12 Best Thule Roof Racks and Carrier Systems – Great Models from a Leading Brand (Summer 2022)

We've researched the best Thule roof racks on the market today based on their features, benefits, price, and more!
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Last updatedLast updated: July 17, 2022
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A roof rack can be a great way to extend the potential of your vehicle. There will be occasions when what you need to carry will simply not fit into your vehicle. Whether you want to carry kayaks and skis or extra items for your family vacation, you need the right roof rack to suit your vehicle and requirements.

Thule is a leading brand in this niche, but with such a massive product line, choosing the best Thule roof rack can be a little daunting. In our quest to find the best rack for you, we’ve assessed these products in terms of durability, functionality and practicality. We’ve examined the materials used, the securing system, and how easy it is not only to fix it to your vehicle, but also to load and unload. Our aim is to help you to find the best Thule roof rack for your specific needs.

Top 12 Thule Roof Racks and Carrier Systems

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Features
  • Load capacity: n/a
  • Size: 48 x 6 x 4-5 in. (S, M, L, XL)
  • Weight: 2.2 – 6.2 lbs.

Other features:  pre-assembled, WindDiffuser technology, Boxbeam load bar structure

Our editor’s choice for this list of roof racks is the Thule AeroBlade Edge Flush Mount Rack. This is an attractive piece of kit, it’s constructed from aircraft grade aluminum making it a strong and durable choice. The is 47” long by 6” wide with an overall depth of 4” when measured at the deepest point on the rack. There is a tapered edge to direct the air across the Aeroblade when driving and this cuts down on that annoying whistling noise that roof racks produce. The Aeroblade Edge weighs a modest 6 lbs and this lightweight construction makes it easy to move into position. An attractive powder coated finish keeps this roof rack looking great and it makes the frame abrasion resistant.

This is a great option for those who don’t want to deal with complicated assembly. This roof rack has the foot is already in-place at the ends. The rack is essentially already a complete unit when you take it out of the box. The towers were already attached and locked into position which can be handy but we found them easy to remove if you don’t need them immediately.

Why are we impressed?

  • We really appreciated the additional spare key that arrived with the Aeroblade Edge because you never know when you might need an extra key.

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • One thing we didn’t like about the Aeroblade Edge was that you need to purchase the mounting kit separately. This can be annoying when you want to get up and running quickly and some people may miss this crucial detail. We also discovered that you need a pair of mounting kits for the Aeroblade Flush unless you’re planning to strap something to one crossbar which seems unlikely. Another annoyance was the close fit to the roof which will prevent you from opening a tilting sunroof if you have one. It’s also really important to take careful measurements before buying because there are three different Aeroblade Edge flush mounting roof rack sizes available.
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9.7
Features
  • Load capacity: 110 lbs.
  • Size: 67 x 35 x 16 in.
  • Weight: 544 oz

Other features:  durable design,  FastGrip quick-mount system, fits 3-5 snowboards

The Thule Pulse Rooftop Cargo Box is a functional and plain unit that you can use to haul your stuff safely. Although you don’t get some of the extra features found on more premium products this is still a great choice for those on a strict budget or with simpler cargo requirements. This cargo box is easy to install or remove and you can fit a surprising amount of stuff inside without cramping the contents. This cargo box is covered with an attractive matte textured finish that does a pretty good job at hiding abrasion marks than the high-gloss finish found on some premium offerings.

This is another Thule product for those looking for easy installation. The cargo box is easy to install, on the first attempt it took under 10 minutes, but we got that down to around 5 minutes after a few practice tries. The only tricky part was lifting the cargo box into position and this would be more relevant on a tall vehicle.  The installation process is tool-free and this 16 cu feet capacity box weighs 36 lbs which means you may need two people to lift it safely.

What are its best features?

  • One of the standout features of this Thule cargo box for us was the one-key system compatibility system. This innovative feature allowed us to use a single key to access multiple cargo carriers. Although we had to order a separate set of lock cores to use this system we found it well worth the extra expense and this is especially true if you own a lot of Thule accessories.

What could be improved?

  • We are not fans of the clamps found on this cargo box and they are a step down from those found on the top-tier units. These clamps don’t have an indicator and this makes it harder to know if the clamps are tightened up sufficiently for travelling. The premium grade Thule clamps have a satisfying “click” when the torque is applied and it would have been nice to see them on this product. We found this cargo carrier harder to open and close because the handle is only a small molded protrusion and it’s hard to grip.
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9.6
3
Best Thule Ski Roof Rack

Thule SnowPack Ski/Snowboard Rack

Features
  • Load capacity: 4-6 pairs of skis; 2-4 snowboards
  • Size: 19.7 x 4 x 3.1 in (M), 34.2 x 2.8 x 3.9 in (L)
  • Weight: 120 oz. – 180 oz.

