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Best Snowboard and Ski Racks

Carry cargo confidently with one of the best roof racks.
Written and Tested By:
Will Moore
Written and Tested By: Will Moore Senior Writer – Motor1 Review Team

Will has written for several major auto sites including Motor1 since 2020, logging hundreds of hours researching and testing products ranging from child car seats to torque wrenches. Will is also Certified by Safe Kids Worldwide as a Child Passenger Safety Technician (#T836339).

Last Updated 01/03/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • The best snowboard and ski racks are the Yakima FreshTrack, Thule Pulse, Thule SnowPack Extender, and Rhino-Rack Ski Carrier.
  • Ski racks can range in price from $180 to $600. More expensive ski racks will feature a higher load capacity and better protection from the elements.
  • When selecting a ski rack, keep capacity and coverage in mind. Do you want a rack that fully covers your ski gear, or one that’s cheaper but leaves your items exposed?
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 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 you can feel confident in their stability and security.

Ski Rack Reviews

Most ski racks can also carry snowboards and vice versa. We tested each rack with both types of equipment when possible.

What Are The Best Ski Racks?

After testing installation, stability, and overall ease of use, we think some of the best ski racks are the Yakima FreshTrack, Thule Pulse, Thule SnowPack Extender, and Rhino-Rack Ski Carrier.

Brand/ModelCostOverall RatingAward

Yakima FreshTrack



Easiest Installation

Thule Pulse



Best Protection

Thule SnowPack Extender



Most Secure

Rhino-Rack Ski Carrier



Most Compact

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

Snowboard And Ski Racks: Our Testing Process

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

Our product testing team then ordered several different pairs for testing. A team member installed each rack and attached both skis and snowboards. Learn more about how we tested each ski rack here.

1. Yakima FreshTrack: Easiest Installation

Yakima FreshTrack
Yakima FreshTrack Easiest Installation
  • Cost: $240
  • Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
  • Capacity: Four to six pairs of skis or two snowboards
  • Weight: 7 pounds
  • Includes SkiLift attachment to accommodate extra-tall bindings
  • SKS locking mechanism

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’s 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 deter theft. The FreshTrack is a good pick for those seeking the simplest ski rack solution that’s both reliable and long-lasting. This rack is not enclosed, so it won’t 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.

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use 4.5
Stability 5.0
Versatility 4.0
Overall Rating 4.5

These are the benefits and potential drawbacks of the Yakima FreshTrack:

  • Easy installation
  • Integrated SRS lock design
  • Lightweight
  • Generates noise
  • Doesn’t always fit two snowboards as advertised

We tested the four-ski model for the Yakima FreshTrack and found it to be the easiest to install (among the racks we tested) due to its lightweight design. Heavier racks and cargo carriers typically require two people for installation, but this one installed easily with just one.

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 you know the lock is engaged. During our test, this rack fit two pairs of skis and one snowboard.

Amazon review score: 4.4 out of 5.0 (over 140 ratings)

The Yakima FreshTrack ski rack is generally praised by customers. 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.

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

Another complaint is that the FreshTrack (the 2 ski pair 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. Thule Pulse: Best Protection

Thule Pulse
Thule Pulse Best Protection
  • Cost: $600
  • Overall rating: 4.3 out of 5.0
  • Capacity: Four skis or two snowboards (medium size)
  • Weight: 34 lbs.
  • Fully enclosed
  • Central locking system

If you want to prevent your skis from getting dirty while you transport them on top of your car, the Thule Pulse could be a good fit. While this roof rack isn’t designed specifically for skis, it works quite well as a ski carrier. It’s long enough to fit most skis and snowboards and includes tie-down straps to stabilize your gear.

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

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use 4.0
Stability 4.0
Versatility 5.0
Overall Rating 4.5

Below, you can see the pros and cons of the Thule Pulse:

  • Durable construction
  • Easy to install and operate
  • Full protection from the elements
  • Expensive

The Thule Pulse has our favorite attachment mechanism of any roof rack we tested. We tested the Thule 614 Pulse, which is the medium-sized model (both smaller and larger versions are available). 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 its large size—it 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 feel the 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 more pairs by stacking equipment on top of each other, though that’s not recommended since you could damage your skis. Tiedown straps are included so your skis don’t slide around inside the roof box.

Amazon review score: 4.6 out of 5.0 (more than 800 ratings)

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

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. Thule SnowPack Extender: Most Secure

Thule Snowpack Extender
Thule Snowpack Extender Most Secure
  • Cost: $450
  • Overall rating: 4.3 out of 5.0
  • Capacity: Six skis or four snowboards
  • Weight: 16.5 lbs.
  • Universal mounting system
  • Anti-theft locking system

The Thule SnowPack Extender is a good choice if you like the Yakima FreshTrack but want 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. That said, it’s nice to have a more secure system even if you’re only leaving the vehicle unattended for a few hours with 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.

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use 4.0
Stability 4.5
Versatility 4.5
Overall Rating 4.3

Benefits and drawbacks of the Thule SnowPack Extender include:

  • Secure design
  • Easy to use
  • High capacity
  • Confusing instructions

The SnowPack Extender is very similar to the Yakima FreshTrack. The most notable difference is that the screws securing it to the roof rails are not accessible while the roof rack is closed. For this reason, the SnowPack Extender is the best option for deterring theft.

