Thule vs Yakima Ski Racks Review

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Ski Rack Comparison: Thule vs. Yakima

Skis are hard to pack up. They are bulky, long and just simply can’t be made to fit into small spaces. Even harder for cars that are not big enough to carry skis. As much as we all love to hop in on a winter road trip with your valuable skis, it can be challenging.

Thanks to ski racks that have been designed and engineered to handle winter sports equipment. No more frustrating moments of getting stuck arranging and rearranging all your haul to get that perfect position for your skis or snowboards.

Finding the right gear that allows your convenience of transporting your skis may be hard. There are far too many manufacturers of ski racks in the market. If you are a true-blooded outdoor enthusiast, you will know how Thule and Yakima get its name on most reviews of the best outdoor gears. They are the giants in rack industry and the ski racks they have come up with really lives up to every skier’s needs.

But, if this is your first time to hear these names, read on. This will help you save up time in looking for the best ski rack to secure your skis during transport. After all, most searches boil down to these two brands.


Choosing the Best Ski Rack

Deciding which ski rack to get for your next winter trip needs you to make a thorough assessment of all the information you get from each brand. Too many technical specifications and features make it even more difficult to find exactly what you are looking for.

With all the brands out in the market, we narrowed it down to the two of the finest names, Thule and Yakima. Both brands make the best ski racks and sometimes their product may seem to be almost identical to each other.

Don’t worry, we’re here to guide you in differentiating Thule and Yakima and hopefully, we become your magnifying glass to see the difference between them.


Thule vs Yakima: Finding the Right Ski Rack

Thule specializes in ski racks that are style specific. Yakima, on the other hand, is more on allowing you to survey options and go with what looks best.

Either way, two main factors to consider are price and configuration. Refer to the table below to get a brief overview of Thule and Yakima ski racks.

Brands

Thule

Yakima

Mount Styles

Roof and hitch

Roof and hitch

Number of Models Available

7

7

Available Accessories

2

4

Warranty

Lifetime

Lifetime

Ski racks from Thule give you quick, easy-to-use, and secure transportation for your skis. Not a lot of brands in the rack industry offer a selection as wide as Thule’s. They seem to have thought of everything their customers may need.

Yakima believes that any outdoor enthusiast should be able to take with them all their gears without leaving any friends behind. Their ski and snowboard mounts get you and all your gears to the mountains with ease and comfort.

For a buyer’s guide, we will use the following factors to compare and differentiate the two of the biggest rivals in the ski rack manufacturing.

Materials and Fabrication

These ski racks need to be made of the most suitable materials. It is the snow gears we are talking about. You may be up to the coldest mountains one minute and down to the hottest desert as you drive down further. These materials should be durable enough to withstand any weather conditions.

Poor materials also lead to noisy ski racks. Fabrication should consider the elimination of rattles and whistles as you drive at any speed. No one likes the annoying wind drag noise on any road trip.

It is also nice to have a ski rack that complements your vehicle’s style, so you might as well consider its aesthetic features.

Mounting System

How your ski rack mounts to your vehicle is the biggest puzzle and its mounting system should help you with setting it up and putting it down effortlessly.

It isn’t fun to have to spend so many hours trying to figure out how to fit all your gears to your vehicle. That’s why you have your ski rack. And, while it helps you to bring everything you need, it shouldn’t take your time away from having fun. Go for a rack that mounts up easily. Not the one that makes you want to cancel your trip instead.

Mounting your ski racks should not be a grueling task but a seamless modification.

Loading and Unloading

What’s next after putting up your ski rack? That’s right, loading them with your skis.

This should involve minimal effort from the user and should not take a lot of time. How easy it is to get things stored and moved plays a huge role in being able to consume less time loading and unloading.

Security

We are sure you have invested in a sleek pair of skis that will make you the next professional skier. Therefore, it is important that they are transported securely and safely. Locking systems are essential, so you can enjoy taking that 15-minute break from a long drive at the nearest gas station.

Thule and Yakima both took advantage of the technology improving locking systems, so there is a lot to watch out for from these two.


Ski Rack Comparisons

Thule Tram vs. Yakima HitchSki 

Thule Tram

Yakima HitchSki

Thule SnowPack Ski and Snowboard Carrier is a low-profile carrier that can carry up to 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards. Its vertical spring system can contain thick snowboards. It also has raisers that keep your roof from skis coming in direct contact.

