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Ski Rack Buyers Guide

So, you have planned for the next ski adventure with your mates, and all the gear is ready? But have you ever thought how you would haul the entire gear with the car?

Well, to transport the ski or snowboard, you need a compatible car rack that doesn't eat up the trunk space, and you can rest assured that the ski gear will remain safe and protected from any damages.

Buying a ski rack isn't easy at all, and you will agree to it if you have searched for the best racks already.

There are a plethora of factors that you should consider, such as the size, compatibility, versatility, and much more to ensure that the rack fits easily in your car, and you can mount the ski gear without any problems.

To help you make an informed decision, we are here with this comprehensive buyer’s guide. Check the factors listed below and then look for the ski racks to select the best option.

Do you really need a ski rack?

Most of you might be thinking that what is the need for a ski rack when you can transport the ski inside the car. There are numerous benefits that you get with a ski rack, so having one is indispensable if you want to travel with the ski and other gear.

Here are some reasons why using a ski rack is a must, and why you shouldn’t transport the ski gear inside your car.

  • Improved safety

When you drive with the skis inside your car, you are inviting a lot of dangers, including severe accidents. Some skis can be so big that you have to put half of them out of the window, which can invite accidents.

To avoid any accidents and to get improved safety while driving, you need a ski rack. The rack mounted on the car accommodates the skis, snowboard, and other gear. Furthermore, you can experience various issues while braking of the skis is inside your car.

  • Saves you money

You might be wondering that a ski rack costs hundreds of dollars, so how can it save money. As mentioned above, traveling with the ski inside your car can be dangerous, and you can prevent the chances of accidents, which is actually saving you money.

Moreover, you can carry your own skis and gear, so there is no need to rent the equipment when you reach the skiing spot. Not renting the skis and other gear means saving a lot of money in the long run.

  • No damage to the skis

Skis aren't cheap, especially when you have the best branded skis to enhance your performance. When you travel with ski racks, you can rest assured that there will be no damages to the skis provided that you have mounted them properly with the rack.

There is ample space available in the rack so you can carry other skiing equipment such as helmets, and gloves as well.

  • Easy access

Accessing the skis becomes easy when you have a good ski rack. You don’t have to open the car doors to get the skis, so it will be easy to mount and remove the skis as per your requirements.

  • Safe

Most ski racks support additional locks so you can lock the skis to protect them from thefts. You can use a multitude of locking systems depending on the type of the ski rack.

  • Extra space

You get extra space inside the car when the skis are mounted on the rack. You and your buddies can travel with ease as there is enough space to travel with the skiing gear and luggage.

And the list of benefits continues! To experience the benefits, you need a ski rack, and therefore reading this buyer’s guide is essential.

Factors to look for when buying a ski rack

Below we have mentioned the factors that you should consider when buying a ski rack. You need to check many things, so this guide will definitely help you make a quick and rewarding choice.


The first thing to start with is compatibility. You should buy a ski rack that’s compatible with your vehicle. Most of the ski racks are universal, but it is essential to check if you can use it with your vehicle or not.

Usually, folks use ski racks on SUVs, but some of them even use the racks on small cars such as crossovers. You should determine the area available on your car’s roof to find out whether it can accommodate the rack or not.

Most cars come with roof racks, while some have roof rails, and some even have crossbars. To buy the best ski rack, you should go for the product that sits nicely on the car's roof without damaging it.

Another reason to check the compatibility is safety and stability. If the rack isn't of the right size or not compatible with the vehicle, then it will fumble while driving, and it can be dangerous.

Easy to install

Installing a ski rack can be a laborious task if you choose the wrong rack. Generally, ski racks for cars are easy to install, and you can get the rack ready in a few hours. But if you are trying your luck with the wrong ski rack, it can even take the entire day.

The best way to find out if a rack is easy to install or not is by checking the customer reviews. You can go through the reviews and some YouTube videos to find out how the installation process works.

Furthermore, reading the online instruction manual will help you find out the tools that you need while installation, and how much time it will take.


The choice of materials impacts the durability and weight of the ski rack. Moreover, it impacts the cost and lifespan of the rack, so you cannot go wrong when it comes to choosing the right material.


Aluminum is a lightweight material that’s highly durable and resistant to corrosion. Most aluminum ski racks come with powder coating, so they are highly durable.

If you don't want to carry more weight on your car, then go for ski racks made using aluminum.


