We’ll give you a breakdown of the best roof ski rack and snowboard carrier options on the market and how they function to help you decide which one best suits your needs.
And if you’ve purchased one recently and have questions on how to install it home, we’re here to help. The installation process can vary between types of winter sport racks and carriers, but most follow some basic steps. We’ll get your vehicle ready for the road in no time with our simple step by step guide.
A ski rack and snowboard carrier serves as an attachment to your vehicle’s roof rails and crossbars that safely carries two or more sets of skis or snowboards. Typically constructed of stainless steel or aluminum, a ski rack and snowboard carrier will lock your skis or snowboard in place with a tight clamping mechanism that often can be locked with a key.
Ski and snowboard carriers are now one of the most popular exterior accessories for sedans, trucks, and SUVs in Canada and in US States with colder climate and experience high levels of annual snowfall. The options available on the market can vary depending on the number of skis or snowboards to be carried, and fitment for your specific vehicle, particularly if there are existing roof rails and crossbars.
Most vehicles are too small to fit multiple sets of skis or snowboards between the backseat and trunk, especially when carrying other gear and luggage for a weekend trip to a ski resort.
Ski racks and snowboard carriers designed for the roof of your vehicle on the other hand allow you to safely and easily transport your winter sport gear without the risk of damaging the interior of your vehicle or taking up most of your interior cargo capacity.
Bed mounted ski racks for pickup trucks are also useful as they allow you to maintain the truck bed’s full cargo capacity by holding your skis above the box. Now let’s look at the types of ski racks and how they function to determine which one best suits your vehicle and budget so you can enjoy the slopes in a more scenic setting away from home.
Ski racks are normally categorized based on how and where they mount onto your vehicle, with the main two types being 1) roof racks that connect to roof rails and crossbars, or the side bed rails of a pickup truck, and 2) magnetic ski racks that connect directly to the roof of your vehicle using a strong magnetic mechanism.
Mounting clips and roof bar attachments will be necessary for vehicles that don’t have existing roof rails and crossbars; these attachments will clip and mount along the upper portion of the door frames, while the crossbars will connect to both sides.
Most ski racks are upright mounted carriers that hold multiple sets of skis or snowboards in place with a multi-bar clamping mechanism along the roof of your vehicle and lock in place with a key.
Bed mounted ski racks are popular options for pick-up truck owners as they mount inside the truck’s bed without limiting cargo capacity.
These racks require mounting bars to be installed along the sides of the truck box. The installation and removal process is similar to roof mounted ski rack carriers but is much easier to mount the skis or snowboard and any necessary bars since you can stand level inside the truck’s bed.
Before purchasing a ski rack and snowboard carrier you should ask yourself a few questions to help determine which option best suits your needs and vehicle.
Many roof racks do not universally fit all vehicles. You'll need to measure the width of your vehicle's roof from side to side first. Ski roof rack and snowboard carriers tend to better suit sedans, hatchbacks, and SUVs that have a roof rails and utility track with roof bars or crossbars. Adaptors might be required to safely attach and install a ski rack onto the roof bars of your specific vehicle.
Bed mounted ski racks are also great options for pick-up trucks as they are easier to install and mount while standing inside the truck bed. Just ensure that any crossbars fit the dimensions and width of the bed for your truck’s make and model prior to purchasing.
Roof cross bars and roof rails are necessary to safely connect most ski racks and snowboard carriers to the roof of your vehicle; they are not standard attachments on most vehicles, nor are they often included when purchasing a roof ski rack.
Prior to purchasing a ski rack for your vehicle, confirm if adaptors or additional bars are required to safely install and mount a ski rack on your roof.
Menabo branded roof rails and crossbars with T-tracks are ideal for most vehicles, and are compatible with many bike carriers, ski and snowboard carriers, watersport carriers, and cargo boxes.
Magnetic ski racks, such as Menabo Aconcagua or Himalaya carriers can be a great option for winter sport enthusiasts as they connect directly to the roof of your vehicle and do not require roof rails and crossbars. They can carry two to three sets of skis or two snowboards, and are more ideal for individual skiers or snowboarders.
Magnetic ski racks and snowboard carriers however are not suitable for vehicles with panoramic sunroofs, soft tops, or overly curved rooftops, so please ensure the product specifications fit your vehicle’s rooftop prior to purchasing a magnetic rack.
Most roof mounted ski racks and carriers will add a few feet to the height of your vehicle when skis or snowboards are mounted, so make sure to understand your vehicle’s parking conditions in order to not exceed a height clearance in an underground garage or drive-through underpass, particularly if driving a larger SUV.
Once you know which ski rack and snowboard carrier options are compatible with your vehicle, as well as the number of skis or snowboards you need to carry, you can narrow down your list based on your budget. A ski rack that carries six sets of skis or four snowboards will be more expensive but provides the added flexibility of transporting more gear on your roof per trip for a larger family or group.
Stainless steel and aluminum ski racks are also more expensive than fully plastic carriers, but are also always worth the added cost as they provide greater durability and superior security for your skis. Expect to spend about $250 for either aluminum racks that connect to your roof’s crossbars or magnetic carriers that connect directly to the roof of your vehicle.
However, it's crucial to follow the loading guidelines provided by whichever ski rack you decide to purchase. It's typically recommended that you store your ski poles inside your vehicle or trunk and maximize the surface area of the rack for your actual skis instead.
Installing a ski rack on the roof of your vehicle, such as a Menabo branded ski rack, is simple to do at home in less than 20 minutes If you already have roof rails and crossbars installed on your vehicle’s rooftop.
Start by laying out all the ski rack installation components on a table. The exact number of bolts, screws and pieces required for assembly will vary slightly by make and model of the ski rack.
Most ski racks do not require the use of power tools, and can be installed using a 6 mm hex key or allen key.
You may want to use a small step ladder as well in order to have a more bird’s eye view of the roof while installing the carrier, especially on an SUV without running boards or side step bars.
It was that easy. Now your newly installed rooftop ski rack and snowboard carrier is ready to be loaded with skis and snowboards for your next winter adventure.
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