If you spend time outdoors going on ski-ing adventures, kayaking or even family camping holidays, you’ll already know that you need a roof rack system.
These are great secure and safe storage solutions that allow you to take everything you need and utilize the space in your car for passengers and other light luggage.
- Best Soft Cargo Carrier- Thule 868 Interstate Cargo Bag
- Best for Skis - Thule SnowPack Roof Mounted Ski Carrier
- Best Roof Cargo Box - Thule Force Cargo Box
Thule , a leader in roof carrier systems, makes many different Cargo Boxes, soft carriers, ski systems and many others that suit every need.
In this article, we provide an overview of Thule car roof systems and outline their best uses to help you find the best one for you.
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|Thule SnowPack Roof Mounted Ski Carrier||20.5" x 18.5" x 18"||7.56 lbs||Can holds 2 snowboards or 4 pairs of skis|
|Thule Aeroblade Edge||47.2" x 3.9" x 3.4"||2.65 lbs||Can withstand 800lbs of force|
|Thule 868 Interstate Cargo Bag||17” x 8” x 10”||6 lbs||Made with heavy-duty canvas|
|Thule Hull-a-port XT Kayak||10" high 10" wide||12 lbs||Holds 2 kayaks vertically|
|Thule Foot Pack||12” x 8” x 5”||1.32 lbs||Fits the Thule square bar|
|Thule XT 810XT SUP Taxi||40” x 8” x 4”||15.79 lbs||Transportation of 2 paddle boards of similar width|
|Thule 692 Mount Cargo Basket Net||50.2” x 41” x 6”||29 lbs||Load-capacity 150 lbs|
|Thule Force Cargo Box||78" x 32.5" x 15"||110 lbs||Quick-Grip Mounting System|
|Thule XT Canyon Cargo Basket||55" x 10" x 8"||32.2 lbs||8 tie-down loops to secure load|
|Thule Board Shuttle||25” x 8” x 5”||6 lbs||Holds max 2 surfboards or paddle boards (need extra straps)|
10 Best Thule Roof Carrier Systems
All of the following items are of good quality and will make an excellent addition to your current traveling accessories.
1. Thule SnowPack Roof Mounted Ski Carrier
The difference between the medium and larger sizes is that the extender feature is deeper, so more suited for thicker boards and skis.
This roof rack is hinged at one end, so you can open it, just slide in your skis and then clamp down the bar.
This locks your gear in place. The interior has a thick layer of rubber to stop the contents moving, preventing any damage during transit.
An oversized red button (great for when you are wearing gloves) releases the bar, which gives you access to your skis. The integrated vertical spring allows the product to move lower when you unload it.
Each pack comes with 2 carriers, both of these will be needed for this system to work.
- 2 color options; aluminum or black
- 3 sizes available
- Designed for T-tracks with tool-free mounting
- Medium (the smallest one) measures 20.5” x 18.5” x 18”
- Medium holds 2 snowboards or 4 pairs of skis
- Large holds 4 snowboards or 6 pairs of skis
- Weighs 7.56 lbs
- Locking mechanism
- Fits most roof bars
2. Thule Aeroblade Edge
Available in multiple sizes (43”, 47”, 53”, and 60”) so you will find one that fits your vehicle.
The rails’ front edge is a textured surface (known as the wind diffuser), which pushes the wind over the roof rack, minimizing drag and wind noise.
An Aeroblade is one of the strongest crossbars available. This is due to the BoxBeam aluminum extrusion. The bars have “SwingBlade” end cap covers, which pivot away allowing access to the T-slot. The SmartSlide system means easy installation without special tools.
- Available in black or silver
- Made of aluminum; light and very strong
- Dimensions of smallest crossbar 47” x 3.9” x 3.4”
- Each bar weighs 2.65lbs
- Unique, aerodynamic shape
- Works with Thule feet
- Can withstand 800lbs of force
3. Thule 868 Interstate Cargo Bag
The webbed straps clip onto your crossbars. These compression type straps ensure the bag will not stay in place during transit.
This also has standard zip style access running along 3 sides of it for easy access.
A storm flap covers the zip so water can’t enter the bag during a storm. Inside there is a compression strap that stops your luggage moving around.
