The Best Ski Car Racks Review 2021

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The Best Ski Car Racks Review 2021

woman and child sitting in car trunk with skis

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  • All products featured on TravelAwaits are independently selected by our writers and editors. We may earn commission when you click on or make a purchase via our links.
    All products featured on TravelAwaits are independently selected by our writers and editors. We may earn commission when you click on or make a purchase via our links.

    You’re planning an amazing ski getaway, and you’re road tripping there. You’re no stranger to the slopes, and you’ve invested in your own gear. But perhaps you’re planning an extended trip that requires packing the car with luggage, are piling all the grandkids in, or simply have a vehicle that doesn’t accommodate your skis comfortably.

    This is where a good ski car rack comes in. Easily and securely affixed to the roof of your car, these contraptions allow you to store your skis (and other skiing essentials) up top, leaving more room inside for leg stretching, snacks, suitcases -- and maybe the loved ones you’re hitting the slopes with.

    Here, we review some of the most beloved ski car racks on the market and provide a detailed buying guide that takes all things ski car rack specifications and features into consideration.

    The Best Ski Car Racks

    CargoLoc Aluminum Roof Top Cross Bar Set

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    This sleek ski car rack option has checked a lot of boxes for a lot of satisfied buyers. With over 1,600 four- and five-star reviews, CargoLoc is doing something right, and it might start with the price point. This option is affordable, and the 52-inch cross bars are made of high-quality rigid aluminum that makes them both strong and light. The attaching mechanism — plastic and rubber clamps — can be slid along the cross bars’ tracks and spread to a maximum of 46 inches apart to clamp onto your vehicle’s raised rails. The clamps are tightened with a hex key for a secure fit.

    This product also boasts some peace of mind in that the cross bars can be locked to your vehicle’s raised rails with a lock-and-key mechanism to prevent theft.

    Users typically mount a box or bag on the rack to put their skis and accessories in as these cross bars don’t hinge open to secure skis or snowboards (see options that do below) and CargoLoc actually sells its ski car rack-compatible waterproof cargo bags via the same Amazon page, so make sure you’re getting the 52-inch cross bars if that’s what you want.

    Note that some buyers have mentioned that their cross bar sets came either without keys or without a hex key, but noted that the company sent replacements. Others report that the addition of the ski car rack decreased their car’s average miles per gallon, or that they rattle/create a whistling noise at high speed, but still gave it four-star reviews.

    Finally, if you decide on this car rack, heed others’ warnings: Do not over-tighten the clamps as this might cause them to break.

    Pros

    • Very affordable
    • Lightweight and easy to install
    • Locks prevent possible theft

    Cons

    • Not made specifically for skis or snowboards
    • Some sets come without necessary keys
    • Could decrease your vehicle’s MPG
    • Might result in a noisier ride

    Key Features

    • Made of rigid aluminum
    • Accommodates a cargo box or bag
    • Requires roof rails

    Specifications

    • Brand: CargoLoc
    • Equipment Capacity: Depends on bag or box
    • Weight Capacity: 150 pounds

    Yakima FreshTrack Rooftop Ski And Snowboard Mount

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    The Yakima FreshTrack Rooftop Ski and Snowboard Mount doesn’t require a box or bag. Instead, you clip your gear in and go. And while we’re talking about ski car racks here, this mount does, as its name implies, work for snowboards, too, making it a great option for groups of travelers who like to take on the snow by different means.

    Depending on the size you select, this mount will carry up to 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards — or a combination of equipment. One owner says he uses his for a fishing rod!

    Your equipment can be secured in the mount thanks to the integration of SKS Locks, but unfortunately, there aren’t any locks to keep the car rack pieces secured to your vehicle. Reviewers do note that the key required for installation probably isn’t carried around by potential thieves, but the bottom line is, no unique key is required to remove the equipment from your car.

    Note that this system isn’t low profile. Some owners wish it hugged tighter to the roofs of their cars, but most agree that it’s easy to install. What’s even better: Yakima’s one-button access design, which allows you to release your equipment without even removing your gloves.

    Pros

    • Easy installation
    • One-button access

    Cons

    • Racks don’t lock to vehicle’s cross bars
    • Not streamlined/low profile

    Key Features

    • Steel and aluminum construction
    • Made specifically for skis and snowboards
    • Requires roof rails

    Specifications

    • Brand: Yakima
    • Equipment Capacity: Up to 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards
    • Weight Capacity: Not specified

    INNO Gravity Universal Mount Ski/Snowboard Rack

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    If you’re looking to splurge on a high-tech ski car rack, meet the INNO Gravity Universal Mount. This equipment comes at a premium, but it’s made specifically for skis and snowboards.

