GearCars & Trucks
Q:

Factory or aftermarket roof rack?

I'm putting a ski/bike rack on my new Subaru, and I'm wondering what to get: Thule, Yakima, or factory?

Thule Moab Basket (Photo: Courtesy of Thule)
Thule Moab Basket
A:

What would a Subaru be without a roof rack? Those cars were purpose built to carry skis, bikes, and maybe the occasional kayak.

Yakima Loadwarrior basket

Yakima Loadwarrior basket

Yakima Fatcat 4

Yakima Fatcat 4

Yakima Sprocketrocket

Yakima Sprocketrocket


I wouldn’t recommend buying a factory rack, though, at least not for the actual carrying pieces—they’re overpriced. Factory bars are fine, and you can easily attach aftermarket accessories to them. I mounted my Yakima Loadwarrior car-top basket ($269) to the factory bars on my 2005 WRX. I chose the Loadwarrior for its versatility: the basket can carry any type of cargo, and it fits both Yakima's Fatcat 4 ski attachment ($209) and the company's SprocketRocket bike holder ($189).

Although both Yakima and Thule would disagree, I don’t see many qualitative difference between the companies. Which you choose really comes down to aesthetics and whether there's a specific setup you want. Thule offers a similar arrangement to the one I have with their 690XT M.O.A.B. basket ($379), a Universal Flat Top ($170) for skis, and a 513 Domestique ($170) for bikes. And, of course, with either Yakima or Thule you can always do without the basket and attach the carriers directly to the factory cross pieces.

—Doug Gantenbein

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Car Racks
Lead Photo: Courtesy of Thule
More Gear