How to Buy a Ski & Snowboard Rack for Your Car

Published on 05/04/2023 · 7 min readUsing a ski and snowboard rack will give you tons of extra room in your car and prevent the inside from getting wet after a day on the hill! Read more below!
By Snowboarding Expert will koons

Photo by Kamen G.

Tl;dr: Choosing the perfect ski and snowboard roof rack for your car requires considering factors such as compatibility, ease of use, size, and budget. With various types of racks available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, it's essential to assess your specific requirements, explore the options, and select the ideal rack tailored to your needs.

My name is Will, and I have spent 20+ years of my life involved in the winter sports world. I've logged countless hours on the slopes and experimented with various ski and snowboard racks throughout the years—everything from Thule ski racks and Yakima FatCat snowboard racks to more off-brand affordable options. My mission is to help fellow winter sports lovers find the equipment that best suits their needs, and that's why I'm sharing this comprehensive guide.

What Is a Ski and Snowboard Rack?

Photo by Eric Rayner

A ski and snowboard rack is a specialized device designed to mount on your car, enabling you to transport your snowsports equipment securely. These racks save space inside your vehicle and protect your gear from potential damage (road salt is an equipment ruiner) and theft.

What to Consider When Buying a Ski and Snowboard Rack

Vehicle Compatibility

Before purchasing a rack, ensure it is compatible with your car's make, model, and roof design. Some racks offer universal compatibility, while others are tailored for specific vehicles. Researching manufacturer specifications will help you find the most suitable option.

Ease of Use

The installation process, loading, and unloading of gear are important aspects to consider. Some racks feature tool-free installation and user-friendly designs, while others may necessitate tools and additional effort. A straightforward system can save time and frustration.

Size and Capacity

Determine the number of skis or snowboards you plan to transport and select a rack that can accommodate your needs. Rack capacities can vary, with some models holding up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards.

Budget Constraints

Your budget will play a role in your decision-making process. Ski and snowboard racks can range from $100 to $1,000, with higher-priced options typically offering advanced features and improved build quality.

Security and Safety

Opt for a rack with locking mechanisms to prevent theft and ensure your equipment is secure during transportation.

What Are the Different Types of Ski and Snowboard Racks?

Photo by Olympic National Park

Roof-Mounted Racks

These racks attach directly to your car's roof, either on existing crossbars or roof rails. They provide a stable, secure platform for your gear.


  • Space-saving: Frees up interior space for passengers and luggage
  • Aerodynamics: Minimizes wind resistance while driving
  • Secure and stable: Ensures your gear remains safely attached to your vehicle

Keep in mind:

  • Crossbars or roof rails required: Additional equipment may be necessary for installation
  • Accessibility: Some users may find it challenging to reach the rack, especially on taller vehicles

Hitch-Mounted Racks

Hitch-mounted racks attach to your car's rear hitch receiver, offering an accessible platform for your skis and snowboards.


  • Easy loading and unloading: Lower position makes it simple to place and remove gear
  • No roof rails or crossbars required: Convenient for vehicles without existing roof attachments
  • Convertible: Some can be converted to a bike rack in the summer.

Keep in mind:

  • Rearview obstruction: The rack may partially block your view through the rear window
  • Limited trunk access: Access to the trunk or hatch may be restricted when the rack is loaded

Magnetic Racks

Magnetic racks utilize powerful magnets to attach to your car's roof, providing a temporary, easy-to-install solution for transporting your equipment.


  • Quick and easy installation: No roof rails or crossbars are required, making it a versatile option for various vehicles
  • Portability: Simple to remove and transfer between vehicles

Keep in mind:

  • Vehicle compatibility: May not work with all car roof materials or designs
  • Security: Less secure compared to other options, potentially increasing the risk of theft or accidental detachment

Roof Boxes

Roof boxes are enclosed cargo carriers that mount on your car's roof, offering additional storage space for skis, snowboards, and other gear.


