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Rack it Up with the Best Gear Racks for Summer

Have you ever planned a skiing and snowboarding weekend, only to discover you have more gear than room? We’ve all been there. Even in the largest of SUVs, skis and snowboards require significant room to transport — and nobody wants to share the ride home with wet skis, sandy surfboards, or muddy bikes.

Keep the great outdoors where it belongs with the help of the best ski, snowboard, bike racks and “rocket boxes” from Thule and Yakima — two top-notch transportation product companies — for hauling that gear in every season. Or take a look at the best rooftop tents for transporting yourself.

Best Rooftop Gear Carriers

Thule Upride

Thule Upride

When you’re riding a premium carbon-fiber road bike or mountain bike, you want the ultimate white-glove transport. The Thule Upride limits its contact to a steely grip on the front wheel, leaving the rest of the bike untouched. Its versatile design accommodates bikes with non-traditional frame designs, rear suspension, and bottle cages, while the simple interface makes it easy to switch the carrier from one side of your vehicle to the other. And banish those worries about security — the Upride not only locks the bike to the bike rack, but also secures the bike rack to the vehicle, so you can take those roadside food and bathroom breaks without fear.

Thule Dock Grip

Thule Dock Grip

This versatile carrier set features large cushioned pads that conform to a large range of boat hull shapes, and even surfboards and SUP boards. The flexible carrier pads include two independent pivoting saddles with angle-setting lever, and fit not only Thule rack or bar systems but also most factory racks.

Yakima Toprod

Transporting your treasured rods inside a vehicle full of fishing buddies? Nothing makes a fisherman more nervous. Take it easy on your nerves, and opt instead for Yakima’s amply sized rod box. It can hold up to 8 fishing rods of any variety, from spin or bait casting to fly rods, even when fully rigged, so they’re ready to go straight out of the box.

Yakima TwoTimer

At the other end of the cycling spectrum is the fat-tire bike, perfect for gripping snow-covered trails in winter and splashing through mud during shoulder season. These burly bikes have met their match in the Yakima TwoTimer tray hitch rack. The wheel trays accommodate bikes of various sizes and shapes, even those with fenders, and the low height makes loading and unloading a breeze. It can even fold down while bikes are loaded to allow rear-of-vehicle access.

Thule SnowPack Extender

Thule SnowPack Extender

While this newest addition to the Thule product lineup fits virtually any roof rack, it has the added convenience of extending along the track to make for easy loading and unloading of your equipment. Additional features include oversized push buttons and locks that lock the rack to the car and skis to the rack. The rack accommodates up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards.

Yakima FatCat 4 Evo

Yakima FatCat 4 Evo

FatCat Evo mounts tool-free to virtually any roof rack. The aerodynamic design delivers a quiet ride and the large buttons allow for smooth access while wearing gloves or mitts. It features integrated SKS (same key system) locks for added security. Looking to carry more? Consider the FatCat 6 Evo, which can accommodate up to six pairs of powder skis or four snowboards.

Adaptable Options

Both Yakima and Thule make options for converting your hitch-mounted bike racks into ski and snowboard carriers to maximize the use of a single rack.

Yakima HitchSki

Yakima HitchSki

The HitchSki fits most four- and five-bike, mast-style hitch racks and will carry up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards. The rig comes with Yakima’s same SKS locking mechanism to secure your gear to the rack. Optional locking options are available to secure the entire rig to your car.

Thule Tram

Thule Tram

Rather than changing out your hitch bike rack for a ski/snowboard rack, Thule makes an add-on rack perfect for the all-weather adventurer. Start with a hanging hitch bike rack like the Thule Apex XT, then just fit the Tram over the upper bar to hold up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards on two-inch receiver racks.

Still Need More Space?

Bulky items like ski and snowbaord helmets and boots can also be space-consuming. When carpooling to the slopes, all of this gear adds up — and when the vehicle is packed with snow enthusiasts, space is critical.

Thule Vector M

Thule Vector M

Thule is renowned for its options in the ski-compatible cargo box category. We got a chance to test the brand-new Vector M, Thule’s newest cargo carrier, and have no reservation in saying that it’s worth every nickel of the splurge. The interior features a felt-lined base for protecting your gear on bumpy alpine roads, as well as interior lighting that accommodates the compulsive re-packer. (That would be me.) Bespoke display systems ensure that you not only mounted and locked the box securely, but that you know that you did so, and the forward positioning ensures that opening your trunk doesn’t mean unwanted contact with the cargo box. Plus, it has to be said, this thing just looks freaking badass on top of a vehicle.

Yakima

Yakima SkyBox 21 Carbonite cargo box

With no fewer than 10 rooftop cargo boxes, Yakima has options to accommodate all types of gear as well as all ranges of budget. The smallest, the RocketBox Pro 11, will hold up to 210-cm skis; the largest box, the SkyBox 21 Carbonite, will hold up to 215-cm skis … and, with 21 cubic feet of storage space, a whole lot more. All feature the universal roof rack fit.

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