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