If you like spending time outdoors, then you’re almost certainly going to need a roof rack system, combined with a roof box, kayak holder, or bike rack. Fortunately, there is a Thule roof rack to fit your needs.
Best Thule Rack for Carrying Cargo
For carrying cargo, you can’t go wrong with the flexible Thule Interstate 868 cargo bag. You might not be able to carry your bike in it, but you will be able to carry virtually anything else.
Thule is one of the most respected names in this industry; they have been established for over 75 years and have made it their business to create the perfect solution for your traveling needs. A Thule roof rack may not be the cheapest option on the market, but it is one that’s built to last and will do exactly what you need it to do.
You’ll need to consider all the options before you select your Thule roof rack or Thule roof bike rack. Fortunately, that’s exactly what this guide is for; to show you the range of options available and guide you through purchasing the right one. Don’t forget that not all roof rack options are universal, you may need extra Thule roof rack parts to ensure your preferred option fits your vehicle.
Identifying The Different Roof Types
The basic roof rack system needs you to have cross bars fitted to your vehicle. These allow you to set an object onto your vehicle and secure it in pace; without risking damage to your roof. Crossbars are also essential if you wish to fasten your accessories, such as the cargo box, or bike racks to your roof.
However, before you can buy the right cross bars for your vehicle you need to understand the different types of vehicle roofs; knowing which type you have will help you to purchase the right equipment on your first attempt
If your roof is smooth, without any bars fitted to it, and with no rain gutters at the edge, then it will be considered as normal, or naked.
The only way of getting cross bars onto this type of roof is to use the feet. These sit on the roof of your car and clamp onto your frame; between, the roof and your car doors. The clamps are slimline to ensure they don’t interrupt the normal closure of your door. You’ll have to pick the right Thule feet for your vehicle.
It’s worth noting that you need to be able to open the door to fit these cross bars if you have a normal roof and just two doors you’re not going to be able to fit a roof rack.
Many new vehicles, especially SUVs, have long rails that run the length of the vehicle on each side. These are generally referred to as roof rails and make it much easier to add cross bars to your roof. Thule cross bars can be clamped to the existing roof rails and locked into place.
This is a more secure way of fastening your load and will usually ensure a better distribution of the load weight across your roof.
There are a few manufacturers who have realized how important a roof rack and accessories are. In response to this, they have created fixed mounting points instead of adding a roof rail.
The mounting points will usually be under a small strip of rubber or even metal. Remove this and the Thule feet will clip directly into the slot. This is one of the fastest ways to mount your feet and is also very secure as they usually have locking mechanisms integrated into them.
An alternative option on some vehicle is the channel that runs from the rear to the front of your vehicle. The feet clip straight into this channel with the aid of specialized adaptors.
Flush or Low Profile Rails
These are basically the same as roof rails in that they are already mounted to your vehicle. However, instead of being raised there is no gap between the roof rail and your vehicle.
Thule feet still clamp directly to the flush rails; the missing gap is designed to reduce drag and wind noise when driving.
These will have a special fitting kit and are generally very easy to install crossbars and other Thule roof rack options too.
This is an old option now and not one you’ll see on most modern vehicles. The idea was that a strip of metal edging is fastened the car when it is made, these channel water away from the roof without letting it pour into your window.
To fit your roof rack on this type of vehicle you’ll need to put the foot in the gutter and then clamp the foot to the gutter.
Your roof will fit into one of the above, once you’ve got the feet in place you’ll be able to slot the cross bars in, whether round, square or aerodynamically designed; and then mount your equipment or Thule roof rack accessories.
The 10 Best Thule Roof Racks
Without further ado, it’s time to take a look at the top 10 Thule roof racks. All of the following are good quality and would make a great addition to your current list of accessories.
Available in various sizes depending on the width of your roof; 43”, 47”, 53”, and 60”. You’re certain to find one that will fit your vehicle.
- Made of aluminum; light and very strong.
- Available in black or silver.
- Each bar weighs just 2.65lbs.
- Measurements of smallest cross bar 47” x 3.9” x 3.4”.
- Unique, aerodynamic shape.
If you’re looking for the very best cross bar in existence then look no further. The Thule Aeroblade edge is a high-quality bar designed to work with all different types of Thule feet, ensuring a solid connection to your vehicle and the ability to carry any load safely.
