Which ski racks are best?
There’s nothing better than hearing that some fresh powder hit the slopes the day of your trip, but the one thing that can ruin the mood is the car gymnastics from everyone scrambling over each other due to limited car space. Assume you made it to your destination in one piece. By the time you get home, your car’s filled with a lake of dirty water melted from all the gear.
Next time, you can avoid the mess and frustration by using the best ski rack, like the Thule SnowPack Ski Rack. It’s not only efficient in keeping your car clean, but it also helps keep your gear safe and the ride much more enjoyable.
What to know before you buy a ski rack
Theft and security
Similar to the best ski backpacks, the best ski racks come with features that help lock down your gear and prevent the likelihood of theft. Most quality ski racks come with a single key that’s used to lock and unlock both mounts.
It’s important to note that this is a separate locking feature from one that locks the entire rack to the roof of your car. If security is important, you must ensure that you have both. The last thing you want to experience is feeling like your skis are secure, only to find that someone stole the entire mount and skis together.
Vehicle and mounting compatibility
When selecting a ski rack, it’s vital that you ensure it’s compatible with both the mounting system and your car. For example, if you drive an SUV or a sedan with roof rails, you’ll likely have to purchase crossbars in order to mount your ski rack securely.
If your vehicle doesn’t have either crossbars or roof rails, you might want to consider purchasing a roof rack kit. These kits come with most of everything you need to mount your ski rack. However, with enough searching, you may come across ski racks that come with all the required hardware to fix it to a roof without a pre-installed mounting system.
For many, a mounting system is only practical during the winter season. Even if it’s extremely aerodynamic, it presents an obstacle for your car and creates slight fuel inefficiency.
Most ski racks are quick and straightforward to install but can become tedious when removing. If ski racks aren’t part of your off-season plans, it’s advantageous to find ones that are easy to install and remove.
What to look for in a quality ski rack
Whether it’s a j-style, universal or clamp, most ski racks come with a hinge and locking mechanism to secure your gear. Because the locking mechanism must be tight and strong, it can present difficulty when opening.
Some ski racks took this into consideration and come with features that can easily unlock and lock your rack. For example, some come with an oversized button that’s easy to push even with thick ski gloves on.
The required rack capacity varies from person to person. If you hit the slopes alone or with one other person, you can easily get away with smaller ski racks. However, if you like to travel with a larger group, it’s beneficial to look at ski racks with a minimum capacity of four pairs of skis or two boards.
Not all ski racks are created equal, and some can give better fuel efficiency than most. While fuel efficiency may not be an immediate concern, it can significantly affect your budget for longer trips.
The aerodynamics and fuel efficiency aren’t limited to the rack style but also the amount of gear. Even if the racks are empty, they create drag and increase fuel consumption by almost two percent. That means an empty rack can use up to three-quarters of a gallon.
J-style racks are popular with people who decide to keep their ski racks on year-round. That’s because when they’re not being used, they can fold down and reduce drag.
How much you can expect to spend on ski racks
Depending on the size and model, you can expect to spend between $110-$350 on quality ski racks.
Ski rack FAQ
Do ski racks cause damage to the equipment?
A. It’s not the ski racks that can damage your skis or boards. It’s the exposure to the cold and wind. The only way a ski rack can cause any damage to your gear is if it’s improperly installed and secured.
Will strong winds knock my skis off the rack?
A. If you followed the manufacturer’s instructions when installing and locking, your gear should not fall off even with strong winds. Ski racks are designed to firmly grasp your gear to avoid putting other drivers in danger. To take additional care, you can always use another strap to lock in your equipment and prevent it from flying away and getting lost.
What are the best ski racks to buy?
Top ski rack
What you need to know: This large ski rack is perfect for large or small groups traveling long distances.
What you’ll love: The Extender is a clamp-style ski rack that is aerodynamically designed. That means you get the most fuel-efficiency for long-distance trips. Similar to the large size, it can store up to six pairs of skis or four boards. This way skiers and snowboarders can traverse the mountainside in one ride. One main feature of this ski rack is its slide-out design that makes loading and unloading your gear much easier. Additionally, it comes with an anti-theft lock, push buttons and a universal design.
What you should consider: It’s an expensive rack, but its premium features make it worth every penny.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top ski rack for the money
What you need to know: This durable ski rack is budget-friendly and perfect for those that enjoy skiing alone or with one other person.
What you’ll love: It’s a simple ski rack but highly-durable and large enough to accommodate up to two skis or two boards. It has a latching design that’s easy to open even with thick ski gloves on. Unlike other racks, the smaller size means it leaves room on your roof for other cargo. Ultimately, it’s a ski rack that provides a lot of value for a third of the price.
What you should consider: The limited capacity is unideal for large group outings.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This premium Yakima ski mount is perfect for large groups, even in the most severe weather conditions.
What you’ll love: Your snowboarding friends don’t have to feel left out with this product. This ski rack can accommodate up to six pairs of powder skis and four boards. The FatCat model has a sleek design and is lowered to provide increased aerodynamics.
What you should consider: It’s a premium product, so it’s more expensive than its competitors.
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Christopher Lee writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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