Other features:  ultra-soft rubber arms, anti-theft system

This Thule ski roof rack has the appearance of a big stapler but it’s an effective carrier for your skis and snowboards. The rack mounts directly onto the crossbars which are a separate purchase and you have sufficient space to add a cargo box if you need one. The Thule Snowpack has a hinge along one side where you slide your skis or snowboards into place. Then you lock a top bar down to keep them secure during transit and the rubber coated clamps prevent scratches and abrasions. This roof rack is available in black or an attractive aluminum color.

This rack has obviously been designed for the serious ski enthusiast. Thule have added a set of extension feet that you can slot on the bottom of the Snowpack to raise the clamp height which was helpful because we needed more clearance for our skis. We managed to load six pairs of skis or four snowboards on this 29.5” rack and it only weighs 7.56 lbs when empty!

Why did it make our list?

  • One of our favorite features is the vertical spring that is integrated into the Snowpack roof rack. This closes the rack over even a thicker snowboard easily. If you have one of the thinner snowboard models you can still get a great clamp with no gaps and this also prevents that annoying whistling roof rack noise when driving. We found this clamp easy to open and close even when wearing thick ski gloves because the button is large and accessible.

What is not ideal about it?

  • One of the annoying aspects of the Snowpack is that you need the Thule crossbars that have a built-in “T track”. If you already have standard crossbars they simply won’t work with this rack and that means you need to factor this extra purchase into your budget. Once we had the right crossbars everything slotted together easily but we had to do extra research to avoid making a mistake.
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Chosen by 7064 people in the past 30 days
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Customer Feedback
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9.0
Brand Reputation
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9.3
Features & Benefits
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9.4
9.5
4
Best Thule Cargo Basket

Thule Canyon XT Cargo Basket

Features
  • Load capacity: 150 lbs.
  • Size: 50.25 x 41 x 6 in. (external), 41 x 39 x 5 in. (internal)
  • Weight: 29 lbs.

Other features: wind fairing, includes T-track mounting

The Thule Canyon XT Cargo Basket is certainly a step up from the standard model. The basket is more stylish, but it’s more practical too and it has some useful extra features that justify the higher purchasing price. The XT has a curve at the back and sides that is designed to keep your items more secure inside the main basket area. As an added bonus this improves the aerodynamics for a better driving experience and improved fuel economy. The clamping mechanism is the same as the Canyon cargo basket and it fits easily to most roof rails and crossbars. This mechanism even works if you’re not using Thule roof rack crossbars on your vehicle.

This is the roof rack for you if you’re into aesthetics. We were really impressed with the looks of this stylish carrier. The black and silver finish blend together to create an elegant look. The base of this carrier is flat and there are wide rubber padded support beams to distribute the weight.

What makes it special?

  • What we liked about this rack is the flexibility. We found that this system combined with the cargo nets worked very well and items don’t tend to move around much. You can choose between a medium (53” L x 35.5 W x 10” H) or large (63” L x 39.5” W x 10” H) and both have a weight capacity of up to 165 lbs. We found that you need a minimum crossbar spread of 23.6” up to a maximum of 48” to fit this Thule roof rack safely.

What cons did we find?

  • One of the things that we didn't like is that the locking mechanisms are sold separately. Also, this is one of the Thule roof rack systems that doesn’t come fully assembled and the instructions had no images or illustrations to follow. This led to some head scratching and confusion when we put this cargo box together for the first time.
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Customer Feedback
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Brand Reputation
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Features & Benefits
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9.3
9.4
Features
  • Load capacity: n/a
  • Size: 48 x 6 x 4-5 in. (S, M, L, XL)
  • Weight: 88 oz. – 98.7 oz.

Other features: integrated bar and foot design, WindDiffuser technology

The Thule Aeroblade Edge Raised Rail Roof Rack System is another offering in this series that is similar in some ways to the Edge Flush. It’s also constructed from aircraft grade aluminum which makes it strong, light and durable.  The bar (47” L x 5” W x 3” D) has a smaller profile and yet it can still support a weight up to 250 lbs. Of course, you need to check the maximum load rate for your roof first and there are small, medium and large variants available. These bars come in black or silver colors, they have an integrated locking mechanism and it’s easy to secure them with the mounting kit.