The front edge of these rails has a textured surface; this is known as the wind diffuser; it pushes the wind up and over the Thule roof rack to minimize drag and handling issues. The textured surface ensures that the wind noise is minimal compared to a smooth surface. You should be aware that these strips are fitted to the rack yourself after you’ve installed it; this ensures they are positioned on the front edge and cut to the correct size before being installed.
An Aeroblade is considered to be one of the strongest cross bars on the market, this is thanks to the BoxBeam aluminum extrusion. Alongside this, you’ll find caps over each end of the bar, which are referred to as “SwingBlade” end caps. These simply pivot out of the way to allow you access to the T-slot, which is used to install almost all accessories. Designing it like this not only makes adding accessories easy, it also ensures the T-slots are protected from the elements and you never lose the end caps.
You’ll also notice the SmartSlide system that is built into the Aeroblades. The idea behind this is that you can easily install the cross bars onto your vehicle without any special tools or even a tape measure. The SmartSlide allows you to position the cross bars in exactly the same place on both sides of your vehicle; ensuring it is securely fastened in moments.
In addition, you’ll notice extra T-strips which can be used to cover the outer edge of the underneath of the T-slots, where the bars fit the feet. These T-strips reduce wind noise and drag, helping you to enjoy the drive regardless of what you’re carrying.
It should be noted that the Aeroblades are designed to work with Thule feet and, if necessary, a dedicated Thule fitting it. You’ll need to check which one fits your exact vehicle before you purchase the feet and attach the bars. Fitting is as easy as sliding the bars onto the feet and locking them in place.
The Aeroblade Thule roof rack system has been tested to withstand 800lbs of force, that’s more than you’re going to be carrying as it’s unlikely your roof will support that much weight.
- 13 Cubic feet of space inside.
- Measures 17” x 8” x 10”.
- Weighs just 6lbs.
- Available in only black.
- Made from PVC free material.
This is one of the few cost-effective and highly practical Thule roof rack options for vehicles that have crossbars or rails already fitted. It’s a great option for the occasional traveler who needs the extra space.
Installing the Cargo Bag is surprisingly easy. It has 4 webbed straps which simply clip onto the cross bars that are already secured to your vehicle. Each of the straps is of a compression type which ensures the bag will not move during transit.
It would also be possible to attach additional straps to these clips and run the fastening straps through the vehicle. However, this is not how Thule has designed the cargo bag to be used and they will probably not stand-by their warranty if this is how you choose to mount it. Of course, if you don’t have any roof rails then this may be a viable option for a short journey.
The bag itself is made of heavy duty canvas which has no PVC in it, helping to minimize environmental damage when it was created. This is an important credential in the modern world and one that you should consider.
The cargo bag has a standard zip style access that runs along 3 sides of the bag, giving you exceptionally easy access; whether on the floor or on the roof of your vehicle. The zip is covered by a large storm flap to ensure water can’t get into the bag when it rains. In fact, the bag is designed to be waterproof and keep all your items dry. If you look at any review of this product you’ll see that it’s very good at this part of its job.
Inside the cargo bag, you’ll find a compression strap which is designed to prevent your luggage from moving while you’re driving. This is especially important for a soft cargo bag as movement is more likely to make the bag itself move; giving you issues when driving. Using the compression strap prevents this from being an issue.
It is worth noting that no locking system is supplied or specifically available for this Thule roof rack system. This is probably because the bag is made from material and could be sliced open if needed. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick up a luggage lock as this will deter most opportunists walking by; assuming you’re parked.
It is also important to be aware that although this cargo bag won’t take up all the available space on your roof, it isn’t advisable to mount other Thule roof rack products at the same time; they’ll prevent the straps from being fastened properly and could cause your cargo bag to come off or slide around on your roof.
Finally, you need to pack the cargo bag from the front back; this will help to reduce the material flapping in the wind as your drive. Flapping means wind noise and will place the bag under additional stress; which it is not designed for.
- 3 Sizes available.
- 2 color options; aluminum or black.
- Designed for T-tracks with tool-free mounting.
- Weighs 7.56 pounds
- Medium option measures 20.5” x 18.5” x 18”.
