Hauling your skis and snowboards has never been easier
By | Last updated: November 8, 2021
Best Ski and Snowboard Racks

Winter is coming, and if you’re the sort that likes to stay active on the slopes during the cold months, you’re going to want to check out the best ski and snowboard racks for your car, pronto.

Even if your SUV or hatchback is ready and willing to accept all your ski gear and you’ve made do with it so far, a ski and snowboard rack holds a number of benefits. For one thing, securing your slush-covered skis and snowboards on top of your ride means you don’t have to worry about puddles of melted snow and bits of dirt sinking into your vehicle’s carpeting, helping to keep it clean and dry no matter how messy things get on the mountain. And for another, while tucking your skis or snowboard into the trunk may have worked out fine for you so far, that all changes as soon as you get a few passengers in the back, and can no longer fold down the rear seats for extra cargo space.

Thankfully, there’s a huge assortment of ski and snowboard racks available today, with a range of sizes and an array of different reputable manufacturers. Here, we’ve listed some of the best ski and snowboard racks available, so you can start this winter off right.

1. Editor’s Choice: Thule SnowPack L 6 Ski/Snowboard Rack

Starting the list off right, the Thule SnowPack L is an excellent all-around package for anyone seeking a ski and snowboard rack that will go the distance with no issues and no questions asked. Thule’s reputation is just about unparalleled in the aftermarket automotive cargo management sphere, and this rack is an excellent example of why. With strong, lightweight aluminum construction and the capacity for up to four snowboards or six pairs of skis, the Thule SnowPack L is ready to go when you are, with plenty of thoughtful features that make it a great wintertime companion – things like an integrated vertical spring system that automatically lowers the carrier height when unloaded for more clearance, and ultra-soft rubber arms that cradle your skis and snowboards without scratching them. Hands down one of the absolute best ski and snowboard racks at any price, this is one that you’ll never regret buying.

2. Best Value: Inno Gravity Universal Mount Ski/Snowboard Rack

If you’re not ready just yet to drop premium money on a ski and snowboard rack, check out the Inno Gravity Universal Mount ski and snowboard rack. It doesn’t have the same capacity as many of the other options on this list, maxing out at two snowboards or three pairs of fat skis, but if that’s all the accommodations you need, it’s a fantastic choice. It’s made from a blend of materials that keeps it light in weight – just 10.3 pounds for the set – while strong, with soft rubber grips to securely hold your skis and snowboards without gouging them. Most of the customer reviews online are absolutely glowing, with owners praising the build quality and ease-of-use, and even at such a reasonable price point, the rack features integrated locking key cylinders to provide extra peace-of-mind and keep your skis and boards safe from would-be thieves.

3. Rhino-Rack 576 Ski and Snowboard Carrier

The Rhino-Rack 576 Ski and Snowboard Carrier is for those who need a full four snowboards or six ski pairs’ worth of carrying capacity, but at a price point well below some of the more premium players. The arms are every bit as strong as you would expect from a durable, well-built ski and snowboard rack, and they’re protected against UV rays, rust, and mold, thanks in part to an attractive black finish. The rack is also remarkably lightweight, tipping the scales at just nine pounds or so, even with integrated key cylinders that allow you to lock up your skis and snowboards to protect them from theft. This system also features a surprisingly effective aero profile that helps keep wind noise to a minimum. Bottom line: the Rhino-Rack 576 is a lot of ski/snowboard rack for the money, and it’s built to last for years of regular use.

4. Yakima Big PowderHound

While it’s officially out of production, you can still find many examples of the Yakima Big PowderHound for sale these days if you look hard enough. Pull the trigger on one, and you’ll be rewarded with one strong, lightweight ski and snowboard rack – total weight is under eight pounds – with space enough for up to four snowboards or six pairs of skis. You’ll also be treated to Yakima’s legendary reputation for quality and reliability, and a one-button access design that allows you to access your skis and snowboards with ease, even while wearing gloves. Yakima’s SKS lock cores keep your gear safe from prying hands or accidental openings whether you’re on the move or parked, and with space for up to four snowboards or six pairs of skis, you’ll have no trouble packing everything you need for a day of fun on the mountain.

