Easiest Installation
Yakima FreshTrack

A secure, low-profile ski and snowboard rack that is relatively lightweight.

Best Protection
Thule Pulse

A fully enclosed cargo carrier that’s large enough to fit ski equipment.

Most Secure
Thule Snowpack Extender

A locking ski rack with hidden screws to prevent theft.

Most Compact
Rhino Rack Ski Carrier

A low-cost ski rack that can carry a single set of skis or one snowboard.

The best ski racks are easy to install, stable, and able to safely carry all of your gear from point A to point B. In this article, we recommend four ski and snowboard racks based on these criteria. Our review team has tested and installed each of these racks so that you can feel confident they are stable and secure.

4 Best Snowboard And Ski Racks

A member of our reviews team installs a Ski Carrier on top of their vehicle.

  1. Easiest Installation: Yakima Freshtrack
  2. Best Protection: Thule Pulse
  3. Most Secure: Thule Snowpack Extender
  4. Most Compact: Rhino Rack Ski Carrier

#1 Easiest Installation: Yakima FreshTrack

Yakima FreshTrack

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The most common design for a ski or snowboard rack is a pair of locking clamps that attach to your vehicle’s roof rack. The Yakima FreshTrack offers one of the best versions of this design because it is easy to use and built with quality parts. A common point of failure among lower-quality ski racks is the latches breaking or loosening with time – something you shouldn’t expect with a Yakima ski rack.

A single button is used to open and close this ski rack, and an SKS lock system helps to deter theft. The FreshTrack is a good pick for those looking for the simplest ski rack solution that is reliable and long-lasting. This rack is not enclosed, so it will not protect your skis from road dirt and debris. While your skis are unlikely to be damaged in this rack, they may get dirty and require cleaning after a long drive.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $250 – $300
  • Capacity: Four to six pairs of skis or two snowboards
  • Weight: 7.0 pounds
  • Includes SkiLift attachment to accommodate extra-tall bindings
  • SKS locking mechanism

Our Experience

A set of Ski & Snowboard racks are installed on a vehicle's cross bars.

We tested the four-ski model for the Yakima FreshTrack and found it to be the easiest to install (among those racks we tested) due to its lightweight design. Heavier racks and cargo carriers typically require two people for installation.

That said, assembling the FreshTrack can take around 30 minutes because of the number of parts involved. The good news is that you’ll only need to assemble the FreshTrack once. Attaching and removing this ski rack from your roof can be done in a matter of minutes.

Once installed, the FreshTrack is simple to operate. Importantly, the swing arm is smooth and closes with a satisfying click so that you know the lock is engaged. During our test, this rack fit two pairs of skis and one snowboard.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 130 ratings

The Yakima FreshTrack ski rack is praised by customers because it is reliably easy to use. Many point out that lower-cost ski racks are often difficult to operate in cold temperatures, while the FreshTrack functions well at any temperature – even when coated with ice (according to at least one reviewer).

The adjustable fit makes the FreshTrack compatible with just about any crossbar setup – both factory and aftermarket.

“Easy assembly and installation. Took 20 minutes out of the box.”

– Ken in Erie, via Amazon

Some people complain about security. While the FreshTrack includes an SKS locking system, the screws that connect the FreshTrack to your roof are exposed. These screws require an uncommon type of Allen wrench but could be removed without the key.

Another complaint that some raise is that the FreshTrack (the smaller model) will not hold two snowboards. This may be because those users are not properly fitting their snowboards. Even the small model can fit two snowboards provided they are stacked on top of one another and the SkiLift attachment is used (to provide clearance for face-down bindings).

#2 Best Protection: Thule Pulse

Thule Pulse

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If you want to prevent your skis from getting dirty while you transport them atop your car, consider the Thule Pulse. This roof rack is not designed specifically for skis but works great as a ski carrier. It is long enough to fit most skis and snowboards and includes tiedown straps to stabilize your gear.

The other benefit of the Thule Pulse is you can use it to carry things besides your skis such as extra luggage or camping gear. We think Thule makes some of the best roof racks, provided you are willing to pay a bit more.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $600
  • Capacity: Four skis or two snowboards (medium size)
  • Weight: 34.0 lbs.
  • Fully enclosed
  • Central locking system

Our Experience

Thule Pulse

The Thule Pulse has our favorite attachment mechanism of any roof rack that we tested. Four clamps push through slits on the bottom of the cargo box and are adjusted to grip the roof rails. This system is compatible with a wide variety of crossbars and vehicle sizes. The only thing that makes this ski storage rack difficult to install is that it is large and so may require two people to hoist on top of your vehicle.