The three size options will ensure that you can take all the skis or snowboards you need to on your trip. The smallest option is referred to as medium and will accommodate 4 pairs of sis or 2 snowboards. The large option can handle 6 pairs of skis or an impressive 4 snowboards, and the extended version can also handle 6 pairs of skis or 4 boards; the difference is the extender option is deeper, for thicker skis and boards.
The simplicity of this design is what really marks it out from the competition. The Thule roof rack snowpack is hinged at one end, allowing you to open it and slide your skis or boards into position and then clamp the bar down, effectively locking your equipment in place. Inside the snowpack, there is a thick layer of rubber, this helps to stop the skis and boards from moving while preventing them from becoming damaged in transit.
The operation of this product is surprisingly easy and well thought out, an oversized red button releases the bar, giving access to your skis. The button is deliberately designed oversized to ensure you can operate it even with your gloves on.
A nice extra feature is the integrated vertical spring. This allows the carrier to move lower when you need to unload it; making life just a little easier. It also has added roof clearance included allowing for skis with tall bindings. There are small extension feet that raise the snowpack further above the cross bars on your vehicle, allowing you to safely and securely fasten the tall skis in position.
The snowpack will fit any of the Thule cross bars, but, it has also been designed to fit most factory crossbars; it doesn’t matter if they are square, round or aerodynamic. Although they slot easiest into a T track, the snowpack can also be fastened to standard cross bars via a standard strap; just make sure it’s tight to ensure your load doesn’t move in transit.
Don’t forget, you’ll need 2 of these on your roof to accommodate your skis and boards. While it may be tempting to simply fasten your equipment to the existing cross bars, this will not be as secure as using the snowpack; which also does a good job of protecting your skis and boards from damage during the journey. Each pack does come with 2 carriers; you don’t need to buy 2 packs but you do need to fit both carriers.
A final point that is worth noting is the inclusion of a locking mechanism, you may not be able to do this with your glove son but it is an effective way of keeping your skis and boards safe.
- Rubber Coated steel straps.
- 4 feet in the set.
- Weight 1.32lbs.
- Measures 12” x 8” x 5”
This is the Thule feet designed to fit the Thule square bar. There are 4 feet in every pack, all you need to do is turn the handle, slide the foot into position and then lock the handle back down. You can then remove the end caps of your Thule square cross bar and slide it into position.
Although the cross bar needs to be square, these feet are capable of locking onto your raised rails, flush mounted rails, gutter, or even onto a normal roof. In short, you need to choose the right fitting kit for your vehicle to ensure that these feet fit perfectly and effortlessly.
Once in position, you can mount your Thule square bars and then add your Thule roof rack parts & accessories. In the side of each foot, there is a covered lock. Slide the cover out of the way and you can lock your feet to your vehicle; making it very difficult for anyone to remove these bars without your permission.
The feet are made of steel which has been powder coated to ensure they won’t rust. They also have rubber sections inside the clamp to make sure that the clamps won’t damage your roof rails.
Once you’ve fitted these feet and the square Thule cross bars you’ll be ready to carry any load you want. You should note that these feet are relatively heavy, this is partly due to the material they’re made with but is also to ensure that they don’t move while you’re in transit. If your feet over then the cross bars can move and so can your load.
Thule do offer other feet, specifically designed for your vehicle. The best advice you can get is to choose the feet that suit your vehicle and your needs the best; this will ensure you’re buying the best Thule roof rack system for your needs and that it will last for many years.
If you combine these with the aeroblades you’ll barely notice any wind noise or drag, making them a fantastic addition to your vehicle and a very practical one. With these feet, you’ll have the ability to carry almost anything; no matter how far you want to go.
- One size fits all.
- Black; no other color options.
- Measures 10” high and 10”wide.
- Load capacity 130lbs.
- Holds kayak vertically.
- Weighs 12lb 8oz.
The Thule Hull-a-port is a very clever design for the roof of your vehicle. It can carry 2 kayaks because it has a very clever feature that allows it to convert from a j-cradle to a stacking system; thereby securing transporting either 1 or 2 kayaks.
Although this is a Thule product, designed to fit the Thule roof rack system; it is possible to mount it on any load bars up to 80mm wide; even if they are not Thule. This means you can have the quality and durability of the Thule name without having to change your bars until later. It is capable of being mounted to the aeroblade edge or the square bar; but not round bars.