5. Yakima FatCat EVO 6 Premium Ski and Snowboard Mount

A big step up from Yakima’s Big Powderhound, the FatCat EVO 6 Premium Ski and Snowboard Mount is among the best ski and snowboard racks you’ll find at any price point, bar none. It features the same four snowboards or six ski pairs of capacity, but with a sleek, more low-profile curved bar design that keeps wind noise to a whisper, and an attractive black finish that looks great on any modern automobile. An integrated SkiLift system makes it possible to fit snowboards with tall bindings, while Yakima’s SKS (Same Key System) lock cylinders keep your boards and skis protected, and an oversized button makes this ski and snowboard rack useable even with gloves or mittens on. Weighing in at nearly 13 pounds, the FatCat EVO 6 is heavier than some other ski and snowboard racks on the market, but that’s a testament to its long-lasting heavy-duty construction.

6. MaxKare Ski and Snowboard Car Rack

Want to get into a brand new ski and snowboard rack at the absolute lowest price possible? Say hello to your new best friend: the MaxKare Ski and Snowboard Car Rack. It’s got the same four snowboards or six ski pairs of capacity as those other guys, but at less than half the price, even with durable aircraft-grade 6063 aluminum construction and ultra-soft rubber pads with anti-skid stripes. And when winter comes to an end, that doesn’t mean that the MaxKare Ski and Snowboard Rack has reached the end of its useability; the manufacturer has been sure to note that you can also use it to carry water skis, fishing poles, paddles, and other miscellaneous things. If you ever do need to take it off, tool-free mounting hardware makes removing and reinstalling the MaxKare Ski and Snowboard rack a breeze, making it about as convenient as you could ever want.

7. Thule Motion XT L Roof-Mounted Cargo Box

The Thule Motion XT L isn’t a ski and snowboard rack in the strictest sense. Rather, it’s something even better: a big, long enclosed rooftop cargo box with an internal length of around 175 cm – more than enough for most skis snowboards. This means that you can haul three to five snowboards, or five to seven pairs of skis, and a bunch of other associated gear with no issues, all safe and well-protected within a hard shell case that’s built to hold up to years of physical and elemental abuse. A sleek, aerodynamic design means that wind noise is kept to a minimum on the road, and as a matter of course, this box is compatible with Thule’s awesome, convenient One Key system, meaning you can lock and unlock it using the same key as you use with all your other Thule accessories. Sure, the price tag is on the high side, but if you’re looking at only the best ski and snowboard racks, the Thule Motion XT L makes a compelling case.

8. Yakima Skybox 16 Carbonite Cargo Roof Box

Another enclosed rooftop cargo box with room enough for skis and snowboards, the Yakima Skybox 16 Carbonite is a slightly more affordable alternative to the Thule Motion XT L, with even more ski and snowboard carrying capacity. In fact, the total internal length of this cargo box is over 200 cm – long enough to fit all but the most freakishly long snowboards in the world. With dual side openings, you can conveniently pop open this cargo box from either side of the vehicle, and it’s even (kind of) environmentally friendly, being comprised of up to 80 percent recycled ABS plastic. Yakima SKS lock cores allow you to lock and unlock the cargo box with the same key you already use on your other Yakima accessories. Customers rave about the Yakima Skybox’s useability and build quality, and while it’s more expensive than traditional ski and snowboard racks, the extra practicality and protection might just be worth it.

9. Yakima HitchSki Ski and Snowboard Conversion Rack

Let’s say you already own a hitch-mounted mast-style Yakima bike rack, and you find yourself wondering whether you can’t just use that to carry your skis and snowboards. It turns out you can! You just need this: the Yakima HitchSki Ski and Snowboard Conversion Rack. Installing onto most 4- and 5-bike mast-style hitch racks with ease, this conversion allows you to carry up to four snowboards or six pairs of skis on the back of your vehicle, where they’re more accessible when you get to the resort. An optional ArmLock or DeadLock secures the whole thing to your vehicle, and of course, Yakima’s SKS lock cores are present here, too, so you can use the same key that you use on your other Yakima accessories. You already have the bike rack; why not put it to use during the winter months, too?

