How to Choose Car Racks

You’ve spent a lot of time and money looking for the best outdoor gear for your adventures. You’ll want to make sure your gear gets where it needs to go so you can spend less time worrying about it and more time having fun. Car racks allow you to transport outdoor toys while freeing up space inside your vehicle. In this article, we’ll discuss how to narrow down your options when selecting a car rack for your next big adventure.

Before selecting a car rack, consider the following:

  • What do you need to bring with you? Do you need to transport bikes, SUPs, or skis, and if so, how many? Don’t forget to plan for all of the activities you’ll be doing throughout the year. You could save money by going with a more versatile system, especially if you plan on adding new equipment over time.
  • What year, make, and model are you modifying? You’ll need a car rack that fits your vehicle, whether it’s a sedan, SUV, or pickup truck. Vehicle fit guides from the major car rack manufacturers can help you determine which racks will work for your specific situation.
  • What kind of equipment do your vehicles have? Is your vehicle already equipped with roof crossbars or a receiver trailer hitch (and if so, what size)? or will you also need to have those installed?

Types of Car Racks

Here’s a quick rundown of your gear-hauling options, followed by a more in-depth look at car rack options based on the activity or activities you’re participating in.

  • Hitch bike racks: Hitch-mounted bike racks are designed to fit into the receiver of a trailer hitch. A hitch receiver can usually be installed on a vehicle that did not come with one, but there is an additional cost to consider.
  • Roof racks:  kayak rack for car or roofs are the most adaptable because you can add accessories to transport almost any outdoor toy, such as kayaks, surfboards, snowboards, bikes, and cargo boxes. Roof racks are stable, keep gear out of the way, and do not obstruct vehicle door access. However, they are expensive and necessitate lifting equipment overhead, which may be difficult for some.
  • Cargo boxes, baskets, bags: Cargo boxes are hard-sided containers that attach to a roof rack to keep gear hidden. They’re ideal for skis, snowboards, and bulky equipment (excluding bikes or boats). They transport loose, odd-sized gear in an enclosed system, but they generate wind resistance and noise.
  • Trunk bike racks:  These racks are attached to trunks or hatches using a strap and hook system. They transport one to three bikes on support arms. They are simple to use, inexpensive, and lightweight. They only transport bikes and have limited access to the trunk. Bikes may also sway or collide with one another while being transported.
  • Truck bed bike racks: Internal rails or support bars that can be temporarily installed in a truck bed to anchor bikes in place are used in truck racks. Racks are available for transporting boats and cargo boxes.
  • Spare-tire bike racks: These racks are lightweight and inexpensive options for vehicles with spare tyre racks on the outside.

Other Car Rack Tips

  • Before installing a roof system, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Make sure you understand the maximum allowable weight for the roof. Check your vehicle’s tongue weight capacity before installing a hitch mount. If you have a hatchback, make sure any roof rack you install allows the rear hatch to open completely.
  • To prevent bikes from swaying and bumping, use a strap or bungee cord to secure the tyres of bikes on trunk and hitch racks.
  • If you intend to transport kayaks, purchase load bars that are one size longer than what is recommended in the fit guide. This way, you can easily fit the boats and always cut the bars if they are too long.
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