This roof rack is designed for owners of vehicles with raised rails. This system is designed for vehicles with raised rails but Thule further improved the aerodynamics with wind diffuser technology. We found that we noticed virtually no difference in the fuel consumption figures even when the system was loaded to capacity. Thule sells this as a single item, we found this strange at first, but the reasoning for this decision is pretty clever. Many cars have a contoured roof, which means that the height and width can change dramatically across the length of the vehicle. For this reason, we needed a flush and a separate raised mount to make the loading space even for a carrier.

What are our favorite features?

  • One of the features that we really appreciated about this product is that the roof rack has an integrated foot. The bar and the foot are merged together which really cut down the drag and wind resistance to tolerable levels.

What could be better?

  • What we found disappointing is that we had to purchase a separate lock and key from Thule to make this system secure and the price was higher than we expected. Also, the clearance level is pretty low and if you have a tilt turn sunroof it probably won’t work with this rack system.
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Features & Benefits
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9.3
Features
  • Load capacity: 130 lbs.
  • Size: 20 x 9 x 20 in.
  • Weight: 12.5 lbs.

Other features:  universal mounting, integrated StrapCatch, dual position design

The Thule Hull-a-Port XT Rooftop Kayak Carrier is a cleverly designed product that can carry up one or two kayas safely. If you want to transport a single kayak use the basic J-cradle and if you want to haul another it converts into a stacker system. The carrier has a lever that you use to fold the cradle down flat when it’s not in use. This simple design feature makes this carrier an ideal product for people that want to kayak at the weekend. You can mount this to a square bar or a Thule Aeroblade Edge as needed but it won’t fit a round bar.

This rack is designed for those looking for a product with easy mounting. We found this carrier easy to mount on our crossbars and it can be placed in a side or centrally located position. Once you have them in the ideal spot you can pull the lever to clamp the rack to your crossbars.

What do we love it for?

  • We like the rubber lined clamps because they have excellent grip and they prevent scratches and abrasions on the surface of your kayaks. Thule have included some loading straps to secure the kayaks and they even have bow and stern tie-downs to prevent lateral movement in-transit. Another great aspect of this design is that you can mount this carrier on any crossbar up to 80mm wide if they are not round.

What were we disappointed with?

  • One downside is that we did get two cradles included in the pack, but no locking mechanisms were supplied and had to purchase them separately. We also needed to get an additional lock and chain to wrap around the kayaks to protect them from being stolen.
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9.0
Features & Benefits
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8.9
9.2
7
Easiest Installation

Thule Evo Flush Rail Foot Pack

Features
  • Load capacity: 165 lbs.
  • Size: 7.8 x 11.4 x 3.4 in
  • Weight: 2.6 lbs.

Other features: secures to vehicle with Thule One-Key locks

The Thule Evo Flush Rail Foot Pack is a useful set of four load carrying feet for the Evo roof rack system. These feet are easy to install on a vehicle with flush railings and they are secured with the Thule One-Key locks. The maximum load weight is set at 165 lbs but you must make sure you know the capacity of your vehicle roof. These fit the following Thule systems, they are: Aeroblade, SquareBar, ProBar and the WingBar Evo.

This product is aimed at those who find roof rack noise annoying. This system is really quiet when driving and even at 75 mph we could barely hear any wind noise at all! Although the fitting process was fairly easy it was a fiddly process overall. We had problems centering the bars and tightening them down but the worst was yet to come. This system uses some small end caps to make the rails look better but we found them tricky to install. A small rubber mallet is included for this task, but the caps kept falling out and it took several attempts to get them all in-place securely. However, once installed,  we had a quarter inch of clearance space between the rack and roof which allowed us to use our sunroof too. Thule has a great tutorial to follow when assembling this product to make the process easier.

Why are we impressed?

  • We really liked the ergonomic design of the torque limiter key which indicated that the roof rack was correctly secured to our vehicle. This foot installed on our flush railings easily and it really feels like a high quality product.

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • What we didn’t like is the additional purchases. It’s a common complaint with Thule products but we really resented buying the One-Key lock separately. They are pretty expensive and they really should be included in the price or some kind of bundle deal would be a fair compromise.
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9.0
Customer Feedback
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Features & Benefits
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9.0
Features
  • Load capacity: 44 lbs.
  • Size: 58 x 13.5 x 4 in.
  • Weight: 11 lbs.