10. Thule 725 Universal Flat Top Ski/Snowboard Carrier

If you want Thule quality at an affordable price, there’s the Thule 725 Universal Flat Top Ski and Snowboard Carrier. Now out of production, you can still find examples of both the 725 and its smaller cousin, the 724, for sale if you look, and it’s a great option if you want the confidence and peace of mind that come with the Thule name, at a price that won’t break the bank. The 725 can carry the usual full-size count of four snowboards and six pairs of skis, while the 724 is capped at two snowboards/four ski pairs, but either way, you get solid aluminum construction that will last, and locking hoods with oversized buttons that are easy to use even with your favorite pair of gloves or mittens on. What more can we say?

How Do I Install A Ski/Snowboard Rack?

Every ski/snowboard rack on this list is different, and none more so than the rooftop cargo boxes or the bike carrier-mounted conversion rack that have made our list of the ten best ski and snowboard racks. But at the end of the day, all conventional roof rack-mounted ski/snowboard racks follow the same basic design concept, comprising a pair of straight clamping jaws that mount laterally across your vehicle’s roof, one in front, and one in the back. That means that you can count on a lot of similarities when it comes to install procedures.

If your ski/snowboard rack has a proprietary track-compatible system, generally, you’ll remove one end cap from each roof rack cross bar, slot a rack in there, and fasten it from the top to clamp it into place. Many bars instead come equipped with over-the-bar mounts that affix onto the bottom of each rack, and then have a band or clamp that holds the rack against the cross bar from the back side. Manufacturers are increasingly moving away from conventional fasteners and toward toolless fastening systems, so you’ll want to refer to your manufacturer-supplied instructions to know exactly how to install in these cases.

Regardless, keep in mind that for most ski/snowboard racks, you will need to have roof rails and cross bars installed on your car already. Check with your particular ski/snowboard rack manufacturer to be sure.

How Do I Fit Four Snowboards On My Ski/Snowboard Rack?

The max. ski and snowboard capacities listed by rack manufacturers – typically four snowboards or six pairs of skis on larger racks – are based on the idea that you’ll be stacking your boards or skis base-to-base.

When you get your rack, you’ll notice straightaway that it most certainly isn’t broad enough to fit all the skis or boards advertised side-by-side. Instead, to fit the advertised four boards or six skis, you’ll have to fit one board with the bindings pointing down toward the roof of your car, and then stack another with the bindings pointing up to the sky, on top of it. If you’ve bought a good rack, it will provide enough clamping force and anti-slip grip that the boards and skis aren’t sliding against each other while you drive, scraping at the wax and potentially ruining the bases.


From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

6 Comments on “The Best Ski and Snowboard Racks...”


  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I have an old-school Thule rack system. It has served me well over the years, requiring a change of the stanchions from a gutter mount to a gutterless design when I replaced the car. While it has served admirably for four pairs of skis and two bikes, the biggest benefit was (and still is) for hauling building materials home. I’ve loaded 10 sheets of drywall on it, conduit, piping, lumber, you name it. Sadly they don’t make a suitable clamping system for such items so I made my own. Using threaded rod and some lumber, the clamps bear down on the materials, sandwiching them between the rack and the wood clamp. In retrospect I would have bought a small pickup, but don’t underestimate the value of a good rack system.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    ONLY 7 & 8 because they are enclosed.

    There is no way I am exposing the bindings on my skis to salt, grit, and whatever other kinds of crap would get plastered on them with an open rack.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Roof racks and boxes work, but at Rocky Mountain freeway speeds, turn your otherwise miserly sedan into darn near the equivalent of a pickup truck as far as fuel consumption goes. As well as making for a windnoise fest. If at all possible, keep skis inside the car. If not, oh well, the racks do work.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Oops, aerodynamics!!! Thanks for bringing that up. Had a friend with a Subaru Cross Trek with his ski rack on. He was going from Denver to Carson City and back multiple times. I finally convinced him to take the ski racks off and apparently his distance to empty reading on the dashboard was profoundly better with the racks off. He was clearly elated at how much less gas he used with the racks off.
      Waaaaay back in the day I was fitting 203’s inside my Vega sedan. It was already underpowered for I-70, and ski racks made it noticeably worse.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Cue my 2019 Odyssey. Rear seats flat, center middle row seat removed. All skis fit neatly in their bags down the middle.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.