Transporting ski and snowboard gear is cumbersome. Though snow-sport equipment fits inside most vehicles, hauling it this way means less room for other gear and requires much patience.
Packing gear the wrong way also poses an accident hazard to vehicle occupants and could result in damage to your gear or vehicle. Plus, after a day on the mountain, no one wants wet, dirty equipment mucking up the interior of their car.
This is why ski and snowboard racks are vital during the winter. Using a rack saves time, room and upholstery. Things to consider before purchasing a ski rack include the type of vehicle you own, the necessary attachments (if any) you require and the desired amount of storage.
These are our picks for the best ski and snowboard racks, tabulated for different budget ranges and uses.
Best Overall: Thule Snowpack Extender
The Thule Snowpack Extender roof-mounted ski and snowboard carrier holds up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards, making it ideal for traveling with a group.
With the rack’s native slide-out feature, the Extender moves away from the vehicle, making for easy loading or unloading on one side. The Thule Snowpack Extender features a loading width of 29.5 inches and weighs 12 pounds.
Ultrasoft rubber arms hold your gear steadily in place without damaging or scratching it. The Extender fits most factory roof racks and locks in gear with Thule’s One Key system. While we recommend the Thule Snowpack Extender ($299.95) for its added ease of use, the basic Thule Snowpack is available in medium and large sizes. The Thule Snowpack Extender retails for $250.
Best on a Budget: Inno Gravity Ski and Snowboard
For the budget-conscious, the $130 Inno Gravity Ski and Snowboard holds up to six pairs of skis or four boards. The rack is compatible with most crossbars, featuring a universal mounting system for aero, square, round and factory crossbar types.
Inno constructed the Gravity from aluminum and plastic, attributing to its lower price. The build is lightweight and rust-resistant, which helps protect against accumulated salt from treated winter roads. The rack weighs just over 8.5 pounds.
Like the Thule Snowpack Extender, the Inno Gravity features rubberized contact points for protection against equipment damage. A large button releases the locking arms, making it easy to keep gloves on while loading or unloading. The Gravity features tool-free installation and comes with a lock and key.
Best for Versatility: Yakima HitchSki
The Yakima HitchSki converts a mast-style hitch rack into a ski and snowboard carrier and mounts on both 1.25-inch and 2-inch hitch receivers. This leaves your roof free for a skybox or other desired accessories. Like our roof rack picks, the HitchSki carries up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards.
Two-position upper arms and adjustable lower arms help you arrange your gear. Rubber padding protects gear from scratches, but it’s important to note that carrying equipment on the rear of your vehicle, as opposed to on the roof, makes it more susceptible to damage and grime accumulation.
The Yakima HitchSki weighs 29 pounds, making it much heavier than most roof racks. It also prevents entrance to the vehicle’s rear while in use.
Included SKS Lock Cores protect your equipment from theft, and optional ArmLock or DeadLock systems from Yakima secure the entire rack to your car or truck. The Yakima HitchSki retails for $229, but you’ll need to install the brand’s HitchRack in order to use it.
Best Roof Carrier: Yakima Skybox 21 Carbonite
If you want to haul more than six pairs of skis and increase protection from the elements, the Yakima Skybox 21 Carbonite is your best choice.
The model fits skis and snowboards up to 215 centimeters (84.6 inches), in addition to having extra storage for boots, jackets, helmets and other accessories. The Skybox is also practical to use, with a dual-sided opening and SuperLatch security system that keeps the box from flying open while driving.
It mounts onto most cars with either square, round or factory crossbars, and its aerodynamic design reduces wind drag and noise at high speeds.
The Yakima Skybox 21 Carbonite includes SKS locks and weighs 75 pounds. At $630, it’s the most expensive pick on our list but is worth the cost for those looking to haul a lot of gear. It’s also available in four other sizes: Lo, 12, 16 and 18 cubic feet.