Other features: universal mount, fits 1 bike, quick and secure mounting dial

This is our budget pick because we believe that the ProRide XT Roof Bike Rack delivers a lot of functionality for a modest investment. Essentially, this is a universal upright bike rack carrier where you can secure your bike for transport. It’s easy to mount your bike with the torque limiter dial and the soft claw pads prevent abrasions. Thule have added some well designed wheel holders to provide extra stability and diagonal straps make the bike secure. The entire interface is tool free and it’s easy to switch the carrier side across the width of the vehicle as needed. This carrier can support a bike up to 44 lbs in weight but you need to check the maximum capacity for the roof of your vehicle.

This product is best suited to those who have the physical capability for trickier loading and unloading. We found the loading and unloading to be somewhat awkward because even with the extenders we still had to tilt the bike a little. If the bike is kept upright we found it harder to move safely and the wheel strap releases were facing away from us. This was partially our fault because you can flip the carrier in the opposite direction to make this process simpler. But, this should have been clearer in the instructions that came with this product.

What makes it special?

  • There are some XT Roof Bike Rack features that we really appreciated as we became more familiar with the system. First, the lower jaw on the claw that holds the bike in-place has an extension that makes it easier to load and unload the bike. We really liked the soft claw pads because they adapted to a few different bikes we tried and the pressure they exerted seemed to be consistently even. These types of features make a big difference when you want to minimize the potential for damage to a bike in transit.

What cons did we find?

  • Unfortunately, again, we didn’t think it was fair that we had to buy the two lock cylinders needed to keep the bike secure as a separate purchase.
RELATED: 5 Best Bike Racks for Subaru Forester – the Most Compatible for Your Car! (Summer 2022)
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8.9
Customer Feedback
Customer Feedback
8.8
Brand Reputation
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8.8
Features & Benefits
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8.8
8.9
9
Best Two-Kayak Carrier

Thule Compass

Features
  • Load capacity: 130 lbs.
  • Size: 32 x 19.6 x 7.1 in.
  • Weight: 20 lbs.

Other features:  strap mount, multiple carry options, accommodates kayaks up to 36″ wide

The Thule compass Kayak and SUP Carrier is a stylish and easy to use rack system. It can carry one or two kayaks safely and the soft rubber padding protects the canoes from damage in-transit. A single kayak can be carried in a J-style or saddle mode and a second kayak can be added in stacker mode or a pair can be carried in the saddle configuration. The impressive flexibility of design is simple to use and you can strap the kayaks down with a pair of “StrapCatch ” straps that are fitted with “BuckleBumpers” to tie-down the bow and stern to prevent lateral movement.

This is a great option for those who want to transport larger kayaks. We found that this rack will accommodate a wider kayak up to 36” wide and it can support a maximum weight of up to 130 lbs. Both the saddles and uprights are padded with thick rubber and they will offer plenty of protection against scrapes, dents, and other abrasions.

What makes it stand out?

  • We really enjoyed using this kayak roof rack for both kayaks and paddleboards. The rack folded flat when it wasn’t needed and this made it an ideal choice for people that use their kayaks regularly at the weekends.

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • We didn’t like the lack of a locking option and the clamps are not well suited to some crossbars. The universal clamps supplied with our rack didn’t seem to fill well with an irregular shaped crossbar to our satisfaction. This seems strange when you consider that this rack has a premium price. We found no way to fit the clamps to a non-consistently shaped crossbar and this led to the knobs loosening over time. Users with standard shaped crossbars may fare better or a separate purchase of Thule crossbars may help.
RELATED: 12 Best Thule Roof Racks and Carrier Systems – Great Models from a Leading Brand (Summer 2022)
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Consumer Engagement
Chosen by 9908 people in the past 30 days
8.8
Customer Feedback
Customer Feedback
8.4
Brand Reputation
Based onweb analytics
8.3
Features & Benefits
Product Review
8.6
8.8
10
Features
  • Load capacity: 40 lbs.
  • Size: 53 x 9 x 4 in.
  • Weight: 7.3 lbs.

Other features: fits 9mm standard quick-release bikes, easy to convert between left and right side of car

The Thule FastRide Roof Mounted Bike Rack is a versatile carrier for fork mounted bikes designed for quick-release and thru-axle bikes. It’s ready to use right out of the box and it will fit most thru-axle bikes. Thule have used their AcuTight torque limiter on this design to ensure that you always know the exact amount of torque required to secure the bike in-place. The rear wheel holder is fully adjustable and the rim protector prevents damage to the rims. In the wheel tray you will find an integrated steel cable lock to weave through and around the frame for extra security.

