Ski Rack Vs Cargo Box

Ski Rack Vs Cargo Box

Ski Rack Vs Cargo BoxSki rack and cargo box serve the same function but differ in their features. Ski racks cost anywhere from $70 to $350 and are designed to transport specific gear like skis and snowboards. They are small, lightweight, low profile, thus aerodynamic, allowing quiet drives.

Because of a rack’s size, it fits nearly any vehicle with a loading capacity of 2-4 snowboards or 4-6 sets of skis. Ski racks are less durable as they are made of aluminum or steel, which may fracture or warp under extreme loading.

Cargo boxes are famous for their excellent durability due to high-quality plastic construction. With a large gear capacity of 8-26 cubic ft., they can carry various equipment. However, they are more expensive with prices ranging from $350 to $1100.

Cargo boxes are bulky and less aerodynamic because of their large size. They are noisier, cumbersome to store and install, and best fit large vehicles rather than small ones.

Feature Ski Racks Cargo Boxes
Price Cost-effective ($70 to $350). Expensive ($350 to $1100).
Aerodynamic Lightweight and small, thus creating less wind drag. Bulky, blocky, and large to create more wind resistance.
Installation Lightweight, easy, and quick to install by one person. Heavy, hard to move, time-consuming, and requires two people to install.
Durability Less durable - made of steel or aluminum that warp or fracture under fatigue. More durable – made of heavy-duty plastic material resistant to harsh treatments.
Vehicle compatibility It fits nearly all vehicles Best fits large cars.
Gear capacity Less holding space (4-6 sets of skis or 2-4 snowboards). Ample holding space (12 snowboards or 10 pairs of skis).
Safety Leaves gear uncovered hence more prone to damage, dirt, and theft. Securely covers gear protecting it from theft, damage, and harsh weather.

Ski Rack Overview

A ski rack is an excellent carrier designed for skis and snowboards. It’s also a perfect solution for other types of equipment like a fishing rod, fishing pole, paddle, ski pole, or water ski holder.

Most ski racks are 24 -41 inches wide, wide enough to carry 4-6 skis and 2-4 snowboards. For this reason, they’re very economical since you can load multiple gears on one rack.

Ski racks are designed with an upper and lower clamp attached by a hinge and cushioned pads on the inside. It functions by sandwiching a gear with the clamps holding them firmly in place. The safety pads act as a buffer between the rack’s frame and the car, protecting it from scratches.

Different ski racks have different mounting types, i.e., crossbar type, hitch type, or universal mounting type to fit various vehicles roofs, crossbars, and hitches/ bike racks. Ski racks are perfect for SUVs, sedans, trucks, or vans.



Depending on the model and brand, a ski rack costs as low as $70. Its relative inexpensiveness is one of the most significant influencing factors that people go for.


Ski racks are lightweight and small in design, making them aerodynamic. The aerodynamic design reduces wind resistance and road noise while preventing speed loss and reducing gas and fuel consumption.

Simplified Use

A pair of ski racks can be extended by sliding the rubber bar from the side to allow gear to slide in easily for easy loading and unloading, protecting your car from scratches and allowing you to reach its roof without stretching.


Risk of dirt and damage

Since ski racks do not cover your gear, they expose your property to rocks, dirt, debris from the road, which can accumulate and cause damage over time.

Cargo Box Overview

A cargo box is a hard-sided container of heavy-duty, durable waterproof plastic material. Box carriers have a lock mechanism to secure and cover gear. Some use primary lock and key, while others use push buttons, sliders, twist handles, and a separate lock.

Cargo boxes vary in size with a carrying capacity of 8-26 cubic feet; thus can carry many types of gear (versatile). However, they are cumbersome to move and store and can be installed by yourself.

They are big and heavy, creating wind resistance while driving, negatively impacting fuel consumption and road noise. However, some modern designs have more streamlined profiles that ensure quiet trips.

