Bring More With You, Install a Roof Rack

A roof rack keeps gear secure and organized, which means more room inside the cabin during those long holiday road trips.

“Roof racks are prized for their versatility,” said Terry Wood, a contributor to the Seattle Times and REI’s website. “With the right accessories, a roof rack can be adapted to transport just about any outdoor toy.”

Just about any vehicle can be retrofitted for carrying gear. Vehicles with a tow hitch can be retrofitted for carry snowboards and skis. Or temporary roof racks may be installed on most vehicles.

A seasonal camper might opt for a clamshell container they can stash in the garage between trips, where a professional cyclist might invest in a bike rack with cushioned clamps that’s mounted atop the vehicle frame.

Yakima, a leading manufacturer of cargo racks, offered the following insight about selecting and using these devices:

  • Permanent racks offer the safest way to carry winter gear. If the vehicle has the lengthwise rack rails, cross bars must be added to complete the system and attach cargo carriers or equipment clamps
  • Watch the weather. Rain or snowy conditions can damage exposed gear. Small rust stains may appear on metal surfaces of ski equipment attached to roof racks.
  • Consider what you want to carry. Skis, snowboards, snowshoes and other accessories such as boots or clothes? A clamshell enclosure protects gear from theft and the elements.
  • Materials matter. Stainless steel parts are less likely to rust or break than plastic components. ABS plastic lasts longer and weathers better than cheap polyethylene plastic.
  • Review the aerodynamics as well as design to make sure it blends with your vehicle and minimizes wind resistance.
  • Ask about permanent racks and look for an experienced installer that guarantees installation quality.