This is a product that is designed for the more experienced roof rack user. We found this rack easy to install and it can be fitted to either side of your car roof. We had no problem fitting this rack to our existing Thule system but it should fit other systems and even round crossbars with no problems. However, we didn’t like the instructions that came with this product and the online video version wasn’t much better.

What makes it special?

  • We liked the support for securing bikes with disc brakes which we don’t tend to see on many products of this type. If you have a more expensive carbon frame bike this rack will protect your forks in-transit.

What cons did we find?

  • Where there is room for improvement is in the additional components. The overall quality of the frame is good, but Thule really should have included the thru-axle adaptor as standard at this price. The steel cable lock cores are sold separately and they are an expensive purchase to supplement a product that’s already expensive. It will fit a thru-axle bike at 9mm captive,12x100mm, 12x110mm, 15x100mm and 15x110mm, but the adaptors are sold separately.
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Consumer Engagement
Chosen by 2171 people in the past 30 days
8.6
Customer Feedback
Customer Feedback
8.2
Brand Reputation
Based onweb analytics
8.1
Features & Benefits
Product Review
8.2
8.6
Features
  • Load capacity: n/a
  • Size: 40 x 38 x 18 in.
  • Weight: 5.5 lbs.

Other features: weather-resistant, 16 cu ft of storage space, large storm flaps

This is one of the more efficient and cost-effective ways to get into the world of Thule roof rack storage. This carrier carrier bag is an ideal fit for vehicles that already have rails or crossbars in-place. If you’re a traveller that occasionally needs some extra storage space this may be the ideal product to meet your needs. It’s easy to install this cargo bag, there are four straps that you clip on the rails or crossbars. The straps have compression fittings to keep the cargo bag securely in place as you drive.

This is a product for the budget conscious. We like this bag, the material is heavy-duty canvas which is more affordable and yet it still works well as a basic carrier. To access the bag there is a zip that runs around three sides and we found this easy to get into on the ground or with the bag on the vehicle roof.

What do we love it for?

  • What we liked was the protection offered with this bag. To protect the zip seam Thule has fitted a storm-flap and this kept the water out and our items were kept dry at all times. Thule has stated that this bag is fully waterproof, that was our experience and you can find many online reviews saying the same thing. We liked the compression strap inside this soft bag that prevented the contents from moving during normal driving and cornering.

What were we disappointed with?

  • We didn’t like the lack of any kind of locking system, but in a soft bag that can be cut open by a potential thief it probably doesn’t make much sense to have one. But, Thule has not even included a luggage lock to deter casual thieves which seems to be an obvious oversight.
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Consumer Engagement
Chosen by 4305 people in the past 30 days
8.5
Customer Feedback
Customer Feedback
8.3
Brand Reputation
Based onweb analytics
8.4
Features & Benefits
Product Review
8.0
8.5
Features
  • Load capacity: 150 lbs.
  • Size: 41.7 x 6.7 x 26.4 in.
  • Weight: 158.7 oz.

Other features:  lengthens the Canyon roof basket cargo area by 20 inch

The Thule Canyon Roof Mount Cargo Basket Extension is a component that extends the length of your Canyon basket by 20” to store more or larger items. This is a great product if you already have the Thule Canyon XT and you need more storage space. The installation process is simple and it fits seamlessly to the Canyon XT. The overall dimensions of the extended cargo basket are 69” L x 40” W x 6” D. The weight capacity of this rack is 150 lbs but you need to make sure that your vehicle roof can handle the weight. The black powder coated finish helps the unit to resist corrosion well and Thule has included a lifetime limited warranty.

This is the right product for you, if you’re looking for a lightweight basket extension. The full weight of the cargo basket is only 39 lbs with this extension fitted and the extension has a simple three pieces to assemble.

What are our favorite features?

  • We liked the tapered side walls on this cargo basket because they make loading and unloading very easy. We liked the spacing between the bars because it’s easy to add extra straps or bungee cords to secure the load.

What could be better?

  • We liked the look of this frame extension and it feels sturdy but it’s an expensive purchase. It would not cost much more to get a larger cargo box when you factor in the price of a Thule Canyon XT carrier.

Things to Consider

With such an extensive product line, choosing the best Thule roof rack can be a little tricky. So, we’ve compiled a buying guide with features to look for and answers to frequently asked questions to help you make a purchase decision.