  • Weather protection: Provides shelter from rain, snow, and debris, keeping your equipment clean and dry
  • Extra storage: Can accommodate not only skis and snowboards but also boots, poles, and other accessories
  • Security: Lockable, enclosed design helps prevent theft and ensures your gear remains secure during transport

Keep in mind:

  • Crossbars or roof rails required: Like roof-mounted racks, roof boxes need a roof rack system for installation
  • Accessibility: Loading and unloading may be difficult for some users, especially on taller vehicles
  • Aerodynamics: Larger roof boxes may create more wind resistance, potentially affecting fuel efficiency

Vacuum-Mounted Racks

Vacuum-mounted racks use powerful suction cups to secure the rack to your vehicle's roof or rear window, offering a temporary and versatile solution for gear transportation.


  • Tool-free installation: Quick and easy setup without requiring roof rails or crossbars
  • Wide compatibility: Suitable for various vehicle types and roof designs

Keep in mind:

  • Security: May not be as secure as roof-mounted or hitch-mounted options
  • Vehicle compatibility: Not suitable for some vehicle materials, such as textured surfaces or glass sunroofs

By considering the different types of ski and snowboard racks available, you can make an informed decision based on your specific needs, vehicle compatibility, and desired features. Whether you prioritize security, ease of use, or additional storage capacity, there is a rack type suitable for your requirements.

Features to Look Out for When Buying a Ski and Snowboard Rack

  1. Locking mechanisms: Choose a rack with built-in locks for added security, protecting your gear from theft and ensuring it remains safely attached during transport.
  2. Easy installation and removal: Opt for a rack that is simple to install and remove, saving you time and effort. Tool-free installation and user-friendly designs are desirable features.
  3. Adjustable size and spacing: Racks with adjustable components allow customized configurations to accommodate different gear sizes and quantities.
  4. Durable materials and construction: High-quality materials and robust construction ensure your rack withstands the elements and lasts for multiple seasons.
  5. Integrated padding: Racks with built-in padding can protect your equipment from scratches and damage during transport.

How to Choose the Right Ski and Snowboard Rack for You

The Weekend Warrior

If you only hit the slopes a few times a season, a budget-friendly, easy-to-use option such as a basic roof-mounted rack might be sufficient. These options prioritize convenience and affordability, providing a practical solution for infrequent trips.

Look for:

  • Affordability
  • Easy attachment/detachment

The Pass Holder

Skiers who spend a lot of time on the mountain should invest in a high-quality roof-mounted or hitch-mounted rack that offers security, durability, and ease of use. In addition, these racks provide reliable performance and enhanced features tailored to meet the demands of an active winter sports lifestyle.

Look for:

  • Higher end models with the bells and whistles
  • High quality brands that will be durable and last

The Family

A larger, adjustable rack capable of accommodating multiple skis or snowboards is ideal for families or groups with several skiers or snowboarders. These racks often feature customizable components, enabling users to transport a variety of equipment types and sizes. You can also pack an entire roof box with skis if you have too many for standard large racks.

Look for:

  • Large roof boxes
  • Modular systems that can be used for different activities


Photo by Kris Arnold

Selecting the perfect ski and snowboard rack for your car involves carefully considering factors such as compatibility, ease of use, size, and budget. By evaluating your specific needs, researching available options, and choosing a rack that aligns with your requirements, you'll ensure a smooth and secure transportation experience for your gear. If you need further assistance or personalized recommendations, feel free to reach out to me on Curated, and I'll be more than happy to help you find the ideal rack for your needs.

will koons, Snowboarding Expert
will koons
Snowboarding Expert
As a life long outdoor enthusiast I have been skiing and snowboarding since age 3 and I also love to climb, paddle, surf and skydive. I love playing outside and chatting with people about gear..Consider me your on-demand concierge for all things gear related!
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Written by:
will koons, Snowboarding Expert
will koons
Snowboarding Expert
As a life long outdoor enthusiast I have been skiing and snowboarding since age 3 and I also love to climb, paddle, surf and skydive. I love playing outside and chatting with people about gear..Consider me your on-demand concierge for all things gear related!

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