Opening and closing the Pulse is simple, though we did have some trouble engaging the lock. The latch that keeps the lid closed is small and centrally located, so we do feel that this device could close more securely. That said, many customers claim to have driven with this roof rack for years with no issues of it coming open by mistake.

We were able to load two pairs of skis into the Pulse, but it could easily fit four. You could fit many more pairs by stacking equipment on top of each other, but this is not recommended as you could damage your skis. Tiedown straps are included so that your skis don’t slide around inside this roof box.

Overall Rating4.3 out of 5
Ease of Use4

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on around 650 ratings

The Thule Pulse receives high praise because it is easy to install and offers a lot of storage space. Reviewers like the mounting system, and many say this Pulse is so aerodynamic that it produces almost no road noise.

“I couldn’t believe how much room is in this thing and the ease of setup is amazing – light enough to do it with one person.”

– Randogg, via Amazon

Some people feel that the locking mechanism could be improved. The key system can be finicky, and the key won’t come out unless turned to the perfect angle.

Another issue is that this cargo carrier feels less sturdy than other Thule products. The plastic is thinner and more malleable. That said, the device holds up well to the elements, it just subjectively feels less solid.

#3 Most Secure: Thule Snowpack Extender

Thule Snowpack Extender

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The Thule Snowpack Extender is a good choice if you like the Yakima FreshTrack, but would like something more secure against theft. Unlike the FreshTrack, the Snowpack Extender secures via screws that cannot be accessed while the device is closed and locked.

Generally, it’s not a good idea to leave skis on top of your car overnight, even with a locking system, but it’s nice to have a more secure system if your vehicle is going to be parked unattended for a few hours with the skis on top.

The Snowpack Extender features a raised design to accommodate taller bindings and has many of the same features and benefits as the Yakima FreshTrack.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $450
  • Capacity: Six skis or four snowboards
  • Weight: 16.5 lbs.
  • Universal mounting system
  • Anti-theft locking system

Our Experience

Thule Snowpack Extender

The SnowPack Extender is very similar to the Yakima FreshTrack. The most notable difference is that the screws used to secure this ski rack to your roof rails are not accessible while the roof rack is closed. For this reason, the Snowpack Extender is the best option for keeping your skis secure from theft.

Because of the hidden screw locations, the Snowpack Extender takes more time to assemble than the FreshTrack. We also found the included instructions to be practically useless. Once this rack is assembled on the ground, however, it is very easy to attach and remove from your vehicle.

Overall Rating4.3 out of 5
Ease of Use4

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 based on over 500 ratings

According to Amazon reviews, the Snowpack Extender is sturdy, stable, and easy to install. Like other Thule roof racks, the Snowpack Extender is quality-made, meaning it is durable and can withstand heavy use.

“We installed [the Snowpack Extender] on factory-installed crossbars on our large SUV, and we had zero issues. Worked perfectly on a long, 4-hour trek to ski.”

– Christi J., via Amazon

The main complaint about the Snowpack Extender is that the instructions are poorly written. This ski rack is not especially difficult to install, but the instructions are of little help. Another recurring complaint is that boxes arrive with parts missing. Thule will send replacement parts, but be sure to check your box components immediately to ensure you have everything.

#4 Most Compact: Rhino Rack Ski Carrier

Rhino Rack Ski Carrier

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The Rhino Rack ski carrier is a good low-cost option for those who only need to transport one or two pairs of skis. While not as robust as the Thule or Yakima alternatives, it is nonetheless a stable roof rack that’s worth the cost.

We tested the smallest version of the Rhino Rack ski carrier and it could hold two pairs of skis, but could not securely handle a single snowboard. If you are a snowboarder, you might consider a different roof rack, or you should purchase the large version.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $130 – $170
  • Capacity: Two to four pairs of skis or one to two snowboards
  • Weight: 8.2 lbs.
  • Universal mounting system
  • Can also be used to carry fishing rods
  • Locking security system

Our Experience

Rhino Rack Ski Carrier

This ski rack is easy to install because of its small size and light weight. Compared to similar Yakima and Thule ski carriers, the Rhino Rack is a bit taller and doesn’t hold as many skis if you opt for the smallest size. We couldn’t quite get a snowboard to fit in this rack but expect it would fit in a larger version.