About Thule

Thule Trusted Source Thule | United States Make winter travel easy with the right gear www.thule.com is a Swedish company and they have been in continuous operation since 1942. The company is dedicated to travelling with gear and they offer ways to carry a wide variety of items. If you’re moving home or you like to surf there is a Thule roof rack to meet your needs. Thule has several racks that are cleverly designed to accommodate a number of fittings to make them more flexible. This means that you can carry your bike, a surfboard or a cargo box with the same Thule bike roof rack. This inherent flexibility of design has made Thule a popular choice amongst drivers all over the world. Every Thule roof rack comes with a certain level of adaptability and useful extras.

Why Buy a Thule Roof Rack?

12 Best Thule Roof Racks and Carrier Systems - Great Models from a Leading Brand (Summer 2022)

The Thule universal roof rack may not be a perfect product in certain ways but the company still has an excellent reputation for quality and durability. If you’re considering a roof rack purchase it’s worth your time to consider Thule before you commit to a final decision. When you purchase such a crucial piece of equipment to transport your goods it’s important to check the reputation of the manufacturer online. Ask friends, family and work colleagues if they have used a Thule roof rack or a product from another manufacturer that they liked.

Another good place to do research is the social media profiles of the companies that you are interested in for a wide variety of services and products. If a certain product has an issue you may find some talk about it there although this only tends to happen with newer product releases. Thule have a fantastic range of roof racks and you may be able to find an online review on Amazon or another retailer.

Of course, you will always encounter negative reviews for any product and it’s impossible to make everyone happy. Some reviewers expect too much and they may even give a product a bad review because it arrived in a torn box with no damage to the item inside. However, if you can find a lot of genuine negative reviews about a product it’s probably a good idea to give it a wide berth and look for something else. This could be another better product from the same manufacturer or an alternate make and model.

How to Pick the Best Thule Roof Rack

To pick the best Thule roof rack, you’ll need to assess some important considerations. These include:

Type and Use

When it comes to choosing a Thule roof rack the first place to start is with your own expectations of the product. A certain level of flexibility exists in these products but how you intend to use the roof rack will have a huge effect on the product that you choose. Some users may prefer a separate Thule kayak or bike mounting system to meet their needs. If you’re planning to carry the bike on the roof and you want the best fit for that need you’re going to want the Thule roof rack system. But, if you will also need the bike roof rack to fit on the rack system, it really should be perceived as a separate ensemble rather than a unique part.

Thule has an extensive roof rack parts catalog where you can find the extras that you may want to add to your roof rack system at some point in the future. But, your primary concern should be the items that you want to carry first. The best place to start is with a Thule roof rack installation with crossbars added to the roof of your vehicle. Although you could immediately mount a Canyon XT to carry a lot of luggage it may not be ideal for other hauling tasks.

The roof bars should be regarded as the foundation of your Thule racking system. This approach allows you to add the extra parts as you need them and ultimately it’s a more flexible way to approach rooftop hauling.

This will mean that you can carry a kayak or a bike or even a kayak and a bike and cargo box as required. The options are literally your imagination because you interested the time, energy and money into a high quality Thule base for your racking system. The rooftop space is limited, you can’t install every Thule roof rack type together and this is why you need to understand your initial needs before you make a purchase. In short, get a good base and focus on what you want to haul first and you will find the process much easier to understand.

Vehicle Compatibility

The type of vehicle that you have will determine the roof rack system that you choose. If you have a pair of roof rails that run along the entire length of your vehicle you’re going to need a kit that allows you to clamp some crossbars to those rails. There are two different types of mounting kits to fit crossbars to either flushed or raised rails. If there are no roof rails in-place there may be a roof gutter where the clamps can be fixed or you could attach them to the door frame.

If you choose the Thule roof rack system you can select the mounts, crossbars and other elements of the system that you want to use. This means that you should be able to find something to fit many types of vehicle and you can move your Thule rack to other vehicles. If you’ve ever wondered how to remove Thule roof rack you may be surprised at the procedure. If you have a different fitting kit you can use some or all of your Thule rack functions on another vehicle with very little effort. But, not every kit will fit any vehicle and you need to check the compatibility before you make a final purchase.

Mounting

A vehicle will have one of these five different roof mounting types, they are: normal roof, fixed points, rain gutters, roof rails and flush or low profile roof rails. Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.