Yakima HitchSki, a ski and snowboard carrier clamps to your bike rack (ideally that of Yakima’s too). It can hold up to 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards. It has adjustable arms and they have rubber padding that protects your gear.

Materials and Fabrication

Durability, as with most of Thule’s products promise is what Tram Ski and Snowboard Carrier’s sturdy steel frame construction ensures.

Yakima HitchSki Snowboard contests with their 2-positioned upper arms and adjustable lower arms that can accommodate any skis and snowboards. It has soft, flexible rubber pads to protect your winter toys from shaking and rattling during drives. This is mounted to your hitch so there’s not much concern about wind drag and noise.

Mounting System

The Tram Ski and Snowboard Carrier is easy to use. Simply add it to your current dual-arm, hitch-mounted bike rack. Install by using the existing cradles and rubber straps. The Tram’s upper arms rest onto the bike cradles and are held in place with the rubber straps.

Meanwhile, Yakima HitchSki Snowboard installs as a bike would to your bike rack. Simply put the cradles into place and strap them down. Make sure to loosen up the bottom clamp a little for the skis to easily slide into it.

Loading and Unloading

The Tram Ski and Snowboard Carrier has hinged arms that open easily with large push-buttons. Carry skis and snowboards with larger bindings. Just slide the back clip of the hinged arm to the outside setting. Put it back and clamp it down securely. These push-buttons are easy to use even with your gloves on.

Yakima, as mentioned in the mounting system, installs just like a bike. While the bottom clamps are loosened up, slide your skis or snowboards in and then clam it shit. Make sure you get them into the position you want them to be. Tighten up just a little bit and restrain it down into place.

Security

The Tram package includes with it a Thule One-Key lock core on each hinged arm. These locks guarantee the security of your skis and snowboards. Have other Thule racks? Make sure you are aware that they can be swapped out to make all your Thule products keyed alike.

Following through Thule’s, Yakima also takes advantage of the technology that utilizes only but one key. Their racks secure gears with their Same Key System locking cores. They also offer cable locks but are sold separately.

Specifications

Thule

Yakima

Thule Tram Ski and Snowboard Carrier (Item TH9033)

Yakima HitchSki Snowboard and Ski Carrier (Item Y02418)

Application

Thule hitch-mounted bike racks and Thule spare tire bike racks

Yakima hitch mounted, dual arm style carriers (mostly those that are 4 and 5 bike models)

Capacity

for 2″ hitches: 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards
for 1-1/4″ hitches (Class I and Class II): 4 pairs of skis or 2 snowboards

6 Pairs of skis

Carrying Capacity

165 pounds

not specified

Carrier weight

not specified

29 pounds

Warranty

Limited Lifetime

Lifetime


Thule SnowPack vs. Yakima FatCat EVO

Thule SnowPack Yakima FatCar EVO

The Thule Tram Ski and Snowboard Carrier hauls your skis and snowboards safely and securely with your hitch-mounted bike carrier. It uses cradles and straps and cushions your snow gears for added protection.

Aerodynamics have been considered great in the production of the Yakima FatCat EVO 6 Ski and Snowboard Carrier. The carrier lets you carry up to 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards with reduced wind noise and drag.

Materials and Fabrication

Made of silver-coated aluminum, Thule SnowPack Ski and Snowboard Carrier is durable and corrosion-resistant. Its smart vertical spring system provides the carrier with a low profile which in turn improves aerodynamics. This helps in preventing wind drag and increased fuel usage. This spring system has an ultra-soft rubber that helps fasten skis and snowboards in place. It holds them from rattling and shaking at any driving speeds.

Yakima keeps up with being stylish. FatCat EVO 6 Ski and Snowboard Carrier is constructed with aluminum and finished with the mirror black. This adds aesthetics while keeping it durable and corrosion-resistant.

Mounting System

Thule SnowPack Ski and Snowboard Carrier installs with its SpeedLink universal mounting system. To do it, just set the rack on top of your crossbars, run the stainless-steel straps under, and hook the straps onto the brackets. Easy as 1, 2, 3.

With different preferences on how to mount it, Yakima lets you do it either the T-Slot method and clamp style. The T-slot method will require you to use their T-Slot Kit, which is sold separately. This method allows you to mount it on your crossbar’s top channel.