- Dimensions 17” x 8” x 10”
- 13 cubic feet
- Available in black only
- Made from PVC free material
- Bag made with heavy-duty canvas
- To be fitted on vehicles with bars or rails
- 4 webbed straps
- Easy install
- No locking system
- Weighs 6lbs
4. Thule Hull-a-port XT Kayak
To fold the cradle flat, just use the Hull-a-port lever on the side. This means you can keep it on your vehicle with a low profile when you are not using it.
Mounting is easy. Use the load straps (included) to secure your kayaks. The tie-downs ensure that your kayaks don’t move.
Fasten these to your trunk and also at the front end of your vehicle. The two cradles you get are needed to transport your kayaks safely.
A great feature with these cradles is that you can fit one side of your car, leaving room to fit another set of cradles for two more kayaks or a cargo box on top of your vehicle. There is no locking mechanism included to secure the cradles to roof bars. So, you’ll also need to buy a security lock and chain.
- Available in black only
- One size fits all.
- Holds 2 kayaks vertically
- Load capacity 130lbs
- Fits most load bars, up to 80mm wide
- Fits Aeroblade Edge or Square Bar
- Does not fit round bars
- Measures 10” high, 10” wide
- Bow and stern tie-downs
- Requires 2 people for the install
- Made from powder-coated steel
- Weighs 12lb 8oz
5. Thule Foot Pack (Crossroad Railing Roof Rack)
The feet can be locked onto flush mounted rails, raised rails, gutter, or a standard roof. Once positioned, just mount your square bars and add your Thule accessories.
Each foot has a covered lock on its side. You simply slide the cover over, and the feet lock to your vehicle. Thule offers other feet that are specifically for your vehicle. Combine these with the Aeroblades, and you’ll hardly notice any drag or wind noise.
- Fits the Thule square bar
- 4 feet per pack
- Made of powder-coated steel
- Steel straps inside that are Rubber Coated
- Measures 12” x 8” x 5”
- Weight 1.32lbs
6. Thule XT 810XT SUP Taxi
The system allows you to upgrade to Thule crossbars in the future if you need to, using the feet and Aeroblade discussed above.
The webbing style strap covers your boards, locking them into place.
The curved cradle has grooves where the paddleboards can sit securely. Mounting is easy. This carrier can be positioned to one side of the vehicle or in the center.
- Rubber coated telescopic design
- Transportation of 2 paddleboards of similar width
- To fit max board width 34”
- Spring-locking cam
- Fits all Thule racks
- Speed-link mounting
- Includes tie-downs to secure your boards
- Measures 40” x 8” x 4”
- Fits most crossbars
- Integrated Thule lock
- Load capacity 150lbs
- Weighs 15.79 lbs
7. Thule 692 Mount Cargo Basket Net
This is something that every driver should have. If you used this alongside the Canyon Basket (below), you end up with a versatile system that can carry any equipment safely on your car roof.
The shock mesh cord is handy for irregularly shaped cargo.
The impact-resistance hooks surround the net, so it doesn’t easily rip under tension. You could buy crossbars that fit inside the Canyon, which would allow you to segregate cargo or strap more on top. The adjustable clamps mean that it is possible to mount the basket even if you just have roof bars instead of crossbars.
There is no built-in locking system. However, security-wise, it is hard to access the oversized knob, as this is protected by a flap that will have all your gear on top. You could buy security locks to secure everything into the cage.
- Wedge-shaped for aerodynamic optimization
- Bar spread 20” – 37”
- Load-capacity 150 lbs
- Weighs 29 lbs
- 14 large impact-resistant hooks
- Made from stretchy durable shock mesh cord
- Fits any crossbar
- Dimensions 50.2” x 41” x 6”
8. Thule Force Cargo Box
The diamond textured skin looks good and aerodynamically cuts through the air. This creates less resistance and reduces the impact on fuel consumption and noise.
The box is easy to mount on your rails and takes a few minutes. These cargo boxes are highly weather-resistant due to their curved shape and a hard shell which allows water to drain off.
- Requires already fitted crossbars, fits most
- Sits 15.9 inches off your crossbar
- Diamond textured skin
- Oversized locking feature
- Quick-Grip Mounting System.
- Dual-sided opening
9. Thule XT Canyon Cargo Basket
The Trail XT Cargo Basket can be combined with the cargo net to further secure your load. The clamping mechanism makes it easy to fit any Crossbar or roof rail.
It has integrated locks, but the lock mechanisms are sold separately.