The Hull-a-port has a simple lever on the side which allows you to fold the cradle flat; giving it a very low profile and allowing you to keep it on your vehicle when not in use. That’s great news for people that like to use their kayak every weekend.
Mounting this to your cross bars is surprisingly easy. Simply position it on your cross bars; it can be central or to one side. Then, once the bar is in the right spot and the clamps are over your cross bars, simply pull the lever on the inside of the mount and it will clamp the jaws into position; preventing the rack from moving in transit. The clamps are rubber lined to ensure they have a good grip and don’t damage your cross bars.
You can then use the load straps that are included to secure the kayak or kayaks in position; there are even bow and stern tie downs to help ensure your kayaks can’t move. These will need to be fastened to your trunk and somewhere at the front of your vehicle.
It is worth noting that you need two of these cradles to transport your kayaks safely, and you do get 2 in a pack when you purchase them. But, there is no locking mechanism that secures the cradles to your roof bars or the kayaks to the cradle. To deal with this issue you’ll need to purchase a security chain and lock; this can be wrapped around the kayaks, the cradle, and the cross bars; preventing anyone from simply walking off with your kayaks. Of course; it is advisable to have cross bars that are locked to your vehicle; that’s why you should be using the Thule roof rack option. If you are using Thule products then you can purchase a lock for the Hull-a-port and secure them to the cross bars with this.
The great thing about this cradle is that you can fit it to one side of the car, leaving you room to fit a second set of cradles and take another two kayaks, or a slimline cargo box to carry all your gear.
The product itself is made from powder-coated steel and looks fantastic. It’s practical, small, but it will still take two people to lift the kayak into position and secure it properly; which is essential if you’re planning on driving anywhere!
- Spring locking cam.
- Telescopic design.
- Speed link mounting system.
- Fits all Thule racks
- Weighs 15.79 pounds.
- Measurements: 40” x 4” x 8”.
The Thule SUP Taxi XP is designed to carry your paddleboard wherever you want to go, and it’s one of the best options currently available on the market. Like most Thule roof rack options, it will fit any of the Thule cross bars and most factory fit or aftermarket bars.
As mentioned for other Thule roof rack parts and accessories; this is perfect for your budget; allowing you to transport your paddleboard safely and upgrade to Thule cross bars in the future; using the feet and Aeroblade mentioned earlier.
A great feature of this Thule roof rack is that it is telescopic, simply push down on the button and you can slide the bar outwards; until it reaches the desired width. The maximum board width it can accommodate is 34”. It can even handle narrow paddleboards.
However, you should note that this rack is designed to carry 2 paddleboards, ideally, they should be very similar in width; if they are not there is a chance the narrower one will move in transit. The telescopic movement is spring loaded, ensuring a good grip on your paddleboard. It is also rubber coated to ensure your boards are not damaged while in the carrier.
The simple webbing style strap locks over the boards, helping them to stay in place. You’ll also note that the cradle is curved, allowing the paddleboards to sit securely in the grooves; reducing the chances of movement, wind noise and even the board lifting as you drive. The strap over the top of the boards goes through a similar ratchet system to the one that holds the rack onto your cross bars. Once tightened, it can be locked into position with the integrated Thule lock.
It is important to use the supplied tie downs to secure the front and back of your board; this will help to stop it lifting and placing a strain on your carrier.
Getting the carrier mounted to your vehicle is very easy. Simple position the clamps on top of your bars and then bring the steel reinforced webbing straps under the cross bars and into the ratchet style clamp. Pull them tight with the small thumb knot button; you shouldn’t be able to move the clamps. You can then lock the clamps in position with the built-in lock. This uses the one key system for simplicity; you’ll be able to match all your locks to one key.
This board carrier can be positioned in the center of your vehicle or to one side; depending on what else you may be carrying and the weight of your boards and loaded vehicle. The rack can handle two boards at 75 pounds each; it’s unlikely that yours will be anywhere near this weight; you can even ut inflatable boards on your roof, ready to use.
- 14 impact Resistant Hooks
- Size 40” x 36”
- The Canyon Basket
- Wedge-shaped for aerodynamic potential
- Load capacity of 150 pounds
- Minimum bar spread 20”
- Weighs 29 pounds
- Measures 50.2” x 41” x 6”
The Cargo basket net may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider the Thule roof rack option. However, this is an essential and extremely useful bit of kit that every driver should have. When you couple it with the canyon basket you have an incredibly versatile system that can carry virtually any piece of equipment safely on your roof; providing it doesn’t go over the weight limit of 150 pounds for the basket or your vehicle roof limit; if lower.