Loading and Unloading

Working like a clip, Thule has an oversized push-button at the edge of each arm. These releases the arms in an upward motion, so you’d be able to lie down your ski or snowboard and tuck them in safely. They also work perfectly for kids skis. The push-buttons are not hard to operate you can do so even with thick and heavy gloves on.

Like Thule, Yakima FatCat EVO raises its arm up, so you can slide in your winter gears. Clamp it down to keep them in place. One good feature about this carrier is that you can raise it up to about two and a half inches up to accommodate skis with tall bindings.

Security

Thule SnowPack is fitted with Thule’s One-Key System. The keyholes in the carrier’s arms, as well as the SpeedLink mounting assembly, are keyed alike, so there’s only one key needed. The cylinders may be swapped out, so you can only need one Thule key for all your Thule racks.

Aside from Same Key System (SKS) that Yakima takes pride of, this model’s clamps have a unique design to where they cannot be detached from your roof rack system except when the carrier is open and the lever on the inside is in the unlocked position. This design prevents anyone from stealing it.

Specifications

Thule

Yakima

Thule SnowPack Ski and Snowboard Carrier (Item TH7326)

Yakima FatCat EVO 6 Ski and Snowboard Carrier (Item Y03096)

Application

round, square, aero, elliptical, and most factory crossbars

square, aero, elliptical, and most factory crossbars

Capacity

6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards

6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards

Carrying Capacity

not specified

not specified

Carrier weight

7.56 pounds

12.75 pounds

Warranty

Limited Lifetime

Limited Lifetime


Ski Rack Buying Guide

After checking out the head to head comparisons of 4 of Thule and Yakima’s ski racks, we proceed with what you need to look for in getting your gear to help you with your skis hauling.

What Type of Ski Rack Do You Need?

The type of vehicle you drive is a major consideration in picking the type of ski rack. It should match your vehicle. Check your owner’s manual to find out its over-all weight capacity to know the type and quantity of gear it can take along.

Rooftop Ski Racks

Having your ski racks on top of your vehicle makes it feel more like it is one with the car. It leaves you from the burden of having your rearview blocked by hitch racks. But, be sure they are aerodynamically and ergonomically designed to reduce wind resistance. Wind drag greatly affects your fuel usage. It also causes whistling at certain driving speeds.

Hitch Ski Racks

The products we reviewed are both compatible with existing bike racks. However, there are also those that can be mounted separately.

Either way, having your ski rack attached to the hitch helps you reduce concerns about wind drags. No noise, whistling, wind resistance and high fuel consumption because it’s at the back.

Security

All four items featured their security system. Considering security in picking your ski rack is essential. While you want to make sure your skis can be effortlessly loaded and unloaded to and from your racks, it shouldn’t be the same case to thieves and robbers. Any gears exposed is eye candy to burglars. Have a security system that even with just looking at them already discourages muggers from even trying.

While Thule and Yakima both have their One-Key and Same-Key systems, it wouldn’t be bad to invest in some trusty lock cables. After all, you already spent a dime on your skis, why not spend a little more to protect them?

Value

Ski Racks are great investments if you are the kind who takes to the mountain and enjoys snowy adventures. They help in extending the life of your skis. Thule and Yakima Ski Racks’ price range from $26.00 to $400.00. You have a lot to choose from with their extensive models.

Be sure that while you are keeping an eye on your budget that you be wise. An expensive rack doesn’t always mean quality. Same as a cheap one doesn’t always mean it’s a knock-off. Check the materials the ski rack is built with and base your decision from there.

Read other people’s comments about it too. Their experiences are first hand and will tell you whether the product is worth your every cent.


Thule vs Yakima – Who Makes the Best Ski Rack?

The truth is, all Thule and Yakima’s ski racks are worth investing in. It’s quite hard to pick one. All the items we reviewed possess each trait that is almost the same as the other.

All four models are high-quality and can make a great aid to your ski hauling needs. Be on the lookout of its own benefits that aren’t on the other. Like Thule’s big push-button that Yakima doesn’t have on their hitch-mounted racks. Or, Yakima’s built-in SkiLift riser that allows tall bound snowboards that Thule has yet to allow.

Research, read reviews or try to visit physical stores to get a feel of these ski racks to really find out which one is better. No judgment is better than that, that has been personally experienced.

Check our other articles on Thule vs Yakima Bike Racks and Best Drop Hitches for Lifted Trucks!

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