Once installed, the Rhino Rack is stable and can be trusted with your equipment. We think this is an excellent low-cost ski carrier option if you only need to carry one or two pairs of skis. We don’t recommend this size of roof rack for carrying snowboards.

Overall Rating4 out of 5
Ease of Use4

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 350 ratings

People choose this ski rack because of its light weight and low cost. Most are satisfied with the performance and feel that the Rhino Rack ski carrier is easy to install.

“Great rack. Drove nearly 1,000 miles with it through a lot of storms and never had any problems. Solid rack. People who said the brackets broke were over-tightening them by a lot.”

– rescue5150, via Amazon

Some note that the build quality of this rack is a bit lower compared to Yakima and Thule alternatives. While it is robust and should last several years, it may not endure as long as more expensive alternatives. Another issue with this rack is that it won’t close if packed too tightly, and the capacity doesn’t rival larger ski racks.

Ski/Snowboard Rack Buyers Guide

If you’re a winter or mountain sports enthusiast, you’re going to need some way to get your gear to the mountain. The simplest solution is to place your skis in your trunk, but unless you have a large vehicle like an SUV, this may not be possible. Even with larger vehicles, you may not be able to fit skis as well as passengers and baggage.

The most common solution for ski and snowboard transport is a roof rack. Some roof racks are designed explicitly for skis, and some cargo boxes can be used to transport a variety of items, including skis, snowboards, snowshoes, and cross-country skis.

Ski Rack Vs. Cargo Box

In general, a cargo box offers better protection for your skis and may be the best choice for a long-distance road trip. This is because a cargo box is enclosed and will protect your skis from road debris. That said, you’ll need to get a cargo box that allows you to stabilize your skis so they don’t slide around, getting damaged. Small cargo boxes may not be large enough for ski storage.

A ski rack is purpose-built for skis, and the best ski racks are stable and easy to install. The downside is that your skis will be exposed. You’ll need to clean your equipment after you arrive at your destination. Some people are annoyed by this hassle, while others don’t seem to mind. A ski rack may be a better option for short trips, as they are less cumbersome. You can also choose to bag your skis to prevent the accumulation of road grime.


Any ski rack that you choose to purchase must be stable – stable on the roof and firm in holding your skis. Any rack is going to add a certain amount of drag and noise, but a stable rack will keep these things to a minimum.


You can purchase ski racks that hold anywhere from one to six pairs of skis. Consider how many skis or snowboards you want your rack to carry when selecting an option. Many ski rack models are available in different sizes.


In general, it’s not the best idea to leave your skis attached to your roof overnight. But a little security provides peace of mind for when you leave your skis on your roof for a brief period of time, say during a highway rest stop. Choose a ski rack that includes a locking mechanism.


Many issues that people have with ski racks come down to user error. Be sure to properly fit your ski rack without over-tightening bolts. Also, pay attention to how you load skis and snowboards into your rack. If the ski rack has enough clearance, you will be able to fit more skis by connecting skis and snowboards back-to-back before inserting them.

How We Tested

The ski racks in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching retailers like Amazon and RealTruck for top products, looking at factors such as capacity, security, customer ratings, and prices.

Our product testing team then ordered the ski racks that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on a sedan. We assembled and installed each rack, then fitted it with skis and a snowboard. During this process, our review team paid special attention to ease of use, stability, and versatility. Each ski rack was given a rating out of 5 stars based on these criteria.

Ease Of Use

Our ease of use rating is based on the relative difficulty of attaching and removing skis or snowboards from the ski rack. We also considered the assembly process, though this counted for less than how easy it is to mount and operate each ski rack.


Our stability score is based on how much (or little) equipment moves once properly secured in the rack. This score is also based on how stably the rack attaches to the vehicle. Racks that did not budge, even with a firm shake, scored best in this category.


Our versatility score is based on how many items a rack can carry and what else a rack could potentially carry. We loaded each ski rack with skis and a snowboard to see for ourselves what they could hold.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

Best Snowboard And Ski Racks: Bottom Line

As with many types of roof racks, we think that Thule and Yakima offer high-quality, reliable ski racks. The Yakima FreshTrack is exceptionally easy to install and operate and is very stable. The Thule Snowpack is a little harder to install but more secure against theft. The Thule Pulse is a good ski rack option if you prefer something that is entirely enclosed to protect your skis from road debris.

For those looking for a lower-cost alternative, we like the Rhino Rack ski rack. While it doesn’t hold as many items as the Thule and Yakima ski racks, it is stable, easy to install, and includes a locking system for added security.

Ski Racks: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.