Ski Racks and Other Rooftop Storage Devices

By Ursula Nizalowski

No matter what season it is, those who are into outdoor activities will have storage devices
installed on their vehicle’s rooftop. With that said, there are a several things to keep in mind.
For instance, one has to think about what kind of storage device would be appropriate for the
object being stored since different objects require specific storage devices. There’s also the
question of where to purchase the storage device, which vehicles would work for the storage
device, and the types of obstacles that might be encountered on the trip. So hopefully, this article
will be enlightening.

Types of Rooftop Storage Devices

Ski/Snowboard Racks – Depending on the brand, rooftop racks for skis/snowboards can fit
“up to six pairs of skis or four snowboards” according to Switchback Travel . They are also
relatively easy to install onto a vehicle’s rooftop. But the vehicle has to have a crossbar installed
first and the ski racks themselves create extra drag from wind resistance.
Cargo Boxes – For those who want to carry more than just skis or snowboards, a rooftop
cargo box would be good alternative. Though the size of cargo boxes can vary, they generally
can hold a lot of objects and are more resistant to the elements than other types of rooftop racks.
Yet they too create a lot of wind resistance for the vehicle and it will be challenging to install and
remove them from the vehicle if they’re heavy enough.
Bike Racks – Now compared to ski racks and cargo boxes, bike racks can fit just about
anywhere on a vehicle. They can be put on the roof, on a hitch mount, attached to a spare tire, in
a truck bed, or in the trunk of a vehicle. But REI Co-op says some bike rack types are more
expensive than others and can restrict access “to the trunk or rear cargo area”.

Rooftop Tents – A typical camping trip requires bringing a lot of equipment, which can be
both daunting and expensive. Luckily, rooftop tents are available for installation that are safer
than regular tents and more comfortable. However, GearJunkie warns “Not every rooftop tent
fits every vehicle or every budget” and the tent has to be broken down before leaving the
campsite entirely.
Kayak/Paddle Board Racks – If one plans to do kayaking and/or paddle boarding in the
coming year, it wouldn’t hurt to consider getting racks for transporting them. They are not only
easy to install but also flexible with different car roofs. Now sometimes “the board slips from
the vehicle or tilts before you have attached it” says due to the
inexperienced handles of the rack and the subsequent wind resistance might cause the boards to
lift even if they’re secured in the proper manner.

Where to Purchase

Online – Because of the ever evolving internet, there are plenty of websites where one can
order rooftop storage devices. For example, can help narrow down the right roof
rack for your vehicle depending on its year, make, and model. There are also stores like Home
Depot that offer online purchasing for easy convenience, though the items would have to be
delivered to and picked up at a particular store location.
In-Store – The benefit of purchasing rooftop devices and racks in-store is that one can meet
with experts to determine the right rack for the car before getting it. And fortunately, the city of
Grand Junction does have automotive and retail stores that have racks as well as rooftop storage
devices in stock with shipping available. Some examples include Advance Auto Parts, DICK’s
Sporting Goods , and AutoZone Auto Parts.

What to Consider

Type of Vehicle – One of the factors to keep in mind before getting a rooftop rack is whether
it can be equipped to the vehicle of choice. Because depending on the rack’s size and weight, it
might not fit the vehicle. Thus, The Family Handyman magazine suggests either checking out
websites like Rack Attack or looking at printed reference guides at a local sporting goods store.
Careful Installation – Due to being exposed to the elements at high speeds, racks that are
stored on the rooftop of a vehicle have to be installed well. Otherwise, they’ll go flying off the
roof resulting in damage to other vehicles and the rack itself. So it wouldn’t hurt to watch online
installation tutorials from the rack’s manufacturer, and if those aren’t helpful then try talking to
professionals at shops that specialize in outdoor gear to see if they can install the rack.
Security of the Storage Device – Another factor to consider when installing racks is the
likelihood of them being stolen. Therefore, anti-theft measures would be a good idea to prevent
such a thing from occurring. Fortunately, many racks have safety accessories that are separately
sold as seen on the Smart Locks Guide website.
Low-Hanging Obstacles – When traveling on the road, we typically don’t think about our
luggage. This includes what’s being carried on the rooftop, though this can be a problem if there
are obstacles on the road that could damage the rack. For this reason, The Family Handyman
thinks it’s best to avoid things like “drive-thru windows, low-hanging bridges and covered
parking lots” when one’s vehicle has a rooftop rack installed.

If there are any further questions about rooftop security or accidents caused by loose outdoor
gear, feel free to contact attorney Rick Wagner.