Do Ski Racks Damage Skis?


Skiing is a fun way to pass the time in the cold winter months, but transporting your skis can prove to be a hassle.

Putting your skis in your car can block your view of the road behind you and create a mess that you’ll have to clean up when you get home—plus, they take up a lot of space. You want to be able to transport your skis in a safe manner for you, your passengers, and your equipment.

Putting your skis on a rack atop your car is another solution, but do ski racks damage skis? Ski gear is expensive, and damaging your skis is not worth saving some space in your car.

Properly installed ski racks will not cause damage to skis that have been correctly mounted on them. Removing the skis from the rack between trips and cleaning any accumulated road grime will further extend their life.

With that in mind, lets dig into more tips to ensure that your skis are properly protected on your ski rack during trips!

Do Ski Racks Damage Skis?

The short answer is, no, a ski rack will not damage your skis. The long answer is a little more complicated than that, as many factors contribute to the safety of your skis when they are attached to the roof of a car. Let’s break it down.

First, you will need to install a ski rack onto the roof of your car. If you have not installed the racking correctly, it will not adequately be secured and can cause additional damage to your skis and, furthermore, your vehicle.

Next, you need to ensure that you’ve adequately secure your skis to the racking. If the skis are not correctly connected, they could fall off while the car is moving, causing damage to the skis and possibly to other vehicles on the road.

If the skis are not facing the right way on the racking, opening your hatch or car doors could scrape your skis.

Another factor, and arguably the most prevalent factor, is exposure to the elements.

Having your skis on the roof or your car while you’re driving means that any debris, snow, or other exposure, that would coat your vehicle while you’re going will also be covering your skis.

Caked on ice and salt can cause your skis to rust and show signs of wear and tear. So avoid leaving them up on the ski racks any longer than is necessary!

As skiing is a winter sport, there’s no way to avoid exposure to the elements if the skis are on the roof of your car; however, you can avoid damaging your skis by cleaning the grime off of them as soon as you have reached your destination.

Should Bindings Face Up or Down on a Ski Rack?

There are two ways that you can have your skis mounted to your rooftop racking: either lying side by side or sandwiched together. The method you use to mount your skis largely depends on the racking you have installed and the number of skis you are mounting to your rooftop.

If you are mounting the side of your ski by the side, the bindings should be facing up. This will ensure less wind getting trapped under your skis, minimizing the amount of drag you will experience while driving. 

If you need to “sandwich” your skis together to secure them to the racking, you will need to have the bindings facing outward with the bottom of the skis touching. 

One ski will have its bindings facing the roof of your car, while the other will have its bindings facing the sky. When you have the skis placed together like this, it will save space and make it easier to secure them to the racking.

In general, you should be looking to orient your skis in a way that is safe for the skis and your car. Whenever you place something on the roof of your vehicle, it changes how the wind interacts with the car as it is moving. 

Increased drag on your vehicle while driving won’t damage your skis, but it can cause stress to your car’s suspension system and lead to long-term damage to your car. Keep that in mind when you are deciding how best to mount your skis to your car.

Which Way do Skis Go on a Rack?

Now that you know which way the bindings should be facing, it’s time to look at the direction the skis are laying when you’ve mounted them to your car.

Your skis should always be oriented so that the tips are facing in the direction the car is going—the skis should be along the roof of the vehicle, not crossing it. This will ensure that there is limited overhang so that the skis are not damaged when opening the hatch or the door. 

If you feel like the skis are hanging too far off the end of your car for you to be able to fully open the hatch, move them forward so that they are hanging over the windshield more than the rear window.

In terms of aerodynamics, it is best to have the pointed end of the skis at the rear of the car, which will provide the least amount of drag while driving. Keep in mind that if you are sandwiching your skis together to mount them, one tip will inevitably be pointing down.

Additional Tips To Protect Your Skis on a Roof Rack

Now that you know how to mount your skis correctly, here are some other tips to help keep your skis safe while they are mounted to the roof of your car: 

Limit The Amount of Time your Skis Are Mounted

As we mentioned above, the number one issue that causes damage to skis that are mounted to rooftop racking is debris and residue buildup on the skis.

The best way to avoid unnecessary buildup is to limit the amount of time your skis spend on the roof of your car.

It would be best if you only had your skis mounted when you are on your way to a ski trip or on your way home from one.

Always Double-Check Your Racking

Before you get in your car and start driving, double-check that your racking and skis are correctly secured.

This will give you peace of mind that your skis will not fall off your roof while you are driving.

Choose The Right Ski Rack For Your Vehicle

When it comes to racking equipment, there is no one size fits all option. Do your research on your car and the racking options available.

If you have a clear idea of what will work for your vehicle and what will work for the skis you are using, it will make your choice a lot easier. 

If you’re not sure what kind of racking you need or are torn between different options, reach out to a professional for help.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

Building on that last point, you should never be embarrassed to ask for help if you need it!

Whether you need advice for choosing what kind of racking you need or you need help with the installation process, there is no way you will regret taking the extra step to ensure that your racking is installed safely.

In Conclusion: Do Ski Racks Damage Skis?

So, do ski racks damage skis?

As long as you are properly securing your skis, using a ski rack is a perfectly safe method of transporting your skis. Like most items, your skis’ longevity depends on how well they are taken care of. 

If you are cleaning your skis regularly and ensuring that they are safely secured to the ski rack before you start driving, you will be able to get years of use out of your skis without the fear of damaging them. 

Now, with all that cleared up, happy skiing!

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Hi, I'm Zach Reed and I'm a Colorado-based outdoor lover! For more information about me, take a look at my dedicated about me page.

1 thought on “Do Ski Racks Damage Skis?”

  1. This is a bit of self-promotion but very relevant to the topic. I also remember the beefy ski bags that airlines use to give out for flying with skis. I was surprised that there was nowhere to buy them anymore because they are perfect for roof and hitch-mount ski racks. I recently started to produce Ski Slips, which are waterproof 4mil poly bags for protecting skis from road grime, salt, and muck.


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