Ski racks made using steel are heavy when compared to aluminum, but you can rest assured about the durability. The steel racks are highly rust-resistant and cheaper when compared to the other types.

Soft neoprene

Soft neoprene racks are incredibly lightweight, and you can use them if the skis or snowboard you have is lightweight. Furthermore, the cost of neoprene racks is higher when compared to steel and aluminum.

Weight of the rack

A strong rack is good, but a heavier one isn’t! You need a ski rack that’s highly durable but lightweight as well. There is a limited amount of weight that you can transport on your car’s roof, so make sure that the rack is lightweight so that you can carry more skiing equipment on it.

The extra weight you are carrying on the car will impact fuel efficiency. Also, driving a fully-loaded car can be challenging.

Low-profile design

You might have come across low-profile ski racks that look sleek and have better ergonomics. There are plenty of benefits that you get with a ski rack with a low-profile design.

Racks with a low-profile design reduce the noise when the vehicle moves. If you have a bulky rack, it will act as a barrier to the air and create a lot of noise if you travel at high speeds.

Also, bulky racks reduce your vehicle's fuel economy because the rack will act as an obstacle, and the vehicle needs more power to maintain the speed, which means that it will burn more fuel.

In short, low-profile car racks reduce the drag, and you will get better control over the vehicle.

Consider modular options

Some ski rack manufacturers have launched modular racks that let you assemble them on the go. A modular rack comes ready to assemble, and you can quickly set up the rack while following the instruction manual.

Another benefit of modular racks is the ease of removing it. When the skiing season comes to an end, it's time to remove the rack; you can remove the modular rack easily while the regular ski racks need a lot of time.

Accessory lineup

What if you can transport your bikes, axes, canoes, and other such things on the rack? Sounds great, right? If you are a travel enthusiast, then go with a rack that supports multiple accessories like bikes, axes, and much more.

To choose the suitable ski rack, you should check the accessory lineup to ensure that you can mount different things on it with the skis.

Durability and strength

The worst thing that can happen while traveling is rack failure. The rack can fail if you put extra weight exceeding its weight capacity. To buy the best ski rack, make sure that it is made using durable material.

Also, check the weight capacity to determine how much weight you can carry on the rack. Always avoid racks that are made using cheap quality materials as a rack failure can cost you thousands of dollars, and it can even lead to accidents.

The capacity of the rack

The capacity of the rack helps you determine how many skis you can carry on it. Some racks are good for two skis pairs, whereas some bigger ski racks allow you to transport multiple pairs. If you are traveling with a team, then go for a bigger rack that can accommodate more pairs of skis.

But if you travel alone or with one partner, only then smaller racks should be your choice. As you go for bigger racks, the cost of the product also increases.

Bigger racks cost more and can put more weight on the vehicle. We suggest you go for a bigger size than your requirements as there is a scope that you can travel with more skis in the future.


The ski rack should be stable so that you can drive with ease. The best way to ensure stability is by buying a ski rack that’s perfect for your car. Determine the dimensions of the reck and then compare them with your vehicle’s specifications.

Furthermore, secure the skis properly so that they don’t fumble when you are traveling. You can use bungee ropes with most of the ski racks to secure the skis and other gear in place.


Skis or snowboards aren’t cheap, so you cannot take the risk of getting them stolen while you are away. You need a ski rack that supports a locking system so that you can lock all the accessories in place.

Almost all ski racks support locking mechanisms, but there are a few options that don’t. Make sure that you are going with a rack that’s compatible with locks or other accessories that you can use to safeguard the gear from thefts.

Ease of loading and unloading

So, you have checked everything, and the ski rack is compatible with your vehicle? What now? Now you have to check if the rack allows you to load and unload the skis and other gear with ease.

Most branded ski racks are easy to load, so you don’t have to stress while loading the gear. Also, check if the gear remains secure after mounting.


Ski racks for cars are available at a myriad of prices. So, it would be great if you make your budget before buying one. It becomes easy to overspend when you are looking for a ski rack, so stick to your budget, and compare different options to choose the best rack.

Safety tips to follow when driving with a ski cark

Driving with a ski rack isn’t similar to regular driving. You need to keep a few tips in mind so that you can drive safely to your destination with a smooth experience.

Here we have listed a few tips that you should follow religiously when traveling with a ski rack.

