Do Ski Racks Damage Skis? (Our Honest Experience)

by Alaina Johnson | Published: November 18th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

Skiing is a great way to make use of the cold winter months, even for those who live long distances from the snowy mountains. For those who need to travel to their ski resort vacation, ski racks are a common solution for transporting gear.

To avoid any possible damage from ski racks, be sure to secure both the rack and the skis. Stormy weather can cause exterior damage to the skis when attached to a rooftop rack. Usually, skis will need a thorough cleaning and a fresh layer of wax to repair.

Ski rack on BMW

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Photo by Coconino National Forest, Ariz. under CC0 1.0

How to Avoid Damage When Using Ski Racks

Often, avid skiers pay thousands for their gear. It would be a huge disappointment to notice that your new skis are all scratched and scuffed up after removing them from the ski rack. Luckily, this issue isn't as common as people think, and you can still use your ski rack without much concern.

If the ski rack hasn't been adequately secured, this can result in some minor damage. An easy way to avoid this problem is to check that your ski rack isn't moving around on the top of the car — which can cause damage to not only your skis but to your vehicle as well.

Keystone United States

Secondly, checking the connectors between the rack and the skis is a good idea. If the gear isn't properly attached, it could become loose and scratch the rack's metal again. Even worse, they could fall off the car entirely and become destroyed and cause damage to other vehicles traveling down the road.

Once everything has been fully and wholly attached and connected, there is still one more concern to address. When transporting skis via a rooftop rack, there is always the possibility of weather damage. Exposure to the elements, especially while driving 70 MPH down the highway, can cause minor external damage to skis.

Anything coating the outside of your car, whether it be rain, dust, or ice, will also be covering your skis. When traveling through areas where road salt is used, skiers should be wary of their skis rusting if not cleaned afterward. As soon as the destination is reached, the skis should be washed, possibly coated in a new layer of wax - depending on how long a drive you took them on.

What Is the Safest Way to Transport Skis?

Photo by Robert Tadlock under CC BY 2.0

When considering the safest possible avenue for transporting an expensive pair of skis, there aren't many safer options than putting them directly into the car. They are less likely to be stolen this way, as thieves won't be able to have quick and easy access to them. When skis are placed into the car's interior cabin, they are also protected from any rain, ice, road salt, and flying debris.

Key Takeaway: One of the most convenient ways to transport skis on vehicles of all makes and models is by using a rooftop ski rack.

This allows the interior of the car to be used for luggage and plenty of warm coats. When skis are transported inside a car, they take up a great deal of cabin space.

Transporting skis via a roof rack is not particularly unsafe, the skis will be left open to the elements. When traveling to your snowy and mountainous destination, there is often inclement weather such as snow and ice — which can also mean the existence of road salt which can damage and potentially cause rust buildup on skis.

When using a ski rack, avid skiers may want to invest in a roof box or ski bag to further protect their skis while they're lashed down to the roof of the car. This adds an extra layer of protection to sometimes expensive equipment investment. These additional components may put a drag on the fuel economy of the vehicle, which is something that should be considered before installation.

Tips For Transporting Skis On a Ski Rack

Ski rack
Photo by Eric Rayner under CC BY 2.0

There are a few key tips to keep in mind when using a ski rack to transport skis.

  • Never exceed the maximum roof load (determined by the make and model of the vehicle)
  • Prepare to drive more carefully with an altered center of gravity due to the extra weight
  • Ensure the dimensions of the rack with skis don't create hazards while driving
  • Double-check that the roof rack is compatible with your vehicle

Responsible drivers will always ensure everything is secured before they take off. This is especially true if you're planning a cross-country road trip to the mountains. Driving over several days will inevitably jostle the items secured on top of the car, meaning that things should be checked once or twice a day.

Ski Carving
Photo by Felix Abraham licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Ski racks are an incredibly convenient way to transport bulky items, such as skis and other gear that skiers often bring along.

Tip: When parking overnight, it may be best to remove the skis and place them indoors to avoid any opportunities for thieves to grab the expensive gear and make off with it.

Which Way Should Skis Be Facing on a Roof Rack?

There is a correct way to position skis on a roof rack. When loading your skis onto the contraption, you'll want to ensure that the tails are pointing toward the front end of the vehicle. This allows for an increased sense of being aerodynamic and can help with fuel efficiency throughout the drive.

When the tails of the skis aren't facing the wind, the air can catch on the tips of the skis and put additional stress on the rack itself. Inevitably, a high degree of stress can cause damage to the various components and you may find yourself having to replace the rack sooner than expected.

Should You Put Your Poles on a Ski Rack?

After you've loaded up your skis onto the roof rack, you may be wondering if you should throw your poles up there as well. Most brands of roof racks have an additional place for poles to be securely placed. If not, it may be best to toss them into the back of the car with the rest of your luggage.

Reading the manual for the roof rack is a great starting point if you're unaware of what the rack can and can't hold. The most important thing is that everything is secure before you begin driving, as a ski pole flying off the top of your car at a high rate of speed is likely to cause damage to another vehicle.

Do You Need A Ski Rack?

Zillertal, Austria

For many, transporting skis with a rooftop ski rack is the optimal way to get their gear to their snowy mountain destination. After all, placing skis directly inside a vehicle can take up an obnoxious amount of room and leave little space available for suitcases and extra passengers.

There are a few tips to keep in mind when using a ski rack to avoid any unnecessary damage, such as ensuring proper connections and securing the rack snugly to the roof of the car. Skis should also be measured beforehand to ensure they don't take up too much space on top of the car and that they won't damage surrounding vehicles on the road.