General

3 best ways to carry skis in your car (without a roof box)

skis on car

Photo by Eric Rayner under license
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Transporting skis can be a difficult task, especially if you are driving a smaller vehicle. However, there are some tips and tricks for getting your gear from point A to point B so you can hit the slopes this winter without having to rent gear.

You can choose to fold down your back row and put your skis in the vehicle. Or if you don’t have the space there are several options for attaching them to the top of your car and transporting them that way, but you could end up with dirty skis unless they are covered.

Best option: put your skis in your vehicle

ski trip car
Photo by Robert Tadlock under license
CC BY 2.0

If you have a truck bed, read our guide to transporting skis in a pickup truck

The easiest and best way to transport your skis is of course to carry them in the back of your car. If you are driving a larger car or SUV, you can fold the back row of seats and lay them flat.

Some smaller vehicles have a central slot where you can increase the space available in the trunk. This can often fit on skis, although it is always best to measure the fit before attempting to transport your skis this way. Transporting your skis in the car is often the best option. You know they’re safe and won’t get dirty from splashing water – salt and grime.

Advantages of putting your skis in your car

ski equipment in car
Photo by Mitch Barrie licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The best thing about having your skis in your vehicle is that they are guaranteed to stay clean. If you travel somewhere with road salt, your skis can also rust if they are attached to the roof of your car. There are additional steps you can take when transporting them outside of your car, which will be covered later.

Another benefit of carrying your skis in your vehicle is safety. For thieves, a pair of skis on top of a car is an easy target, which can be quickly detached and taken away.

Second best option: investing in a cargo box

If space in your car is at a premium, a cargo box is another good option for transportation. It keeps your skis clean and rust free, while also keeping them safe and protected from theft.

If you have a smaller car or if your passengers will take up the most space, a cargo box is often the best solution. From a security point of view, most buckets come with locks to deter thieves.

Cargo boxes are usually easily accessible, so once you reach your destination, you can simply climb up and unpack them. All your gear is ready to go and you don’t have to worry about cleaning it.

These boxes can be on the expensive side, often ranging from $500 to $1,000. However, it often lasts a lifetime if you treat it properly. You will also need to find a space to store it out of season when not in use.

Mammoth Lakes
Photo by Mitch Barrie below CC BY-SA 2.0

Luggage case sizes vary considerably, but you can often fit several sets of skis into one. Buckets have a much more streamlined profile on the roof of the car, which means less wind noise and lower fuel consumption. If the inside of your car is full of luggage and people, they can certainly be a lifesaver for carrying skis.

Honorable Mention: Installing a Roof Mounted Ski Rack

On the way to your ski resort you will probably see many cars with roof racks. However, they have some drawbacks. You will almost certainly need to clean your skis before using them on the slopes. When mounted unprotected on the roof, they collect dirt, dust and salt from the roads.

It is important to remove this layer of grime before attaching them as the dirt and grime can work their way into the binding mechanism and cause premature wear.

Mounted roof racks are relatively inexpensive, costing about $100 to $400, which can be significantly less than a cargo bed. Mounted racks are often easier to install yourself compared to cargo boxes, as they are not as clumsy to maneuver.

Honorable Mention: Attach a towbar mounted ski rack

There are also tow bar mounted ski carriers for those who prefer this type of setup. They are often easier to install than the roof variant, but have most of the same advantages and disadvantages.

Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, they may be the better option for you. They provide easier access as you don’t have to climb to the roof to get to your skis.

You may even be able to use your suitcase with it attached as most are movable. If your car already has a tow bar, you can easily repair it.

tow bar mounted ski carrier
Photo by Rocky Chrysler under license CC BY-ND 2.0

If you are driving a vehicle with any kind of ski carrier, you should always take a test drive before embarking on a long journey. You want to discover any problems sooner than later when you are in the middle of nowhere.

Three main options:

There are several options for transporting your skis to your next mountain destination. Whether you have a smaller vehicle or a large SUV, you can travel with your gear relatively easily by using interior solutions, roof and trunk ski racks or a cargo bed. The costs and the pros and cons of each option vary considerably, but you will find something suitable for your requirements.

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