Gear Guy

Any ideas for a ski-carrying roof rack?

I would like some advice on a permanent or removable roof rack, mainly for carrying several pairs of skis on my Isuzu Trooper. Isuzu sells a rack for around $350, but I'm sure I can find something better for the se money or even less. John Boise, Idaho

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Most car companies sell a ski or bike rack setup for their vehicles. They don’t make them, of course—chances are they’re buying from one of the big rack makers, slapping on a car-brand sticker, and charging you 10 to 20 percent more than the same item sold through REI.

You could, for instance, get a set of Yakima Q Towers and crossbars, add to that a Powderhound, which holds up to four pairs of skis, and walk out with a very nice rack setup for just over $300. So that’s progress over what the dealer wants. And of course, the Q Towers can be the base for all sorts of load-lugging options, from kayaks to luggage shells to bike racks. It would be a removable system; I don’t think you want to start drilling holes in your newish Trooper or shell out the bucks to have a permanent setup installed even before adding the ski-carrying component.

Thule’s equivalent system is built around the Aero Foot Pack and the Flat Top Four Pair Ski Carrier, coming in at just over $300. I can’t say Yakima is better than Thule, or vice versa. I use Yakima, so if you want to be like the Gear Guy—and who doesn’t?—you can make your decision based on that.

There’s also a decent budget option. Sportrack’s Model 1210 rack holds four pairs of skis in carriers attached to a flexible strap that hooks to each side of the roof. And it’s only about $80. The downside is that the rubber feet on the rack touch the roof and can mar the paint if grit or sand (lots of that on roads to ski resorts, of course) gets thrown up on top of the car. And of course, you can’t add other accessories to it as you can with the Thule or Yakima setups. But if you only want to carry skis, then it’s a good option.

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