  • Don’t overload

The first thing that you need to keep in mind to never overload the rack. Overloading the rack can cause many problems like the rack can break down, or the skis can fall off the rack while driving.

Note down the maximum weight limit of the rack, and make sure to put a few pounds less than the max weight capacity to get the best experience with the ski rack.

Usually, most ski racks have a weight capacity ranging from 80- 160 lbs. Carrying more weight will also impact the fuel efficiency of the vehicle, and the suspension can get damaged when crossing over bumps and dings.

  • Load everything securely

When loading the skis and other gears on the rack, be sure that you are loading everything securely. You need bungee ropes with the rack so that the equipment remains securely in place, and don't move when you drive.

  • Check everything before moving.

Before you get on the driver’s seat and press the gas pedal in the excitement to reach the destination, test everything thoroughly. Check if all the straps are tight, and there is no loose gear on the rack that can fall off when you start driving.

Pull the bungee ropes to determine their strength and to find out if you have secured the gear properly or not.

  • Drive safely

So, everything is perfect, and you are ready to roll? Great! When driving, make sure to maintain a speed that’s not too much as traveling with a rack on your car is different from regular driving.

You need to take turns with extra care to reach the destination safely. Read a few driving tips that will help you better control the vehicle even when it has more than 150 lbs weight on it.

Accessories to buy with a ski rack

You need some accessories with the ski rack to travel with ease, and to keep the ski, snowboard, and other loaded items safe. Below are some recommendations from expert travelers.

Bungee ropes

You don't get bungee ropes with the rack, but it is impossible to travel without them. Get some good bungee ropes, especially nylon ropes that are highly flexible and durable so that you can secure the gear on the rack.

Tie-down straps

With tie-down straps, you can secure the load on the ski rack. Tie-down straps have a similar function as that of the bungee ropes, but both have respective pros and cons.

Multipurpose holders

With multipurpose holders, you can load other things on the rack, such as tent poles and much more. These holders take less space on the rack and are ideal for increasing the capacity.

Roof rack pads

You can use roof rack pads if you don’t want the racks to get scratched or damaged due to the ski rack. Rack pads are made using rubber or other soft materials to keep the car’s stock racks in good shape.

FAQs: Best Ski Racks

Q: Can I leave the rack mounted on the car?

A: Yes, you can leave the rack on the car even if you are not using it as it doesn’t have any major effects. But experts recommend that you should remove the rack after the skiing season is over. The weight of the rack will impact fuel efficiency, and it can also curtail its lifespan.

Q: Does the ski rack impact fuel efficiency?

A: Yes, the choice of the ski rack will impact the fuel efficiency or mileage of your vehicle. If you are using a bulky rack that causes a lot of drag while driving, then it will reduce the mileage. However, the impact depends on how bulky the rack is and how ergonomic it is.

Go for low-profile racks if you want your vehicle to offer the same mileage as it gives you regularly.

Q: Can I install the ski racks without professional help?

A: Installing a ski rack isn’t that hard, and you can do it without calling the professionals. The installation process depends on what rack you have and its specs. Most of the modular racks are easy to install, and you can set up the rack in some time.

Furthermore, some racks even offer tool-free installation, so you don’t need any tools to install them.

Q: Is it possible to go for a carwash with a rack?

A: We don’t recommend going into a car wash with the rack, especially if you are going into an automatic car wash. However, manual washing is possible, and you can get your vehicle washed without removing the rack.

Q: Does a ski rack impact vehicle maneuverability?

A: You will find the difference right after holding the steering wheel and driving a few miles. Driving with a ski rack that’s loaded with gear is different as compared to driving your car on a regular day.

You need to follow some precautions to make sure that you reach the destination without any problems. The weight of the rack and the load it is carrying affect the maneuverability, so you have to be more attentive while driving.

Q: How do I secure the snowboard and skis?

A: To secure the snowboard and skis on the rack, you need a rack lock. Most ski rack manufacturers offer rack locks that let you secure the gear with the assurance that it is protected from thefts.


These factors and tips will help you decide on the best ski rack that you can get for your car. Compare all the shortlisted racks based on these factors to ensure that you can select the ideal rack that comes under your budget.

Lastly, check the FAQ and accessories section to get some more information about the things you need with a ski rack.

Go for branded racks only that come with excellent after-sales service and warranty to ensure that the ski rack lasts longer, and you get no or less issues with it. / - © Copyright 2020