The cargo basket net is made from durable shock mesh cord which stretches to cover the cargo effectively; even if it is an irregular shape. Around the edge of the net are 14 large impact-resistance hooks. These are attached to the basket tubing that surrounds the net, ensuring it won’t easily rip when under tension. The hooks can be attached to your crossbars, roof rails, potentially in your windows, especially with an extra cord to strap them through the vehicle. But, the best, and easiest option is to hook them to the sides of your canyon basket.
The canyon basket uses a wedge shape front and tapered walls to help the airflow over and not through your load. This also helps with the loading and unloading process. You can even buy crossbars to fit inside the canyon, allowing you to segregate your cargo or strap something on top; as long as it remains within the 150-pound weight limit for the canyon.
The minimum bar spread required to install the canyon is 20”, while the maximum is 37”. There are four clamps situated inside the basket. These slot over your cross bars. You’ll then need to slide the clamp bars up from underneath your cross bars and into the grooves on the clamps. A simple oversized knob then allows you to tighten the clamp securely in position. The great thing is that these clamps can be removed and positioned where you like. This makes it possible to mount the canyon basket on your vehicle even if you only have roof bars; not cross bars.
The clamps don’t have a built-in locking system but they are generally difficult to get to as the oversized knob is protected by a flap and you’ll probably have gear on top of that space.
Of course, any gear you put in the basket is vulnerable, unless you use security locks to lock everything to the cage. It’s worth noting that the clamps are designed to fit any type of cross bar, you don’t need Thule cross bars or roof bars to fit this impressive piece of kit. The cargo net will simply help to secure everything in position as you drive; giving you peace of mind.
- Flat cargo area.
- An array of additional Thule roof rack accessories can be added.
- Secures with One Key lock
- Weighs 32.2 pounds
There is no doubt that this is the more stylish version of the Canyon basket. It is also just as practical with a few extra features hidden up its sleeves. Of course, you can also combine this with the cargo net to help secure your load in position and keep it there.
The Trail XT curves up and back down at the sides, this is designed to help you load easier while keeping the items within the basket area. It also helps with the aerodynamics of the basket, especially when it’s empty.
The XT uses the same clamping mechanism as the canyon; making it easy to fit to any Cross bar or roof rail, whether they are a Thule product of or not. However, one of the key differences with the XT is that it has integrated locks; making it very difficult for someone to take the basket when you’re not looking. It should be noted that the lock mechanisms are actually sold separately to the XT.
It has to be said that this is a smart looking load carrier. The silver and black finish blends perfectly to create an elegant and stylish finish. The base of this Thule roof rack is flat, with wide supporting beams that are covered in rubber padding. The purpose of this is to help support loads, spreading the weight, and the rubber will help to prevent items from moving while you’re driving; unless you’re planning to corner extremely hard!
You should be aware that this is one of the few Thule roof rack options that does not come in one piece, you will need to do some assembly. This is actually very easy but you must follow the instructions to ensure all the elements are tightened and positioned correctly.
There are actually two size options with this basket, a medium and a large. The medium is 35.5” x 53”, with a height of 10”. In contrast, the large is 63” x 39.5”, with the same height as the smaller version. You can load up to 165 pounds of gear onto this rack safely but you’ll need a minimum bar spread of 23.6” and a maximum of 48” to accommodate this Thule roof rack system.
There are also 8 tie-down loops included to help secure your load; these are adjustable in size and can be moved around the basket as needed. As usual with Thule products, you’ll get a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects, but only as long as the owner is the first buyer of the product; the warranty won’t be useable if you’ve bought a pre-owned Thule Trail XT canyon basket.
- Diamond textured skin.
- Sits 15.9 inches off your cross bar.
- Quick-Grip Mounting System.
- Oversized locking feature
- Dual side opening
This is probably the first thing you think of when considering Thule roof rack systems. Of course, this is only an effective option if you have the cross bars fitted to support the box. As with most Thule roof rack products, the Force is designed to sit on Thule cross bars, whether they are aerodynamic, or square. But, the box can also be fitted to most aftermarket cross bar systems; you’ll just need to check before you buy.
