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How to Tie Down Skis and Snowboards to a Roof Rack - Cover

How to Tie Down Skis and Snowboards to a Roof Rack

Raise your hand if you love long road trips to the mountains jam-packed in your car with several sets of skis or snowboards. No takers? Okay, maybe you love the ride home with your snowy gear leaking slush all over your vehicle carpet. If neither of these sound appealing to you, you should definitely be carrying your skis on your roof. For one thing, they'll be out of your way. For another, they won't slush up your vehicle. Plus, hauling skis or snowboards on your roof is a delightfully simple endeavor! Not sure how to go about it safely? Curious what your options are? Read on below.
Snowboards on Roof Rack

Can I Tie Skis or Snowboards Directly to My Roof?

We don't recommend it, no. It may be tempting to save a few bucks by skipping the carrier (or the entire roof rack) and just throwing your ski bag up there with some cam straps to hold things in place. However, this is what we like to refer to as "not a great idea" (especially for long trips). Why? For one thing, if one of those skis comes loose, you're liable for any damage they cause to other people or vehicles. For another, you can damage your gear by strapping it down too tightly. However, if you absolutely must do it in a pinch...well, you wouldn't be the first. In the interest of making this setup a little safer, we recommend using a sturdy set of cam buckle straps as well as some foam padding to make sure the skis/snowboards don't scratch one another or your vehicle. That said, there are plenty of budget-friendly rack and carrier options for just about every vehicle. If you don't have a roof rack and carrier, we highly recommend either purchasing one or carrying your skis inside your car.
Roof box in winter weather

How to Tie Down Skis & Snowboards to My Roof Rack

There's really only two steps for securing skis or snowboards to a roof rack: picking a carrier or cargo box, then loading them up. *Note: Consult your vehicle's owner manual to confirm the weight carrying capacity of your roof prior to loading.
Watch Now: Best Ski and Snowboard Rack Options

Step 1: Choose Your Carrier or Cargo Box

To carry your skis or snowboards on a roof rack, you'll need an accessory that attaches to your rack. You have two main choices: a carrier/rack or a roof box..If you aren't worried about exposing your skis to the elements or road grime, you're probably fine with a carrier. Ski/snowboard carriers attach to your roof rack's crossbars and can carry up to 8 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards. (So, you know, bring friends.) Carriers typically take up less space than cargo boxes, so they're easy to store in the garage when you're not using them. Plus, they're usually a few hundred dollars less than cargo boxes. If you're looking for a budget-friendly option to get you to the slopes a few times a year, you might be best suited to a carrier. If you prefer something with a little more protection, you can go with a roof cargo box. Since cargo boxes close and lock, they have the advantage of offering more security and weather protection than traditional carriers. If you need to carry additional items (such as snow boots or other wet gear) or see yourself needing extra space for summer camping trips, too, a roof box will provide that versatility, whereas a carrier will not. Pro tip: If you decide to go with a box, measure your skis and the box length prior to purchasing to make sure your gear will fit! (Um, not that we're speaking from experience...)
Ski/Snowboard Carrier
Ski/snowboard rack carrier
Cargo Box with Skis
Cargo box with skis/snowboards
Skis in Ski Rack

Step 2: Secure Your Skis/Snowboards

After installing a carrier or cargo box on your roof rack, loading up is easy. Just place your skis or snowboards in the carrier, lock the carrier arms, and you're good to go. If you're using a cargo box, load your gear inside, then shut and lock the carrier. .Additional tips:
  • If you're loading skis onto a carrier, make sure the tail ends are facing forward—you don't want wind catching the front tips the entire way (this puts additional strain on your skis.)
  • If you're loading more than one set of skis or snowboards side-by-side, position them evenly at least 1" apart across the rack
Skis Loaded onto Ski Rack
Skis in Ski Rack
There's no real need to tie your skis or snowboards down inside a cargo box—most people just load them in and go. Your gear shouldn't move much up there, but if you're worried about it, you can throw in an old blanket for padding or use a strap or bungee cord to keep things still. Some boxes also come with an internal strap.
Cargo Box - Filled
Cargo Box - Closed
Pro tip: If you have trouble reaching the top of your roof to load/unload your gear, a wheel step or hitch step may help!And that's really all there is to it! If you have any other questions about roof racks, ski/snowboard carriers, or cargo boxes, drop us a line in the comments below!Written by: Amber S.Updated on: 2/14/22

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