3 Best Way To Transport Skis In Your Car (Without A Roof Box)

by Alaina Johnson | Updated: July 21st, 2023 |  Skiing Articles

Transporting skis can be a difficult task, especially if you drive a smaller vehicle. However, there are some tips and tricks for getting your gear from point A to point B, so you can hit the slopes this winter without having to rent gear.

You can opt to fold down your backseat row and fit your skis inside the vehicle. Or if you don't have room, there are several options for attaching them to the top of your car and transporting them that way, but you may end up with dirty skis unless covered.

skis on car

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Best Option: Put Your Skis Inside Of Your Vehicle

ski trip car
Photo by Robert Tadlock licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you have a truck-bed read our guide on transporting skis in pick-up truck

Naturally, the easiest and best option for transporting your skis is to carry them in the back of your car. If you drive a larger car or SUV, you can put down the back row of seats and lay them flat.

Some smaller vehicles have a central slot where you can elongate the space available in the trunk. This can often fit skis, though it's always best to measure the fit before attempting to transport your skis this way. Transporting your skis inside the car is often the best option. You know they are safe and they won't get dirty from road spray - salt and grime.

Pros of Putting Your Skis Inside Your Car

ski equipment inside car
Photo by Mitch Barrie licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The best part about having your skis inside of your vehicle is that they're guaranteed to stay clean. If you're traveling somewhere with road salt, your skis may also be prone to rusting, if they're attached to the roof of your car. There are extra steps you can take when transporting them outside of your car, which will be covered later.

Another benefit to carrying your skis inside your vehicle is secure. To thieves, a pair of skis on top of a car is an easy target, which can be quickly untied and taken.

Second Best Option: Invest In a Cargo Box

If the room inside your car is at a premium, then a cargo box is another great option for transportation. It keeps your skis clean and rust-free, while also keeping them secure and safe from theft. If you have a smaller size car or your passengers are going to take up most of the space, then a cargo box is often the best solution. From a security angle, most cargo boxes come with locks to deter thieves.

Cargo boxes usually have easy access, so once you reach your destination you can simply climb up and unpack them. All your gear will be ready to go and you won't have to worry about cleaning it.

These boxes can be on the expensive side, often ranging from $500 to $1,000. However, it'll often last you a lifetime if you treat it properly. You'll also have to find a space to store it during the off-season when it is not in use.

Mammoth Lakes
Photo by Mitch Barrie under CC BY-SA 2.0

Cargo box sizes vary considerably but you can often fit several sets of skis in one. Cargo boxes have a much more streamlined profile on the roof of the car and so you will hear less wind noise and achieve better fuel economy. If the inside of your car is full of luggage and people, they can certainly be a lifesaver for transporting skis.

Honorable Mention: Install a Roof Mounted Ski Rack

On your way to your ski resort, you are likely to see many cars with roof-mounted racks. However, they do come with some drawbacks. You will almost certainly need to clean your skis before using them on the slopes. When they're attached to the roof, unprotected, they gather dirt, dust, and salt from the roads.

Clearing off this layer of grime is important before you strap them on, as the dirt and grime can work their way into the mechanism of the bindings and cause premature wear.


Mounted roof racks are relatively low cost, coming in at around $100 to $400, which can be significantly less than a cargo box. Mounted racks are often easier to install yourself when compared to cargo boxes, as they're not as awkward to maneuver.

Honorable Mention: Attach a Hitch Mounted Ski Rack

There are also hitch-mounted ski racks for those who prefer this type of setup. They're often easier to install than the roof variety but have most of the same pros and cons. Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, they may be the better option for you. They offer easier access, as you don't have to climb up to the roof to access your skis.

You may even be able to use your trunk with it attached, as most are moveable. If your car already has a hitch, then you can easily fix one of these.

hitch mounted ski rack
Photo by Rocky Chrysler licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

When driving a vehicle with a ski rack of any sort, always have a trial run before setting out on a long journey. You want to discover any problems earlier rather than later when you're in the middle of nowhere.

Three Main Options

There are several options when it comes to transporting your skis to your next mountain destination. Whether you have a smaller vehicle or a large SUV, you can travel with your equipment with relative ease using interior solutions, ski racks on the roof and trunk, or a cargo box. The cost and the pros and cons of each option vary considerably but you will find something suitable for your requirements.