There are actually 5 options when considering a Thule Force:
The M: this is 65” x 34.5” x 16”, weighs 35 pounds and can handle weights up to 110 pounds with a load space of 13 cubic feet.
A Force L is 74” x 36” x 16.5” with 16 cubic feet of space. It weighs 39 pounds and can accommodate 110 pounds of weight.
XL: the load space increases to 17 cubic feet, the width becomes 34.5”, the length 84” and the depth 17”. It weighs 44 pounds and can handle weights up to 110 pounds.
The XXL is bigger again with 21 cubic feet of space in a package that is 92.5” x 36” x 18”. This version weighs 56 pounds although it can still only accommodate weights up to 110 pounds.
Thule Force Alpine: this is actually the smallest of all the Force’s. It measures 81.5” x 24.5” x 17” and can carry 110 pounds while weighing just 36 pounds, but it has a space limit of 12 cubic feet.
The diamond textured skin is more than just a way to make this box look good. It actually helps the box to cut through the air, creating the least possible resistance which improves fuel economy and stability. This is also an effective way to reduce road noise.
An important safety feature is the ability to open the box from either side of the vehicle. This means you’ll be safe and able to access your luggage no matter where you’re parked. Sideloading boxes are generally much easier to pack than rear-loading options, being able to do this on both sides makes it even easier.
The box is very easy to mount on your Thule roof rails, simply slot the clamps on the bottom of your box over the cross bars and slide the pin upwards from the bottom. You can then tighten it into position using the oversized knob inside the box. Because the box locks shut with the Thule one key locking system, there is no need for locks on the clamps; you have to get inside the box to take it off.
The hardtop shell of this box has a large overhang to ensure that rain drips away from the box, keeping your belongings dry in even the worst weather. That’s perhaps one of the greatest advantages of the hard cargo box over the soft versions.
This smart looking and practical Thule roof rack has several distinctive features:
- Flip Fit Brackets
- Telescopic Design
- Tie down straps included
- Weather resistant padding
- Weighs 6 pounds
- Measures 25” x 8” x 5”
It should be obvious from the title that this rack is designed to take paddleboards or surfboards. However, with the right straps, it could even be used to take your kayaks; making it one of the most versatile offerings on this list.
The telescopic element of this design is pretty unique, you can extend the arms to accommodate boards up to 34 inches wide. The boards are then held in place with strong and durable straps that have padding wrapped around them to prevent them from damaging your boards. It can handle 2 boards comfortable but you may need some extra straps to ensure both boards are secure.
You do need to have cross bars in place already. It is designed to fit the Thule Aeroblade or any Thule square cross bar. In reality, this means it will also fit many factory-fitted and aftermarket cross bars, but check before you buy!
The Thule Board Shuttle is made from corrosion resistant stainless steel, as are the brackets that attach it to your roof. The steel is powder coated to give it the distinctive black finish; there is only one color option.
To clamp this onto your car simply lift the Board Shuttle into position. Then slide the clamp piece under the cross bar, in-line with the top part of the clamp. You’ll see two oversized knobs which you can tighten. Alternate your tightening to ensure the pressure is even; the large size of these knobs will help to ensure the rack is tight and won’t move. The whole process should be completed in less than 5 minutes and everything you need is included with the rack.
You can then repeat with the other side of the rack and the second bar. At this point, it’s worth noting that there is no lock integrated into the Board Shuttle. You’ll need to chin your boards to the cross bars if you think you may leave your car and there’s a chance they’ll get stolen.
You should note that some wind noise is generated by the middle section of this rack; this is because of the telescopic nature. However, once you’ve set the gap up you can tape over the exposed section which will greatly reduce the wind noise. It is also important to keep the straps tight as this will reduce the potential for wind noise; this is actually true regardless of what load you’re carrying and which Thule roof rack product you’re using.
As always, you can expect a good level of customer service from Thule, along with a lifetime warranty against defects; providing you’re the first owner. That’s reasonable and gives you peace of mind; Thule roof rack products are made to last.
Ultimate Buying Guide For Buying A Thule Roof Rack
There is no doubt that some of these Thule roof rack systems are not just well designed but great to look at. This can be all the incentive you need to purchase one and mount it on your vehicle. However, while Thule tries to offer their roof rack systems in segments so that you can pick all the pieces you need, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider all the options before you buy.
