Beginners Guide to Picking the Right Ski Rack for Your Car

As an El Niño year, 2019 was expected to bring some heavy storms but I don’t think anyone expected the record snowfall we have received this year. If you are on the west coast, you may have noticed a recent spike in resort attendance. With the Sierra Nevada and Cascade range both reaching their peak snowfall in February, this season is just getting started. Even if it’s almost time for resorts to start selling discounted spring tickets, it’s not too late to hit the slopes. In fact, now is a great time of year to get into skiing for the first time. You have a heavy base depth from winter storms, are receiving fresh pow on a weekly basis and can begin to find those spring bargains on gear. All you need is a rack to put everything in and you’ll be ready to earn your turns.

Figuring out the best way to transport your sticks shouldn’t be a complicated process. There are generally two types to choose from: a ski rack for cars without factory crossbars or a ski rack for cars that already have bars installed. If you are interested in using your car roof as storage for other gear as well, then a cargo box may be better for your needs.

Ski Racks For Cars Without Factory Crossbars

Silver small car with Inno magnetic roof racks.

A ski rack for cars without crossbars will fit to your vehicle’s factory fixed mounting points. These ski racks are designed to securely grip the roof of your car without damaging the materials or paint, even if your vehicle didn’t roll off the factory line with a cargo rack already installed. You can also choose a ski rack that will work with another accessory like INNO’s Aerobase to create a crossbar effect that is anchored to some of the strongest, most secure parts of your car’s roof.

There are INNO base racks for smooth roof vehicles without rain gutters, factory track systems and fixed points, vehicles with flush mount rails, and vehicles with raised side rails. Simply pick which type works with your make and model and then purchase a ski rack designed to work with your new cargo base.

Ski Racks For Cars With Factory Racks

Sporty white SUV with roof rack filled with skis, driving on a snow covered road.

A ski rack for cars with crossbars is one of the simplest and most economic routes you can take. After all, you just need one piece of equipment, without having to purchase a base for your rack. Ski racks for cars with crossbars also tend to be universal, able to work with a variety of different vehicles and ski bindings. The decision-making process here will be based on how many boards or skis you need to carry, the thickness of your binding systems, and the width of your car and crossbars.

Extra Features To Look For In a Ski Rack

From there, choosing the right ski rack for your car comes down to which extra features you’d find most helpful and appealing. A good rack will have a locking mechanism because let’s face it sometimes after a long day on the slopes, it’s nice to come home and pass out on the couch without worrying that your skis are up for grabs in your driveway. It should also have some kind of rubber padding to protect your board, skis, and bindings along the way. You’ll also want a rack that’s easy to use even when you’re wearing gloves, with big accessible buttons and generously scaled features.

Memory Mount systems are also helpful if you’ll be taking the rack on and off your vehicle frequently or swapping it between cars. That means less time fussing with the rack and more time on the slopes. The same goes for racks you don’t need specialized tools to install, but simply come on and off the car quickly and easily while still staying secure in transit. Look for a ski rack that you can load from either side of the vehicle so that if you are parked halfway in a snow bank you can access your skis from the other side.