Should You Transport Your Skis on a Ski Rack or in the Car?

By Lori Straus

Active man fastening skis on the roof of car

Skiing lets you have fun outdoors in the winter and enjoy the snow we usually complain about. Whether you’re swooshing down the slopes of your favourite runs or gliding along trails, skiing is a sport that needs snow. However, most of us also need to travel somewhere to ski. If you’re driving to your ski destination, what’s the best way to transport your skis? I’ll give you a quick run-down of several options.

Using Ski Racks and Cargo Boxes

Ski racks and cargo boxes attach to the roof of your car. Cargo boxes can carry a selection of items, but ski racks are designed specifically to transport skis. You need to attach these carriers to either crossbars or rails. If your car doesn’t have them, you can investigate installing a roof rack first, but that will of course add an extra cost.

Using a ski rack or cargo box leaves you more space inside your vehicle. If your vehicle is small, you’ll likely appreciate this. Moreover, if you’re caught in an accident, you don’t have to worry about skis snapping and jabbing you.

One main downside to ski racks is that your skis are exposed to the elements. Yes, they glide on snow when you use them, but not on sand, gravel, or salt. If you reach your destination in 15 minutes and via city streets, your skis will probably survive. However, if you drive along major highways, debris from transport trucks in front of you can fly onto your skis, potentially damaging them. Cargo boxes can better protect your skis, though they will increase drag on your vehicle.

If you opt for a ski rack or cargo box, double-check your vehicle height with your skis on top. For a regular-sized car, you shouldn’t have any problems. However, for a large SUV, you may exceed the maximum height of some parking garages.

Stowing Skis Inside Your Vehicle

If you don’t want to pay for a ski rack—or you can’t install one on your car—you can transport your skis inside your car. It’s fast and convenient and doesn’t cost anything. The skis stay clean, drag is eliminatedSuv car with rooftop cargo carrier trunk stay on roadside of winter road. Family trip to ski resort. Winter holidays adventure. car on winter road, and you don’t have to worry about the height of parking garages. However, stow them safely.

In one online discussion on this topic, a poster said the skis fit over their 6-month-old’s head. This idea was in fact so practical that they sometimes dangled toys off the skis to keep their baby occupied. My jaw dropped. What would happen in an accident?

Store skis in a bag and cover the tips on your poles. A bag is certainly no guarantee that a snapped ski won’t tear through, but it can help them stay contained in minor accidents. If your car allows it, slide your skis in the trunk and through the middle of your car. You may need to lower a back seat to achieve this.

And please, don’t dangle things from them to occupy your baby.

What About a Hitch-Based Rack for Your Skis?

Just as the name suggests, a hitch-based ski rack attaches to your hitch, similar to a bike rack that attaches the same way. Your skis remain exposed to the elements as though they were on the roof. However, because they’re much closer to the ground, they’ll likely get even dirtier. A hitch-based ski rack is for skiers whose car doesn’t have a roof rack or rails installed and who don’t want to transport their skis inside the vehicle.

When you investigate the best way to transport your skis, your car plays an important role. Know the make, model, and year of your vehicle, and consider how much space you have in the interior for your skis. If you have three children, for example, then you won’t be able to lower a seat in the back to place your skis through. Take your time as you do your research, ask your skiing friends, and research your options to find the best ski rack for your car, skiing adventures, and you.