’t fit properly, you’ll need to do some light modification and then it won’t be nearly as secure as one that already fits.
The convenience factor is something else that’s almost as important as the ergonomics. Thule’s SnowPack roof mounted ski/snowboard carrier has a lot of features that help with this, for instance a giant button that unlocks the skis. Let’s say you’ve spent all day, or, four hours driving through blizzards and snow-covered ditches getting to a ski resort. The last thing you’ll want to deal with is a fickle ski rack that won’t give you what you want. Thule also thought of a proper ski rack height, where skis that have larger characteristics like tall bindings can still easily fit.
Another reason you might pay $400 for a ski rack is because of its efforts to not scratch your car’s paint off. Quality roof racks will have lots of height settings that will make ensure the rack will not allow the skis to be scratched or damage your roof.
All of these features are things to consider when buying a roof rack for skis and snowboards, so while you’re shopping around keep an eye out for them.
If your car’s manufacturer makes ski racks specific to your model car, don’t necessarily go for those. Various owners have reported problems with OEM quality and pricing. Some OEM racks apparently don’t lock onto the roof’s cross bars, so be sure to pay attention to that. If the rack doesn’t lock, someone can easily come by and steal your gear.
Most of the models you can buy cost as near as makes no difference as $100, but for the higher rated name-brand racks you’ll have to loosen the purse strings a little, and shell out closer to $3-400. You’ll find cheaper ones, but they probably won’t be of as good quality, and when you’re driving a couple pairs of $500 skis you probably don’t want them flying out of a broken rack into someone else’s windshield.
This is the rack we recommended earlier. Certainly it falls more on the pricey side of things, however it provides everything we’re looking for in a ski rack. It’s secure, protects your skis, and is ergonomic. In fact Thule advertises the SnowPack as aerodynamic and low-profile, based on its subdued design.
This is a slightly cheaper option, but it does most if not all of the same things as the Thule. Its locking mechanism is easily opened for convenience’s sake and its rubber grips will protect your equipment from damage. If you order one of these be sure to pick the size appropriate for how much equipment you intend to use it for. A lot of customer complaints are size-related, when in fact there are multiple size options.
The most expensive rack on our list, but also according to customer reviews the best rack, is the Whispbar. Not only is it seen fitted to multiple different cars, but it’s been reported as quiet and secure. They also have an interesting release feature. It can get up to more than $500, but it does come with a lifetime warranty as well.
Another Thule has made the list, although this one takes a bit of a price cut. Like the other Thule, it’s got the rubber grips and comes with a locking mechanism. The major difference between this rack and the other is that with the Universal Pull Top, you can slide the skis closer to you while still having them secured to the rack. This rack aims for extra convenience.
These are just four examples of racks that reach our criteria of being secure, convenient and ergonomic. Each one is of top quality with tight security and high convenience factors. Whichever rack you get just be sure to do some research and find examples of it fitting on your specific car without hassle.
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