    Depending on the size you select, you can clamp in up to 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards. The majority of reviewers have had great experiences with this product, from the packaging it comes in (we all know that makes a difference!) to the thick, soft rubber bumpers that will protect your skis as you head for the hills. The clamps can be locked shut, and the split design means you can unlock and access some equipment while leaving your other gear locked in place.

    Note that some users say installation is a bit difficult and suggest consulting YouTube for guidance.

    Pros

    • Unique split design
    • Smaller size means racks are easy to store

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Installation might not feel intuitive

    Key Features

    • High-quality equipment
    • Made specifically for skis and snowboards
    • Requires roof rails

    Specifications

    • Brand: INNO
    • Equipment Capacity: Up to 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards
    • Weight Capacity: Not listed

    BuzzRack BuzzSki Hitch Mounted Ski And Snowboard Rack

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    Maybe you have a ton of equipment for an upcoming expedition and your roof real estate is already full up. Or you have a hitch and no roof rails. Either way, BuzzRack’s BuzzSki hitch-mounted ski and snowboard rack is an innovative product that can accommodate a lot of equipment: up to 6 sets of skis or 4 snowboards.

    An integrated locking system (plus an optional hitch lock set), padded arms, just the right clips, and included separators will keep your favorite gear secure and looking sharp, while the tilt capacity means you can access your trunk without removing the rack. Also, when it’s not in use, the rack folds flat for easy storage in your garage or even a closet.

    Note that this is a costly piece of equipment — probably not for the first-time ski vacationer. While the majority of the reviewers give this ski car rack glowing five-star reviews, note that unlike roof-mounted racks, it won’t keep your skis from road splash. Also, it will obstruct your rear view.

    Pros

    • Extremely sturdy
    • Innovative design

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Will obstruct your rear view

    Key Features

    • Integrated locking system
    • Requires a hitch, but not roof rails
    • Folds flat for storage

    Specifications

    • Brand: BuzzRack
    • Equipment Capacity: 6 skis or 4 snowboards
    • Weight Capacity: Not listed

    The Best Ski Car Racks Buying Guide

    There are a lot of ski car racks on the market, and as with picking your skis, you need to take your time and think about fit. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself to make a good decision — the one that will get you where you want to go with your skis in the best shape, with room in the car to spare.

    Do You Have Roof Rails Or A Hitch?

    If you already have permanent roof rails, you’re in luck: the majority of dedicated ski car racks are made for you and your vehicle. These racks clip to your preexisting roof rails and make a place to attach a bag or box for skis and other equipment, or you clip your skis, poles, and fishing pole (apparently — according to one Yakima FreshTrack Rooftop Ski and Snowboard Mount reviewer) directly into the hinged and padded rails.

    If you have a hitch, there are also some ski-specific options for you. One such product: BuzzRack’s BuzzSki Hitch Mounted Ski and Snowboard Rack. These options make the most of your hitch and leave your permanent roof rails (if you have them) for other things.

    If you don’t have a hitch or permanent roof rails and don’t want to invest in those fixtures, you’ll need a ski car rack system that affixes to your vehicle via more temporary means, like the Malone VersaRail Bare Roof Cross Rail Rack’s suction cups and straps.

    Do You Have A Roof Bag Or Box Or Want To Be Able To Carry Other Things?

    If you want to carry other items on your roof, like a sled or, when you’re not headed for the slopes, a kayak, surfboard, or another piece of recreational equipment, it’s better to invest in a non-specific roof rack plus a roof bag or box to put your skis and poles in.

    But if you’d like a product that is made specifically for skis (and snowboards), you can pay more for a single set, like the Yakima FreshTrack Rooftop Ski and Snowboard Mount, the INNO Gravity Universal Mount Ski/Snowboard Rack, or even the BuzzRack BuzzSki Hitch Mounted Ski And Snowboard Rack and not have to fuss with a roof bag or box.

    It should be clear from the product images and description whether the ski car rack you’re considering is for skis and snowboards only, or will accommodate (and potentially need) a roof bag or box to actually contain your items.

    How Concerned Are You About Your Skis Being Stolen?

    If you’ve invested a lot in an expensive pair of skis, you might want to make a parallel investment in a ski car rack that locks to your vehicle and will lock your skis up tightly. Note that roof boxes and bags may have locks on them, while the racks they’ll affix to can lock to your permanent roof rails.

    Still, just because a product has some kind of locking mechanism doesn’t mean it’s fully secure. Look closely. If the rack allows you to lock your skis into it, that’s great. But is the rack actually locked to your vehicle? If not, it’s possible for someone to detach the rack and take skis and all.

    How Much Equipment Are You Taking?

    Ensure that the ski car rack you’re considering will accommodate all the skis, snowboards, poles, et cetera, that you’re planning to take. Will you ever give a friend or a relative a ride to the slopes? If yes, you might want room for more than your own gear. All the more reason not to have to ride with it inside the car with you!