1.   Normal Roof

12 Best Thule Roof Racks and Carrier Systems - Great Models from a Leading Brand (Summer 2022)

Before fitting a roof rack, you will need to place the base directly on a bare roof of the car

This type of roof is sometimes referred to as a naked roof, this roof is smooth and free from rails or rain gutters. When you want to fit a Thule roof rack to a normal roof you will need to place the base directly on a bare roof. The rack is hooked or clipped to a door via a mounting clamp or a dedicated hook.

2.   Fixed Points

Certain car manufacturers have fitted fixed mounting points to the roof of their vehicles to make it easier to fit your aftermarket roof rack. This is a great option if you have a vehicle with no roof rail and these points are often concealed under a plastic, rubber or metal cover. If you think you have fixed mounting points but you cannot locate them check your owner’s manual for further details. An alternate fixed mounting location is a channel that runs along the entire length of the vehicle. You can find special roof rack mounting kits that allow you to install a rack to this type of channel mount.

3.   Rain Gutters

Some older vehicles have rain gutters to channel water away from the doors, windows and other areas where water could enter. These gutters typically have a bent edge where you can install a base unit and clamp it firmly in-place. The roof rack then attaches to the base and historically these were some of the earliest rack mounting options available.

4.   Roof Rails

Roof rails are a pretty common factory fitted feature on SUVs and certain other vehicles. These are the easiest option when it comes to installing an aftermarket roof rack. The durable base is already in-place and this makes the cross bar installation very simple

5.   Flush or Low-Profile Rails

12 Best Thule Roof Racks and Carrier Systems - Great Models from a Leading Brand (Summer 2022)

Low-profile rails are usually factory fitted, you will need to place a roof rack right onto them

This works in a similar way to the raised roof option mentioned earlier. These flush or low-profile rails are usually factory fitted and they give you a solid mounting point for your aftermarket roof rack. The Thule roof rack installation instructions are clear and easy to follow and the process is simple.

Materials and Durability

Some people prefer plastic roof racks because they look great, but it can become fragile and brittle when it’s exposed to the weather conditions outdoors. After several uses and exposure to the sun it’s pretty common for a plastic roof rack to crack and break. A better material is a lightweight metal alloy construction, like the aircraft grade materials used in the Thule Aeroblade Edge. This ensures it is strong, durable, weatherproof and corrosion resistant. The main thing to remember about a metal roof rack is that it should be coated to get the best rust protection.

Weight Limit

Before you install and begin hauling stuff on your Thule roof rack, it’s important to learn how much weight your vehicle roof can support. This information should be in the owner’s manual and you should never exceed this hard weight limit. When you think about the weight your roof can carry don’t forget to add the weight of your roof rack too! This is why a lighter metal roof rack is more preferable, you can get plenty of strength and durability from an aluminum or alloy frame and it weighs less than steel.

This weight conscious thinking should be extended to the extra add-on sections that you fit to the crossbars. The weight of these pieces must be considered carefully to ensure that your vehicle roof can handle it safely. The final check is to weigh the items that you want to haul to ensure that they won’t take you over that safe weight limit for the roof. Certain racks can only handle certain weights and there is no point in buying them if they cannot handle what you want to haul.

Size

The size of the roof rack you choose must be appropriate for the size of your vehicle and the items that you want to haul. There is no point in purchasing a smaller roof rack to haul a surfboard and vice versa. When you’re starting out with your first roof rack measure the initial things that you want to haul and choose options to meet that need. You can add other options later if you change our vehicle or you want to haul a bike or a roof box.

12 Best Thule Roof Racks and Carrier Systems - Great Models from a Leading Brand (Summer 2022)

When choosing a roof rack, make sure you have measured the items you are going to transport

Security

Let’s face it, a great roof rack represents a considerable investment and the last thing you want is for someone to remove it and steal it when your vehicle is parked. Every good roof rack should have a locking feature to prevent any unauthorized removal when you’re not present. An added benefit to locking is that you have an even more secure surface where you can lock down items that you are storing on your roof rack too.

Sadly, many roof racks do not have any security functionality and this can make your items vulnerable when it’s left unattended.

When you invest in a roof rack make sure it’s got a locking feature to keep your rack and carried items safe.

This is equally true when you’re adding extra parts to your roof rack and this is a key feature of Thule roof rack systems. Having roof rack components that lock into place will help to prevent your expensive bike from going missing when you least expect it.

Accessories

Even a cursory glance at the list of roof rack parts supplied by Thule will demonstrate that a significant amount of customization is possible. You can adapt your roof rack to haul a wide variety of loads and you can always have the ideal rack to meet your needs. But, there are many rack manufacturers that don’t have that impressive accessory catalog and this is something you need to confirm before you make a final purchase. Having access to the correct accessory can make it far easier when you want to haul something safely. Investing in a Thule roof rack system starts to make more sense when you consider that it can grow with you to meet present and future roof hauling needs.