The black and silver finish creates a stylish finish. Unlike other Thule roof rack systems, this Cargo basket requires some assembly, but that is quite easy. Just follow the instructions and ensure everything is positioned and tightened correctly.
The XT Cargo Basket comes in two sizes; medium and large. The height of the medium is 10” and it measures 35.5” x 53”. The large is the same height, but is 63” x 39.5”. This can fit on a bar spread of 23.6” to 48”. The size of the tie-down loops can be adjusted and repositioned around the basket as required.
- Ability to add other Thule roof rack accessories
- Flat cargo area
- Secures with One-Key lock
- Clamping mechanism
- 8 tie-down loops to secure load
- Weighs 32.2 pounds
- Load capacity 165lbs
10. Thule Board Shuttle
This is the most versatile product reviewed here. Using different straps (sold separately), you can adapt this to transport kayaks.
The stainless steel is powder-coated to create the black finish.
The install process is less than 5 minutes, and everything needed for the install is included. There is no integrated lock with the Board Shuttle, so chain them to your crossbars for added security.
- Telescopic Design, arms extend to 34 inch wide boards
- Flip Fit Brackets
- Holds max 2 surfboards or paddleboards but will need extra straps
- Weather-resistant padding
- Tie-down straps included
- Fits on to Thule Square Crossbar or Aeroblade and many factory-fitted or aftermarket crossbars
- Made from corrosion-resistant stainless steel
- Measures 25” x 8” x 5”
- Weight 6 lbs
So Which Thule Roof System is the Best?
Thule is the most respected name in this industry. With over 75 years of experience, they make it their business to produce perfect solutions for all your likely traveling needs.
Thule systems may not be the cheapest options, but they are durable, practical, and easy to use.
When you pick a Thule roof rack, your first consideration needs to be what you are going to carry on your roof.
The Thule 692 cargo basket net is excellent for carrying goods in your vehicle, should you need to.
If you are just looking for the convenience of roof bars to carry any load, then your best option is the Aeroblade Edge.
The Thule Interstate 868 cargo bag is more for an assorted variety of cargo. You may not be able to put your bike in it, but you could take pretty much anything else.
Whatever roof rack systems you choose, remember that they are not all universal, so you may require additional Thule roof rack accessories to ensure your purchase fits correctly onto your vehicle.
These are key things you should take into account before you buy:
1. Budget & Intended Use
Consider your needs and how flexible you need your purchase to be to get great value for money. Durability, flexibility, and convenience may be factors that justify additional costs.
Thule is one of the most reputable firms in the industry. Whatever system you are looking at, check out their reputation online, read reviews, and speak to those who may have used their products.
There will always be negative reviews, but the number of positive ones should outweigh the negative.
3. Weight Limits
Ultimately, the weight limit of your car roof is your guiding principle, to avoid crushing your car. Take account of the weight of the roof rack and cargo box.
But also consider the weight limits of those systems. The lowest weight limit is the one you need to heed.
4. Ease Of Fitting
Thule systems are usually straightforward to fit. Think about how easy it is to mount and remove, especially if the unit is heavy – you may need two people to get a heavy product on and off your car.
Also, always read the instructions to avoid any damage to your system and your vehicle. That said, if you plan to fit your roof rack/cargo box once and leave it there, ease of fitting may not be as important.
Should that be the case, remember that your vehicle height is greater now, especially when driving under low bridges.
5. New Car
If you are thinking of buying a new car, consider how easy it will be to transfer the roof rack/cargo box to the new vehicle. It might be better to wait until you get your new vehicle before you buy it.
Or you may want to purchase accessories that fit both.
The more accessories that your roof rack can take, the more versatile it is. Beware, as many companies make it difficult for you to use accessories from the competition, by making sure they are not compatible.
Providing you are the first owner and use your purchase as per the manufacturer’s instructions, Thule gives you a lifetime warranty on all their products. However, you probably won’t need this as their roof systems are built to last.
A little advice. Where Thule products have exposed telescopic arms, tape over them to reduce the wind noise. Another way to reduce wind noise for all Thule products is to ensure that the straps are tight and the product has been correctly and securely fitted as per their instructions.
Thule offers roof rack systems for every vehicle with accessories to match. Additionally, the simplistic design and ease of use make Thule products winning ones. Pick the best system for your car based on your budget and needs.
Read this article, and you are sure to pick the right product for you.