Best Ski Racks for the 2019-2020 Season
Winter is about to kick in the northern hemisphere, so everyone is preparing their gear for winter sports. However, if you already have the skis and the snowboards, you may still have the problem of transporting them from your home (or storage) to the ski slope.
These items are oddly shaped and they don’t fit comfortably in a regular trunk or on the backseat. However, there are plenty of racks that let you make full use of the outside of your vehicle.
Furthermore, the best ski racks are engineered to fit this type of equipment, which makes the trip safer and a lot more comfortable.
So, if you’re currently looking for the best product for your car, have a look at our reviews, and don’t forget to check ou the buying guide as well!
With a low and aerodynamic profile, the SnowPack ski rack from Thule can hold up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards. Moreover, it can be used for thicker modern skis and has an integrated vertical spring system that reduces the carrier height when unloaded.
The rack’s arms are fitted with ultra-soft rubber that grips the skis securely without scratching the surface. Also, the oversized push button lets you open and close the rack without having to remove your gloves.
Lastly, the rack comes with extension feet that raise the carrier, which comes in handy if the skis have tall bindings.
Overall, the rack is durable, reliable, and easy to mount. Still, it needs to be installed on pre-existing roof rails, so if you don’t have one, you also need to take this under consideration. The good news is that it will fit a wide array of rack systems such as round bars, factory racks, and Thule ones.
- Aerodynamic rooftop rack for all types of skis and snowboards
- Fits up to 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards
- Securely holds thicker skis and snowboards with vertical spring system
- Ultra-soft rubber arms grip without scratching
- Oversized push button to easily open while wearing gloves
If you’re not the kind of skier who likes a lot of company, this ski rack from Rhino may be more up your alley. It is compact and lightweight, and can only carry two pairs of skis. It’s also versatile and can be used to carry other objects such as fishing rods or ski sticks.
The rubber grip and easy release lock system make this rack easy and safe to use, even when you’re wearing gloves. It also comes with universal fitting clams for most crossbar types, but it needs to go on a pre-installed rack.
The entire mechanism locks with a key, so you can leave your precious cargo on the car and go get some hot cocoa.
- CAPACITY - Hold up to 2 pairs of skis or 1 snowboard, and in the summer is a fishing rod holder, wake board holder, or longboard holder. Comes with 1 set of 2 lockable arms with mounting hardware and 4 keys.
- MULTI-PURPOSE - In the winter it can hold up to 2 pairs of skis or up to 1 snowboard. In the spring and summer - easily carry longboard skateboards or fishing rods.
- UNIVERSAL MOUNTING - Universal mounting to most roof racks with easy installation. Suitable for all vehicles.
- EASY RELEASE HARDWARE - Easy release and easy locking for gloved hands. Rubber grip profile to protect skis, snowboards & fishing rods. Master Key compatible.
- HEAVY DUTY - Heavy duty aluminum construction, rust & corrosion resistant. Dimensions: 10" internal / 16" external.
If you don’t have a roof rail system in place and don’t feel like installing one, you may want to consider the Rakapak Inflatable Ski Rack. In fact, it is more of a universal rack, since it can be used to carry a wide array of items, as long as the entire load is less than 180lbs.
The rack fits almost any type of car rooftop and comes in its own carry bag, so you can transport it with ease. Also, the top is soft, so it won’t scratch the paint job or the cargo it carries. And, since it spreads across the entire width of your vehicle’s rooftop, you can carry as many skis and/or snowboards as you can fit in that space.
Lastly, the Rakapak rack comes with a hand pump, and it only takes a few seconds to inflate and deflate.
Like the other roof ski racks we reviewed here, the INNO Gravity design lets you load and unload the gear from both sides as the hinges are placed in the middle. The unique design also helps protect the gear when the rack is full, as it separates the load on the two sides of the roof.
You can carry up to six pairs of skis and four snowboards, and a combination of soft and hard cushions lets you load gear of various thicknesses. Also, the hinges and locking systems are durable and reliable.
Lastly, the rack is easy to install and remove due Memory universal mount technology which remembers the settings you last used. While this system also needs pre-existing roof rails, it will work with most factory crossbars, aero, square, and rounds systems.
- Constructed of durable plastic and rustproof aluminum
- Compatible with most cross bars and thick ski bindings
- Can hold up to 6 skis or 4 snowboards
- Universal Mounting System, fitting to Aero, Square, and most factory crossbars
- Tool-free installation with included hardware
For those of you who don’t feel comfortable installing their winter gear on the roof, this Thule hitch carrier may be more acceptable. In fact, it can be used as both ski and bike rack, which makes it perfect for active outdoors people.
The rack holds up to six pairs of skis and four snowboards securely by gripping the surfaces with an ultra-soft rubber system to prevent scratches. Moreover, it is easy to load and unload due to the oversized push button that lets you handle everything while wearing gloves.
The load is secured due to the two one-key locks that prevent anyone from running away with your gear.
Lastly, the rack needs to be installed on the Thule hanging hitch bike rack.