Cost

Let’s face it, investing in a Thule roof rack system isn’t an inexpensive option and it could cost you hundreds of dollars. Some of the more expensive options can even push that cost further into the four figure range and this can make it seem like it’s beyond your budget. But, there are a couple of major factors that you need to consider before you go with a different manufacturer.

First, Thule is one of the best-known brands for these types of products and the longevity of the company is understandable. Over the years this company has invested a lot of money and time into research and development to create the best roof rack products. Every rack and accessory manufactured by Thule is a high-quality unit that is designed to last for many years to come. This should be an important consideration when you’re thinking about a roof rack system that can grow with you to meet your future needs.

Second, the crossbars can be a separate purchase and this is the fundamental base of your Thule racking system. So, if you want to make the system more affordable you can get the crossbars and add essential accessories as you need them. If you want the bike rack, get the crossbars, install them and then pick up the bike rack next month. Over time you can build up a significant Thule roof rack system without resorting to finance or breaking the bank.

There is no getting around the more expensive price structure of the Thule racking system. But, if you start slowly and only get what you need you can make the purchase more affordable and still have one of the best racking systems available.

How to Install a Thule Roof Rack

12 Best Thule Roof Racks and Carrier Systems - Great Models from a Leading Brand (Summer 2022)

First, fit crossbars into the towers to secure the unit to your vehicle roof

Most Thule roof rack systems share a similar method for installation. This begins when you first purchase your crossbars, mounting kits and towers which we cover in-depth next. Each Thule rack comes supplied with a comprehensive fitting guide. This support will ensure that you can install your roof rack safely and efficiently.

Once you’re ready to install your Thule rack system the process is similar for many products. First, your crossbars are fitted into the tower with a fitting kit to secure the unit to your vehicle roof. Most people install a pair of crossbars to their roof, but you can install more if you need extra support. It is entirely possible to add four or even five crossbars to create a denser lattice type structure to create a more supportive platform.

When you install a Thule roof rack system the best way to approach the task is to work out what you want to install first. Then if you work in a top down way you can eventually get to the rack that you need to install last. If you have any installation issues there are plenty of helpful guides and videos available online. These media sources can help you to select the exact components that you need and fit them to the vehicle safely and securely. Once you’ve learned how to install a Thule roof rack you will be able to replicate this simple process again without any issues. It really is simple once you know how to do it and it’s easy to teach to others too.

FAQ

Yes it will, but the level of fuel consumed Trusted Source How Rooftop Carriers Affect Fuel Economy - Consumer Reports Consumer Reports tested the fuel economy on cars and SUVs to see how rooftop carriers affect fuel economy. www.consumerreports.org will be far more noticeable over longer trips. Some people state that a trailer makes more sense in these scenarios but that is debatable because a trailer still creates drag which consumes more fuel. If you want to haul anything it will always add weight and/or alter the aerodynamic characteristics of your vehicle.

Certain crossbars have special fitting positions which are included in the assembly instructions that come with them. But, as a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to have a minimum distance of 27” between each rack bar. This provides a stable platform and it makes the bars ideal for the installation of Thule roof rack accessories.

This is a hard question to answer because the driving speed should be appropriate for the driving conditions and the load you’re carrying. Factors, such as: windspeed, road quality, traffic intensity and the speed limits, should all be carefully considered. As a rule of thumb you should avoid exceeding 80 mph when hauling items on your vehicle roof.

Our Verdict

As we’ve demonstrated, Thule has an impressive product line. From the Thule SnowPack Ski/Snowboard Rack, with its effective design and easy use clamps that minimize the risk of damage to your skis or snowboards, to the functional Thule Pulse that may look basic, but is easy to install and has one key system compatibility. However, the stand out pick as the best Thule roof rack has to be our editor’s choice, the Thule AeroBlade Edge flush mount rack.

This impressive rack is not only attractive, but is made with aircraft grade materials, making it durable and strong. It even has the foot already in place, making installation and use simple. It can also handle up to 220 pounds, which is an improvement over standard roof racks.

References

1.
Thule | United States
Make winter travel easy with the right gear
2.
How Rooftop Carriers Affect Fuel Economy - Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports tested the fuel economy on cars and SUVs to see how rooftop carriers affect fuel economy.
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