How to Choose Car Racks

From bikes to kayaks, there is a host of items that can be carried on your car, as well as options for where to carry them (top of the vehicle, rear end of the vehicle). This intro to car racks will briefly describe many of the available components

Car Rack Top Systems

To carry gear atop your vehicle you will need load bars that stretch across the roof. It is on these bars that accessories like bike carriers, kayak saddles, and cargo boxes are placed. You will also need roof mounts (Thule® calls them "feet") to hold the bars and fit kits to attach the mounts to your specific vehicle.

Car Rack Rear-Mounted Systems

Bikes, cargo boxes, even snowboards can also be carried on the rear of your vehicle, either strapped to the trunk or attached to a hitch mount. One advantage of rear mount car racks is that you do not need load bars, mounting feet, or fit kits. The drawback is that it's harder to open the trunk or rear hatch of your vehicle.

Car Rack Bike Carriers

Top mounted bike carriers offer excellent bike protection, stability, and security while still leaving space on the roof to fit other accessories. Thule also makes rear-mounted car rack bike carriers that attach to the vehicle's trunk, hatch, spare tire, or on receiver hitches. Some of these carriers can hold up to 5 bikes.

Snowsport Car Racks

Skis and snowboards can be carried inside a rooftop cargo box, in an open air roof carrier, or on a rear mounted hitch car rack. Snowsport cargo boxes of course offer the greatest protection for your ski & snowboard gear. Some open air roof racks can carry up to 6 pairs of skis or 4 snowboards. Rear mounted ski & snowboard carriers also can carry multiple skis and snowboards and allow for easy bike attachment.

Watersport Car Racks

Thule offers a wide array of canoe & kayak car rack carriers designed to attach to load bars. Depending of the carrier and the width of the load bars, you may carry up to four kayaks atop your car. For those people who are unable to lift a kayak atop their vehicle, Thule makes lift-assist carriers that require just one person to load and unload the boat. Note that a canoe may be carried on load bars without any additional accessory save for straps.

Cargo Boxes

The most common type of cargo carrier is the roof box. These rigid aerodynamic boxes mount onto Thule rack systems or factory installed racks and accommodate up to 21 square feet of gear. Thule also offers rear-mounted boxes for fast and easy loading, roof bag carriers which are easy to install and remove, and roof baskets which provide flexibility for bulky gear that may not fit in a traditional cargo carrier.

Finding the Right Car Rack for Your Car

The Thule Fit Guide is an easy-to-use, step-by-step process for selecting the correct car rack system and accessories for your specific vehicle. It will ask you to select the make, year, and model of your car, your preferred sports, and the location of the vehicle where you wish to mount your rack (roof, hitch, or trunk). In turn, the Thule Fit Guide will list the load bars, fit kit, and feet that match your car, plus all of the available accessories.