However, those hidden screws add time to the SnowPack Extender’s assembly versus the FreshTrack. We also found the instructions to be practically useless. They contain no written descriptions, only pictures with arrows that don’t offer clear directions on what to do. Once this rack is assembled on the ground, however, it’s easy to attach and remove from your vehicle.

Amazon review score: 4.5 out of 5.0 (over 560 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’s durable and can withstand heavy use.

The main complaint about the SnowPack Extender is that the instructions are poorly written—something we experienced directly. Another recurring complaint is missing parts with brand-new orders. Thule will send replacements, but be sure to check all boxes immediately to ensure you have everything.

4. Rhino-Rack Ski Carrier: Most Compact

Rhino Rack Ski Carrier
Rhino-Rack Ski Carrier Most Compact
Rhino Rack Ski Carrier
  • Cost: $180
  • Overall rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 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

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’s nonetheless a stable roof rack that’s worth the cost.

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

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use 4.0
Stability 4.5
Versatility 3.5
Overall Rating 4.0

Below, you can see the pros and cons of the Rhino-Rack Ski Carrier:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to use
  • Small capacity
  • Not as robust as Yakima or Thule products

This ski rack is easy to install because of its small size and lightweight construction. It comes in three sizes (10.0-, 13.0-, and 20.0-inch). We tested the smallest version designed to hold two skis. 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 roof rack for carrying snowboards.

Rhino Rack Ski Carrier

Amazon review score: 4.6 out of 5.0 (approx. 900 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.

Some note that the build quality of this rack is a bit lower compared to those from Yakima and Thule. While it’s robust and could potentially last several years depending on conditions and frequency of use, it may not endure as long as pricier 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.

Snowboard And Ski 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, passengers, luggage, and other cargo. Use our table to compare common ski rack features side by side.

Compare Roof Racks

Brand/ModelCapacityWeightIncludes Locks?

Yakima FreshTrack

Four to six pairs of skis or two snowboards

7 pounds


Thule Pulse

Four skis or two snowboards (medium size)

34 lbs.


Thule SnowPack Extender

Six skis or four snowboards

16.5 lbs.


Rhino-Rack Ski Carrier

Two to four pairs of skis or one to two snowboards

8.2 lbs.


The most common solution for ski and snowboard transport is a roof rack. Some roof racks are designed explicitly for skis, while many cargo boxes can be used to transport a variety of items like 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 and the elements. That said, you’ll need to get a cargo box that allows you to stabilize your skis so they don’t slide around, risking damage. 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 when you arrive at your destination. A ski rack may be a better option for short trips, as they’re 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 on the roof and firm in holding your skis. Racks will 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, leaving your skis attached to your roof overnight is not the best idea. But a little security provides peace of mind when leaving skis on the roof for a brief period, such as 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’ll be able to fit more skis by connecting skis and snowboards back-to-back before inserting them.

Snowboard And Ski Racks: Bottom Line

As with many types of roof racks, we think 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’s 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’s stable, easy to install, and includes a locking system for added security.

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

Ski Racks: FAQ

Below are some common frequently asked questions about ski racks:

Do ski racks damage skis?

A properly designed ski rack (like those recommended in this review) will not damage your skis. Rubber gripping is used to ensure skis aren’t scratched by the racks, and a securely locking hinge keeps skis in place.

If your skis are exposed to the road, it’s possible that they can be damaged by road debris. If you’re concerned about road debris, choose a fully enclosed roof rack like the Thule Pulse to transport your winter sports gear.

Are ski racks universal?

Most ski racks offer a universal fit for most cars. That said, always check the size of the ski rack you intend to purchase against the size of your vehicle and its crossbars. Some especially large ski racks may not fit on compact cars. In particular, some Tesla owners have said certain large ski racks don’t fit well on their vehicles.

Do you need crossbars for a ski rack?

You will need either crossbars or a trailer hitch to install a ski rack. Certain roof racks may attach via a strap system that passes underneath the hood, but we haven’t found any ski racks that work this way. This installation method is also less stable and not the best option for ski transportation.

Is it safe to put skis on a roof rack?

It is safe to put your skis on a roof rack, provided the roof rack is either specifically designed for skis, or has a tiedown mechanism that will ensure your skis are stabilized. It’s not a good idea to place unsecured skis inside a rooftop cargo box as they can be damaged if they slide around. If you’re worried about placing skis on top of your vehicle, you might consider a hitch-mounted ski rack.

Full Ski Rack Testing Methodology

A team member tested each ski rack 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 5.0 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 consideration wasn’t weighed as heavily as 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 stable the rack is once attached 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.

How We Score Products

Every ski rack we test is given a score between 1.0 and 5.0 stars in each category. Here’s what those star ratings mean in concrete terms:

  • 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating means a ski rack is among the best in a category. It installs in minutes and is easy to operate, keeps skis perfectly secured, or can hold at least four sets of skis and shield them from the elements.
  • 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating means the ski rack performs better than average in a category. It may be somewhat difficult to install but is exceptionally easy to operate, equipment only rattles a small amount, or can hold at least four sets of skis, though they’re exposed.
  • 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating indicates what is average or typical for a ski rack, based on our testing experience. It’s difficult to install but not difficult to operate, will not drop skis, or can hold at least two sets of skis.
  • 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating indicates the ski rack performs poorer than the average. It is difficult to use and operate, rattles significantly during use, and can only hold a single pair of skis.
  • 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating indicates that the ski rack performs well below expectations in a category. It’s impossible to install without expert assistance, is prone to falling off once installed, or can only hold a single ski.

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*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.