Cargo boxes can be mounted on small and large cars though they may work better with larger vehicles. Smaller boxes are best for sedans, hatchbacks, sport wagons, CUVs, and smaller SUVs, whereas larger ones fit well on SUVs, MPVs, pickups, or trucks.



Cargo boxes are mainly built with ABS plastic and fiberglass. These materials are high-quality, durable, waterproof. The material is rigid to secure the box under any rough treatment, thus lasting longer.


Another significant advantage is the superior protection that a cargo box offers. A locking cargo box will comprehensively cover the gear, protecting it from theft and unwanted damage due to exposure to harsh weather, dirt, debris, snow, rock chips, mud, and sleet while driving.


With a gear capacity of 8-26 cubic ft, cargo boxes can carry more equipment of any kind as they have a pretty big storage size. You can carry additional gear, like heavy clothes, poles, and spare shoes, along with your sporting equipment.



Cargo boxes are expensive, with some costing more than $1,000. The price is mainly attributed to their high quality and durable material, large gear capacity, and safety features.
Additionally, since they are less aerodynamic than ski racks, they increase fuel consumption.


Although cargo boxes offer plenty of storage, it adds height to a vehicle which could be a problem for some garages, overpasses, and traffic lights. It is also hard to move around as it’s very bulky and requires a pretty massive space for storage.

Differences Between Ski Rack And Cargo Box

Cargo boxes and ski racks provide extra storage outside your vehicle, they don’t require professional help to install, and both need a base roof vehicle rack for mounting. However, they differ in price, load capacity, ease of installment, quality, durability, vehicle compatibility, and aerodynamic design.

Gear/ Load Capacity

The number and type of gear you plan to transport will determine whether to pick a ski rack or cargo box. Ski racks have a width of 24 -41 inches that can fit up to 4-6 sets of skis or 2-4 snowboards. Also, they are pretty limited regarding what you can load on them.

Cargo boxes can fit 10 pairs of skis or 12 snowboards which significantly outshines a ski rack. You can also use it as a multipurpose storage carrier to hold other equipment apart from skis and snowboards because it has a storage of 8-26 cubic feet.

Aerodynamic Design

When objects are attached to the roof of your vehicle, they may increase wind resistance. Thus aerodynamic design is crucial when choosing between racks and boxes. This is because the large the carrier, the more noise it produces and also increases fuel consumption.

Ski racks are more aerodynamic than cargo boxes. Because ski racks are more low profile, smaller, and more lightweight than cargo boxes, they better eliminate wind drag and unwanted road noise.

Ease of Installment

Ski racks are easier to install than cargo boxes. They are usually smaller, lightweight, and generally quicker to install. They only need one person to mount, and it takes a few minutes to install.

Cargo boxes are big and weigh between 15-60 lbs, making them harder to move and mount unless you have a helping hand. It is also more time-consuming to ensure it’s well placed to allow uniform distribution of its weight to the car roof.

Quality and Durability

Cargo boxes are more durable better and are made of higher quality materials compared to ski racks. They are made of rugged, durable plastic material resistant to harsh treatments and weather, thus lasting longer.

Ski racks are usually constructed of high-quality steel or aluminum with heavy-duty plastic. The plastic is durable; however, steel and aluminum may last a long time but is not as durable. Aluminum can fracture under extreme loading, while steel can warp and bend due to fatigue.

Compatibility With Vehicles

Unlike cargo boxes, ski racks fit nearly any vehicle because they are compact and lightweight. Ski racks are perfect for large and small vehicles, whereas cargo boxes are designed big and thus fit large automobiles.


One of the biggest reasons people choose ski racks over cargo boxes is that they are inexpensive. Ski racks generally range from $70 to $350, while cargo boxes can cost from $350 to $1500. The high price is due to the quality and durability of the carrier.

Final Thoughts

Ski racks and cargo boxes are great carrier options, but the preference is limited to the unique needs of people. First, analyze their features, strength, and weaknesses.

Then choose the best carrier that’s compatible with your vehicle roof, offers your required size of storage, can accommodate your gear, has your desirable carrier life span, matches your protection need, and fits your budget.

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