This guide will help to ensure you get the one that best suits your needs, not the aesthetic appeal of your vehicle;
The first thing you have to consider is the number of funds you have available. It’s true that Thule offers some of the best roof rack options on the market, but they are also not the cheapest product. This means you need to choose wisely t make the most of your funds.
When considering the funds you have available you should also look at the amount of time you have before the roof rack system is really needed. The longer you have the more funds you’ll be able to put aside for the right Thule roof rack.
If you have limited funds and limited time then you may wish to consider a cheaper option for the roof bars and a dedicated carrier for the bike, skis, or boards that you want to carry. Once you know your budget you can see which options fit within it.
This is the next most important consideration. After all, there is no point in purchasing a smart looking roof basket if you’re only ever going to carry your bike on the roof. While the basket will hold your bike, it will be safer and simpler to use a Thule bike rack mount.
Equally, you should be considering how often you intend to use the roof rack system. The greater you use it the more justifiable the higher price tag. Consider how often you struggle with carrying loads at the moment and work out your usage from this.
You can then consider what you are most likely to carry as this will help you to narrow down your options and choose the right Thule roof rack system.
What Will Fit?
The Thule canyon and Trail XT can appear to take almost anything. However, they don’t offer the weather protection that the Force box does. Of course, with a rigid box, you’ll be very limited regarding loading any odd shapes.
Equally, as already mentioned, the roof basket is not necessarily the most practical option for carrying a bike but it will fit.
Consider what you will be crying; if there are multiple items you may well find that a basket is the best and most cost effective solution; you’re not going to want to keep changing your Thue roof rack depending on what you’re carrying.
Is A Roof Rack Essential?
When planning your annual vacation it can seem like your vehicle won’t be big enough, a cargo box or a Thule roof rack system for your bikes can seem like the perfect answer. However, before you buy you should consider if there are any options open to you. In short, is the Thule roof rack system essential?
If you spend some time thinking about it and conclude it’s not because there is another way of getting the items where they need to be then don’t buy the roof rack. The more likely scenario is that this pause will help you to choose the Thule roof rack system that will really benefit you; as opposed to the one that you like the look of.
Thule has one of the best reputations in the industry but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some products which aren’t as good as the others. Every company has an odd failing.
Whether you’re considering a Thule roof rack system or one made by another firm, it’s a good idea to look up their reputation online and speak to family and friends who may have used their products.
You can also check social media for reviews of the products; this is especially useful if a specific product has issues while the rest of the Thule range is fantastic. Te reviews you read can help you to choose the right roof rack.
But, you should be aware that there will always be some negative reviews, no company can get it right every time. The number of negative reviews should be less than positive reviews; if negatives outweigh positives then this is not a good system to purchase.
There are two weight limits you need to be concerned with. The first is the weight capacity of your car; you may need to check this in your manufacturer‘s manual. This will tell you how much weight your roof can support. You should never exceed this figure as you’ll risk crushing the roof of your vehicle.
The second figure is the one on the Tule roof rack system. This will tell you the maximum weight that the rack can accommodate. Of course, if your roof weight is less than this then you’ll need to go by the weight limit of the roof.
The weight limit of the roof rack will help you to establish if it is the right system for your needs. After all, there is no point in complaining about a kayak rack breaking if it is designed to ake 50 pounds and you put a 75-pound kayak on it.
Don’t forget your roof rating includes the cross bars, roof rack system and the weight of the items being carried; make sure this is below the limit of your roof.
Ease Of Fitting
The next thing to consider is how easily you can fit the Thule roof rack. Most Thule products come with either a button system or a locking system that makes the entire process very straightforward.
But, before you think about how easy it is to put the rack on and take it off; you need to consider how often you’re likely to do this. If you only use a roof rack system occasionally you’ll probably want to remove it when it’s not in use; this will improve your fuel consumption. In this instance, you need to choose one that is very easy to fit; you’re unlikely to remember the process so the easier t is the better, and don’t forget to keep the instruction manual.
If you’re simply going to fit your Thule roof rack system and leave it in place then you only need to fit it once. It won’t matter if this is a complicated procedure providing you are aware of what is involved and how long it will take.