- Holds skis and snowboards securely with ultra-soft rubber arms that grip without scratching the surfaces
- Requires Thule hanging hitch bike rack for use (not compatible with Thule Helium or Thule Helium Aero).
- Maximize carrying capacity by transporting skis and snowboards upright
- Holds up to 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards on 2" class two receiver racks. Holds up to 4 pairs of skis or 2 snowboards on 1 1/4" receivers and Thule Spare Tire carrier
- 2 One-key locks included to lock the skis and snowboards to the rack
Types of Ski Racks
Before we go on with the buying guide, you should know a bit more about the different types of ski racks that are available on the market. This information will help you make an informed decision whenever you are in doubt or don’t know which product works best for your needs.
The first four products we reviewed for this article are all roof racks because they must be installed on the roof of your vehicle. However, they can’t be installed on their own as you need a crossbar, tower, or siderail to attach the mounting clamps of the rack. If your car doesn’t have one, you need to solve this problem first and then think about a ski roof rack.
The good news is that these types of products are versatile and can stay on for a long period of time without hindering your driving. As such, they can be used to transport other objects such as kayaks, boats, or even bikes (with the right accessories).
Lastly, the cost of these racks is quite acceptable and they do a fantastic job of protecting the skis from salt and debris that could scratch the surface during transportation. However, because they are constantly exposed to the elements, these racks need more maintenance and they can hinder overhead clearance.
Cargo boxes also go at the top of your car, but they are actual boxes that can be closed and secured. As such, you can use them to transport a wide array of items, besides skis and ski gear.
They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but most of them follow a low profile, trying to keep the vehicle as aerodynamic as possible.
The good news is that they keep your equipment safe from rain, snow, and the rest of the elements. On the other hand, they do take a lot of space and hinder overhead clearance, which in time leads to increased fuel consumption.
Lastly, they can be quite expensive and many outdoor adventurers don’t find the investment worth it just for transporting ski gear. So, unless you want to use them all-year-long, you may not find them attractive enough.
These are ideal for people who constantly need to carry some type of equipment, regardless of the season. Hitch racks attach to the hitch receiver on the back of the car (just like a hitch cargo carrier), but you need to check if the tongue weight is according to standards.
The advantages of such a rack are that it’s easier to load and unload the gear and you can use them for other items such as bikes, boards, and more. Furthermore, they are easier to install and remove.
However, the downside is that it exposes the skis, boards, bikes, and others to the debris, while also making it more difficult to maneuver the vehicle in a tight parking space.
How to Choose the Best Ski Racks?
Now that you know more about the designs that are available on the market, let’s talk about the main features you need to consider to make sure you truly get the best product for your case.
Type of Vehicle
Does your vehicle accept a roof or a hitch rack? Does it have already installed rails or do you plan on adding rails anytime soon? Does the vehicle support the added weight of your gear?
The first thing you need to consider in this case is the compatibility of your car with the rack you want to buy. While most products can be easily installed on most fabric rails, it is worth checking the specifications.
Type of Gear
Keep in mind that most of these racks are designed to transport skis and snowboards. While some accept other objects that are similar in shape, you must first check with the producer’s specifications to make sure you can transport them safely.
If you plan on carrying other types of gear, you should buy a design that is universal and can accommodate a wide array of shapes and thicknesses.
Security & Ease of Use
Unless you get a cargo box, your gear is going to be in plain sight (on the roof or at the rear of your vehicle). As such, the rack must also provide a locking mechanism that can’t be picked (easily) but that can be unlocked easily by the rightful owner.
The racks we reviewed employe a lock and key security system (besides the inflatable design) and an oversized release button that lets users load and unload the gear without removing their gloves.
Some racks hinder overhead clearance while others make it difficult to park or go backward. While this can’t be avoided, you should get the product that’s less of an inconvenience to you. Also, if you plan on keeping it on for longer periods of time, you may want to consider a roof rack with adjustable springs (so it will free up the clearance when not loaded) or a hitch rack that folds against the vehicle’s body.
Durability & Looks
The design of the rack is just as important as the other features we mentioned because it is highly visible. We recommend looking for a low-profile system that blends well with the vehicle’s color (a black finish is usually the best option). Also, make sure the arms are equipped with a soft gripping material (like rubber) to avoid scratching the surface of your skis or sticks.
In terms of durability, you need materials that will resist being exposed to the elements. For instance, many racks are made from a combination of aluminum and steel and feature a weather-resistant coating.
In summary, to choose the best product, you need to consider the rack’s compatibility with the vehicle and the way it could hinder maneuverability while driving. Furthermore, you need to know if you want to install roof rails (if you don’t already have them) and if you are capable of loading and unloading your gear from the car’s roof.
Lastly, it’s important to think about the durability of the entire system and whether it can be easily hacked by thieves or ill-mannered people. After all, this is quite a serious investment and you want to make sure your gear is safe and sound while you’re not around!
If you put all these together, you’ll manage to find several high-quality products, just like the ones we reviewed.