It is also important to consider what vehicle you currently drive and whether you are likely to keep it. Most of the Thule roof rack accessories and parts can be moved from one vehicle to another. However, you will almost certainly have to purchase a new fitting kit.
If you’re keeping your car for the foreseeable future then this is not an issue. However, if you’re just about to change your vehicle then you need to consider whether the best time to purchase a Thule roof rack system is now. You don’t want to have to choose your next vehicle based on whether it will be able to handle your existing roof rack.
Thule roof rack systems are designed to allow you to add carriers, mounts, and other brackets. In fact, the Thule roof rack parts division makes more sells than the roof rack division. But this is a good thing!
The greater the number of accessories that can be added to your roof rack, the more versatile, and therefore beneficial, it is.
Check the accessory range and which ones will fit your vehicle, this will help you to decide which rack really suits your needs.
It is worth noting that many companies will make it difficult for you to put accessories from their lineup onto a competitor’s rack. If you’ve found the perfect accessory you need to buy your rack from the same manufacturer or check that the manufacturer you prefer has a similar accessory.
Check The Pros
Professionals in any sport are given their choice of equipment and will even advertise some items. Take a look at which products they are using; there’s a good chance they are the best product for you to purchase as well. After all, if it can withstand their efforts, it should easily cope with yours.
With a little planning and forethought, you’ll be able to pick the Thule roof rack system that will serve your purposes perfectly and last for many years.
Look At What It’s Made Off
Plastic has an appeal because it looks attractive. However, plastic can become brittle and break after being used several times and left out in all weathers. A quality roof rack system will be predominantly metal as this is much longer lasting and will handle loads better. Just make sure it is properly coated to protect it from rust.
There are several commonly asked questions regarding Thule roof rack systems. It’s worth taking the time to look at the FAQs to find an answer to your query. If the answer isn’t here then it’s time to contact us; we’re always interested in your question and your thoughts.
Why Do I Need An Approved system?
An approved system is one that is designed for cars in general and potentially your vehicle in particular. An unapproved system is one that doesn’t have certification or that you could make yourself.
It’s important to get an approved system as this will have been tried and tested for the road. While this testing does generally make the products more expensive, it also makes them safer and the items you’re carrying are less likely to get damaged.
Will any roof rack system fit my car?
No. The type of Thule roof rack, or a system from another manufacturer, that fits your vehicle will depend on what type of vehicle you have and the roof. As described at the start, there are several different types of roof; you need to know which type you have before you can even begin shopping for a roof rack.
While most bars are universal in size the real issue will surround how you attach these to your vehicle or any existing roof bars you have. Purchasing feet and fitting kits are generally a large part of the purchase cost. But, providing you’re planning to keep your vehicle for a while, this is a worthwhile part of the investment.
How far apart should my cross bars be?
In most cases, the roof rack fitting instructions will tell you how far apart your cross bars should be. In general, the minimal distance between cross bars is 15” while the maximum is approximately 35”. You should be able to slide your cross bars up or down if they are fitted to a roof rail or clamped through a door. However, fixed place roof racks cannot be relocated; your cross bars will have to be in the right position for the Thule roof bar system, or you’ll have to use a different one.
Does a roof rack affect my fuel consumption?
Any roof system will increase the fuel you consume, no matter how aerodynamically they are designed. The simple fact is, adding items to your roof will disrupt the airflow of the car. Instead of rising smoothly over the car it will find ways through the roof rack system.
This will create noise and drag; increasing your fuel bill and potentially creating a whistling noise that you’ll hear when driving.
This is why experts recommend removing the roof rack system when not in use; although this is not always a practical option.
Does The Thule Roof Rack Have A Warranty?
Thule roof rack systems are all covered by their standard warranty. This covers you against defects in the workmanship but not against any issue relating to wear and tear. Workmanship issues are covered for as long as you own the roof rack, but the warranty is not transferrable to another person.
There’s a good reason why Thule is one of the best names in the business. They offer a roof rack system for every vehicle with an accessory to match. It doesn’t matter what you drive, or what you want to carry; you’ll find something that fits.
Add this to the simplistic design and you have a winning combination. The same roof rails and crossbars can accommodate virtually any Thule product, allowing you to utilize the best Thule roof rack for bikes at the same time as a cargo box or kayak carrier. This convenience and durability will more than makeup for any additional cost.